Arizona Rock Radio 98 KUPD Presents UFEST Featuring: Godsmack, I Prevail, Nothing More, Fozzy, The Warning, Grey Daze and The Black Moods – Concert Review AZ Talking Stick Resort Amphitheater 05-06-23
Review and Photos by Roc Boyum
Arizona Rock Radio station 98 KUPD hosted their annual UFEST rock concert festival at the newly renamed Talking Stick Resort Amphitheater (formally Ak-Chin Pavilion). This year’s lineup featured some of the greatest names in rock music today with Godsmack, I Prevail, Nothing More, Fozzy, The Warning, Grey Daze and The Black Moods. The festival got underway at 2:30 pm at this great outdoor venue on a beautiful Spring Saturday afternoon which was a very pleasant and rare 81 degrees in Phoenix, AZ.
The Black Moods:
Considering that The Black Moods hail from Tempe, AZ – I can think of no other way to launch this festival into high gear than with a kick ass Arizona homegrown hard rock band. For those of you who didn’t attend this show (don’t miss this next year) and if you’re not yet familiar with the The Black Moods; let’s get this introduction done right now. They are a power trio consisting of guitarist/vocalist Josh Kennedy, bassist Jordan Hoffman and drummer Chico Diaz who are a no nonsense hard rock band that are bringing back the timeless sound of an era gone by. Make no mistake, these guys are pure hard rock who came out of the gate with a sound that hit everyone right between the eyes and continued to rock the house without any breaks or bullshit for their entire set.
Get into The Black Moods Here!
Get Into The Black Moods here!
Grey Daze are another Phoenix, AZ based hard rock band who have re-emerged to take the stage after the loss of their late great singer, Chester Bennington (Linkin Park). The band has been reunited for live shows with Cris Hodges on vocals to honor the works of Grey Daze with Bennington. The band gave the UFEST attendees a ripping eight song set of their post-grunge/alternative music from their two studio LPs and their latest 2020 release Amends that features Bennington’s vocals from their 1990’s recordings that were previously shelved due to Bennington’s untimely death. Grey Daze are keeping the music that they created with Bennington alive and hitting stages everywhere hard with their music.
Get Into Grey Daze Here!
The Warning are an Alternative Rock/Hard Rock band who hail from Monterrey Mexico and the band was formed in 2013 by the three sisters, Daniela Villarreal Velez (Guitar-Lead vocals), Paulina Villarreal Velez (Drums, Lead and Backing Vocals) and Alejandra Villarreal Velez (Bass Guitar, Backing Vocals). The band currently has three studio albums to their credit and have done extensive touring across Mexico and the Americas, North and South.
The band gave the Phoenix audience a fiery seven song set that was mostly comprised of songs from their latest 2022 Lava Records release Error. The band also included a cover of Metallica’s Enter Sandman which incidentally was the song that pretty much launched their career after they uploaded this song to their YouTube channel as a kick ass cover of this Metallica classic from 2014.
The Warning are three girls who are fearless, hard rocking and taking the world by storm, one country at a time.
Get into The Warning Here!
Get Into The Warning Here!
Next up was the hard rock band Fozzy, who are fronted by the dynamic persona known as Chris Jericho that many of you may know from his notoriety as a famed wrestler; which explains why he is so damn fit! The band rocked the Phoenix audience with a seven song set that was culled from four of their six studio LP’s and an interesting and charged up version of the Frankie Goes to Hollywood classic, Relax. Jericho would continually whip the audience into a frenzy throughout their show with his athletic moves and commanding presence. The band are all A-list musicians who delivered a driving performance that was highly entertaining and kicked-ass from the moment they hit the stage.
Get into Fozzy here!
Get Into Fozzy Here!
Nothing More hit the stage with a ten song set that was simply amazing. These guys always put on a great show, and this show was no exception – with everyone in the band putting out 110%. I’ve had the pleasure of catching these guys live many times, and on this show, their sound was brilliant, loud, and so damn heavy; it was especially ass kicking which really made their music come alive. The Talking Stick Resort Amphitheater is a large 20,000 plus capacity outdoor venue that was packed all the way to the back of the venue and when these guys hit the stage – everyone in attendance, the entire crowd were completely mesmorized and could not stop rocking-out to these guys. So, it was interesting to see the audience’s response when singer Jonny Hawkins asked the audience for a show of hands to see how many people have seen NM live before. Considering that everyone was totally getting into the band, I had expected that most everyone would have raised their hands – but only about half in attendance had their hands raised. This of course meant that half of the peeps there were hearing NM live for the first time which is a complete blow mind considering how renowned in the rock world these guys are, and how completely into this band the audience was.
