The opening day of the 2022 festival at Grand Rapids’ Belknap Park revved up thousands of metal fans, with Day 2 continuing today, starting in early afternoon. The Day 1 recap and photo gallery.
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Metal fans waiting for Grand Rapids’ Upheaval Festival to really rev up the amplitude and get things cranking on Friday needed only to climb Belknap Hill in early evening to catch guitarist Ayron Jones and his band.
With a blues-rock-meets-metal attitude, the Pacific Northwest foursome delivered a thunderous, hyper-energetic, crowd-pleasing set that sounded at times like a heavy, amped-up version of Jonny Lang.
And that was just the kickstarter for an evening that catapulted Upheaval to a metal mania frenzy thanks to Mudvayne’s main stage alt-metal antics, with scary-clown-faced lead singer Chad Gray inciting the faithful with rousing roars and a proclivity for diving right into the throngs of gleeful fans during the band’s set.
“There have only been a couple of times over the past 2-1/2 years where I could look out over the masses of the heavy metal family,” Gray told the crowd of thousands, peering out over Belknap Park. “One thing that brings us together: heavy metal … music. We’ll do anything to get back together again. So make some noise for yourselves.”
Oh, and they certainly did. The second-year Upheaval Festival attracted thousands to Grand Rapids’ Belknap Park, with the hill-rattling spectacle continuing today (Saturday) with the likes of Disturbed and Three Days Grace, not to mention Michigan’s own Heartsick and Katharsys Theory.
Tucked away in the residentially surrounded park and sporting some of modern rock’s biggest names, the Grand Rapids Upheaval festival offers Michigan metalheads an experience of legendary proportions.
BREAKING BENJAMIN CLOSES OUT DAY 1 WITH HIGH-OCTANE HITS
First-night headliner Breaking Benjamin churned out a display of high-octane hard rock, equipped with stage lights bright enough to view Grand Rapids from another planet, and pyrotechnics that would make even Michael Bay a bit jealous.
The performance was electric, to put it lightly, featuring many of the band’s biggest hits, including “I Will Not Bow,” “Angels Fall,” “So Cold,” “The Diary of Jane” and “Polyamorous.” The band succeeded in its quest to provide a highly entertaining show for fans of their old and new material — amid a crowd that seemed to double in size from any other performance earlier in the day.
At one point, the masses sang in unison so loudly that they could be heard over the instrumentation while on the hill 50 yards away, something acknowledged by frontman Benjamin Burnley.
“I wanted to come out to Upheaval because I love Starset, Nothing More and Breaking Benjamin, and I only live two-and–a-half hours away,” said festivalgoer Ebby Lynn of Detroit. “If you haven’t been to Upheaval, you need to get your ass out here. It’s so much fun.”
And while metal-loving Michiganders certainly comprised the bulk of Friday’s throng, fans from across the country were on hand for the fist-pumping action.
Diehard Mudvayne fans Mark and Lisa Storer traveled all the way from California to see their metal heroes again, meeting up at Upheaval with Mark’s brother, Don, who made the trip from Ohio. “We love Mudvayne,” Lisa Storer said, adding that the couple also is eager to catch Butcher Babies’ set at the festival early Saturday evening.
Mudvayne certainly didn’t disappoint these devotees.
With each member hiding behind either a mask or corpse paint, Mudvayne projected an image as heavy and hellish as the music they pumped out. Containing elements and influences of progressive acts such as Tool, Rush and King Crimson, Mudvayne manages to incorporate technical riffs and odd time signatures into their attack.
Performing under dark overcast skies that dominated the day, the band’s frontman described the setting as perfect for Mudvayne’s set, especially considering his last name. “What do you want? Sunshine? Give me gray all day,” he growled.
That grayness might well continue today with “considerable cloudiness” in the forecast, but expect an even more robust turnout of metalheads who savor the gloom. Find the schedule and ticket information for Day 2 of Upheaval at upheavalfest.com.
PHOTO GALLERY 1: Upheaval Festival Day 1 at Belknap Park
Photos by Anthony Norkus
Photos by Chelsea Whitaker
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