UFIESTA (view the full slideshow here.)
Quail Run Park, Mesa
May 4, 2013
When I arrived at KUPD's UFIESTA on Saturday afternoon, a 50-something blonde with blue-tipped hair was stumbling out of the Powerman 5000 mosh pit, wide-eyed and yelling about her head getting stomped in, but still refusing medical attention.
This year's UFEST -- named UFIESTA for its proximity to Cinco de Mayo -- featured a lineup including Howitzer, Flotsam and Jetsam, Trapt, Frequis, Heaven's Basement, Newsted, Powerman 5000, Adelitas Way, Skillet, Chevelle, and Stone Sour.
Back on stage, Powerman 5000 was rocking out to a decent-size crowd, providing their usual highly energetic, sexually charged show. Walking up the hill in Quail Run Park toward the second stage where Trapt was performing, Powerman 5000's sound projected so powerfully that the poor band could barely be heard -- but they still had a small gathering of fans fist-pumping at the front of the stage.
The sun was hot, but the breeze was refreshing. The grounds weren't very crowded at this point, and the fans who were present were either laid out in the shade, browsing the merch booths, or munching on such offerings as deep-fried frog legs (yup), grilled corn, and snowcones, or drinking beer and margaritas.
About 5:50 p.m., Adelitas Way, a local favorite, went on. Halfway through the set, vocalist Rick DeJesus yelled into the crowd, "I dig the chick on the shoulders! That's true rock and roll spirit . . . even though security knocked you off."
A little while later, the highly anticipated (and highly talked-up) band Newsted took the second stage as the headlining act. Now I understand the hype a little: Jason Newsted is known for his work for decades in Voivod, Flotsam and Jetsam, and, of course, Metallica, with whom he was its longest-serving bassist (1986-2001). But after watching his set, I felt they couldn't live up to such high expectations.
It started exciting enough: The band members came on stage to a blaring hip-hop beat with the rap "New Sted, mothafuckaaaa, New Sted, mothfuckaaaa!!!"
The crowd went wild, but halfway through the band's first song, the PA went dead, and it and took the better part of a minute to get going again. When the music started blasting a second time, Newsted stood at the microphone and sent some love to the crowd, smiling and beaming over the front rows. They then ripped into an energetic set that was just too Metallica-esque for my tastes.
After the third song, he gave props to Flotsam and Jetsam, and launched into a heartfelt thank you.
"We wanna thank Arizona for keeping metal alive! And you know what? We've been together for two whole months! It's good to see some familiar faces."
At that point, they launched into "As the Crow Flies," a clear fan favorite. I believe that Newsted will find a solid footing in the music scene; they've clearly garnered a lot of fans, young and old. I determined this by a consensus of the front row. An elderly American Indian gentlemen with hair to his knees was headbanging next to a teenage girl with pink hair, who was next to a white guy with a blue polo shirt and golf hat . . . I'm pretty sure he had come straight from the golf course.
At this point, Skillet took the main stage. They were a bit too dramatic for my tastes, and had a penchant for preaching about keeping heavy metal alive when they aren't really heavy metal,
"We are at war for your songs!," screamed lead vocalist John Cooper, while extremely mellow music droned in the background. On a positive note, drummer Jen Ledger did an awesome job rocking the skins and the crowd seemed really receptive.
The tides turned when Chevelle was about to come on the stage. The park grounds were filling up, and one of the KUPD guys got on stage and reminded everyone one of the main reasons we are there: to donate money to save the ta-tas. Large plastic "jugs" were passed through the crowds and VIP areas, and people were dropping dollars left and right.
As Chevelle entered the stage it went black, and a violin solo started up. Chevelle came on with a violin solo and black stage.
"What's up, Arizona! Show us you have some energy left!" vocalist Pete Loeffler shouted out as red lights washed over the stage. The band proceeded to play an array of their best radio hits, like "Same Old Trip," "Hats Off to the Bull," and "Arise."
Toward the start of the set, one of the KUPD guys performed a totally random stage dive.
"Ah, shit yeah, Arizona!" yelled Loeffler. "You guys okay in front? Let's keep it going!"
Chevelle was definitely on point throughout the night, and several songs into the set they stopped the music, so that Loeffler could say he'd been waiting to get sweaty with the crowd all day.
"That's why I'm wearing this fucking cardigan. Then I'm going to go eat some funnel cakes . . . Here's a nice little song about sex called 'Piñata.'"
Stone Sour didn't come on until close to 10 p.m., running right up against Quail Run Park's 10:30 curfew. I could hear concerned murmuring about that among the crowd, but it turned out to be a non-issue.
The sun had set long ago, and the air was perfect, the weather beautiful. The same couldn't be said of the park; plastic water bottles and cups littered the grounds, and it was difficult not to trip over an item with every step you took.
Stone Sour kicked things off, just like Chevelle, with a pitch black stage. Slowly, they rolled into "Gone Sovereign" to a crowd that was going wild. It was insanely packed at this point, with numerous fans donning pink, blue, and green blinking bunny ears, wands, and bracelets.
"Make some fucking noise, Phoenix!" growled vocalist Corey Taylor as gold lights illuminated the stage and the band catapulted into "Absolute Zero" and "Mission Statement." Moshing ensued up front; toward the back, couples swayed drunkenly and younger girls bopped around, staring at Taylor with stars in their eyes.
"I told you motherfuckers we'd be back, didn't I? An absolute honor and privilege to be back. Did you miss us out here?"
After proclaiming the next songs would make everyone family, they launched into "Made of Scars," a personal favorite of mine. Taylor then introduced James Root on guitar, who did a short and sweet solo before going into some more material off of House of Gold and Bones Part 1.
The energy around me heightened as Root busted out another guitar solo and the double bass kicked in with "Reborn," off of their album Come What(ever) May, and "Do Me a Favor."
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Taylor has always loved talking with the crowd, whether it's with Slipknot or Stone Sour, and tonight was no exception. He was a little less energetic than at the Golden Gods Awards two nights before, but that makes complete sense since he was probably in the adrenaline high of winning an award at that point.
Stone Sour also played material from their newest release, April 9's House of Gold and Bones Part 2.
A little after 10:30, the stage went black again and the crowd took to chanting, "We want more! We want more!" Finally, the band came on with a quadruple-encore which included "Through The Glass," "Bother" and the Slipknot-reminiscent "30/30/150."
Critic's Notebook: Last Night: UFiesta at Quail Run Park Overheard in the Crowd: "I always thought Newsted looked like a cross between Beavis and Butt-Head." The Crowd: From tweens in bikinis to elderly shirtless men with bucket hats, as well as a shit-ton of couples. However, most of the girlfriends were either too drunk to enjoy the music or not into it at all. Personal Bias: I like Chevelle more on record than live, and Stone Sour always brings down the house with their energy, passion and commitment. Random Notebook Dump: In the VIP area, I had a taste of KUPD Brady's barbecue. And it was incredible, which is saying a lot since I'm from Kansas.