Belknap Park in Grand Rapids, Michigan hosted The Upheaval Music Festival on July 15th and 16th, 2022. Belknap Park consists of two baseball fields, pickle ball and tennis courts, and an indoor hockey rink nestled in a residential area. The main stage for the festival was situated on a baseball field with the stage being located at the location of home plate. Upheaval had two stages for the 23 bands that were scheduled to perform over the two day event. The second stage, The Lookout Stage, was located at the top of a hill where the center and right field fence would be on a normal ball field. There was a hill that extended about 100 yards to the top at what appeared to be a 45 degree angle. That is where The Lookout Stage was located, atop of the small mountain. Since the festival rotated bands between the two stages, the thought of tackling that hill up and down after each band caused anxiety. Upon the start of the festival, the use of shuttles made the upward journey a non issue. Thank you to the shuttle driver that made this review possible!
Day one of The Upheaval Festival went off without a hitch, but Mother Nature had other ideas as a storm moved across the state drenching festival goers. The rain fell consistently for about three hours in the early afternoon but cleared nicely with cloud cover to hide the sun the rest of the day.
When the gates opened at 1:00pm, the fans flooded into the facility. One of the hottest new bands from Austin, Texas, The Black Heart Saints started the festival in front of few people. The Black Heart Saints are a really great band, and it was sad to see them perform in front of a sparse crowd. They rocked out as if they were playing to a full stadium which is exactly what was expected. Unfortunately, someone has to be the opening act and play to a small audience, but this band will have other opportunities moving forward.
Black Heart Saints, Main Stage 1:00pm:
Josh Ross – Vocals
Mark Sean – Guitar
Nathan Flores – Drums
Ian C.G. – Bass
After grabbing a ride on the six-person shuttle cart from my newest best friend, Dark Heavens was next up at 1:35pm on The Lookout Stage atop of the mountain. Dark Heavens is an alternative rock band from California. Originally formed in 2011, the band took a seven year hiatus before returning with a new single “Nuclear Eagle”, released on January 22, 2021. This trio was also plagued with a small audience as the crowd hadn’t made it up the hill yet. Like the first band, it has to be hard opening a festival with 23 bands playing and you are the second act on the opening day!
Dark Heavens, Lookout Stage 1:35pm :
Donovan Dresti – Lead Guitar/Vox
Drew Roulette (from dredg) – Bass and Backup Vox
Anthony Olyaee – Drums
Next, I was the on the shuttle down the mountain to the main stage to catch All Good Things from Los Angeles, California. This band signed a record deal in 2019 with Better Noise Records and the band has also had their music videos streamed and viewed more than 100 million times! The crowd was still growing an hour after the gates opened and there was no doubt the rain was on the way. The crowd was settling in and enjoying themselves despite how the skies looked above. All Good Things performed with great energy. Their set was one that shouldn’t be overlooked at any festival.
All Good Things, Main Stage 2:10pm:
Dan Murphy – Vocals
Andrew Bojanic – Guitars, Bass, Vocals, Keyboards
Liz Hooper – Bass, Vocals, Keyboards
Miles Franco – Guitars, Bass, Vocals
Tim Spier – Drums, Vocals
Back up the hill to catch a band that was on the list of “must see” bands for the day, The Warning from Monterrey, Mexico. It was formed in 2013 by the Villarreal sisters, who are currently on tour opening for Halestorm and The Pretty Reckless. By all accounts, from anyone that has seen their set, they are highly entertaining and one you should not miss. Daniela is the show-woman and just rips on the guitar. My, this festival just started to heat up with the last two bands pushing their energy to the limit as if it were their last show they would perform. The rain started to fall in a steady stream at the end of their set.
The Warning, Lookout Stage 3:00pm:
Daniela Villarreal – Guitar/Vocals
Paulina Villarreal – Drums/Vocals
Alejandra Villarreal – Bass
Starset and Fire From The Gods played but were missed in this review because the rain was really coming down and the camera equipment had to be protected.
Theory, or also know as Theory of a Dead Man, played their ten song set with familiar songs, “Bitch Came Back”, “Hate My Life”, and “Rx (Medicate)”, and finishing with “Bad Girlfriend” which included a snippets of “Paradise City” by Guns ‘N Roses and “Walk” by Pantera. The rain had stopped and the audience was singing along at full volume during this set. Momentum had finally kicked in and the fun was in full swing.
Theory Main Stage 5:10pm:
Tyler Connolly – Lead Vocals/Lead and Rhythm Guitar
Dave Brenner – Rhythm and Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals
Dean Back – Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals
Joey Dandeneau – Drums/Backing Vocals
Ayron Jones’ band took the stage and surprised many in the crowd by just tearing into their set with emotion and energy not seen up to this point at the festival. I have covered them in two previous festivals in the past nine months and knew what to expect. Big Sexy’s beaming smile from behind the drum kit, Bob Lovelace jumping and covering the entire stage, Matthew Jacquette on lead guitar playing with as big of a grin as Bobby on the drums, and the smooth vocals of Mr. Ayron Jones leading the way. They are entertaining and fun, but most importantly, they play great music! After the set we were blessed with the presence of Matthew Jacquette in the pit and were greeted with hugs and smiles. He even climbed the barrier and took a selfie with the crowd. I just love this band and after you see them, you will too!
