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LIVE: UPHEAVAL FESTIVAL – July 15-16, 2022

| 27 July 2022 | Reply

Venue: Belknap Park

City: Grand Rapids, MI

Dates: July 15-16, 2022

Review and Photographs by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur (

Having attended festivals in the past, I was excited last year to attend something a little closer to home with a variety of bands that check the different genre boxes in the never-ending list of rock categories.  This year was no different when the 2022 installment of the Upheaval Festival was announced.  The bands are varied and hit the mark on various levels for different fans, but they all deliver under the umbrella of rock and roll, and it was so fun to be a witness once again.  Friday started for me with All Good Things on the main stage to help welcome fans into the outdoor venue while the Lookout Stage was prepared.  The band previously unknown to me delivered a set of rockers that started whipping the crowd into shape as we all braced for a weekend of music and fun.  After checking most of the set, I ventured up the hill for one of the more anticipated sets in my mind with The Warning.  With precision, the trio hit the stage on time and played their asses off pleasing everyone that made it up to see them.  The three guys that traveled with me all said this band was their personal highlight for the day as they had no expectation of what was to come.  One surprise in the set was the addition of Metallica’s “Enter Sandman” right in the middle of their set, sandwiching the track with six songs from their debut release ERROR.  As the set closed out, I made my way back to the main stage for another first for me — Starset.  This was so much more than I had envisioned and expected.  The staging was great and the music was impressive.  This was one of the bands I knew of but knew little about and they exceeded expectations.  From reviews and photos I have seen, shooting and watching them in full daylight was a treat and something not a lot of people get to witness.  After the set, I hung out a bit hiding best I could from the rain and missed Fire From The God’s set up the hill, but slid into position as Theory (f/k/a Theory Of A Deadman) took the main stage and proceeded to roll out hits new and old making sure to grab some new fans along the way.  The one-two punch of “Low Life” and “Bitch Came Back” to start set the stage for the remainder of the set that even included a snippet from Garth Brooks’ “Friends In Low Places.”  Back up the hill, I found myself in queue to check out Ayron Jones’ performance and couldn’t wait to see it live after hearing the tracks repeatedly in the past.  The band didn’t disappoint sonically or from a performance standpoint, as Ayron and his band made use of the full stage area and crushed a lot of their peers (not on the festival) musically.  This shortened set whetted my appetite for more and I cannot wait until I get the opportunity to see Jones and band play a full set in the near future.  One of the bands that intrigued me was Muvayne, as this was a reunion show of sorts with the band reassembling for a tour in 2022.  The music was as strong as it has ever been, but was delivered with more intensity and precision than I remember in the past.  The overall vibe from the stage was as energetic as the music itself and the energy that moved from stage to crowd and back again was undeniable.  A fan favorite (and always a photographer’s favorite) Avatar was the headlining band on the Lookout Stage and for good reason.  While it was crazy to see the quintet and their gear jammed onto a smaller stage, it let them prove to everyone within eye and ear shot the power of their music and performance.  The choreographed moves were in place and the music spoke for itself as the group moved through the hits and fan favorites.  Believe the hype – these guys are the real deal and deliver powerful music and they do it well.  Day one headliners Breaking Benjamin capped the night with a strong set that included hits that kept everyone singing from opening track until the final note echoed through the sound system.  The set featured hits, lots of crowd interaction, some pyro, and a lot of singing from the crowd.  The overall vibe of the day was recapped as the band moved through their set and the mood seemed to grow with each track, just as it did with each band that performed throughout the day.  As the venue emptied after Breaking Benjamin had played their final song, you could feel the excitement in the crowd after a day of rock and community, but also the anticipation of what was to come tomorrow.

