WORDS BY DAVID TAYLOR AND PHOTOS BY ROBERT A CHADWICK | Go Venue Magazine
Every May in Council Bluffs, 89.7 the River always sets forth to bring the best of the best in active rock to Westfair Amphitheater in a festival atmosphere. This year’s iteration, known as River Riot, was not any different. May 10, 2019 was a great day for live music!
As per usual, 89.7 the River likes to showcase a local band to open the festival. This year’s opener was Omaha’s own The Impulsive. Unfortunate for me, I happened to miss majority of their set, as I was waiting for my ticket at will call, but I was hearing some great things happening from afar. The band sounded tight and the crowd was really responsive to them. I eventually got to hear their last couple songs, including their cover of “Rock You Like A Hurricane”, which I saw everyone digging it. This was perfect timing for The Impulsive to finally play a show at Westfair and I hope their trajectory gets even higher.
Next up was Beasto Blanco. I was defiantly getting some Rob Zombie vibes from them, with lead singer Chuck Garric, who is also Alice Cooper’s bass player, sounding almost identical to him with that baritone voice. I totally forgot about this until after they played, but they had a female lead singer with them. Believe it or not, it was actually Alice Cooper’s own daughter, Calico Cooper. She knew how to rock that stage that you could tell she was his daughter. Very fun band to watch. It would be awesome for them to come back.
Palaye Royale was the next band to take the stage. Upon first look, you may think they are British, but they are indeed Canadian. Everyone in the band looked like they were from the 1970s with their blazers, but lead singer Remington Leith looked straight out of Warped Tour 2005, a very emo look that I thought was amusing. Kicking off their set with a cover of The Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog”, they had a very modern garage rock sound that kept the energy going. I really dig the vibe they were giving off, vintage, but not too modern. Highlight of their set was Leith climbing one of the spotlight towers, which I’ve never seen done in my five times I’ve been to Westfair. They were another band that was fun to watch.
Up next was Omaha’s very own Through Fire. Through Fire has been a staple in the Omaha rock scene for quite awhile. Whether it was Emphatic or Through Fire, they have been in the consciousness of the Omaha hard rock scene for years. It wouldn’t have been for the hard work Justin McCain, guitarist, has put into his craft. They played their lead single off their upcoming album, “All Animal”, which the crowd really enjoyed. But seeing everyone sing “Stronger” was really cool, as that song really blew them up. Looking forward their their new album coming hopefully this summer.
The mighty Sevendust played next. You can not go wrong with these guys. I saw them the last time they were in Omaha and was very impressed. The band was tight, rhythmically. They kept the crowd very engaged. Such a fun band to watch live. Kinda wish that they played a couple more songs, but they still managed to kick ass, regardless of the shorter set. Check out their latest album, All I See Is War.
I Prevail was the third to last band of the day. I have been to all, but one, of their shows in Omaha, as they are a band that is fun to watch live. Ever since their debut performance at River Riot 2015, they have been Omaha favorites. They have matured with every new release they put out, with their latest release, TRAUMA, a little more heavy and more electronic-based. But, nevertheless, the crowd ate all of that up. They managed to even pull off a wall of death during “Come and Get It”. As long as Omaha gives their all for I Prevail, they will be coming back for many years to come.
Direct support from the night came from In This Moment. It’s kinda hard to believe that I have seen In This Moment all, but one year since 2012. Like I Prevail, they really enjoy coming back to Nebraska/Council Bluffs. Them, along with Halestorm, love this part of the country so much that they played Council Bluffs not even a year ago in August of 2018. I’ve seen this band evolve so much since 2012, it’s insane. They basically played a headline set, even they weren’t officially headlining, with costume changes and all that jazz. They played not one, not two, but three cover songs (“Fly Like an Eagle”, “In the Air Tonight”, and “Don’t Stop Believin’”), a surprise, to be sure. Maria Brink, singer, is a goddess amongst mortals, one that builds people up, while saying, “Screw you”, to the haters. As always, they ended their set with “Whore”, dedicated towards women who have been beaten down by societal norms. I really hope the next time In This Moment comes to town, they’ll have a new album in tow, ready to melt our faces.
Finally, it was Halestorm’s turn to hit the stage. They are another fun and tight band to watch live. The musicianship on that stage was so much. To kick off their set, Arejay Hale, drummer, played a drum solo, which is usually towards the middle of the set. I was like, “Did I sleep through half of their set?!” It was interesting, yet fitting. One of my favorite things during their set are when they go on a full out jam sessions to close songs. Showcases so much of their talent. They played a perfect blend of newer and older material. I am so glad they got to headline a Westfair show, as they totally worked their butts off to get where they’re going in their career. Thanks to 89.7 The River, Mammoth Productions, and Westfair Amphitheater for putting on this great festival for all Omaha-area rockers.