Make America Rock Again Tour drops in on North Carolina
Rock music is once again bringing people together no matter their differences
During a time when our country is divided, and opinions are seldom the same, it’s a refreshing experience to find a group of people who feel the same as you, about at least one topic: music. This is exactly what happened on Thursday evening. The MAKE AMERICA ROCK AGAIN tour made a pitstop in Winston Salem, NC to put on one hell of a show filled with camaraderie, and of course patriotism. The sun was still shining bright around seven p.m. when the first band took the stage.
Adelitas Way from Las Vegas, Nevada, kicked off the evening with one of my personal favorites, “Bad Reputation” off of their 2016 album Getaway. Vocalist Rick Dejesus was filled with enthusiasm and energy as be pounced around the stage along with bassist Andrew Cushing, who rocks the headband hair like it’s no ones business. The second track of the evening was very befitting to the name of the tour, and the patriotism that it’s trying to encourage. “Ready for War (Pray for Peace)” tells the story of an individual who is hoping that life will continue in a peaceful manner, but is willing, and ready to do whatever needs to be done.
Guitarist Ryan Guanzon kept the crowd pumped and headbanging throughout the set as he played amazing riffs. Dejesus took a quick breather for the third track of the set and stated, “This one is for all the lovebirds out there. Those of you who have just started dating, or have been married for thirty years, I want you to hug, and kiss, and hold you’re loved ones tight.”
The melody of “Alive” filled the outdoor area and the feeling of love and hope filled the air. The final track of Adelitas Way’s set was off of their second album Home School Valedictorian, which was released in 2011. “Sick” was the perfect ending to their set as fans who have supported the band since the beginning showed their pride and faith in the men of Adelitas Way.
You know the best thing about going to an outdoor concert in September? Not getting attacked by mosquitos! Well, that, and not suffering from heat exhaustion. Not to mention you get to rock out and not worry about getting sweat in your eyes. This is exactly what happened when the second band of the evening took the stage.
Saving Abel from Corinth, Mississippi, opened their set with the first track off of their self titled debut album, which was released in 2008, “New Tattoo,” which is about a guy who picks up a female hitchhiker and the wild story that ensues. Vocalist Scott Austin accidentally knocked over his beer during the first set and gracefully moved out of the way as a roadie threw down a towel.
Later into the second song of the evening, Austin offered the beer soaked towel to a fellow photographer, Mr. James Geiser. The show continued after the little spill as the group played one of their more raunchy tracks, “The Sex is Good,” off of their 2010 album Miss America. Needless to say the audience came alive even more as the males gave their partners a playful hump or two to the beat of drummer Blake Dixon’s kick drum.
In the spirit of making America rock again, Saving Abel played their most patriotic song, but not before asking for the military veterans in the crowd to raise their hands, and thanking them profusely for everything they have done to keep this country free.
The dedicated track, “18 Days,” is a song about a soldier who has been away from home, and is dealing with the hardships that all soldiers go through. This slow and at times sad track, was followed however by one of the groups favorite singles. “Addicted” made the crowd once again start to jump around and headbang as if no one else was watching.
Sick Puppies took the stage just as the sun was setting. Originally from Sydney, Australia, Sick Puppies is the only band with a female member on this tour.
Emma Anzai is one bad ass bassist who makes it appear as if playing the instrument is as easy as air, however, the complexity of her playing shows off in the bass tracks that fill the sound system. “War” was the opening track of their set. Off of their third studio album Tri Polar, the song had the entire crowd jumping in one perfectly synchronized motion. The newest member of the three piece group, vocalist Bryan Scott, took a quick breather to introduce the group after the second song of their set.
The fourth track of the evening had a very personal message from Anzai: “I was bullied in school, and it always made me feel as if I didn’t have a place in the world. This song lets you know that everything will be okay, and that you will find you’re place.”
“Odd One,” also off of the album Tri Polar, brought the crowd closer together. At some point in everyone’s life that feeling of being alone is present and it’s nice to know that things do get better.
The heaviest band on the tour took the stage next. Drowning Pool opened their fast paced album with the well known track “Sinner” followed by “Think.” Vocalist Jasen Moreno had a way of hyping the tiring crowd back up and encouraging them to move around to the various songs of their set. During the third song, “Step Up,” Moreno jumped down from the stage and down onto the subs in the photo pit. However, he didn’t stay there long.
Jumping on top of the barrier, Moreno was quickly lost in the sea of fans who swarmed the vocalist, many of which were screaming along right with him, while other quickly brought out their cell phones to try and record this monumental moment. Huge props to the security guys who had to lead Moreno’s mic cable from each side of the barrier as he made his way through the crowd.
Guitarist C.J. Piece, bassist, Stevie Benton, and drummer Mike Luce, held down the stage and continued to play mind blowing music while Moreno slowly made his way back onto the stage. What would a Drowning Pool set be without playing the band’s most popular track. As a way of saying goodbye for the night, the entrance to “Bodies” blared out of the sound system as fans instantly began to sing along.
Fans were jumping over the VIP area barrier at the beginning of the song to form an ever growing mosh pit, much to the excitement of the guys, and brave women at the show. The group quickly gave a shout out to all the bands on the tour before saying their goodbyes. Pierce took to the pit after their set and shook hands with excited fans as well as handing out guitar pics.
Shortly after Drowning Pools exit, the stage was flooded with roadies who were setting up for the night’s main event. If you or anyone you knows loves late nineties, and early two thousands alternative rock you know of the band Creed and their vocalist Scott Stapp. After two break ups because of tensions between band members, Stapp branched out on his own and continued bringing his voice to the masses.
The stage lights all turned into a brilliant neon green color as Stapp and his bandmates took the stage. Opening their set with the track “Bullets,” Stapp immediately began to get into this groove and brought the audience with him. The second song of the set entitled “Bullets” off of the album Weathered starts off as a quiet track before growing louder and into a heavy track.
The audience began to head bang and throw horns up in the air as Stapp moved between both sides of the stage. “My Own Prison” was the third song of the setlist. A darker track for Stapp, and for members of the audience. Stapp poured his heart and soul out into the song and the crowd gave back just as much. Taking a breath after the first three songs, Stapp made an announcement to the crowd.
“My wife and I are expecting a baby in November and this next song makes it hit home.” The band then began to play “Arms Wide Open”. The track was originally released in 1999 on the album Human Clay which won Favorite Pop/Rock Album in 2001 on the American Music Awards. The evening then continued with another popular track “Higher” which in 2000 was nominated for Best Rock Video at the MTV Video Music Awards.
“This song was not written from a very bright place” Stapp confided when he began to sing “One Last Breath” Stapp has gone through many tough times in his life and has pulled through them regardless of the circumstances. Stapp announced that for many years he has been working with children who live in second or third world countries.
“Many of these children don’t have access to clean drinking water, clothes, or the basic necessities every human has a right too. You can help change the life of a child for a little less than a dollar a day. There is a tent over by our merch table that will let you sign up to “adopt” and help a child for around thirty bucks a month, and for all of those who donate tonight, I want to personally thank you. So after our set, please come out so I can shake your hand and thank you for helping these children.”
The final song of the night was probably one of Stapp’s most popular tracks. “My Sacrifice” off of the 2001 album Weathered was the perfect ending to the night as fans gave their last bit of energy to Stapp and each other as the MAKE AMERICA ROCK AGAIN tour’s first North Carolina stop played it’s last note. The tour continues through October 2nd, ending in Missoula Montana.
See full gallery of the night here.
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