LIVE REVIEW: Make America Rock Again – Scott Stapp, Trapt, Sick Puppies, Drowning Pool: August 15th 2017

Gas Monkey Live - Dallas, Texas

Make America Great Again - Scott Stapp


You know, I was a little hesitant when the announcement came down the wire and I received a press release email with all the details about reviewing this show. Why? Well, I like the bands on this bill and I didn’t know if I would be able to review it without being biased. Some writers may just talk about the good, some just pick out the bad. The way I review shows is like how a fan would talk to another fan; to tell or detail what I see at a show and to be as objective as I can. I think reviews, if they’re done right, should be honest. They are for a purpose; to give fans an idea of what they can expect when they go see a show, right? I read reviews for that reason, I don’t know about y’all but if I am going to a show and I read a review, it is just for me to see what I’m in for when I go. I don’t think reviews should be a marker for going or not going to a show. I mean, why would I go to a show or read a review about bands I don’t like? I wouldn’t and don’t.

So what pushed me in taking the review? I will tell you: SCOTT STAPP. Hand to God. I saw him earlier this summer on his acoustic tour. I was covering ART OF DYING and stayed for his set. I was blown away, he was so good! Look, there was some crazy rumors or gossip a good while back and he really gets flack and for what I have no freaking clue. I guess successful people get talked about negatively by jealous people. It is my sincere hope that this tour can push him up the rungs and help people remember how badass CREED was in the 1990s. I know for a fact that metalheads my age were jamming the hell out of CREED when they were on the lips of everybody’s mouths. Look what spawned off from CREED for the love of licorice, I mean come ON!

Finding out that on the MAKE AMERICA ROCK Tour he would be backed by a full band, I was totally in and seeing DROWNING POOL would be on the bill too, I knew the Dallas show would be one not to miss since this is their homebase. Getting to experience SICK PUPPIES and TRAPT was just the icing on the cake!


Make America Great Again - Messer


Tuesday the 15th rolled around and as I’m getting ready for the show, I hear that MESSER has been added to the bill and that doors are now at 4 PM with MESSER on stage at 5 PM. Now, living downtown makes it a bit closer to GAS MONKEY LIVE, but that doesn’t mean it is faster, especially at 5 PM or a little after. I didn’t get to see MESSER’s set and I missed the majority of TRAPT’s set because of traffic. MESSER is a hard-working, self-promoting, well oiled, rock machine from Dallas. I’ve seen them a lot over the years but was still disappointed that I didn’t get to see/photograph them on the Gas Monkey Live stage. If you get a chance to see them, you should. I’ve known KENNY YOUNGAR, the drummer since Jesus was a boy and I love watching him play. Even when he was playing in tiny bars in a band called STRANGLEWEED, he would always have this massive kit that sometimes took up the whole freaking stage almost, and he always looked like he just got off tour with whatever band was popular back then. Not to mention, he’s just a cool MF’er. Honestly, so are all those guys DEREAK, JAVIER, DONNIE, MADDOX. But I will see them September 16th as they play Trees, so all isn’t a total loss for me missing them.

I did walk in on TRAPT’s last couple of songs. I was so looking forward to hearing “HEADSTRONG” and “SOUND OFF” front and center. Hearing these 4 play, even though CHRIS and PETE are the only two original members, made me realize how the music from the mid 1990’s til mid 2000’s really impacted the music we have now.

SICK PUPPIES came on next and I really enjoyed their set. I know I’ve seen them play but it’s been a while and with BRYAN SCOTT taking the gig with the band just last year, it was like a new band for me. You know, I’ve always been a bass girl. I love the sound and the way a bass pulls the tempo and melody together in songs; like the innards of a grilled cheese sandwich all gooey and warm.JOHN TAYLOR of DURAN DURAN is my favorite musician of all time who is responsible for my love of the bass and I just mention that now because I just want a reason to use his name in an article. Maybe one day he’ll read it or it will pop up if he Googles his name or something. Then he’ll totally want to have me write his biography – wait…

Back to this review…ehum. So, as the only original member, bassist EMMA ANZAI takes her bass playing to great levels. It’s almost like she dancing in a ballroom with the instrument at times with a totally different track of music inside her head. And the sound that comes out of her bass is the energy from that dance; what the dance sounds like I really loved their set!


