Words by Taylor Ostrick | Photos by Jenn Curtis
The last day of Rock’N Derby featured scattered rain showers in the afternoon, but a bit of rain was not enough the stop the show from going on. The packed final day would feature Enter Shikari, SIXX:A.M., Trivium, Sevendust, Coheed and Cambria, Megadeth, and headliners Shinedown.
Trivium, a heavy metal/metalcore band from Orlando, Florida, who formed in 1999, took to the Derby Stage on Sunday for a 3:20 pm set. The veteran band has released seven studio albums and sold over a million albums throughout their seventeen-year career.
Trivium kicked off their set with “Strife,” a song from their 2013 album Vengeance Falls. The song’s driving beat and rapid fire drum work make it an appealing opener. The heavier “Down From the Sky,” from the group’s 2008 album Shogun, was highlight of their set with its rapid pacing and volleying between clean and unclean vocals. Trivium showcased some of their heavier material from earlier on in their career with performances of “Rain,” and “Pull Harder on the Strings of Your Martyr,” from their 2005 album Ascendancy, as well as current hit single “Until the World Goes Cold,” from their 2015 album Silence in the Snow. The song’s radio ready soaring hook and more polished sound made it another standout in the band’s set that appealed to a wide range of fans that were in attendance. Trivium closed their set with “In Waves,” a song from their 2011 album of the same name, which had the fans going wild and singing along enthusiastically. By the time their set was over, it was apparent why Trivium was experienced so much success and longevity throughout their career.
Sevendust, a metal band from Atlanta, Georgia that formed in 1994, followed Trivium on the Derby Stage in the 4:30 pm time slot. Today, the band, comprised of lead vocalist Lajon Witherspoon, guitarist Clint Lowery, rhythm guitarist John Connolly, bassist Vince Hornsby, and drummer Morgan Rose, has ten studio albums, sold millions of albums, and toured with Korn, Staind, Godsmack, Disturbed and Metallica, Creed, Kid Rock and Limp Bizkit over the course of their career.
The band is known for their frenetic energy and non-stop movement on stage, led by the charismatic Witherspoon, who commands a crowd like the seasoned veteran he, and the other members in his band are. Sevendust made sure to include songs from a variety of albums in their discography, both new and old. Performances of songs like the bellowed “Not Today,” from their most recent 2015 album Kill the Flaw, the grungy and rhythmic “Home,” from their 1999 album of the same name, the erratic “Face to Face,” from their 2003 album Seasons, and the bold “Decay,” from their 2013 album Black Out the Sun. “Thank You,” a song that combines metal with classic rock, and clean and unclean vocals from Kill the Flaw, was a standout moment in Sevendust’s set. Sevendust’s stage presence, reliant on the charisma and personalities of its band members provided an intoxicating contrast with Ghost, who would follow them shortly after on the Derby Stage.
The always entertaining and theatrical Ghost was next to play the Derby Stage starting at 5:40 pm. Ghost is a Swedish heavy metal band that formed in 2008, and is most well-known by the fact that nobody knows their true identities, as they always were masks that cover their entire faces when they perform. The masks and anonymity add an air of mystery and eeriness to the band, who have two gold selling albums, and have a 2016 Grammy under their belts for Best Metal Performance.
Ghost took the stage in their usual eccentric costumes, with lead singer Papa Emeritus’s in his skeleton priest outfit, and the “nameless ghouls” similarly decked out. The band is a fun one to see live because of their dedication to theatrics, unique stage presence and dynamic abilities as performers despite fans never getting a glimpse of their faces.
The band’s set on Sunday heavily featured their 2013 album, Meliora, including the catchy “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” the rumbling guitar heavy “Cirice,” the leeringly creepy “Absolution,” and the delightfully strange “Mummy Dust.” Both “Cirice” and “From Pinnacle to Pit were singles for Meliora, and each song was received well by the audience, who seemed to have enjoyed Ghost’s most recent album immensely. The band closed their set with “Prime Mover,” a song from their 2010 album Opus Eponymous, that features a crackly guitar throughout with Papa Emeritus’s distinctive vocals meandering through. Fans clearly enjoyed Ghost’s set, and the band displayed what makes them unforgettable live.
