GIG REVIEW: MAKE AMERICA ROCK AGAIN Tour Live At Chene Park Amphitheater, Detroit, MI
Opening up the show was Detroit’s own urban rap rockers Critical Bill –a combination of self-proclaimed rap, hip-hop, and dirty rock guitar licks. The band reluctantly had to let loose on a near empty venue. Next up was another local powerhouse Kaleido, who crammed the most rock’n roll I’ve ever seen into their very limited 20-minute set. I was amazed as I not only witnessed a stream of tunes, but also a drum solo & lead singer Christina Chriss even took the time to bring a young fan on stage for a once-in-a-lifetime duet. Based on what I heard, I can’t wait for their first LP ‘Experience’ to drop later this fall and it is definitely on my must-have list for 2016. New guitarist Zach Bolling seems to be settling in and is adding his punch of musical influence to the band. My only disappointment was not having the time for Dryden Mitchell to come “shufflin” out to join the band on “Love & War”.
In fact, this seemed to be a recurring theme thought throughout the day, as each band just seemed to be hitting their stride when the rug was pulled out from under them. Somehow, 20-minute sets followed by 10-minute set changes just kills the energy of the gig. Most vocalists need at least 1 or 2 songs to warm up and hit their mark and this format robbed them and their fans. Tantric jumped on stage next and immediately lulled the audience to sleep with the most boring and lifeless set of the day. The entire band had zero energy and looked like this was the last place on earth they wanted to be. As I looked around and continued to see a venue almost 90% empty, I began to somewhat imagine why.
Alien Ant Farm had the craziest set of the day. Their 14-song gig opened with “Courage” from their 2001 release ‘ANThology’ and ended just over 75 minutes later with “Slick Thief” aka Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal”. In between, the crowd was treated to an engagement ceremony and a rousing rendition of “Contagious” containing a snippet of Weezer’s “Say It Isn’t So”. “Due to unforeseen circumstances” and with zero follow-up comments from the management, Crazy Town’s entire set was cancelled. However, in true music brotherhood, the AAF crew handed over their equipment mid-gig to the Crazy gang for a one-song go-around of “Butterfly”. By far the highlight of the night, with massive amounts of energy, it finally brought the lackluster crowd to life.
Bobby Amaru and Wayne Swinny of Saliva, with a couple of clicks and a boom, raised the intensity of the show a few more notches for all of the ladies and gentlemen in attendance. With extended show time, the band cranked out all of their usual hits plus some great new material off the recently released ‘Love, Lies, & Therapy’. The band seems re-energized with Swinny owning the axe with riff after crunching riff. Closing out the show was clearly the crowd favorite of the day: Drowning Pool. Unfortunately, by then, the crowd had dwindled to what seemed to be less than a couple hundred people. Moreno tried to keep the energy going, even inviting what seemed like the entire audience on stage for “Bodies”. Clearly the largest mosh pit of the entire show and not one of them hit the floor.
As one fellow photog said to me….”average tour, wrong venue, but it was like seeing all of your favorite Machine Shop bands in one night”. I couldn’t agree more.