The band played a brilliant 10 song set that was culled from their last three LP’s, Nothing More, The Stories We Tell Ourselves and Spirits, respectively. From their latest Spirits LP, they kicked out four songs which are all meant to be played live and loud and sounded much heavier than they do on disc; which is exactly as it should be! In the middle of “Turn It Up Like” off Spirits , singer Hawkins jumped up on top of their metal contraption known as “Scorpion Tail“, with Hawkins working the levers on the machine to evoke a melodic wailing of electronic sounds that are a musical solo; taking the listener on a cosmic interstellar ride.
Then, all of the sudden, the music stopped…..the band hammered out some sparse chords with Hawkins belting out opening lyrics to the Black Sabbath classic, “War Pigs” that really fired up the audience from the front of the stage to the far reaches of the back lawn.
Nothing More never disappoints and they are always pushing their musical and entertaining boundaries with every show and every LP to give their audiences an unforgettable show that can be life changing. Be sure to catch these guys live!
Get Into Nothing More Here!
I Prevail have been making a meteoric rise in recent years and there is no doubt that their live performances exemplifies why these guys have been gaining so much attention. The band gave the Phoenix audience a scorching 12 song set that was made up of material from all three of their studio LP’s with seven songs coming from their latest True Power LP. Speaking of the True Power LP, this LP is considered by many, to be their finest work to date and and hearing these songs lives, serves to validate that sentiment. Some of the fan favorites from True Power are “Body Bag”, “Bad Things” and “The Fear Of Letting Go“. Watching the band perform all the material from True Power was especially moving considering that the True Power LP might have never happened and is really a tail of their trials and tribulations!
Since the LP was created during the pandemic and took two plus years to get completed and both singers in the band needed to dig deep to find the resolve to move on from their personal tragedies; it seems that True Power is the apropos album title for a band with the name…..I prevail.
This was my first opportunity to catch these guys live and let me tell you…their energy level is way over the top! First off, they have an interesting stage set up that includes a cat walk at the front of the stage, that runs the width of the stage. This is the perfect vehicle for singers Brian Burkheiser (clean vocals) and Eric Vanlerberghe (clean and gravel vocals) to run on, perform on, and interact with the audience at a slight elevation from the stage that imparts a unique perspective and opportunity to connect with their audiences.
Everyone in the band was in top form on this show which left this Arizona audience not only wanting more but the chance to see these guys on a headline tour and a full length show.
Get Into I Prevail Here!
Godsmack brought their explosive performance with a fiery end to this day of monumental music.
Singer/front-man Sully Erna and company came out of the gate with an explosive show that was comprised of thirteen songs in their regular set and two encore songs. The material presented spanned their entire career which included the legendary drum battle between singer Erna and drummer Shannon Larkin aka “Batalla de los tambores.” Their 2006 LP IV was the only LP omitted from their show and their latest 2023 release Lighting Up the Sky was the LP most represented with five songs. The band also presented songs from their highly acclaimed 2018 LP When Legends Rise with three classics, “Bulletproof”, “Under Your Scars” and “When Legends Rise.” Throughout their show, Erna would impart some of the meaning to their material that gave an insight to their thoughts and what a given song means to them.
To introduce the song “Something Different”, Erna reached out to the audience to talk about really connecting with them on a purely musical level; cool right? The concept was to have everyone there, experience the music on their own terms without… this fancy ass pyro and fancy ass light show (as Erna put it) ,and for everyone to just enjoy the music. They were for a moment, going for that old school vibe with the only “real” show effects coming from their lighters or cellphones lit up by the audience. He also asked for the ladies in the audience to close their eyes and think about that one guy in their past (who treated them wrong). Erna went on to say that this song is dedicated to those MF’s; which is really a big middle finger to that sorry sack of shit for mistreating their ladies by being abusive; because there’s no place in this world for that kind of behavior. Of course this is 2023 and not 1967, so the big lights and pyro came back; because we have the technology and it’s so damn cool!!!
Another awesome part of the show is the “Batalla de los tambores.” (drum battle) between singer Erna and drummer Shannon Larkin; which isn’t really a battle but more of two great musicians trading drum fills and grooves and having a blast playing the drums together!
For their last song in their regular set, “Whatever,” Erna rambled-on to the audience on a variety of subjects before getting to the point, which was the upcoming audience participation. To get the Phoenix crowd really fired up, he imparted that the previous Denver audience was a bunch of pussy’s for not fully engaging in this final call and answer participation. This of course had everyone at the venue joining in; especially when the band unfurled a large banner that had a picture of all their LP’s and the words…..Thank you for 25 years!
At the end of their regular set, the Phoenix audience continued to cheer until the band came back on stage for their final two songs of the night; “Surrender” and “I Stand Alone.” “I Stand Alone” is definitely a fan favorite and was originally a single on the soundtrack for movie Scorpion King before ending up on Faceless LP; the band’s third LP released in 2003.
At the end of the night with the band bathed in some blinding white lighting, Erna thanked Phoenix for being a great F..kin’ crowd.
Godsmack, after 25 years are still one of the best rock bands out there and always give their audiences an over the top show of great music and a great concert experience!
Get into Godsmack here!
Get Into Godsmack here!