For an event that was just an idea in 2011, what took place May 17 & 18 on the Peoria Riverfront was pretty amazing. Rock 105.7 WIXO teamed up with the two biggest entities in Central Illinois music, Inked Entertainment, and the newly opened Monarch Music Hall for a stellar 2 day rock show event. The Spring Fling has grown from its feeble beginnings to having two days loaded with nationally headlining acts. The weather Thursday night was as good as you could hope for. Light breeze, in the 70’s. Fans were lining up well before the 5 pm gate opening.
Starting off the show from LA were newcomers , Dead Girls Academy . They have only been out since 2017 and are producing a debut album. Their set was pretty short but filled with some gritty rock, that you would expect out of a band from the streets of LA. DGA is a pretty dark , moody band and were a great start off for a night of rock. You will likely be hearing from these guys again as they are playing some big festivals such as Rocklahoma, Vans Warped Tour, Rockfest and Inkcarceration. Check them out.
Next up was one of the bands that I have seen 4 times and love them every time a little more, 10 Years. They are currently touring in support of their new album “How To Live(as Ghosts)”. 10 Years has been around since 1999 and had a huge hit with “Wasteland”, but they are by no means a one hit wonder. Years of producing great albums and touring has made this band a fan favorite, and you can tell they are very appreciative and love the fans. Singer Jesse Hasek is very interactive with fans and went onto the front barricade at least twice, balancing on the top, while letting fans support him while he sang . Their new album is well worth a purchase. They will be playing at Rocklahoma, KC Rockfest, Rock USA festivals this summer as well as headlining tour dates across the country. Go see them !
Pop Evil loves Peoria and Peoria loves Pop Evil. From their very start Rock 105.7 has played their albums and booked them for shows and their appreciation always shows. They are a hard driving rock band that hit the stage running and don’t stop till the last drum beat. You could see many fans in the crowd screaming for Pop Evil. Even a few small children on Dad’s shoulders holding up signs for the band to see. Singer Leigh Kakaty took time to acknowledge the kids and converse a little before getting back to whipping the crowd into a bouncing, fist-pumping frenzy. Guitarist Davey Grahs was spot on as usual and earned enough air miles to get some free trips to the Bahamas I think. Not only did he jump, but he was doing 360 jumps. Pretty amazing. Drummer Hayley Cramer proves that she isn’t just a novelty ‘chick drummer’, she owns that kit and drives the back of every song. As I was told by a friend, Matt DiRito is very smooth on the bass. I can’t say i can disagree with that. He is all over the stage, but the groove never ends. Wrapping up the line up is guitarist Nick Fuelling. As someone who is a big fan of guitar, I can’t say there is anything much better than a band with some highly skilled guitarists on each side of the stage. Nick is a perfect compliment to Davey Grahs. Pop Evil could have very easily have headlined this show, which is what makes the event pretty damn special. There were two bands each night that could have easily headlined. Catch Pop Evil at the major festivals and on their own tour all this summer and fall.
Headlining tonight was a band that sadly hadn’t played Peoria before, Stone Temple Pilots. Everyone knows the turmoil that this band has been through from it’s inception, but there is no denying the great music they have and continue to put out over the years. STP is comprised of founding members, brothers Dean(guitars) and Robert(bass) DeLeo and Eric Kretz(drums), and new singer Jeff Gutt. They began the show with Wicked Garden followed by Vasoline. By this time everyone had gotten over any question about the new singer and were loving the show. Their third song off the new album “Stone Temple Pilots” was “Meadows”. You can see and hear the influences of Scott Weiland in Jeff Gutt’s voice and movements, but he also throws in a Billy Idol look with his spiked blonde hair and occasional slight snarl. I think it’s always a tough position to fill for a singer coming into a band with a huge following and very distinctive former vocalist. There’s always the risk of mimicry and becoming basically a cover band, or not sounding anything like the original singer, causing fans to rebel because it’s not the same. Fans can be very finicky. Personally I think Gutt sounded enough like Weiland to make the songs somewhat familiar, but with his own take on them. The new songs have a new sound and feel, with some obviously influences from STP. This was great. Many fans there tonight have never had the chance to see STP live, myself included, and were very pleased with the whole show. It brought back memories of the music over the years and some new offerings for the future. Catch these guys out on tour all over the place this summer. Buy the new album and keep an eye on this lineup. Great things to come from them in the future.
review and photos by Michael McMillen