Sixx:A.M., a hard rock band formed in 2007 took the Rock’N Stage for a 6:30 pm set. The group, comprised of former Motley Crue bassist Nicky Sixx, guitarist DJ Ashba, and lead vocalist James Michael, has released four studio albums together, and has toured with Buckcherry, Papa Roach, and Trapt.
Sixx:A.M. began their set with the catchy and rebellious single “This is Gonna Hurt,” from their 2011 album of the same name. The band filled the middle of their set with another song from This Is Gonna Hurt, called “Lies of the Beautiful People,” and pop-rocker “Stars,” from their 2014 album Modern Vintage.
Predictably, a large portion of Sixx:A.M.’s set was dedicated to songs from their brand new album released April 2016 called Prayers for the Damned, including single “Rise,” “When We Were Gods,” “Prayers for the Damned,” and “Everything Went to Hell.” “Rise,” features a massive, arena rock like chorus, while “When We Were God’s” brought a theatric note to the set, and the fierce “Everything Went to Hell,” took the intensity up several notches. It was clear that the band was aiming high with their new album, and positive reception the fans in attendance gave the new tracks made it apparent that the group had reached that goal.
Sixx:A.M. closed their set with perhaps their most popular song, “Life Is Beautiful,” from their 2008 album The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack. The song is a well know favorite that had fans up and moving and singing along each time the chorus hit.
Coheed and Cambria provided direct support for Shinedown at 7:00 pm on the Derby Stage. The group formed in 1995, and specialized in creating concept albums based on a sci-fi series called The Amory Wars, which was written by Claudio Sanchez, and have materialized as comic books and novels. Coheed and Cambria has eight full length studio albums, and numerous musical influences, many of which are classic rock icons, including Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd, The Police, Thin Lizzy and Queen, and Iron Maiden.
The band, having been together for over 21 years, have a stable of hits to trot out during live shows, including staple hits from their 2003 album In Keeping Secrets of Silent Earth: 3, such as the title track, “A Favor House Atlantic,” and “Blood Red Summer.” The crowd was familiar with each song, singing the lyrics back easily to the band, pleased to hear some of their older favorites.
Coheed and Cambria also played more recent hits such as “Ghost,” “Island,” and “You’ve Got the Spirit Kid,” from their 2015 album The Color Before the Sun, all of which were received well by the crowd, who enjoyed the more polished pop-rock, radio friendly sound of the album. The adaptations and growth Coheed and Cambria displayed on The Color Before the Sun is a perfect example of why the band has been able to maintain success in an industry where it is often fleeting. Their recent shift in sound is one that is more modern and appealing to a wide range of fans, both new and old. Coheed and Cambria closed their set with “Welcome Home,” a song from their 2005 record Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV, Vol. 1-From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. The track has a distinct theatric feel to it, and it thrives on rangy guitar riffs and hypnotic vocal delivery by front man Claudio Sanchez. “Welcome Home,” was greeted by a warm reception from the crowd, and acted as the perfect transition into Shinedown’s set.
Megadeth, a thrash metal band who came together in 1983 (and reformed in 2004), was next up to the Rock’N Stage at 8:00pm on Sunday night. The group, who have sold over 50 million albums worldwide, is considered one of the metal genre’s original “big four” along with Anthrax, Metallica and Slayer. Additionally, Megadeth has five platinum selling albums and eleven Grammy nominations under their belt.
The band kicked off their set with the growly and dramatic “Prince of Darkness,” which effectively got the crowd warmed up for the rest of the music to come. The band took it way back to 1990 with memorable performances of classic rock influenced songs “Hangar 18,” and “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due,” from their album Rust in Peace. Both songs featured signature long and satisfying guitar solos that allowed the crowd time to jam out properly. The band also included the sarcastic and politically charged “Peace Sells,” from their 1986 album of the same name in their set, which was the oldest track they played all night.
