Sunday, September 17th was a special day for rock fans in Florida. Due to Hurricane Irma, most of the Florida shows were cancelled. The Orlando stop at the Central Florida Fairgrounds was still on. The tour was honoring people who had tickets to the cancelled Florida stops to come to the Orlando show. And we were on hand to cover the show.
It was hot and sunny at the Central Florida Fairgrounds. Fans were lined up waiting for doors to open. Some carried lawn chairs, others had blankets, while others were wearing shirts representing their favorite bands on the tour. When they started letting the crowd enter there was one main merchandise booth when you walked in and food and drink booths all along the ride hand side before you reached the stage. The Central Florida Fairgrounds boasts a large stage and open lawn venue known as the Orlando Amphitheater. For this show, the area was separated into two sections: VIP and General Admission. The VIP was simply a gated area closer to the stage and everywhere else was VIP.
A number of other music review outlets where there also covering the show. The crowd itself before the first bands went on was not very big. It’s possible people didn’t come who had tickets worrying more about getting their power back than attending the show. A number of fans discovered the drink booth that was selling tall plastic tubular cups of alcoholic slushies. When I asked someone about them they said the price of the drink was almost as much as a ticket price. There were also beer vendors walking around the grounds with wheelbarrows filled with ice, beer, and water.
The tour kicked off with Adelitas Way taking the stage. The band from Las Vegas, NV formed back in 2006 releasing the self titled album in 2009. The lead single “Invincible” made a huge impact including being used by the WWE for their Superstars TV show and in their Raw vs. Smackdown video game. They released 4 additional studio albums and 1 EP with all of them gaining good success on the Billboard charts. Adelitas Way consists of Rick DeJesus (vocals), Trevor “Tre” Stafford (drums), and Andrew Cushing (bass). They also have touring member Ryan Guanzon (guitar) joining them. Some of their set list included “The Collapse”, “Bad Reputation”, “Notorious”, and “Invincible”. Adelitas Way played a hard rocking set and Rick even got one of the food vendors to deliver pizza to him during their set. He ended up giving the pizza to a fan.
Trapt was the next band to take the stage. Originally from Los Gatos, CA they were formed in 1995 while they were still in high school. By 1999 the band sold their self produced album ‘Amalgamation’ at their local shows. In 2000 they produced an EP titled ‘The Glimpse’. It wasn’t until 2001 where they first found major success signing with Warner Bros. Records and released their self titled album in 2002. The first single, which is still one of their most recognized, “Headstrong”, reached number 1 on the Modern Rock Tracks and the Hot Mainsteam Rock Tracks charts. They continued on releasing 5 more studio albums with their most recent ‘DNA’ released in 2016. Trapt consists of Chris Taylor Brown (vocals, rhythm guitar), David Sudock (lead guitar), Peter Charell (bass), and Brendan Hengle (drums). They put on a very impressive set performing some of their most well known songs included “Still Frame”, “Bring It”, “Castaway”, “Echo”, and “Headstrong”.
As the sun was starting to go down on the horizon providing a beautiful orange hue behind the Fairgrounds, Drowning Pool took the stage. The band who formed in Dallas, TX back in 1996. They originally performed as an instrumental group until 1999 when vocalist Dave Williams joined. The band recorded a demo that caught the attention of Sevendust. They toured with them getting their demo out there and eventually signed with Wind-Up Records. In 2001 they released their debut album ‘Sinner’ which went platinum in 6 weeks. “Bodies” was the most recognizable track from that album. Unfortunately, Dave Williams passed away in 2001 from an unknown heart condition. Over the next 5 albums the band had 3 different vocalists. Their latest album was ‘Hellelujah’ released in 2016. Drowning Pool left it all on the stage rocking out hard and even having Jansen Moreno (vocals) going into the crowd to close the set with “Bodies”. The rest of Drowning Pool is C.J. Pierce (guitar), Mike Luce (drums), and Stevie Benton (bass). Some of their set list also included “Sinner”, “Step Up”, “Feel Like I Do”, and “Tear Away”.
As night fell over the Fairgrounds the stage lights came on and The Sick Puppies took the stage. Originally formed in 1997 by former vocalist Shimon Moore and Emma Anzai when they met in high school. Once they found a drummer they made a demo and entered a contest in 2000 which brought them to a management deal and releasing their first album ‘Welcome to the Real World’. After their record label folded, the band decided to move from Australia to Los Angeles and continue their career. They released 4 more studio albums and 2 EPs, with 1 of them being a live acoustic album. In October 2014 a major change occurred when Shimon Moore announced he was leaving the band. In February 2016 Bryan Scott was announced as the new lead vocalist. The Sick Puppies had the crowd jumping and bouncing that night with their performance and were bouncing around stage themselves. The band currently consists of Bryan Scott (vocals, guitar), Emma Anzai (bass), and Mark Goodwin (drums). Some of their set list included “War”, “Riptide”, “Stick To Your Guns”, and “You’re Going Down”.
Last, and definitely not least, Scott Stapp took the stage. Scott was born and raised in Orlando, FL, so he was definitely enjoying being home and called that out to the crowd during his performance. Scott was the lead vocalist and founder of Creed. After his time with the band he focused on his solo career. He released ‘The Great Divide’ in November 2005 and it went platinum in a month and was considered a great success. Scott release his second album ‘Proof of Life’ in 2013 which also had good success on the Billboard charts. In 2016, Scott took over as the lead vocalist for Art of Anarchy for the deceased Scott Weiland. In 2017 Art of Anarchy released their second album, ‘The Madness’, which had very positive reviews. Scott was then signed on to headline the Make America Rock Again 2017 tour. Scott was definitely in top form performing for the Orlando crowd and was very emotional when announcing he and his wife were expecting another child before performing “With Arms Wide Open”. Scott only performed one song from his solo career, “Slow Suicide”, from the ‘Proof of Life’ album. The rest of his set were all Creed songs including “Bullets”, “Overcome”, “My Own Prison”, “What If”, “Higher”, “One Last Breath”, and “My Sacrifice”.
Overall, Make America Rock Again was an enjoyable tour. The bands provided solid performances and the crowd appreciated them all. As the fans were leaving they were smiling and some heading for the merchandise booth before they left to take home memories of the show. If you have the opportunity to go to one of the tour stops, go see it, and enjoy hours of great music from these great artists.