Ralston Arena Ralston, NE 8/9/17
The second year of the now annual Make America Rock Again tour stopped in our area Wednesday night. Setting up shop at the Ralston Arena, the tour brought a big time production with them as the stage erected was definitely designed to wow the crowd. A large backdrop with the tour logo and twin skull and crossbones was only overshadowed by the large and well planed light show. A nationwide tour of this size usually puts the crowd a little farther back from the stage, but this one left the alley between the stage and the barrier a bit skinnier- bringing the crowd a bit closer to the action. While the light show was definitely the highlight, the sound was not to be dismissed either. It was both clear and powerful, bringing the production value full circle.
Up first was Trapt. The California band, who has released seven studio albums and a handful of live releases took to the stage for a quick 45 minute set. Playing a good sample of their extensive library, the band doesn't seem to have lost their edge. Having gone through multiple lineup changes since forming in 1995, vocalist Chris Taylor Brown and bassist Pete Charell still anchor the group and keep the sound and consistency true to their roots. Joined now by guitarist David Sudock and drummer Brendan Hengle, the band has their sound honed in tight and doesn't seem to have lost a step.
Next on the lineup was the Australian rock trio Sick Puppies. First formed in 1997 by guitarist and singer Shimon Moore and bassist Emma Anzai, the band stayed solid and co-won an Australian band competition which allowed them to record and release their first album and an EP. When their first label folded and their original drummer left the band, they moved to LA and found new and current drummer Mark Goodwin by posting an ad on Craigslist. This led to recording and release their album Dressed Up As Life which included their breakout single “All the Same”. Three albums later the band ia now touring with new singer and guitarist Bryan Scott and, to me, they seem better than ever. The Sick Puppies were my highlight of the night as they solely depended on their talent and stage presence to wow the crowd. Filled with energy and fueled by crowd reaction, the band stepped it up a notch with every song they played. After playing what turned out to be their last song, it seemed they just wanted to keep going. Scott started to say “Do we have….”, but abruptly stopped his sentence, waved to the crowd and left the stage. It may just be my interpretation, but I think he was hoping for time to play another song. This would have been just fine with me and I'm sure would have been just fine with the rest of the crowd.
Third in line was hard rockers Drowning Pool. First formed in 1996 in Dallas, the band has had a steady core lineup of guitarist CJ Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton and drummer Mike Luce. However, tragedy, turnover and controversy plagued the bands early years. Their original vocalist, Dave Williams, died from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2002 after only one album. Since then, there has been a rotation of singers join the group until settling on current vocalist Jason Moreno in 2012. The bands biggest hit, “Bodies”, generated controversy by incorrectly being linked to a mass shooting and also being used by the US government as enhanced interrogation in Guantanamo Bay prison. Now, after 6 full length albums, the band is going strong and touring as much as possible. They've got their sound locked up tight and they all obviously fully enjoy playing to their crowds. This night, they had a very energetic set and played through many highlights of their catalog. One thing was extremely obvious during their set…..the moshpit is alive and well in the Omaha music scene. This was especially apparent during “Bodies”, which is what the song is about anyway.
The headliner for the tour was former Creed frontman Scott Stapp. Stapp has had plenty of his own controversy throughout his long career in music. A founder member of Creed, Stapp and crew earned many awards and nominations and frequently topped charts in the late 90’s. After disbanding in 2002, the band reunited to tour for a few years in 2009. Stapp played in some other bands, but has mostly focused on his solo career, his family and his philanthropic work. Interspersed with negative media attention, Stapp seems to be back on the straight and narrow and focused on his music again. Playing a good mix of his hits from Creed and his solo work, Stapp put on his show to the arena and gave his message for his “Arms Wide Open” foundation that is dedicated to helping children. At times, the performance seemed a little uninspired and almost as if his backing band had been thrown together and put on tour without much rehearsal. Regardless, the crowd reacted well and for the most part seemed to really enjoy what he brought with him.
To see more images from the night, click the link to go check out the gallery: http://nightlifeco.com/omaha/galler...