On a hot and humid Day 3 of Rock USA the younger festival attendees were given a dose of what they were waiting for.

With the heavy riffed “Shepherd Of Fire,” headliner act Avenged Sevenfold started their set, while flames shooting up the back of the set as part of their show warmed the already sweat soaked front row crowd. The band went on to play a rocking choice of tunes culled from their repertoire of albums, including well-known tracks “Hail To The King,” and “Nightmare,” before ending the show with “Bat Country.”

With a disappointingly short set of only eleven songs and a much toned down stage show compared to the last time they played the same venue a couple of years ago, M. Shadows, Synyster Gates, Zacky Vengeance, Johnny Christ, and Arin Ilejay bid farewell to a crowd that was definitely left wanting more.

Playing on a basic stage set given most non-headline acts, Breaking Benjamin packed as many songs as they could fit into their approximate hour-long set. Opening their show with “So Cold,” Benjamin Burnley, Aaron Bruch, Keith Wallen, Jasen Rauch, and Shaun Foist, performed a basic no-nonsense set.

Breaking Benjamin played tracks from as far back as their first single, “Polyamarous” to songs from their most recent chart topping release titled Dark Before Dawn, like “Angels Fall” and their #1 hit “Failure.” Also, included in the set were covers of Queen’s “Who Wants To Live Forever” and Tool’s “AEnema.” It was clear that the band gave the fans what they had come to hear and more, closing out their show performing their hit single, “The Diary Of Jane.”

With the temperatures still unforgiving, California rock band Papa Roach took the stage opening with “Face Everything And Rise.” Other songs that made the list were “Blood Brothers,” “Kick In The Teeth,” “Scars,” and more.The band, led by energetic lead vocalist Jacoby Shaddix, guitarist/backing vocalist Jerry Horton, bassist Tobin Esperance, and drummer Tony Palmero, went on to play a slew of recognizable tunes that had the crowd up on their feet and pumping their fists in the air.

What seemed a recurring theme with the bands throughout the festival was their displeasure of the seating arrangements at the venue, where the majority general admission crowd had to watch the show from way in the back, with two large seating sections separating them from the stage. This set up is slated to change next year, with seating being moved a few rows back from the stage barrier to make way for a pit to accommodate ‘pit’ ticket holders the opportunity to rock closer to the bands.

A year seemed too long for Shaddix who couldn’t wait and jumped off the stage, going as close as he could to the general admission crowd, feeding off some of the energy that was lacking up front in the VIP and reserved seating areas, then giving fans a high-five as he made his way back to the stage.

Michigan rockers Pop Evil, in support of their latest offering titled UP, took the stage next. Vocalist Leigh Kakaty, guitarists Davey Grahs and Nick Fuelling, bassist Matt DiRito, and drummer Chachi Riot ripped through a 14 song hard rocking set which included “Trenches,” “Deal with the Devil,” “Last Man Standing,” “Hero,” etc.

The band’s high energy coupled with hard rock made for the perfect formula to keep the crowd enjoying the show, which drew the band back on stage for a couple of well deserved encores. Pop Evil had made their mark on the hard-core rockers here today and it would not be surprising to see them grace this festival again in the coming years.

Preceded by two days of classic rock and heavy metal bands, Wysteria was given the task of launching the festival’s 3rd day, shifting gears into the realm of the newer hardcore metal. The younger crowd welcomed the change in music and being a Friday, the venue started to fill up earlier than it had the previous two days of the festival.

Charismatic frontman, JC Stang, took command of the stage as the band worked hard and capitalized on their opportunity to play before a large audience, belting out a solid nine songs in their limited time slot. They forged through a strong set which including all the tracks from their hard-hitting new EP titled Electroshock Zombie Parade, as well as a few good sounding unreleased tracks which could very well make a future release.

JC Stang (vocals), Vern Boward (guitars/vocals), Matt Scriva (guitars), Eric Hamilton (bass), and Logan Michael (drums) were well received by the crowd and even the older ‘classic rock’ audience seemed to enjoy the music, possibly gaining the band a lot of new fans in the process.

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Avenged Sevenfold
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Breaking Benjamin
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Papa Roach
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Pop Evil
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Rock USA
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