It was a gorgeous night in Dubuque, IA for the next to last day of the Dubuque County Fair. The heat and humidity from the rest of the week finally giving way to a cool, dry night!
I got to the venue a little later than I like, but thinking there were only two bands, I thought I had a little time to get to the stage. WRONG! As I am getting my credentials, I am told that Starset has been added to the lineup and that they were going on a half hour before the original start time. So it was off to the races! I arrived at the stage just as the intro music for Starset began!
I must say I wasn’t really sure what to expect from Starset. They were fairly new to the scene the first time I photographed them, and their techno style didn’t really sit right with me the first time. Over time, I have grown to like their music and was excited to see how that translated to the live performance. It didn’t take long to see that these guys are for real! Flawless in their execution both musically and with their stage presence, they were a perfect start to the evening. They even added a mini-string section to enhance the performance even more. Roaring through hits like “My Demons”, “Carnivore”, “Monster”, and “Ricochet” they won over the crowed in quick fashion. I think it is safe to say, with another album and a little more exposure, these guys will be headlining shows soon!
Next to hit the stage was Pop Evil! This is a band that has quietly made it the mainstream. Until you see them live, you just don’t realize how many hits this band has! Opening with “Trenches” and following with hits like “Boss’ Daughter”, “Ways To Get High”, “Torn To Pieces”, “100 In A 55”, and “Footsteps”. That is only a sample of the songs included in their set! Leigh Kakaty is a master at making the crowd feel like they are part of the show and leaves all energy on the stage! Nick Fueling and Davy Grahs trading solos, each adding their own style and energy to the performance. Matt DiRito is one of the most underrated bass players in the music industry today! Stomping around the stage and swinging his hair, this guy can amp up a crowd with the best of them making him a perfect compliment to their front man. Newest member Hayley Cramer on drums has picked up right where her predecessor left off bringing an energy to the kit that compliments and ties the rest of the band together. Another great performance, but who would have expected anything else!
After Pop Evil and Starset, you would think that the crowd would be spent. But as the lights dimmed to the night’s headliner, the shout from the crowd was enough to realize they were in for the long haul!
Hinder hit the stage running and didn’t look back! Opening their set with “All American Nightmare” and including hits like “Up All Night Night”, “Use Me”, “Lips of an Angel” and many more.
This was my first time seeing Hinder with new front man Marshal Dutton, and I was pleasantly surprised. I have seen too many bands try to bring in a clone of their previous singer and in most cases it just doesn’t go over well. I must compliment this band on bringing in a singer with his own style and sound. It is a refreshing change from the status quo when it comes to new members! Dutton played to the crowd like a pro, frequently moving to the front of the stage to high five and fist bump the folks in the front row. But, the rest of crowd wasn’t left out as he got the entire arena singing, clapping and screaming.
The rest of the band has been doing this a long time and have not slowed down. Joe “Blower” Garvey and Mark King crisscross the stage and moving to middle during solos to make sure equal time was given to everyone there. Cody Hanson and Mike Rodden make up the rhythm section and work together perfectly to round out a fantastic performance! If the crowd had any energy left by the end of their set, that was most definitely spent during the final song of the night….”Get Stoned”! With Dutton going back and forth with the crowd on the chorus and extending the song for quite some time, it was the perfect ending to a fantastic night!
I must compliment the Dubuque County Fairgrounds board for bringing in such as fantastic lineup. But they haven’t disappointed in the past and I expect they will have a strong lineup next year. A great night for all and I hope to be able to cover this even again next year!