The Music as a Weapon II tour made the following point very clear on Monday night: With all the unrest going on in the world, sometimes rock music is the best way to escape it.
Featuring modern rock acts Disturbed, Chevelle, Taproot and Unloco, the show powerfully swept into Rochester and left a lasting impression on the approximately 8,000 screaming fans at the Blue Cross Arena.
Texas-based Unloco, whose second album, "Becoming i," hit stores in January, took the stage first and immediately set the tone for their set with Joey Duenas' powerful lead vocals. He was complimented well by his band mates, who each provided commanding music and beats. Unlike other metal bands, the instruments did not drown out Duenas' vocals.
Next on tap was Chevelle, the Chicago-based band recently buoyed by the success of their hit song, "The Red." As if acknowledging the troubling times the country is facing, the group introduced itself with Neil Diamond's "America" playing in the background. But once they emerged from the darkness and on to the stage, the band quickly jumped right into a charging beat, getting the crowd on their feet and the mosh pit rolling.
The group, formed in 1995, consists of the Loeffler brothers - Sam (drums), Pete (vocals, guitar) and Joe (bass). Taking a cue from Tool's soft/loud style of instrumentation and their melodic vocals, Chevelle delivered an intense, but melodic set.
Although most of the songs Chevelle played were from their most recent LP, "Wonder What's Next," the band played a few tunes from their first album, "Point #1."
Pete Loeffler noted the war with Iraq, saying, "It's great to see all of you people here and forget about all the bull-- in the world."
After playing for about a half hour, the band closed the set with "The Red," which made the audience roar.
After a brief intermission that enabled the audience to regain some steam, Taproot took the stage and immediately had the arena rocking all over again. While unable to capture the audience as well as Chevelle did, Taproot still put on quite a show, utilizing heavy rock anthems combined with the slick vocals of front man Stephen Richards.
The band, which formed in Detroit in 1997, played most of the tracks off their most recent release, "Welcome," including "Myself," "Breathe" and "Mine." During their intense performance, a mob of eager concertgoers bombarded the floor of the arena, avoiding several security guards staked out on the outer rim of the enclosed floor.
"To all those people who just pushed their ways into the mosh pit, you guys are f-ing awesome and that is mad cool ... enjoy the show!" Richards said, drawing screams from the crowd.
Taproot closed the set with their radio hit, "Poem," and then exited the stage to a series of cheers.
As the anticipation to Disturbed grew greater with each passing moment, the floor slowly became packed and breathing room more of a luxury. While the stage crew prepared the band's set, the crowd became antsy for action.
Suddenly, a woman was thrust on to the shoulders of a man and what followed next had a snowball effect. The crowd was soon treated to a bevy of topless women who refused to be shown up by the first nudist.
After the chaos subsided, the lights dimmed and it was time for the feature act to take center stage. The curtains were raised, the band started jamming, and after a few minutes, powerful lead vocalist Dave Draiman suddenly appeared and flowed right into the band's upbeat anthems.
Draiman and the rest of the Disturbed crew played about an equal number of tracks from both their 2000 breakout album, "The Sickness," and their follow-up release, "Believe."
Draiman and his band-mates Dan Donegan (guitar), Mike Wengren (drums) and Fuzz (bass) fed off the crowd's enthusiasm and played an inspired set that had the audience moving in all directions.
Based on Monday's performance, Draiman's empowering lyrics, coupled with his deep, Gothic voice, has an ability to captivate an audience in ways few mainstream artists today can. The crowd's approving response to the band was so loud, the entire arena vibrated as the band left the stage. They returned for a two-song encore, including chart toppers "Stupify" and their recent hit single, "Prayer."
Offering words of solace in regards to the Iraqi conflict, Draiman wished the best for the fate of the country, shouting, "These are troubling times in the world and let's fight back using music as a weapon and help to end this f-ing war!"