Full disclosure, Day 2 was the one I had the highest hope and anticipation for. After a long day of rocking and even longer night or editing photos, I got a late start on the day.  I made it in time to get situated in order to catch Diamante and her set on the main stage.  I was disappointed when Nita Strauss cancelled her appearance at Upheaval, but having enjoyed the singers latest release and missing her appearances in the area, I was excited to finally check her out live.  I was not disappointed.  From the minute she hit the stage until she left it, she controlled the flow of the show and also harnessed the energy from the crowd and kept it ebbing and flowing sharing in the moment with the crowd.  Next on the main stage was Escape The Fate, a band I have seen on several occasions, and this show was as good as any… and easier to photograph than most.  The band worked through their set with smiles aplenty, especially frontman Craig Mabbitt and drummer Robert Ortiz.  The hits and fan favorites rolled from the bands instruments, through the sound system, and across the audience.  Making my way back up the hill for the first time today, I had to get into place to witness a show from Ded.  Having enjoyed their music and even interviewing Joe Cotela in the past, my expectations were high for the show, and I was not let down.  The band ripped through their set without much fanfare, but with a lot of energy.  The songs seemed to take on a more pressing and harder edge in a live situation and the songs ripped through the afternoon air and washed across the crowd that joined me on top of the hill.  Hatebreed and Michigan have had a love affair for years, as evidenced not only by huge festival show they are a part of like this appearance, Ozzfest, and Monster Energy Drink shows in the past, they recently had a pair of back-to-back sold out shows at The Machine Shop in nearby Flint, MI.  Jamey Jasta and his bandmates took over the stage and delivered a great set of rockers that had the mosh pit cranked up and the rest of the crowd whipped into a total frenzy that lasted throughout the bands set, getting the crowd amped up enough to walk up the hill and brace for what was to come next.  Up at the Lookout Stage, Butcher Babies – Carla Harvey, Heidi Shepherd, Henry Flurry, Chase Brickenden, and Ricky Bonazza – took control of the day and the crowd.  The combo of Harvey and Shepherd along with fellow founding member guitarist Flurry brought high energy and a shitload of attitude to the stage as they worked through a set of favorites that kept the crowd engaged, moshing, and rocking from front to back and side to side.  Much like Starset a day earlier, it was a great change of pace to catch them on stage in the daylight.  A couple personal favorites were inserted in their set back-to-back with “The Butcher” and “Bottom Of A Bottle” approximately mid-way through the set.  A band that I try to catch every time in town (I have even traveled across the country to see them perform in the past) took over the main stage and did so with authority.  Three Days Grace loaded their set with hits that kept the crowd singing from song to song, even as I worked my way to the back of the grounds to enjoy the show.  The band was high energy and kept prompting the audience with promises and teases of the headliner all the while delivering song after song as if reading the packed venues collective minds and putting together a set of killer songs.  With huge hits decorating the musical landscape, they closed out on a strong streak with “I Hate Everything About You,” “Never Too Late,” and set closer “Riot” taking bringing an end to the bands time on stage.  Nothing More has one of the biggest buzzes surrounding it over the last few years.  Their music is contagious, and their stage performance is captivating and this the first time I have seen them perform.  After running into Jonny before their show, I was pumped as it was evident how excited he was to hit the stage.  From the first note, the band was playing as if their lives depended on it.  As they worked through the first song, Jonny found himself atop the mechanical instrument they have named The Scorpion Tail.  As they worked into their set, the crowd shifted into overdrive and before the second song was complete, the photo pit was cleared as a safety precaution.  I moved through the packed crowd and watched the balance of the show in awe from the back of the area and became a bigger fan of the band than I was before they hit the stage.  Closers Disturbed hit the stage in one of the most anticipated performances of the weekend.  The crowd seemed to surge toward the stage as the minutes ticked away until the band appeared on stage.  With a large catalog at their disposal, the band rocked us with their biggest hits and even tossed in a brand-new track tossing “Hey You” out there for only the second time ever.  There were songs we all expected to hear and the band tossed in two covers they have made metal magic of – Genesis’ “Land Of Confusion” and a killer version of Simon & Garfunkel’s “Sound Of Silence” which saw David Draiman take the spotlight while guitarist Dan Donegan played piano, John Moyer set down his bass and picked up a guitar, drummer Mike Wengren dialed it down a notch and the band was joined by a woman that provided string support.  The set wound down and they closed out the set, evening, and Upheaval 2022 with “Down With The Sickness.”  All said, I can recap the two days by simply stating I have already reserved a room for next year and cannot wait for the real anticipation to begin when the 2023 artist lineup is announced.






TICKETS – 2023

FRIDAY JULY 15 2022:



















Category: Live Reviews, Photo Galleries

About the Author ()

ToddStar - that's me... just a rocking accountant who had dreams of being a rock star. I get to do the next best thing to rocking the globe - I get to take pictures of the lucky ones that do. I love to shoot all genres of music and different types of performers. If it is related to music, I love to photograph it. I get to shoot and hang with not only some of my friends and idols, but some of the coolest people around today.

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