MONSTER ENERGY STAGE WEST: Devour the Day (live photos), The Glorious Sons (live photos), Atreyu (live photos), In This Moment (live photos), Papa Roach (live photos), Godsmack (live photos), Rob Zombie (live photos)
MONSTER ENERGY STAGE EAST: Red Sun Rising (live photos), Nothing More (live photos), Pop Evil (live photos), Bring Me the Horizon (live photos), Five Finger Death Punch (live photos), Korn (live photos)
TENT STAGE: Zombie Kidz, Unlocking the Truth, From Ashes to New, Charm City Devils, Superheaven, Butcher Babies, Saint Asonia, Hollywood Undead
Review by Jeff Maki
Can we end the debate now? Rock ‘n’ roll will never die. Metal will never die. Didn’t anybody listen to Neil Young? Didn’t anybody listen to Ronnie James Dio? If that isn’t enough, I have further proof in the 26,000 fans who attended the sold-out 2015 Rock Allegiance festival at PPL Park in Chester, Pennsylvania. Featuring living legends Rob Zombie, Korn and Godsmack, current rock bands carrying the torch like Five Finger Death Punch and Bring Me the Horizon, along with a lineup of other mainstays and up-and-coming bands, Rock Allegiance was a nonstop day celebrating rock and metal.
This was the first concert held at PPL Park, home to the Philadelphia Union, a Major League Soccer team. The stadium is located on the waterfront of the Delaware River, adjacent to the Commodore Barry Bridge. Inside the stadium, there were the Monster Energy East and West main stages, side by side, and outside was the Tent Stage, along with various merch and food vendors. Props to the organizers and stadium staff, as this was one of the most well-organized festivals I’ve attended.
Main stage bands alternated playing the East and West stages, with only 15 minutes in between sets at most. Music started on the tent stage shortly after our arrival at 11:20 a.m. and ran until about 7 p.m. There was overlap between the tent stage and main stages, but that’s to be expected with this many band. Also, keep in mind, with a festival this large, it was virtually impossible to see every band perform, but I did my best. Let’s get into those bands now.
The main stages began with rockers Devour the Day, Red Sun Rising and Nothing More.
Devour the Day is most known for its radio hit “Good Man,” and most of its material followed suit. They’re a good if pretty pedestrian rock band and a decent opener to wake everyone up.
When I first heard the Red Sun Rising song “The Other Side” on FM radio, I thought it was a new Alice in Chains single. The ’90s rock influence doesn’t end there for Red Sun Rising, as its songs give more than a nod to Soundgarden and Tool. Nevertheless, they were an energetic live band with a strong frontman in Mike Protich. The band is out of Akron, Ohio.
Texas’ Nothing More had a big radio hit with “This is the Time,” a different-sounding yet accessible song. I don’t know how it plays on record, but in a live setting, Nothing More’s material is much heavier and not radio friendly at all. Frontman Jonny Hawkins can hit the high notes, and the percussion hits especially hard live.
I’ve seen Pop Evil a handful of times now, and they always seem to steal the show. I heard this same sentiment echoed in the crowd. They’re an energetic live act that gives off a party atmosphere. Around this time, alcohol was beginning to be consumed heavily in PPL Park. “Deal with the Devil” and “Last Man Standing” are Pop evil live staples, while a cover of Tom Petty’s “I Won’t Back Down” was a nice surprise. The hard-hitting “Trenches” closed out the set.
A this point, I also was beginning to indulge a bit but then I realized I still had about eight hours left of rock and metal.
In This Moment exploded with “Whore” a few years ago and never looked back. Its live show now resembles a Marilyn Manson show circa 1996, rather than the circle pit metalcore shows they once played. Vocalist Maria Brink slipped in and out of the dense smoke that filled the stage, changing costumes to match the themes of particular songs, trying to be sexy, provocative, scary and jaw-dropping all at once. I think she succeeded for the most part. The rest of the band donned rags and skull makeup, and a pair of dancers flanked Maria’s every move, but all eyes were clearly on her, the “black widow.”
In This Moment set list: “Sick Like Me,” “Black Widow,” “Blood,” “Sex Metal Barbie,” “Big Bad Wolf,” “Whore”
Bring Me the Horizon has become immensely popular, and the stadium field now was filling in nicely. Nice to the point that you could no longer easily make your way closer if you had fallen back. The band’s new album That’s the Spirit is a departure from its deathcore/emo roots, and it’s been catching some flack for it, but perhaps it has bigger plans on the horizon. They opened with the new hit “Happy Song” and closed with “Drown,” both off the new album.