Ayron Jones Lookout Stage 6:15pm:
Ayron Jones – Vocals/Guitar
Bobby Jimmi (Big Sexy) – Drums
Bob Lovelace – Bass
Matthew Jacquette – Guitar
Next up on the main stage was Mudvayne, formed in 1996 then took a hiatus from 201o until 2021. Appropriately, singer Chad Gray started the set by proclaiming, “We’re Back!” This performance was the biggest surprise of the festival up to this point. Yes, I have heard of Mudvayne, but they had been out of sight and out of mind for so long that the jury was out if they still had the power to entertain a large audience. That question was answered quickly as Gray left the stage and climbed the barrier hanging over the audience with a security guard holding on to his belt for dear life as his anchor. There were a few times I thought he just might go crowd surfing in spite of the security guards efforts. After selling more than six million records worldwide, and their performance at Upheaval, it appears we are not done with Mudvayne just yet!
Mudvayne, Main Stage 7:10pm:
Greg Tribbett – Guitars, Backing Vocals
Matthew McDonough – Drums, Synthesizer
Chad Gray – Lead Vocals
Ryan Martinie – Bass
Marcus Rafferty – Guitar, Backing Vocals
The last band of the day, or headliner, on The Lookout Stage was the Swedish Metal Band, Avatar. The set started with drummer John Alfredsson greeting the crowd with what appeared to be two dozed red and yellow roses. He smiled and threw them one by one into the audience with out a word. The swollen crowd roared with approval. Then, back he went to his position behind the drums as the band took the stage and the freak show began. Johannes Eckerström lead the way front and center with his red and black painted face, black and red leather jacket, a black fedora, and a cane. Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby, Henrik Sandelin, and Tim Öhrström took their places next to Eckerström for a pose then faded back to their places on the stage to bring high powered metal with all the flailing hair and energy, every photographer dreams about. I just love photographing this band as the action never stops and it comes from every direction on the stage. Johannes Eckerström is always good for a few laughs as he never takes it too seriously, and he is quick with the quips throughout the show. Avatar is very entertaining and a show I highly recommend seeing anywhere, anytime!
Avatar Lookout Stage 8:30pm:
Jonas “Kungen” Jarlsby – Guitars
John Alfredsson – Drums
Johannes Eckerström – Lead Vocals , Trumpet, Piano, Keyboards
Henrik Sandelin – Bass, Backing Vocals
Tim Öhrström – Guitars, Backing Vocals
After a long day the wait for Breaking Benjamin was over and it was time for the days headliner to take the main stage and finish off an epic day of rock ‘n’ roll. The crowd had swelled to over 10,000 in most estimations so it was time to rock the house. The band played a blistering set with 30 songs that also included two drum solos. By any accord that is the longest set I have ever seen from any band. With six studio albums and a couple of compilations the band has yielded two gold records, three RIAA-certified platinum records, and several certified singles, including two multi-platinum, two platinum, and five gold. Breaking Benjamin has sold over seven million units in the United States alone! The powerhouse band was the perfect ending to a fantastic day despite the weather trying to dampen the spirits of the crowd.
Upheaval day one was very well organized as there were plenty of restrooms, beverage vendors, and merchandise to purchase for the fans. Every time schedule was met and things ran very smoothly. Everyone in attendance appeared to leave happy and ready to return the next day for another day of fun, sun, and music!
Benjamin Burnley – Lead Vocals, Rhythm Guitar
Jasen Rauch – Lead Guitar
Keith Wallen – Rhythm Guitar, Backing Vocals
Aaron Bruch – Bass, Backing Vocals
Shaun Foist – Drums, Percussion
1.) Blow Me Away
3.) Angels Fall
4.) Blow Me Away
6.) Angels Fall
7.) Firefly (Aaron Bruch on vocals)
8.) Sooner or Later (Keith Wallen on vocals)
9.) So Cold
11.) Until the End
13.) Drum Solo
14.) Break My Fall (Keith Wallen on vocals)
16.) Give Me a Sign
17.) Evil Angel
18.) I Will Not Bow
19.) The Diary of Jane
20.) Rain (Aaron Bruch on vocals)
21.) Sooner or Later (Keith Wallen on vocals)
22.) So Cold
24.) Until the End
26.) Drum Solo
27.) Break My Fall (Keith Wallen on vocals)
29.) Give Me a Sign
30.) Evil Angel
31.) I Will Not Bow
32.) The Diary of Jane
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Photographer and Editor/Founder of AllMusicMagazine.com. My love of live music has taken me to incredible experiences with the top bands of all time in stadium shows to the smallest venues with equally inspiring musicians. Using the medium of photography and my publication, these memories will last forever.