97.1 FM The Eagle's BFD
With Shinedown, Drowning Pool, Sixx:A.M. and more
Gexa Energy Pavilion, Dallas
Sunday, May 29, 2016
Mistakes were made at 97.1 The Eagle’s BFD.
Fans with chairs and coolers were turned away from the door, forced to walk back to their cars. A few suffered the effects of one too many $13 Bud Lights in the sweltering heat of Gexa Energy Pavilion’s lawn section. This year’s lineup was lackluster, featuring such "They're still a band?” acts as Drowning Pool, Collective Soul, Sixx:A.M., Shinedown and 3 Doors Down.
But the biggest mistake was not showing up, as BFD 2016 belied whatever shortcomings it may have had on paper, and delivered a raucous orgy of head-banging fun.
The boil was slow to rise however, as the first few opening acts did little to elicit a response from a crowd that was still attempting to settle into the festivities. But as Lacey Sturm, of Flyleaf fame, took the stage, the crowd’s excitement began to simmer.
Sturm kicked off the set with her hit solo single, “Impossible.” It's reminiscent of her earlier works, but magnified tenfold, with pounding and powerful guitar laced between Sturm’s vicious screams, which seemed to rip out of her body and leave her shaking and invigorated. It was impossible not to stop and listen as the band revved into higher gears with each track.
By the time Sturm started to backtrack through Flyleaf classics like “All Around Me” and “Fully Alive,” the cheers and fist pumps finally spread past the covered pavilion and up to the lounging smokers and sweaty teens of the lawn.
The vibe changed drastically when Drowning Pool took the stage. Current lead vocalist Jason Moreno belted out tracks like “Bodies” and “By the Blood” as random acts of violence broke out in mosh pits. But the atmosphere stayed friendly; when someone fell down, there were always some kind-hearted rockers there to throw them back into the action.
Then came Collective Soul. With the recent wave of praise for their new album, See What You Started By Continuing, hopes were high for the Atlanta rockers. However, frontman Ed Roland seemed a tad wilted by the heat, and did little to infuse the set with the same kind of energy that had already been seen. That still didn’t stop fans from singing along to radio mainstays like “Shine,” “December” and “Heavy,” and Roland seemed happy to let the crowd sing for him.
It seemed possible in the lead up to Sixx:A.M.'s set that there might be some Nikki Sixx fatigue setting in. With the radio shows and books and massive amounts of radio play, many fans in the crowd expressed more excitement for 3 Doors Down's set than they did for the former Mötley Crüe member. But the fact remained: Sixx:A.M. tore the house down. In fact, it was the best part of the whole day.
The slow building intro to “When We Were Gods” coaxed every ear into leaning forward before guitarist DJ Ashba and Sixx himself slammed down thunderous riffs. Tracks like “Everything Went to Hell” and “Rise” sounded like the birth of a new wave of modern hard rock, all while feeling familiar enough to make you want to grow your hair out and buy a pair of leather pants.
James Michael’s vocals billowed out like plumes of smoke as be barreled through “Life is Beautiful,” Ashba liquefied faces with searing solos and Sixx’s bone-shattering bass sounded as good as it ever has. They truly lived up to the raw energy that earlier bands performed with and became the crowning jewel of the evening.
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The set recaptured the magic of hand-banding '80s rock while staying entirely modern. It made you wonder why hair metal ever went out of fashion, but grateful that Sixx is keeping it alive and well.
The crowd drastically thinned after their set, and the remaining acts — Shinedown and 3 Doors Down — did little to live up to Sixx:A.M.’s performance.
Shinedown got off to a bad start, with one concert goer saying: “Shinedown has like, 10 good songs, why aren’t they playing any of them?” Meanwhile, 3 Doors Down’s reggae-style take on their biggest hit, “Kryptonite,” was downright confusing, a reflection of their performance as a whole.
But living up to Sixx:A.M.'s fiery set was never going to be easy, so plenty of fans still left Gexa with smiles on their faces — and maybe a little beer on their shirts.