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Halestorm & In This Moment Riot at Westfair

River Riot 2019 was well, a riot! I had an awesome time rocking out with Halestorm, In This Moment, Sevendust, I Prevail, hometown heroes Through Fire, Palaye Royale, Beasto Blanco and up-and-coming locals The Impulsive!

First, a huge shout out to Mammoth Productions and Amy Sciarretto with Atom Splitter PR for the photo access. Also, a big shout out to 89.7 The River for bringing so many great bands over the years, and making this year’s River Riot a great success.

Friday (May 10) was such a perfect day for a concert! The weather got up to about 70 and not a rain cloud in sight. Thousands of fans showed up to rock with their favorite River artists. Rock shows are the best because you never know who you’ll see! I met so many fans of all different ages.

Check out Jaxon!

I asked him if it was his first show, and his mom said it was his 13th show of this year alone! He got to rock on stage with I Prevail and this wasn’t his first time! He was on stage with them a few nights before, and he’s also been on stage with Five Finger Death Punch, and several other bands! His family has a cool Instagram page that documents all the shows they go to, and they go to a LOT! It’s a beautiful thing. Check it out @midwest_metal_family

These kids were first-timers and they had an awesome day with their family.

Ok, on to the music!

The first band up was Omaha’s own The Impulsive! When I arrived I found all the photographers waiting for passes and the show-runner said they were running behind. So unfortunately, I had to listen to most of The Impulsive’s set from the top of the hill. My fellow rock reporter friend David, who writes for Go Venue magazine, was growing ever frustrated. “We have to get in there, The Impulsive is killing it right now!” We finally got in and ran to the stage. I was able to catch the last two songs including their killer cover of “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. It was an awesome way to end the set and the crowd was pumped. After the Impulsive’s set, the line to say hi was long! People flocked to congratulate the band, take pictures, and get autographs. Watch out guys, rock stars coming through! The Impulsive is making moves and I couldn’t be more proud!

After The Impulsive the shock rockers Beasto Blanco took the stage. Looking like something out of House of 1000 Corpses, these guys and gal were pretty wild. From weird robotic arms, spiked baseball bats, to cryo-jet blasters, the band had plenty of tricks to amp up their dirty rock tunes! A fellow reporter mentioned that singer Calico Cooper is the daughter of Alice Cooper. After seeing the band’s intense theatrical performance, that totally makes sense!

Following Beasto Blanco was Palaye Royale. These Las Vegas rockers shook things up! I talked to a lot fans in the front row who were die-hard Palaye fans and Sakura said it was her fifth time seeing the band!

To me personally, Palaye sounded like a cross between My Chemical Romance and Neon Trees. They had a lot of rock star swagger with their tight vintage pants and teased out hair. Sakura mentioned that lead singer Remington always finds something to climb on during their shows. He climbed the P.A. stack, but that just wouldn’t do. Towards the end of the set I was watching from the hill only to hear “Everyone look behind you!” and Remington had climbed a 50 foot tower! People were psyched from the front to the back, as these guys put on quite the show!Palaye Royale’s new album “Boom Boom Room Side B” is available now.

After Palaye came the hometown heroes Through Fire! The crowd was primed and ready to give Through Fire a big Omaha welcome. Singer Grant Kendrick mentioned that the band was excited to be home as they hadn’t played a show in Omaha for almost 18 months. They spent a lot of time on the road trying to hit every city they could.

“We want to put Omaha on the map and make you guys proud!”

Through Fire played all of their hits and even debuted a new song “All Animal.” The song sounded like a hit to me and I saw a lot of people singing along! I spoke with Grant and congratulated him on an awesome set and let him know I’m looking forward to the new album. You can hear Through Fire’s new song “All Animal” on 89.7 The River.

Next up was my personal favorite for the evening, the legendary Sevendust!!! Lajon and the boys always put on such a great show! I was able to catch Sevendust in October last year at the Bourbon in Lincoln.

