Dirt Fest/Birch Run Expo Center–Birch Run, MI/August 7th -August 8th, 2015
Dirt Fest in Birch Run, MI is in its 17th year, with 2015 marking the first year that the festival has expanded from one to two days filled full of rock and metal bands. Friday kicked off the show with 10 bands scheduled for the first day of the festival.
Walking in the gates of Dirt Fest, you came across the first three of the four stages, with the US Army & Lasco Ford Stages around the corner hosting the main headliners. Other attractions were near the door, such as a haunted house exhibit with its odd characters mingling with the festival crowd.
Friday’s line up included Jasta, King 810, Mushroomhead, Fear Factory, Coal Chamber and headliner Hellyeah. The crowd was thick, full of circle pits of crazy moshers.
Mushroomhead took the stage with authority, everyone crowding in to watch the performance. Jackie LaPonza (of UnSaid Fate) joining them on stage and crowd surfing along with Roberto Diablo walking on the crowd then surfing his way back to the front. The impressive energy from the band poured into the huge, rowdy crowd.
Coal Chamber took the stage and showed the Michigan crowd that they were back and better than ever, playing a jam-packed 45 minute seven song set promoting their first album in 13 years, Rivals. Coal Chamber closed out the set with “Sway.”
Closing Friday night out was HELLYEAH. Chad Gray opened up the set with “Soul Killer,” encouraging the crowd to sing along and pack the mosh pits. Gray jumped into the crowd during the song “You Wouldn’t Know.” Drummer Vinnie Paul slammed on the drums, Tom Maxwell and Christian Brady were shredding their guitars while Kyle Sanders slammed on the bass. They closed out the ten song set with “Hell Yeah.”
Saturday brought in a larger crowd to see the 50 bands scheduled to play the 4 stages. The first of band of the day hit the stage at 12:30pm. The Nation Rock Review stage hosted: Kaleido, Another Lost Year, Child Bite, Red Sun Rising, Eyes Set To Kill, Davey Suicide and a few other bands. The Anar Clothing Stage hosted The Perservering Promise, Heartsick, Through The Ashes and Deveraux among the bands. The Black Forest Stage hosted Harlow, Five Hundredth Year, Drawn To Fury, and The 2nd System amongst the bands. The Main stage which was the US ARMY & LASCO Ford Stage had, It Lies Within, Deadringer, Murder FM, From Ashes To New, Blue Felix, Starset, We Are Harlot, Psychostik, Kottonmouth Kings, Taproot, Pop Evil, and the headliner Down.
Michigan based band Taproot performed their first show since December of 2013, with a line-up change bringing in former Nonpoint guitarist Dave Lizzio. The crowd loved the opportunity to see Taproot in action again. Singer Stephen Richards connected with the crowd that was singing along word for word. Taproot ended the nine song set with “Poem,” letting a fan in the crowd sing the last chorus.
Another Michigan band played next, Pop Evil consisting of Leigh Kakaty on vocals along with Guitarists Davey Grahs and Nick Fuelling, Matt DiRito on bass and Chachi Riot on drums. Pop Evil is promoting the new album UP which will be released on August 21st, 2015. Pop Evil played a solid hit-packed 45 minute set which the crowd loved.
Phil Anselmo of Down pumped up the crowd at Dirt Fest, encouraging the mosh pits that were already ferocious. Throughout the set Phil’s strong vocals, Bobby Landgraf and Pepper Keenan on guitar, bass by Pat Bruders, and drummer Jimmy Bower presented an epic heavy metal end to this energy packed festival.