Setting fire to the book of adolescent despair with one of the most recognized riffs in modern, hard-rock history, guitarist Jerry Horton led the crowd into the most aggressive moment of the night as Papa Roach frontman Jacoby Shaddix reached out from the stage, looking into an audience only inches below and launched into the band’s biggest hit “Last Resort.” Ending with the song that confronted the struggles of depression, hopelessness and introduced the Vacaville, California band to the world, Papa Roach added to a very memorable night of music in the Amphitheater at The Wharf in Orange Beach, Alabama.

Originally scheduled for the Sunday of Labor Day weekend (September 4th), this stop of the Rock Allegiance Tour was postponed by the development of Tropical Storm Lee and its movement in the Gulf of Mexico which delivered heavy storm conditions to the area. The Rock Allegiance Tour and the crew of The Amphitheatre at The Wharf showed their metal and rescheduled for the upcoming Thursday. Unfortunately, Buckcherry were not able to perform on the rescheduled date (scheduling conflict) and even though the event lost the Labor Day crowd, the show went on in true hard-rock form.

The Christian hard-rock band RED from Nashville, Tennessee had just started their set when I made it through the gates of the Amphitheater. With the release of their most recent album, “Until We Have Faces,” the group, led by Michael Barnes (vocals), Anthony Armstrong (guitar), Randy Armstrong (bass), Joe Rickard (drums) have been nominated for several Grammy and Dove Awards throughout their history. Taking the crowd into the sunset hour of the festival, RED definitely showed that they belonged on the same stage as headliners on the Rock Allegiance Tour.

With a history dating back to 1994 and the release of their debut album “Snuff the Punk” on Rescue Records, P.O.D. (Payable On Death) have separated themselves from the excesses that have shortened lives and careers in the rock industry. Indulging in themes of positivity, the band’s catalog of empowerment and spirituality explode throughout their sound. Even though I wished the band would have added Sleeping Awake to their set, Sonny Sandoval energized the audience, strutting about the stage while Wuv Bernardo (drums), Traa Daniels (bass), and Marcos Curiel (guitar) supported their sonic attack of hits. The band even threw in a cover of the Sublime classic “What I Got” that kept the crowd dancing and singing for good measure.

From the streets of Kansas City, Missouri and with over 9 million albums sold and numerous chart-topping hits, Puddle of Mudd made their way to The Wharf stage and immediately rocked the Alabama night. Donning a military-style jacket, Wes Scantlin led crowd through the band’s diary of social Americana. Supported by his bandmates , Doug Ardito (bass), Paul Phillips (guitar), Dizzi Devereux (guitar) and Shannon Boone (drums) the group fired off hit after hit. Supported by massive radio and video, the group garnered a loud, sing-a-long vibe from their fans during their entire set.

Closing out this evening of the Rock Allegiance Tour, Papa Roach’s performance mirrored the many angles of life, from the metal-ballad “Scars” to the industrial and post metal-core collision of “Getting Away Murder” the band (Shaddix (vocals), Horton (guitar), Tobin Esperance (bass) and Tony Palermo (drums) provided the heavy finish for this turn of the Rock Allegiance Tour.

-Michael L. Smith