Since this was a little bit shorter set, it was pretty much all singles. All the favorites were there “Praise”, “Enemy”, “Kill the Flaw”, “Denial”, and so many more. I think at this point in the band’s career they could play an actual headline show with just singles. Sevendust have been hardcore road dogs for over 20 years now and they don’t seem to be stopping anytime soon. River Riot was just one of over 40 dates on Sevendust’s summer schedule. Sevendust has a mixture of headline dates, festivals, and support dates for In This Moment and Halestorm coming up. You can find all the dates on the band’s Facebook page.

After Sevendust came the active radio darlings I Prevail. I Prevail started making a name for themselves in 2014 when they released a metal-core cover of Taylor Swift’s “Blank Space.” It was actually a really smart move for the band as they picked up a lot of crossover fans from the pop world. My cousin who enjoys some rock music, but would kill to go to a Taylor Swift show ( I mean really who wouldn’t?) suddenly started listening to I Prevail, buying their music, and going their shows. To this day, she’s still a big I Prevail fan. The strategy totally worked!

The crowd seemed pretty fired up for I Prevail. After shooting photos I watched from the top of the hill. From that vantage point, there were multiple circle pits and crowd surfers galore. The band was thankful for the great response.

I Prevail has come a long way from being an early opener for River Riot 2015. As the band continues to see success with active rock radio their audience will only grow, so cheers to I Prevail!

The sun began to set as the stage was being prepped for In This Moment. A giant black In This Moment banner was hoisted across the stage, carts of equipment wheeled down the ramp, and extra security guards stepped in to help with the overflow of crowd surfers.

Whitesnake’s “Here I Go Again” played over the speakers as the banner started to wave. The banner dropped to reveal a very intricate stage setup like nothing I’ve ever seen. In This Moment lead singer Maria Brink stood high on a platform with a golden headdress and creepy white eyes. A trio of backup dancers all dressed in white robes surrounded her. As she started to move smoked filled the stage. The guitarists were draped in evil black robes. The guitarist stage right had a crazy looking mask that resembled Scorpion from Mortal Kombat and the guitarist stage left was done up in skeleton makeup all over his face and hands. It really was quite the spectacle.

With every song came a new costume from Maria and the backup dancers. I was really impressed with all of the theatrics. To me personally, In This Moment’s music isn’t something I would normally listen to, but the stage pieces  and costumes, and overall flair easily kept my attention.

On the last song the band fired off huge confetti cannons and massive black and white balloons floated across the crowd. People started losing their minds blasting the balloons back and forth. Maria gave a shout out to all the ladies of Rock on the bill before calling it a night.

After a short break it was time for the headliner Halestorm! Compared to In This Moment, the set was stripped down quite a bit. A few large logos were hung towards the back of the stage and that was about it. After the house music cut and the lights went down the drummer stepped out and started pounding out a wicked solo.

After about two minutes, he brought out these giant drumsticks and continued to wail! It was a fun way to kick off the set. After the drum solo the rest of the band joined and started playing the hit “Freak Like Me.” The crowd sang along as Lizzy murdered the guitar. The hits kept coming with my personal favorite “Love Bites (But So Do I).” Being that this was a radio festival the set was filled with hit after hit! Halestorm followed-up “Love Bites” with “Ms. Hyde.” Then throwing it back, the band played “I Get Off.” Lizzie mentioned that the song just turned 10 years old and when it first came out they got a lot of support from Sevendust. I can’t believe that song is 10 years old already! Wow, how time flies.

As I mentioned above, Halestorm played all the hits, including several songs from their new album “Vicious.” The fans I saw in the front were singing along with every word and having the time of their lives. Halestorm did a great job closing the night out.

Even though top radio rock bands aren’t really my scene these days, I had an amazing time at River Riot, and I can’t wait for River Riot 2020. Who knows? Maybe we can get Deftones! They do have a new album coming soon. I’ll keep hoping, but I won’t hold my breath!

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