In our first summer without the Warped Tour (may it rest in peace), a new crop of traveling shows have popped up in its wake. The Rockstar Energy DISRUPT Festival visited Phoenix on one of the hottest days of the year this weekend, each band determined to beat the heat with onstage excellence. DISRUPT opted against building the festival’s typical second stage, so attendees sheltered under Ak-Chin Pavilion’s amphitheater awning all day. Atlas was there for all the madness- here’s the best of the inaugural DISRUPT.
Memphis May Fire
Drawing the third slot in the heat of the day, the Texas hardcore group fended off the sun with a heavy set. The crowd was sparse in those early hours, but there were some true fans out there, shouting along with singer Matty Mullins. Each band was given equal set times, so MMF made the most of it. They played fan favorites like “The Old Me” and “Heavy is the Weight” before closing with their 2011 staple, “The Sinner”.
The Black Veil Brides frontman was DISRUPT’s resident scene heartthrob- and the fangirls showed out. The “Ghost of Ohio” flashed his signature blinding smile at a receptive crowd, opening with “Ribcage” (a clear favorite). Black is a charismatic performer backed by a stellar band to play songs from his two solo albums. Midway through, he made a rather unconventional cover choice with a rock rendition of Billy Idol’s “Dancing with Myself” before ending with “We Don’t Have to Dance”. Black, too, made every moment count, happily interacting with a growing audience of his excitable fans.
Sleeping with Sirens
The scene is alive and thriving through Sleeping with Sirens. Singer Kellin Quinn’s fiercely high voice reached even the back of the crowd as the band dared their audience to “Kick Me”. Quinn and co. defied the late afternoon torpor for a high-energy performance through nearly 10 years of music. Naturally, “Do It Now, Remember It Later” was included, along with the band’s two new singles. Fans were dancing at their seats and SWS let Quinn showboat a little with his impressive vocal runs at the end of the “If I’m James Dean, You’re Audrey Hepburn” and of course, the requisite closer, “If You Can’t Hang”.
There simply isn’t another band like Circa Survive. A mainstay in this scene since the early 2000s, the Anthony Green-led outfit filled Ak-Chin Pavilion with a sound that could explode an arena. Green, along with bandmates Colin Frangicetto, Brendan Ekstrom, Nick Beard and Steve Clifford gave us 45 minutes of pure electricity. Green’s voice dipped and soared, the crowd roaring classics like “Child of the Desert” and “The Difference Between Medicine and Poison is the Dose”. Circa’s set was an open invitation to explore with them, and to be part of an incredible moment meant to be heard, felt and shared.
Since their comeback, Sum 41 has regularly visited the desert and they draw big numbers every time. Taking the stage as the sun was setting, the population in the venue swelled to fill nearly every seat and the band played their hearts out. As pop punk royalty, Sum 41 has their share of hits, running through a 10-song setlist that included “Motivation” and “Over My Head (Better Off Dead)”. The audience got low at frontman Deryck Whibley’s command and jumped for the band’s plethora of epic guitar solos. They pulled out a fast and loose cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” and ended their sprint with the always-demanded “In Too Deep” and “Fat Lip”.
The stage was cleared of gear and banners for The Used’s stunning video screen backdrop. Illuminated by blinding LEDs, the band had a full house for their headlining set. Singer Bert McCracken took only a few brief moments to address the crowd in order to pack in as many songs as the band could play. They shouted out old-school fans for “Take It Away” and “Listening” and the fans roared the words back at the stage. McCracken is the natural center of attention, but Jeph Howard, Dan Whitesides and Joey Bradford all provided tight instrumentation and killer background vocals. Fans were on their feet, arms outstretched as The Used lowered the beating heart from their album In Love and Death, keeping it suspended for the rest of their set. “All That I’ve Got” was paired with “The Taste of Ink” before an unexpected cover of Oasis’ “Wonderwall”, prompting McCracken to “shame” the crowd for singing along to a band he hates. The night ended with “A Box Full of Sharp Objects”, a sterling end to a jam-packed day.
The very first DISRUPT Festival ended up being another day of surviving brutal summer heat and singing along to a slew of excellent bands all day long. While the format was different, the spirit of enjoying different types of music within a community remains. Atlas is already excited for future summers, braving the temperatures and rocking out with our favorite bands.
Check out more photos from the Rockstar Energy DISRUPT Festival!
Story and photos by Olivia Khiel