Make America Great Again - Drowning Pool


Now, the next band to play was DROWNING POOL and since they’re from Dallas, this was a kick ass treat for the fans and the band. Personally, I love DP home shows because they bring out people from the woodwork that I haven’t seen for a while. Those that don’t go out anymore or have kids or just aren’t into music that much anymore will all come out when DP plays. Normally. Don’t get me wrong – there were friends and family there that have been there since the beginning. But there were a ton of new faces that were there to see them as well, which is what you want from a band that’s been around for a while, right? Their set started at 8 PM which gave those that had to work the next day a chance to come see them or bring their kids to the show. There were tons of kids on the side stage watching during their set which included the band’s kids. It looked like a class was on a field trip to see a band with as many little humans that were up there rockin’ out! I’ll say here that this is like the 3rd show I’ve been to lately where there has been a buttload of kiddos on stage with their fa-rents (fans/parents).

DROWNING POOL played all of the hits “SINNER”, “TEAR AWAY”, “STEP UP” and “BODIES”. Singer JASEN MORENO, who has been with the band possibly the longest of any singer the band has had after DAVE WILLIAMS passed away in 2002, gave the crowd what they wanted in that respect. JASEN’s vocal register is either getting higher/better or I just never paid attention technically to his voice in the past.

Y’all have to know that “WE ARE THE DEVIL” is quite possibly my “stand out song” of the band’s. No, I don’t like the Devil and I am far from the Lord of Darkness but this song has this crazy almost invisible tempo in the background. And when I hear it, I think of these gothic-like kids or teens or even creatures, slam dancing around a huge bonfire in the same rhythm the song has in an odd cartoon-like way. I don’t know if anyone can get what I’m saying here but I am glad they played that song. Does it make me a weirdo if I say this song makes me happy and giggle? Don’t answer that…

As the stage was set for SCOTT STAPP and I was setting up my camera to shoot the first three songs and trying to pull my sweaty hair off my neck, I remembered seeing CREED at The Bronco Bowl in what had to have been 1997 or 1998. My friend and I were in the front row jammed up against the barrier watching SAMIAM open the show and were so proud of ourselves for getting up close for CREED. Oddly enough, we got to watch CREED from the side stage because after SAMIAM’s set, a security guard plucked us out from the crowd. There is an unbeatable rush that you get from the music and the energy from the band that shoots out and connects with the energy of the fans and goes back and forth through the whole show. As I stepped into the pit for SCOTT STAPP and that first few notes blasted out over us from the first song, I felt what I felt back then and I realized that everything in the middle of that show 19 or 20 years ago to now, August 15th, 2017 – all of it – the good and bad was for a reason.


Make America Great Again - Scott Stapp


The band that accompanied SCOTT was not the original CREED members but I didn’t even care nor did I think about it. These were songs that SCOTT STAPP sang to us back then and as we pulled those records out from the dusty corners of our minds it didn’t matter who played what. What mattered was that SCOTT sang them almost in unison with the recordings that played along in the memory.

These dudes could freaking play though! I swear they must have slammed like 3 Red Bulls before they came on stage because even before the lights came up they were at the edge of the stage like attack dogs, hollering and getting the crowd pumped up for the show. It worked because right as the lights came up and the first song started, the crowd went bonkers! The hour plus set mixed CREED hits with solo hits and the energy from SCOTT was just as high as the band’s throughout the whole show and pulsed through the audience.

I know this audience MADE DALLAS ROCK! We rocked it out that night!! I don’t think Dallas has any challenges with rock missing from our culture. I think we rock just fine and we all proved that on this show! It is evident that we will pass down our ability to rock to our kids and that there isn’t anything wrong with it. We rock in spite of the doors being blue-hair early and that the headliner went on with the sun still being up, we all rocked. It might be a lot different than how we rocked 20 years ago, but that’s ok. We still can throw down and because this show was a little earlier than most, just meant that getting up was that much easier the next day. BONUS!


Catch the remainder of the Make America Rock tour on these dates:

Aug. 24 – Sylvania, OH – Centennial Terrace
Aug. 25 – Milwaukee, WI – The Rave (no TRAPT)
Aug. 26 – Island Lake, IL – Bands in the Sand
Aug. 27 – Sterling Heights, MI – Freedom Hill Amphitheater
Aug. 29 – Dewey Beach, DE – Bottle & Cork (no ADELITAS WAY or DROWNING POOL)
Aug. 31 – Huntington, NY – Paramount Theatre
Sep. 01 – Wellmont, NJ – Wellmont Theatre
Sep. 03 – Presque Isle, ME – The Forum
Sep. 08 – Fayetteville, NC – Crown Complex
Sep. 09 – Lynchburg, VA – Blue Ridge Rock Fest (as part of festival)

Images © Cherri Bird 2017 and James Villa On Tour Monthly 2017(MESSER shot)



About Cherri Bird 20 Articles

Dallas, Texas based writer and interviewer keen on all things rock related |