Disrupt Festival boasted with things from the start. Sponsored and led by Rockstar Energy Drinks, Disrupt showed promise for it’s first year to be a stellar alternative concert experience; one that would surely fill the void left by the ending of Warped Tour. What was advertised was a unique take on a festival – not only did it bring out a range of artists that would feed into both nostalgia and satisfy the need for more new current acts but assured that there would be no worry of missing your favourites by removing chance for clashes. Starting early, each show would allow for every band to perform a full length set over two stages. With such a great concept and an incredible line-up, the show was set to be a memorable one.

On an outdoor stage, the day starts strong. As patrons begin filing into the arena, they easily stumble upon Juliet Simms beginning her set on the festival stage. Simms brings a modern look with an old style rock ’n’ roll sound. Her voice is gravelly, soulful and akin to the 80’s classics that are so well loved today. She is incredibly entertaining to watch though she is backed by a touring band, all attention is drawn to Simms as she makes the most of her environment, as she waving her tambourine high and thrashing almost gracefully across the stage.

When Trophy Eyes take to the stage it’s with an applause from vocalist John Floreani, greeting the crowd below. It’s not a sentiment that lasts, as crowd reaction seems stale. It seems unusual because Trophy Eyes are exactly the kind of band that typically would bring a kind of chaotic energy from any crowd, they are pure pop punk and Lavender Bay is exactly the kind of anthem to crowd surf to. It’s frustrating, clearly, as Floreani urges everyone to move. It’s not anything against Trophy Eyes, their performance is excellent and the songs are awfully catchy to sing along to. 

sleeping with sirens

Four Year Strong are New England favourites and were only set to perform at a couple dates of Disrupt Festival this year. Luckily one of those dates was in Hartford, just a couple of hours away from their home in Massachusetts. The atmosphere does change for these hometown heroes however, a stream of crowd surfers begin and it’s a direct contrast from the set before. While Four Year Strong have consistently put out pretty great music, in a live setting, they’re not the most lively to watch. 

Sleeping With Sirens, however? Well, they have always possessed the perfect recipe for a memorable set. At Disrupt, it’s no different. On stage things are manic, as everyone moves so frantically in time with the music. Every member puts in their all and that’s something that has been consistent throughout their career as a band and it’s what makes them such a great addition to any lineup. It seems strange though that they would be playing a smaller stage during the day and not in the amphitheatre with the big hitters of the night. It would be safe to say, especially now, that they deserve to fall in among those ranks.

Following an explosive performance by Sleeping With Sirens, Disrupt moves under the cover of the amphitheatre and fans file into their seats whether that be general admission or reserved near the front. While outside had seemed rather packed, moving inside shows that the turnout for the show isn’t as great as it could have been. For a festival in it’s first year, there are still plenty of people in attendance but not nearly enough to match the huge names on the lineup. That’s perhaps the only downside of the day thus far, as Atreyu are a treat.

circa survive

It seems like every band was specifically picked for a reason and not haphazardly thrown together. The line-up makes sense and Atreyu bring the heat just as much as those who had performed before them. Having been a band for a little over two decades now, and despite a small hiatus, it’s clear to see why they are one of the more long standing bands in the industry. They perform in unison, bringing classic synchronised moves that hail back to performances of 80’s juggernauts – of course they add Bon Jovi’s ‘You Give Love A Bad Name’ to further drive that point home. Though their sound is a far cry from that, they’re hard to pin genre wise but their songs weave with both clean and unclean vocals to give them that extra edge that makes their songs so damn catchy. Especially when performed live.

The first song into Circa Survive’s set hasn’t even fully taken off before vocalist Anthony Green is thrashing around the stage with reckless abandon. In the blink of an eye, Green disappears from the stage and can be found standing pressed against the barricade screaming the words to ‘Act Appalled’ with fans around him. There’s nothing appalling about this performance, they truly do sound great. Green is the focal point, however, he holds all the energy and he comes in bursts. In a small break, Green stops to talk to the fans; “My son is here for the weekend, everyone say hi,” in a chorus everyone does as asked and Green dedicates the next song to his son who stands side stage watching his dad do his thing.

There is a reason why The Used have been so withstanding, though a lot of it is purely down to them putting out consistently great music. Another is that they know exactly what fans want and are more than okay to provide it. At Disrupt, their set is made up entirely of classics. Songs from the first few albums that inspire nostalgia among the older fans in attendance. The Used are band that has been around for almost two decades now and despite a few line-up changes, they show no signs of stopping. Vocalist Bert McCracken is still one of the most charismatic and exciting frontmen to watch. There is an unexpected cover in the mix of Wonderwall, to which McCracken finishes off with; “I fucking hate Oasis”. It’s a joke he seemingly isn’t tired of, despite more than likely doing it every date of the tour thus far. “Who in here is a real die hard fan of The Used,” Bert asks toward the end of the set, to which nearly every throws their hand in the air – including the band themselves. “This isn’t something we’d normally do but we want to play a really, really old song for you guys,” he announces, to a chorus of cheers as they spring into ‘Buried Myself Alive’.

Though Rockstar’s Disrupt Festival is in it’s infancy, it shows a whole lot of promise for years to come. As it is, among the other newly appointed festivals announced this year, it does match up as a great alternative to the sorely missed run of Warped. Though it brings it’s own spin on the day and offers what most other festivals don’t, a day where no band can be missed and that’s something that we need to see more to stop newer bands from being overlooked.

Overall, while perhaps this year it would have been better suited to just an outdoor venue, Disrupt provided a full day of stellar performances. It has so much potential and room to grow, as it has the recipe for something longstanding. There’s hope that next year will provide an equally stacked line-up of great talent, with room to flourish and more seats filled.