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LIVE: UPHEAVAL FESTIVAL – July 14-15, 2023

Venue: Belknap Park

City: Grand Rapids, MI

Dates: July 14-15, 2023

Review and Photographs by: Todd “Toddstar” Jolicoeur (www.toddstarphotography.com)

Upheaval Festival pulled out all the stops for the third round of the now annual festival.  Festivals are always a ton of fun, a ton of work, and a chance to reconnect with friends and family in and out of the music scene.  With a third stage featuring local musicians, there was plenty of music for fans of all rock genres both up and down the hill.  Friday kicked off with Black Note Graffiti on the main stage and like that we were off an running for two days of rock and roll.  While new to me and others, there were plenty of fans packed against the barricade for the opening set.  Before their time on stage was over, they had gained some new fans.  Next up on the same stage was Until I Wake – another new band to me, but one that impressed me with their sound, stage presence, and overall rock vibe.  The guys rocked, rolled, and covered plenty of stage area running from side to side making sure you were paying attention.  The bar was slowing getting set for the other bands to come.  My first trip up the hill was to see Dayseeker rock the Lookout Stage – and they did exactly that.  The foursome knew who was there to see them and catered to their thirst for the bands brand of rock and roll.  They didn’t stop there as they played just as hard to the portion of the crowd that wasn’t as familiar and won over a lot of new fans in their time on stage.  One of the personal highlights for me was Dorothy on the main stage.  I love her heavier stuff and vibe she delivers on disc after disc, but usually she has a more laid back and ethereal live show when I have been lucky enough to catch her.  Today was all balls and attitude as she rocked her portion of the show and didn’t look back.  Make no mistake, Dorothy not only knows how to rock with the best of them, but she gets out there and does it.  Do not miss her out on the road.  A band I have often heard all of the buzz about but have never been able to line up my schedule is Royal Bliss.  These guys brought the most main stream rock set to the entire festival.  I love when a band leans into their sweet spot and just nails every song they pull out, even when they are asked to lengthen their set without much lead time.  The set was perfect and a great way to break up a lot of the heavier rock tones and vibes.  They were one of the best Lookout performers over the course of the day, putting smile on faces and songs on lips.  Next on the Main Stage was In This Moment, but it just wasn’t the right moment apparently, as the band cancelled their performance while loading in.  Back up the hill Memphis May Fire was looking to build on the momentum from Royal Bliss and they did exactly that, just with a different sound and attitude, but no less the power and impact.  These guys have been doing this a while and know how to deliver a set that their fans will love and will also attract new fans into the MMF family.  Getting the opportunity to see them during the day at a festival was fun from behind a lens for sure.  Always a crowd pleaser, Lamb Of God delivered on every level – the rock was hard, the pyro in full effect, and the bands energy was as pissed off and in your face as ever.  The overall vibe of the festival took a turn  for the better during their set and there was no mistaking the fact these guys are rock and roll stalwarts that get crowds whipped into a frenzy and keep them there from opening note until the final chord has been struck.  Last trek up the hill for the day gave us The Ghost Inside and while I wasn’t familiar at all, the crowd was and dug in with both heels as the band took the stage and gave the crowd a rousing rock show to close out the evening at the Lookout Stage.  Day one headliners Bring Me The Horizon came out to a pyro show that rivals a lot of other shows on the road today – they even cleared the pit to make sure everything could go off without an issue.  The band made full use of their time on stage and ran through fan favorites that kept everyone singing, moshing, and more important – smiling.  They were everything I expected and more when they launched a couple track to close out the set that I didn’t know but quickly found myself singing along to.

