Jason Koerner

Louisville Rock Lowdown
By Jason Koerner

Walrus-Fest 2003

WLRS outdid themselves this year, bringing Staind, Hoobastank, Cold and Smile Empty Soul to Freedom Hall on June 6 for the first to-be-annual Walrus-Fest. The show brought in thousands of fans and seemed to go without a hitch.

This concert, the largest indoor show put on by the station so far, was a major success in the eyes of many in attendance. This concert is not one and the same with the station's other leading event, WLRS Fest, an annual outdoor extravaganza in Waterfront Park.

Lava Recording Artists, Smile Empty Soul, kicked things off. The band is currently on tour with Trapt and is promoting their recently released self-titled debut album. The three-piece band from California is also doing a few dates with Seether and a date with Collective Soul. Check out their web site for the latest updates at http://www.smileemptysoul.com.

Next was Cold, performing tracks from their latest release, Year of the Spider. The band has a hit single of the record called "Stupid Girl" that I personally think should be renamed "Stupid Song." Nonetheless, the band is pretty tight and has a sound that is guided by lead singer Scooter Ward's melancholy vocals. The combination of Cold and Staind is actually a really good one, considering some of the lyrical content and overall feel of the bands. I am just not a big fan of Cold overall, though some of their music is quite interesting and I admire their message of fan appreciation and the value of music. I dig the guitar sounds and the baritone vocals, as well as some of the hooks and melodies the band is so known for. However, I am thrown off by some of the tones in Ward's voice when he screams: there were moments during the show in which he sounded like Fat Albert, which was a little distracting. Aaron Lewis graced the stage for a duet, which was the highlight of their set. The band does have a really nice web site at http://www.coldonline.com worth checking out. The band is still out on the road with Staind, touring the US, until later this year when they make a detour overseas to Europe.

Co-headlining the concert was Hoobastank, another California band. This group took the stage in a frenzy of energy and movement that out-shined the opening bands and caught the attention of the audience. The band's front man, Doug Robb, worked the crowd with his far from baritone vocal range and set the peak of the show in regards to hype. Their self-titled CD has given birth to a couple of hit singles, including "Crawling in the Dark" and "Running Away." The band is also featured on the Scorpion King soundtrack (alongside Louisville's Flaw) as well as on the Daredevil soundtrack. The band's bass player, Markku and I have the same musical instrument background/path of saxophone, then guitar and then bass, which I found pretty interesting, though you don't care, of course. Anyhow, the performance was a good one and they, too, have a nifty site at http://www.hoobastank.com.

Finally, Staind took the stage and closed the show with a bang. Staind is on its headlining tour to promote the new album, 14 Shades of Grey. This CD is responsible for the single, "Price to Play," that is receiving so much air-time as of late. It is a great song and serves as a quality follow-up to earlier hits "Mudshuvel" and "Outside." This was my third time to see Staind and it is still exciting to watch them live. Aaron Lewis does not have the high-energy hyperactive stage persona that some vocalists do, but his presence carries a fury that is felt all the way to the back of the room. His vocals are very dynamic and lasting, persevering through deep growls and high-end singing. What is amazing is the humility of his words and actions onstage and off. This is an example of a band that has made it because of their music, not their image or gimmicks. It was not the best performance I had seen out of the band, but there was nothing that was unsatisfactory about their show. The band wound it down for a few acoustic tunes and finished the show with a commanding presence as they accomplished what they came to do - rock the place.

A big pat on the back goes out to Davie Hill and the crew at WLRS for putting on a great show. I do have one suggestion: I think it would be a great idea to have some unsigned Louisville bands open the WLRS shows such as Walrus-Fest and LRS Fest, so hopefully, and with some luck, we will see that in the future. Other than that, I couldn't ask for anything more.

Find out more about Staind at the site at http://www.staind.com/.

Email me at rocklowdown@louisvillemusicnews.net... rock on, Louisville!