101 WRIF brought rock fans together for an incredible day of music and more at Riff Fest 2022 on Saturday, September 24. Held at the legendary Pine Knob during their 50th anniversary celebration, the rockiest night brought Disturbed back to the Motor City for the first time since 2019 as the show’s headliner! They were supported by In This Moment, Dorothy, Dirty Honey and The Violent on the main stage while Of Virtue, Fame on Fire, Eva Under Fire and Plush kicked off the day on the Festival stage.
Of Virtue took the stage first with an unforgettable high-energy performance that earned them a new fan base. For a band that started out as an up-and-coming Midwestern metalcore band, they made a HUGE impact and left their mark at Riff fest. Lead singer Tyler Ennis set the tone for the day as he dove into the audience’s arms and bustled around while surfing the crowd. Damon Tateade was a powerhouse for backing vocals and guitar and Michael Valadez and Ryan Trinh refused to fade into the background with their playful interactions. As a group, their showmanship set the mood and they were a great choice for the opening band.
Fame on Fire then took the stage and started their set with an empty stage and an intro track that escalated as the band moved towards their instruments and maintained that level of power throughout. his set with his unique combination of genre-defying rock. , hip hop and heavy music. Bryan Kuznitz grabbed attention with his red hair while Blake Saul, Paul Spirou and Alex Roman delivered an undeniable liveliness that delivered an enthusiastic and unforgettable performance.
Eva Under Fire had a tough number to follow but didn’t disappoint and kept the crowd going. It was very cool to see people singing the lyrics to each song. These Detroit originals showed so much heart and true love for their craft. From Amanda Lyberg’s power pipes and flashy vest, to Chris Slapnix’s trademark Eva Under Fire onesie and cover versions (including Queen’s We Will Rock You), this performance had the crowd roaring. Rob Ryberg, Edward Joseph and Corey Newsom started out a little reserved but got into their element by letting attendees know they were there to rock the house. With their nod to 80s headband glamor and 90s alternative metal aggression, Eva left the stage on fire (pun intended).
New York up and comers Plush immediately caught the eye as a badass girl group. Vocalist and guitarist Moriah Formica and bassist Ashley Suppa have shared incredible harmonies that make it seem like they were meant to play together. However, Ashley was a scene stealer with her passion for fashion and magnetic energy. This band is currently on tour with Alice in Chains and delivered a sick cover of “Man in the Box” as a nod to the kings of grunge metal. Bella Perron on guitar and Brooke Colucci on drums complete the band. All in all, they were the most impactful band of the day so far and did an incredible job of bringing this part of the festivities to a close.
The Violent (formerly known as Red Sun Rising), kicked off the rest of the evening on the main stage. It was their sixth show as a band and performed like it was their hundredth. The Violent is a rock trio that creatively combines familiar aspects of rock with a new appreciation for electronic and digital sounds. The Violent is a chaotic child created during the pandemic and that same liveliness was realized on stage in an electrifying showcase of talent. They performed their original song “Counting Sheep,” and it was an absolute bang. This group came as the underdogs of the day and left their hearts and souls on stage.
The last time Dorothy performed at Pine Knob was in 2019 with Breaking Benjamin and they absolutely reminded everyone exactly why they were there. Lead singer Dorothy Martin stepped out in an all-leather look with an explosive flamboyance that was delivered throughout her performance. The singer showed poise and grace. Her live vocals are even better than what she produces in the studio, and they will give you goosebumps. It was great to watch Dorothy give Jason Ganberg, Devon Pangle, Eli Wulfmeier and Eliot Lorango the love and recognition they deserved as they rocked the room with their incredible musical savvy. Dorothy combines a great balance of rock, swampy blues and 90s alternative that kicks ass live.
Dirty Honey lead singer Marc LaBelle was a visual feast with his fierce fashion and stage presence and blew the crowd away with his incredible voice. Guitarist John Notto shredded wholeheartedly and made it so easy. Bassist Justin Smolian and drummer Corey Coverstone have kept themselves in the spotlight with their unique style and spirited performances. This band’s blues-rock and wicked ’70s rock and roll style is thrilling to watch. They did a cover of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy” which drove the crowd wild. They put on a fun show and captured the dynamics and energy of their live sound.
In This Moment featured the most unreal intro of the entire event and blew every other performance out of the water. Ranging from weird and haunting theatrics, coordinated dancers, insane visual effects and props, fashionable costumes and masks and more, this band didn’t come to play and left the audience in absolute awe . Maria Brink’s live voice will send shivers down your spine. His inventiveness and commanding stage presence take you on what can only be described as an emotional journey and pure art. Chris Howorth, Travis Johnson, Randy Weitzel and Kent Diimmel each carried their own with powerful instrumentals, commanding stage presence and inventive costumes. In This Moment is a melodic metalcore equivalent of Evanescence with raucous screams, gothic rock band vibes and a mature atmospheric sound that delivers a jaw-dropping spectacle that will leave you wanting more.
To end the night, headliner Disturbed came out and sent the crowd into a frenzy. With the incredible live vocals of David Draiman, this iconic band came into full force. Although their performance was visually more subdued after In This Moment, Disturbed reminded the audience why they were headlining. Dan Donegan, Mike Wengren and John Moyer held a powerful stage presence that was well controlled but incredibly impactful. With the public presentation of their dope new single, great crowd engagement, a Nickelback shoutout, classic heavy rock vibes and so much more, Disturbed got everyone on their feet and every member of the band shone through themselves- same.
When they performed The Sound of Silence, the only way to describe it is as a spiritual experience that literally brought viewers to tears. It was hauntingly beautiful and constantly ebbing and flowing. For the encore, Draiman encouraged the crowd to shine their cellphones during The Night’s chorus which created a beautiful sea of lights. The last song, Down With the Sickness, was just awesome on an extreme level.
All in all, Riff Fest was a surreal experience that every hard rock fan should encounter at least once in their life. The performances of Plush and In This Moment had an incredible impact on me. I developed a new appreciation for them as musicians and recorded a bunch of their songs on my phone. All of the performances were amazing and made this an event for the books.
Pine Knob Music Theater
September 24, 2022
All photos by Dan Boshart
Eva under fire
Fame under fire
Photo: Dan Boshart