FM 96’s rock night had a packed bill with metal band Pop Evil followed by metalcore bands I Prevail, Killswitch Engage, and In This Moment, with headliner Five Finger Death Punch closing the show. The overall sound of the lineup was heavier than the usual fare on fm96, but all great quality, tenured acts that know how to play to a festival crowd.
Pop Evil had a relatively short set, but did well with it. The band put in a solid performance, ending with their top charting song “Trenches” and “Go Higher”, which given their Michigan roots was a fitting choice to be featured on a Dodge Ram commercial. Starting a show at 4:30 on a sunny day as the first of five acts is a hard position to be in, but the band put on a great show and did a great job getting the crowd going.
Following Pop Evil, fellow Michiganders I Prevail were the first of the three Metalcore acts to play that day. Despite the band being around for little more than 5 years, they are already touring the US in support of their third album, Trauma. The band does a great job of balancing sing/scream dual lead vocalists without sounding like they’re competing for space in the songs.
Killswitch Engage took a detour from their North American tour with Clutch to play Rock the park. KSE are metalcore pioneers and have always put on an amazing show. Watching bassist Mike D’Antonio and guitarist Adam Dutciewicz on stage alone would be worth the time. Mike has a rock and roll swagger bassists almost always lack and almost certainly need, and Adam is in constant motion. With athletic shorts, tank top, and sunglasses, Adam looks like he’s on his way to his intramural volleyball league. Add to that his guitar with pizza graphic and rubber faced expressions, he is a show unto himself.
Speaking of shows, If you’ve never seen In This Moment, they have a stage show that would make Ghost look like an unplugged concert. Their gothic metalcore sound combined with an eye-popping combination of religious and horror movie references is nothing short of jaw dropping. The sound and visuals of an In This Moment show grabs 100% of your attention. Maybe 95%. I’m going to reserve the last 5% for being distracted by the fact that the guitarist looked like the DJ from Zoolander. Either way, your eyes are on the stage for every moment of the show. The music is every bit as good as the show. When you see In This Moment in concert, you’ll realize what high praise that is of the band’s music.
There are few bands as polarizing or popular as Five Finger Death Punch. To say anything but this a band that illicit such extreme opinions would be disingenuous. To say whether the show was “good” or not is almost missing the point for a band like this. For the most part, people have made up their minds.
The band is outrageous, from the name, to Jason Hook’s light up guitar, to Ivan Moody’s red handprint on face makeup, to Bassist Chris Kael’s Dreadlocked beard and shaved head that makes it look like Cthulhu is eating a band member. Depending on who you ask, Ivan Moody’s voice is emotionally moving or inexplicably infuriating to listen to. Five Finger Death Punch is so polarizing I realize that nothing I say in this article will move so much as one person’s opinion of the band. There’s no question the band got a great reception from the Rock the Park audience, and personally I would absolutely go see them again.
People will love or hate them, but one thing I have no doubt of after seeing the band is what 5FDP aims for, it hits. They sound exactly how they want to sound/ Their stage show is unapologetically over the top, with a spectacular light show and more fire than the seventh level of hell. The band nails every song in exactly the way they want it to sound. They are consummate professionals who are at the top of their game. The band is exactly what you expect them to be but better at it than you’d think possible. For a band as unflinching in their musical vision as Five Finger Death Punch, I can think of no greater achievement.
All photos by David Booth