Concert-goers were all relieved when Rockstar’s Disrupt Festival announced all of the bands were going to be playing the main stage that blistering hot, sunny, and humid afternoon. Under the shady pavilion of the nearly 20,000 capacity amphitheater, those who were there early gathered in the pit for the first acts to go on.
The beginning crowd was so small that everyone who wanted one had a barricade spot. Seeing as it was the day after the 4th of July, the small crowd size was to be expected. Artists acted one of two ways towards the crowd: one, they were disappointed and put very little effort or emotion in to their performance, and two, took the large stage with small crowd as an opportunity to put on a great, yet intimate, show (isn’t that what fans want to see anyway?).
The vendors at the festival were set up very similarly to Warped Tour and many of the same people were there. Out of all of the vendors, the Hope For The Day tent really stood out. They were so kind and knowledgeable about both the festival itself and their organization. On stage there were many artists wearing bracelets from them. It was really nice to see these artists supporting a cause and taking initiative to educate themselves about mental health awareness, as the music industry is a breeding ground for poor mental health.
At 1:30 June Divided took the stage. Having only a few people in the audience seemed to shake them up at first, but their performance was great. The lighting for their set was done incredibly well compared to other acts, who are far larger, that followed during the day. Having never heard of them before the show, I’d like to call myself a fan now.
Hyro The Hero had the most energetic performance of the day and it was by far the most memorable, as he spent little time on the ground. Despite the small crowd, the band got a most pit going and delivered an impressive, physically demanding performance despite the heat. Juliet Simms worked the stage like it was a runway. Dressed in a snakeskin print pantsuit and enormous wedge heels, she put on an amazing lighter rock performance. Trophy Eyes had a core group of fans who went all out for them, it was hard to miss the energy during their hits. Though there was energy in the crowd, vocalist John Floreani was glued to his mic-stand the entire time with his hands behind his back, which led to a pretty boring performance visually. Pulling from the several times I’ve seen them live, it seems like this is the norm.
Memphis May Fire still slays every performance. Matty Mullins hasn’t aged a day since 2006 and still has the same energy and voice at each and every show- quite impressive for his vocally challenging music and energetic performances. Jake Garland’s double bass drum parts and his happy/smiling facial expressions are what made their set. Very rarely do you see a drummer up there having the best time, and every performance is like that with Jake.
Sleeping With Sirens closed out the first half of the show with the most anticipated performance of the day for many fans. Playing their new catchy single “Leave It All Behind” with a mix of their most popular songs like “If You Can’t Hang” the crowd was going wild the entire time. It’s hard to miss their performance with Kellin Quinn’s newly dyed blonde hair whipping around the stage. The most popular band merchandise that fans were wearing was for SWS, both old shirts and new. Atreyu’s Porter McKnight and Dan Jacobs stole the show. It may not be legitimate science, but when two artists interact with each other on stage they definitely sound better and create another level of musical fusion that transcends into the audience. It gets people excited when they see artists playing together and not just doing their own thing on opposite sides of the stage. The crowd was engaged the entire set because of their choreography and stage design/lighting that worked very well in the amphitheater.
The Story So Far, though they played all of their hits, were not a notable performance. All of the members were glued to where they were standing and didn’t even crack a smile. At the same time, even dating back to interviews in 2012, it’s always been about the music for them and less about a flashy performance.
Anthony Green, vocalist of Circa Survive, took the small crowd in stride. For the entirely of the first song he was in the crowd and pit singing with his fans and rocking out with them. Very rarely do bigger artists get to really interact with their fans during the performance safely like that, especially during a Circa Survive show where it can get pretty rowdy in the pit. For fans it must have been a really cool experience. The Used had the biggest and rowdiest crowd, which matched their performance. The Used doesn’t ever disappoint, they interact with the fans at the barricade, make faces at the cameras, and put on a well-choreographed and designed show every time.
The night closed with Thrice, who delivered a steady rock performance. The fans that stayed to see them were all let into the pit despite their ticket and received an intimate, yet hugely produced, rock show.
All photos by Leigh Ann Rodgers