Words by Sara Alexander
Photos by Robert A. Chadwick
We are back in one of the best fuckin’ places to play rock ‘n’ roll in the goddamn world. – Corey Taylor
The spirit of rock ‘n’ roll, community, and family was alive and well as Stone Sour rocked their home state of Iowa at Westfair Amphitheater in Council Bluffs Saturday night, August 25, 2018.
The show was part of 89.7 The River’s summer concert series and featured five other bands in addition to Stone Sour.
Stone Sour started their headline set off heavy with “Taipei Person / Allah Tea” off last year’s release, Hydrograd, and Corey Taylor hit the stage in none other than a gray sport coat and NSYNC tank. Sparks flew as an impressive pyrotechnics display accompanied the band, but that wasn’t all. Taylor armed himself with a giant confetti gun in hand and fired colorful streamers and confetti into the cheering crowd.
“Do Me a Favor” followed, and with a big smile, Taylor took a moment to properly address the fans. “We are back in one of the best fuckin’ places to play rock n roll in the goddamn world.” Deafening cheers follow. “We’re close to Nebraska, but goddammit we’re in my state! You’re all Iowans tonight!”
Taylor bragged that it only took him an hour and twenty minutes to get to Council Bluffs from Des Moines, a drive that would probably take at least thirty minutes longer considering speed limits. “Yeah I broke the law” he says. What a daredevil. Speaking of daredevils, the band then went right into “Knievel Has Landed.” It was at this moment that I noticed a teenage boy standing on the side of the stage rocking out and banging his head harder than even Corey Taylor himself. Who was this young man? No other than Corey’s 15 year old son, Griffin Taylor. He clearly had every lyric down, just like dad.
Unfortunately, Griffin didn’t end up performing a song with his father like he’s done at a few shows before (specifically “Song #3”), but it will be interesting to see how much he does follow in those footsteps in the future. It wouldn’t be the first time for a rock ‘n’ roll son, and there’s no doubt he’d have a killer stage presence.
Being a father has also found its way into Taylor’s lyrics. Referring to “Whiplash Pants” he said, “I wrote a song for every parent that gets pissed at their kids when they just won’t fucking listen.” With lyrics like, “Wipe that face off your goddamn face,” we get the message.
Taylor spoke (or ranted) a bit on the current state of rock ‘n’ roll before talking about last year’s release, Hydrograd, an album he says was written specifically with “the spirit of rock ‘n’ roll” in mind. Regardless of gender or color or whatever, “rock ‘n’ roll makes us one fuckin’ family.” Well said.
Colorful air dancers, more confetti, more fireworks, and “Fabuless” closed the show leaving the lyrics “It’s all downhill from here” ringing in the ears of concertgoers. Very accurate, considering it doesn’t get much better than Corey Taylor and Stone Sour.
From Ashes to New, Shim (formerly of Sick Puppies), and Gemini Syndrome performed prior to Stone Sour.
From Ashes to New played just prior to Stone Sour. The band’s live performance consists of the two singers, a drummer, and a guitar player. A large portion of their sound is provided by a backing track. Luckily the two frontman, and surprisingly the drummer, provided more than enough charisma to keep the attention of concertgoers. Linkin Park was a major influence on the band, and although it’s been more than a year since his passing, the group still paid tribute to Chester Bennington with “Heavy.” Their set also, of course, included the song that’s been getting them attention lately: “Crazy.” Whether you like the tune or not, you can’t deny that it’s annoyingly catchy (with an emphasis on annoying).
Outspoken Australian artist Shim made a return to Westfair, but this time without Sick Puppies. After departing from the band three years ago, Shim is now establishing himself as a solo artist with his debut out next month. He made the live debut of several unreleased songs, such as “Secrets” and “All of Me,” making the album seem very promising. Sick Puppies hits like “Maybe” and “You’re Going Down” were played as well with slightly different arrangements. His voice was incredible and he really proved he’s just as strong solo. Shim commented that this had been his best show of the year, but considering he’s only played one other (Rock on the Range in May), that may or may not be saying a lot. Nevertheless, he was extremely grateful to his fans. The audience support he received was huge, as was the line to meet him afterwards.
Gemini Syndrome was a unique looking bunch for sure with a frontman, or “messenger,” resembling a pure and righteous god-like figure, and a bass player covered in far more tattoos than even your average rocker. Regardless of image, they’re a metal band that deserves a lot more recognition and attention than they’ve been getting, even Corey Taylor would say so. He was standing side stage for the majority of their set, rocking out with a drink in hand. Gemini Syndrome played some of their heavy yet melodic bangers like “Sorry Not Sorry” and “Stardust,” and even announced plans to begin writing their next record when they return home (which is Los Angeles).
In addition to national acts, two Omaha bands were also part of the lineup. Up and comers Fear in Truth got the show rolling at 3:30 pm, followed by the community favorite, Arson City.
Arson City received overwhelming citizen support as always. During their set, a special announcement was made. The 5th annual Citizens Ball will be taking place on October 20th, this time at Sokol Auditorium, a larger venue than past years. Arson City’s EP will also be released at the ball, and Screaming For Silence, SAUL, and Save the Hero will perform as well.
Overall the show made for an excellent Saturday, once the weather cooled down a bit that is. There’s a reason Corey Taylor is legendary, but even aside from Stone Sour’s badass performance, each band brought their own unique form of entertainment. The amphitheater was not nearly as full as it had been earlier in the year for Five Finger Death Punch and Shinedown, but that worked to the benefit of concertgoers. With no delays this time around, cars didn’t have to lineup for miles just to get in, people didn’t have to stand outside the gate hours after the supposed open time, and no bands had to get cut. Hopefully this can become the standard for Westfair shows.
From Ashes to New
Fear in Truth
All images © 2018 Robert Chadwick Photography.