Now it was just about gametime as far as I was concerned, so I grabbed a few more brewskies as the stadium was now at near capacity inside and out. Though I think a 40-ounce might have been more appropriate for the next act.
As mask-wearing gangsta-rap metallers Hollywood Undead were about to headline the tent stage, the sun was going down and the most diverse fans of the day packed inside, from goths, to rockers, to the band’s own “undead legion.” The atmosphere out in the tent made for its own experience, like I was in a club ready to watch a separate Hollywood Undead show. This is one of my 14-year-old daughter’s favorite bands, so I was anxious to check them out because she couldn’t make it here. The band—J-Dog, Da Kurlzz, Funny Man, Johnny 3 Tears, Charlie Scene, and Danny—led the rabid crowd of moshers, surfers and bangers through a “greatest hits” set from its four studio albums. Sure, this music is geared toward a younger crowd and I get it, but Hollywood Undead put on a phenomenal show. Chock full of obscenities and gangsta greatness, this was the party of the day out here in the stage tent.
Hollywood Undead set list: “Usual Suspects,” “Undead, “Bullet,” “War Child,” “Comin’ in Hot,” “Everywhere I Go,” “Day of the Dead,” “Hear Me Now”
Five Finger Death Punch was probably the draw of the day. Ivan Moody and the boys may have every move rehearsed, but 5FDP is one of the most popular rock acts right now. PPL Park erupted in a chorus of thousands from the field to the bleachers during favorites like “Never Enough,” “Jekyll and Hyde” and “Coming Down,” and fans were treated to Moody’s usual Phil Anselmo/Fred Durst-like stage presence and comedic banter addressing his current perception on social media. Every one I saw was either singing or had a smile on their face during 5FDP.
Five Finger Death Punch set list: “Lift Me Up,” “Hard to See,” Never Enough,” “Got Your Six,” “Bad Company,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” drum solo, “Burn MF,” “Wrong Side of Heaven,” “Battle Born,” “Coming Down,” “Under and Over It,” “The Bleeding”
A Metallica-like video montage of live and backstage footage backed by “I’m Shipping up to Boston” by Dropkick Murphys introduced Godsmack, which proceeded to crank out the hits (even if frontman Sully Erna is never, ever satisfied with the crowd participation). The set climaxed with the band’s now signature drum face-off between Erna and drummer Shannon Larkin, “Batalla de los Tambores,” a stadium-sized cover of Alice Cooper’s “School’s Out” and one of my favorite Godsmack tracks in quite some time, “Something Different.”
Godsmack set list: “Whatever,” “1000hp,” “Awake,” “Keep Away,” “Generation Day,” “Cryin’ Like a Bitch,” “Something Different,” “Batalla de los Tambores,” “School’s Out,” “I Stand Alone”
Having just seen Korn perform in Silver Spring, Maryland, the night before, I knew what to expect, right? Or did I? The band is celebrating its debut album and 20 years of Korn by playing the album start to finish, but for Rock Allegiance they cut it in half, stopping at “Clown,” and later playing only “Faget” and “Shoots and Ladders.” Was this planned? Probably. That was fine with me, as we were treated to a remaining set of greatest hits like “Here to Stay,” “Did My Time,” “Got the Life” and “Freak on a Leash,” a few of which weren’t played the night before. If the crowd was somewhat subdued for Godsmack, it didn’t stay that way for long as Jonathan Davis and the boys easily could have capped off the festival on their own.
Rob Zombie headlined Rock Allegiance, and after a long, exciting day, I’d say about 75 percent of the crowd stuck around. This was a stripped-down set by Zombie standards—no robots or monsters stalking about. Rob proclaimed it a “zombie party” and even opened with “More Human Than Human.” He got the many ladies in attendance involved with “Living Dead Girl” and closed it out with his mega-hit, “Dragula.”
Now it was time to drag my ass home after one of the most fun days of rock and metal I’ve had in recent memory. No, rock isn’t dead at all. And whoever says that again needs to tell that to Rob Zombie, Ivan Moody or Korn. Or better yet, maybe they need to be dropped into a dark alley with the Hollywood Undead boyz. No, rock isn’t dead at all, but I sure was dead in the morning. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
So next time you have the opportunity, get out and go to a show, go to a festival. It’ll make your day, your month, your year. Pledge your allegiance to the rock.