Unsurprisingly, Megadeth’s current album Dystopia, released in January 2016, was a focal point of their set on Sunday with the inclusion of “The Threat Is Real,” a delightfully eye opening track, “Dystopia,” which features some more modern sounding elements, and “Fatal Illusion,” a dynamic burst of instrumental brilliance pierced by stabbing lyrics of confrontation. The new tracks still have the classic “Megadeth” feel that is beloved by longtime fans, but they also have a more modern and updated sound that new fans can appreciate. The crowd displayed their clear approval of Dystopia with loud cheers and thunderous applause after each song. Megadeth closed their set with “Silent Scorn,” a song from their 2001 album The World Need’s A Hero, an all instrumental track that features a pleasing combination of relaxing guitar, drums and horns that subtly thrums its way into your subconscious. It was a nice and rare twist for the band to end on a quieter note, providing the perfect transition for those who would be migrating to the Derby Stage to see the remainder of Shinedown’s set.
Headliners Shinedown were the last band of the evening, and the weekend to take the stage at Rock’N Derby. The band, who has achieved worldwide success and fame, has been making radio ready hard rock hits since their formation in 2001. They have since created five studio records, sold over six million albums and released a multi-week #1 hit single that since went triple platinum. The band unsurprisingly pulled a huge crowd for their set who swarmed eagerly one last time to the Derby Stage at the far end of the fairgrounds. There was a palpable feeling of anticipation in the air as fans waited for one of rock’s most lucrative and prosperous band’s to close out the festival with a bang.
Shinedown opened their set with the first track on their 2015 album Threat to Survival, called “Asking For It,” a lively track with a pleasing alternative feel to it. The band’s current album was well represented outside of the first track in their set, with performances of the irresistibly hook heavy single “Stage of My Head,” which never fails get stuck in one’s head, and the dynamic lead single “Cut the Cord,” which features heavy beats which are subsequently sliced up by front man Brent Smith’s powerful vocals in an anthemic chorus. Both tracks reached #1 on the Billboard Mainstream Rock chart, and provided the band with some of their biggest hits to date.
The band filled the middle of their set with three tracks from their 2012 album Amaryllis: an inspiring and uplifting mid-tempo song “Unity,” the combative up-tempo number “Enemies,” and the romantic “I’ll Follow You.” Each was well received by the crowd, as was the album itself, which reached #1 on the US Billboard Rock, Hard Rock and Alternative Albums charts, and was certified Gold by the RIAA in 2014. The band also went way back in time to 2003, with performances of the grungy rocker “Fly From the Inside,” and the chillingly somber “45,” off of their album Leave a Whisper. After the gloomier track, the group picked things back up with the spirited and forceful “Diamond Eyes,” from their 2008 album The Sound of Madness. Shinedown performed their biggest hit yet, the iconic
“Second Chance,” (also from The Sound of Madness) before leaving the stage for a short time to give fans the chance to cheer for more. There wasn’t a person on site that didn’t know “Second Chance,” a fact that was reflected by the way the crowd bellowed the lyrics back the band so loudly they could be heard from the parking lot. The song went triple platinum, and hit #1 on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks, Hot Modern Rock Tracks and Hot Adult Top 40 tracks, as well as #7 on the all-genre Billboard Hot 100, and #3 on the Mainstream Top 40 Radio chart. The group returned to the stage for an encore with a stellar cover of Lynryd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man,” before closing their set with “Sound of Madness,” a guitar heavy atmospheric song from Sound of Madness, that inspired fans to sing along one final time.
The first Rock’N Derby provided fans in the Upstate New York area with three wonderful days of rock music, ranging from metal to pop punk, various delicious food options, as well as a Demolition Derby for those looking for non-music related entertainment. Loaded lineups and beautiful late Spring weather ensured that fans showed up to the Schagticoke Fairgrounds in droves for the change to see some of their favorite bands. There is no doubt that all in attendance experienced stellar live music and made memories that they will never forget.