101 WRIF brought rock fans together for an incredible day full day of music and more at Riff Fest 2022 on Saturday, September 24. Hosted at the legendary Pine Knob during their 50th anniversary celebration, the hardest rockin’ party brought Disturbed back to the Motor City for the first time since 2019 to headline the show! They were supported by In This Moment, Dorothy, Dirty Honey and The Violent on the main stage while Of Virtue, Fame on Fire, Eva Under Fire, and Plush kicked off the day on the Festival Stage.
Of Virtue took the stage first with an unforgettable high-energy performance that gained them a new fan. For a band that started as a promising metalcore act from the Midwest, they made a HUGE impact and left their mark at Riff fest. Lead vocalist Tyler Ennis set the tone for the day when he dove into the audience’s arms and belted his heart out while crowd surfing. Damon Tateade was a powerhouse on backing vocals and guitar and Michael Valadez and Ryan Trinh refused to fade into the background with their playful interactions. As a group, their showmanship established the mood and they were an excellent choice for opening band.
Fame on Fire took the stage next and started their set with an empty stage and an intro track that built in intensity as the band made their way to their instruments and held that level of power throughout their set with their unique genre-defying combination of rock, hip hop and heavy music. Bryan Kuznitz caught attention with his flame red hair while Blake Saul, Paul Spirou and Alex Roman delivered an undeniable vivacity that offered an enthused and unforgettable performance.
Eva Under Fire had a tough act to follow but did not disappoint and kept the crowd’s energy going. It was very cool to see people belting the lyrics to every song. These Detroit originals showed so much heart and a true love for their craft. From Amanda Lyberg’s powerful pipes and flashy vest, to Chris Slapnix’s Eva Under Fire branded onesie and throwback cover songs (including We Will Rock You by Queen), this performance had the crowd roaring. Rob Ryberg, Edward Joseph, and Corey Newsom started off a bit reserved but stepped into their element letting attendees know they were there to rock the house down. With their nod to the glamour of 1980s hair bands and ’90s alt-metal aggressiveness – Eva left the stage on fire (pun intended).
New York up and comers Plush immediately grabbed attention being a group of badass women. Vocalist and guitarist Moriah Formica and bassist Ashley Suppa shared incredible harmonies that leads one to believe they were meant to perform together. However, Ashley was a scene stealer with her passion for the fashion and magnetic energy. This group is currently on tour with Alice in Chains and delivered a sick cover of “Man in the Box” as a nod to the kings of grunge metal. Bella Perron on guitar and Brooke Colucci on drums round out the group. All together this was the most impactful group of the day so far and did an incredible job closing this portion of the festivities.
The Violent (previously known as Red Sun Rising), kicked off the rest of the night on mainstage. This was their sixth show as a group and performed as if it was their hundredth. The Violent is a rock trio that creatively combines familiar aspects of rock with a newfound appreciation of electronic and digital sounds. The Violent is a chaotic child created during the pandemic and that same vivacity was carried out on stage in an electrifying showcase of talent. They performed their original song “Counting Sheep”, and it was an absolute banger. This group came in as the underdogs of the day and left their heart and soul on stage.
The last time Dorothy played at Pine Knob was in 2019 with breaking Benjamin and they absolutely reminded everyone exactly why they were there. Lead singer Dorothy Martin came out in a full leather look with an explosive flamboyance that was delivered throughout her entire performance. The singer showcased poise and grace. Her live vocals are even better than what she produces in studio, and they’ll give goosebumps. It was great to see Dorothy give Jason Ganberg, Devon Pangle, Eli Wulfmeier and Eliot Lorango the love and recognition they deserved as they rocked the venue with their incredible musicianship. Dorothy combines a great balance of rock, swampy blues, and 90s alternative which kicks ass live.
Dirty Honey lead singer Marc LaBelle was a visual feast with his fierce fashion and stage presence and blew the crowd away with his incredible vocals. Guitarist John Notto unreservedly shredded hard and made it look so effortless. Bassist Justin Smolian, and drummer Corey Coverstone kept themselves in the spotlight with their unique style and lively performance. This group’s 70s blues-rock and nasty rock and roll style is exciting to watch. They did a cover of “Let’s Go Crazy” by Prince that made the crowd go crazy. They put on a fun show and captured the lightning-in-a-bottle dynamics and energy of their live sound.
In This Moment showcased the most unreal introduction of the entire event and blew every other performance out of the water. Ranging from eerie and haunting theatrics, coordinated dancers, insane visual effects and props, voguish costumes and masks and more, this group did not come to play and left the audience in absolute awe. Maria Brink’s live vocals will send chills up your spine. Her inventiveness and commanding stage presence takes you on what can only be described as an emotional journey and pure artistry. Chris Howorth, Travis Johnson, Randy Weitzel, and Kent Diimmel each carried their own with powerful instrumentals, commanding stage presence and inventive costuming. In This Moment is a melodic metalcore counterpart to Evanescence with throat-scraping screams, goth rock band vibes and a mature atmospheric sound that puts on a breath-taking show that will leave you wanting more.
To finish off the night, headliner Disturbed came out and sent the crowd into a Frenzy. With David Draiman’s incredible live vocals, this iconic group came in with a bang. Though their performance was visually more low-key following In This Moment, Disturbed reminded the audience why they were headlining. Dan Donegan, Mike Wengren and John Moyer held a powerful stage presence that was well-controlled yet incredibly impactful. With introducing the audience to their new dope single, great crowd engagement, a Nickelback shoutout, classic heavy rock vibes, and much more, Disturbed brought everyone to their feet and each band member shined on their own.
When they performed The Sound of Silence, the only way it could be described is as a spiritual experience that literally brought audience members to tears. It was hauntingly beautiful that constantly ebbed and flowed. For the encore, Draiman encouraged the crowd to shine their cell phones during the chorus of The Night which created a gorgeous sea of lights. The final song, Down With the Sickness was nothing short of awesome at an extreme level.
Overall, Riff Fest was a surreal experience that every hard rock fan should encounter at least once in their lifetime. Plush and In This Moment’s performances had such an incredible impact on me. I have developed a new appreciation for them as musicians and saved a bunch of their songs on my phone. All the performances were incredible and made this an event for the books.
RIFF Fest 2022
Pine Knob Music Theatre
September 24, 2022
All photos by Dan Boshart
Eva Under Fire
Fame Under Fire