After a long night editing and recovering, Day 2 was upon us and I was ready to hit the ground running… slowly as the overnight rains had turned the main stage area quite slick if you didn’t take your time.  Starting things off was Of Virtue and they were a good band to kick things into motion.  The overall vibe of their set gave everyone that wake up shot in the arm they needed.  Nothing better than some loud rock and roll to start the day.  UP the hill for the first time of the day found me in front of Black Heart Saints and I was refreshed of their sound and songs, as I have heard their stuff peripherally over the last couple years.  They were as happy to be playing as the crowd in front of them was to be listening.  After their set, Fame On Fire brought their rock sound to the main stage and there was no mistaking the energy they had as they ran through song after song keeping the crowd engaged and singing along.  While known for some covers, they brought originals as well and played to please – and please they did.  FOund myself listening to them on the way home the next day.  I was excited to finally check out Eva Under Fire on the Lookout Stage.  I am a huge fan of the bands sound and getting to see it live only added to the fun.  The band played their hearts out and were as playful with each other on stage as they were with the crowd.  There is something about the songs and sound that get me singing every time I listen to the band and I cannot wait to see what else they have in store for us both recorded and live.  Next up down the hill was We Came As Romans and they blew me away with their songs, their dedication to the music and the fans, and their overall vibe.  Having heard OF them but never really digging into them previously, they were the biggest surprise for me as I found myself enjoying the show from a fans perspective as much as I was from the behind my camera.  Next up was one of the start of bands I KNEW I would love to see, hear, and experience all over again… Crobot.  I have dug these beardos forever having seen them at other festivals and gracing the stage at my favorite MI venue The Machine Shop many times over the years.  Brandon and crew did what thyy do best – rock and roll with some fun stage props and antics that add that little something to their show.  If you haven’t seen Crobot, trust me – you are missing out.  The music is killer and these guys are incredible fun to watch.  The main stage hosted a tandem of bands I wanted to see from the moment the artist list was launched, with Ice Nine Kills coming first.  I have heard so much about their shows and have listened to some of the tracks.  Toss in a good friend on guitar and I was ready for what was to come.  Being a fan of horror movies and rock and roll, these guys knocked it out of the park for me.  The music was energetic and mesmerizing while the stage presentation and antics added to the fun.  The guys know how to get their fans revved up sonically and visually and they do it well.  Now to see them headline with a full set and stage area.  Next on the Main Stage was rock veterans Halestorm who are perpetually touring all the time.  I am not sure when they have time to write and record new music.  Lzzy, Arejay, Joe, and Josh are always amazing live and today was no different.  They know exactly the setlist to pull together to get the crowd singing along at the top of their voices song after song.  The smiles, nods, and banter between the bands members themselves as well as the crowd speaks volumes.  These guys love this as much as anyone and it shows from song to song, covering most of the bands catalog.  Songs from their self-titled disc will always strike a chord for me and there was no shortage of those track today.  Back up the hill for the last journey of 2023, I took my place waiting for Flyleaf with Lacey Sturm and I was not disappointed.  The songs were as good as the first time I heard them, Lacey’s delivery was spot on as was the bands sonic support.  These guy do what they do well and they leave all labels and preconceived notions at the door and it carries over to the crowd that rocked hard with them.  The energy shifted from track to track to help accentuate the songs and their message, but the end result was a great performance and show from the band.  The headliner and festival closer Falling In Reverse was an experience, but they always are.  Ronnie Radke is a frontman that garners attention through his songs and performance.  The setlist was perfectly constructed to deliver about an hour of solid rock from his catalog that kept everyone on their feet.  The overall presentation was cool with lights, video, and a couple cool costume changes.  With a final track Radke said goodbye to his first ever festival headlining set and we all said farewell to another edition of Upheaval.  I am already counting the days to next year.

UPHEAVAL LINKS:

OFFICIAL SITE

FACEBOOK

TWITTER

INSTAGRAM

TICKETS – 2024

FRIDAY JULY 14 2023:

FULL SET OF BRING ME THE HORIZON PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF THE GHOST INSIDE PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF LAMB OF GOD PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF MEMPHIS MAY FIRE PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF ROYAL BLISS PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF DOROTHY PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF DAYSEEKER PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF UNTIL I WAKE PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF BLACK NOTE GRAFFITI PHOTOS HERE

SATURDAY JULY 15 2023:

FULL SET OF FALLING IN REVERSE PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF FLYLEAF W/ LACEY STURM PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF HALESTORM PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF ICE NINE KILLS PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF CROBOT PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF WE CAME AS ROMANS PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF EVA UNDER FIRE PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF FAME ON FIRE PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF BLACK HEART SAINTS PHOTOS HERE

FULL SET OF OF VIRTUE PHOTOS HERE

Tags:

Category: Featured Articles, 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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