The Great Jones County Fair in Monticello, long known for the big name country acts they bring to eastern Iowa, has steadily been increasing their attention to rock and classic rock acts. This year’s fair featured not only country sensations Lady Antebellum and Jason Aldean, but Saturday night was dedicated to some of today’s best hard rock bands.
“This year we are able to hit a broader market by offering a night of alternative rock,” says fair General Manager John Harms.
Although the weekend’s thunderstorms flooded the track earlier in the day, by the 7 p.m. showtime the area in front of the stage was packed with music lovers. KRNA 94.1′s Jaymze Larson introduced the first band, My Darkest Days, which instantly brought the crowd to life.
Hailing from Toronto, Canada, singer/guitarist Matt Walst got a jumpstart from his older brother Brad, from the rock band Three Days Grace.
”I learned to work hard and practice from them,” says Walst. “I learned how to write songs by watching how they took catchy riffs and put memorable melodies to them.”
This young, energetic band is obviously loving their time on stage. Songs from their 2010 self-titled album included “Set it on Fire” and “Come Undone,” a song originally written by Duran Duran. They also threw in an interesting keyboard and drum duet.
At one point Walst pulled out his camera, taking pics of crowd, exclaiming, “We wanna be friends with each and every one of you!”
Not surprisingly, “Porn Star Dancin” was the crowd favorite. The music video for the song has been recognized as the most downloaded video in iTunes history, as well as hitting the number one spot on Billboard’s Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks ranking.
Oklahoma City-based band Hinder – vocalist Austin Winker, drummer Cody Hanson, guitarists Joe “Blower” Garvey and Mike King and bassist Mike Rodden – took the stage next. In the middle of their current midwestern tour, the band recently hit their 10-year anniversary. Popular for their big ballad, “Lips of an Angel,” they also brought plenty of straight-ahead hard rock tunes to the show.
Starting off with “Two Sides of Me,” Hinder fans also enjoyed hearing the hits “Get Stoned” and “How Long” from the band’s first album, the latter which featured the crowd participating in a massive one-finger salute. Other bluesy, gritty songs included “Better Than Me,” “Up All Night” and “Use Me” from their second album.
Hinder, who certainly haven’t lost their bad boy edge, left fans satisfied by finishing up their performance with “All American Nightmare” from their 2010 album of the same name.
Headlining the show and taking the stage next was Seether. Doing what they’ve done since 2002 – when they released their U.S. debut album — the band is capturing the attention of their fans with epic riffs, thunderous rhythms and insightful lyrics.
Led by guitarist/vocalist Shaun Morgan, the trio is rounded out by bassist Dale Stewart and drummer John Humphrey. Recording as a trio for many years, this is the first time for Seether touring without a second guitarist on stage. The music held up just fine.
The band, which formed in 1999, says they are “South Africa-bred and L.A.-based.” Front man and principal songwriter Shaun Morgan has the uncanny ability to grab people’s attention, and could easily be a cult leader if the rock star thing wasn’t so time-consuming.
Playing songs from their hit albums, “Disclaimer,” “Disclaimer II,” “Karma and Effect” and “Finding Beauty in Negative Spaces,” every song was recognizable and enjoyed by the crowd. Songs from their newest album, “Holding Onto Strings better Left to Fray,” released in 2011 were also enthusiastically received.
Seether finished up the night with their No. 1 hit “Remedy,” after which the sweat-saturated but happy crowd headed for home.
– Pete Looney