The hard-rocking festival returned Friday to Grand Rapids, with Lamb of God, Bring Me the Horizon and more than a dozen bands — some local — turning up their amps to 11. The recap and photo galleries.
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If anything signaled the return of the thunderous, metal-propelled Upheaval Festival at Grand Rapids’ Belknap Park on Friday afternoon, it was a comment from a fan working in a downtown high-rise more than a mile away.
“I can hear the bass from my home office,” she exclaimed on Facebook.
Thousands of attendees closer to the action certainly felt the chest-pounding bass, searing guitar, full-throated vocals and much more as the 2023 edition of Upheaval roared out of the gates with headlining sets by Lamb of God and Bring Me the Horizon, along with more than a dozen other acts.
Those “other” acts included hard-rocking Michigan bands such as Grand Rapids’ own Coldville and Mount Pleasant’s Black Out, heating up the third “Loud & Local Stage,” a new addition to this year’s festival — a festival which drew a much bigger crowd on Friday than in 2022.
“Michigan has always treated us well, and in a lot of ways, it’s the home of rock and f—ing roll,” singer Randy Blythe of Lamb of God exclaimed at one point.
The steamy weather didn’t temper the enthusiasm of that Michigan contingent of fans clad primarily in black who crowd-surfed incessantly throughout the evening. And this year’s lineup drew many fans from outside the Great Lakes State.
“I came all the way from Toronto just to see Dorothy, Bring Me the Horizon and Falling in Reverse,” said festivalgoer Ness Little.
Others cheered hometown heroes on the Loud & Local stage (chosen for the slots based on ticket sales by fans of the bands who were seeking to play).
“I don’t go out to the bars to see these bands,” said fan Renee King, “so I love this new stage because it gives me a chance to check out the local talent.”
That local talent included Coldville, with guitarist Aaron Lutz calling the band’s afternoon set “super cool. We’ve been playing around Grand Rapids for almost 10 years now, so we had a lot of friends and family pop out.”
HIGHLIGHTS — AND SOME LINEUP CHANGES
Meanwhile, fans “climbing that tall-ass” Belknap Hill (as Ghost Inside singer Jonathan Vigil put it) to check out the Lookout Stage fist-pumped for Dayseeker, Royal Bliss, Memphis May Fire and The Ghost Inside, a Los Angeles band featuring drummer and Michigan native Andrew Tkaczyk, who lost his leg after a 2015 band bus accident in Texas that eventually led him to Grand Rapids’ Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital.
British metalcore band Bring Me The Horizon closed out the night with a fan-involving performance that launched with pyrotechnics and balls of flame, followed by a robust set that inspired crowd-surfing and songs that had many chanting along.
• Mount Pleasant’s Black Out got the audience riled up as they took over the Loud and Local stage on Friday evening. The modern metal group played a tight set filled with vocal screams and heavy instrumentation.
• Lamb of God drew the attention of nearly everyone at Belknap Park with their loud, low-pitched and fast-paced performance. “Hey, Michigan! Are you ready to take a walk with me?” roared Blythe right before playing “Walk with Me in Hell.” The band’s dark and distorted set seemed to be a turning point for the crowd in terms of crowd-surfing and moshing.
(On the downside, California goth-rock/metalcore outfit In This Moment ended up not performing its late afternoon set on the main stage after a dispute of some sort over its extensive on-stage gear. Michigan’s own Dylan Delato filled in with a DJ set.)
View Friday photo galleries and a video below.
Saturday’s lineup features Falling in Reverse, Halestorm and much more. (Asking Alexandria, originally scheduled for Saturday, will be replaced by Flyleaf with Lacey Sturm.) Scroll down to view the full schedule. Saturday single-day passes are $95; info here.
PHOTO GALLERY: Upheaval Festival – Day 1
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
UPHEAVAL: UPDATED SATURDAY SCHEDULE
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