Day three of Common Ground Festival in Lansing, Michigan was a huge contrast to the previous days country music festivities. Bands such as Shinedown, Live and Lacey Sturm brought their immense talent and their rock sound to the festival.
Molehill, an alternative rock band from Chicago, opened the Sparrow stage for the day. With Peter Manhart on lead vocals/guitar and Greg Van Zuiden on keyboard, the group played with a funky rock sound. Having released their EP Hearts on Fire in May, they performed tracks from that, including “Reverie”.
Mason, Michigan natives, Assume Nothing, opened the Auto Value main stage with their metal core sound. Riley Roush provided his killer screams for the set. The band had an extremely successful set, including songs “Horizons” and “Paths”.
The Legal Immigrants, a band with that blues rock influence, took the Sparrow stage. On stage, the band was a whirlwind of energy, performing songs that everyone jammed along to. The band’s set included songs like “Daddy’s Little Girl” and “Hollywood” which included vocalist Boots calling the words back and forth with back up vocalists and guitar and bass players Nico Simon and Ben Taber.
Leopold and His Fiction produced a vintage rock sound on the main stage. Vocalist Daniel James has a very stripped down vocal style, which was highlighted in the songs “Better Off Alone” and “If You Gotta Go, Go Now”. James gave a heartfelt speech on stage, having everyone in the crowd introduce themselves to their neighbor, and claiming that when you think of their band, you have positive, good feelings because you think about “love, hugs, and rock n’ roll”.
Lacey Sturm packed the Sparrow stage. She had the biggest crowd of the week on the stage by far. Sturm started off as the lead vocalist of Flyleaf, and has since then moved on to a solo career. Her vocal style has not changed much though, as she still includes her screaming in her songs. She opened full force, performing her song “Warning”. Having never seen Lacey Sturm live before, I was left speechless. She never stopped moving on stage, and you could see the passion and emotion take over her as she sang. She included a performance of “Cassie” (from Flyleaf) that brought chills. Other Flyleaf songs performed included “All Around Me” and “I’m So Sick”. After her set, Sturm hopped off stage and joined the crowd. She met with fans all while holding her son, creating a very close experience for those in the audience.
Live took on the main stage as the crowd began to pack in, filling the festival with their spiritual, anthemic sound and opened with “All Over You”. However, due to an injury to drummer Chad Gracey, he was joined by a second drummer. Vocalist Ed Kowalczyk picked up an acoustic guitar for “Operation Spirit” and followed with a rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Walk the Line”. During “I Alone” the band enticed a call and response style where the crowd sang back “I alone love you”. The band paid tribute to the late Chris Cornell with a cover of Audioslave’s “I Am the Highway”. After closing with “Lightning Crashes” the band formed a line and formally bowed to the audience to end their talented set.
Finally, Shinedown stormed the stage, opening with “Devour”, Brent Smith’s powerful vocals erupting through the park. Before continuing the set, Brent demanded everybody introduce themselves to their neighbor, shake hands, high five, hug, etc. Before “Diamond Eyes”, the crowd was taught to sing “Boom-Lay, Boom-Lay, Boom”, creating an intense performance where everybody chanted along with the band. Lighters filled the air for “If You Only Knew”. Smith parted the crowd, and hopped off stage to join the crowd, instructing that when he runs to jump on stage, everyday to jump. Once arriving on stage he asked “Did you all bring your dancing shoes with you?” before the band erupted into “State of My Head”. During “Cut the Cord” the crowd exploded into energy, matching that brought on stage from drummer Barry Kerch. After a performance of “Bully”, bassist Eric Bass brought Dustan Colyer on stage, who spoke about his organization DC Strong, whose mission is to help kids diagnosed with cancer, and to give them the support, mentally and financially, that they need. The crowd broke out into support, chanting “DC Strong”. Smith and guitarist Zach Myers took the stage, dedicating an acoustic cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man” to Dustan. The band closed with their anthem “Sound of Madness”, ending their set with the highest energy from not only the stage but the crowd. Shinedown had a breathtaking set that never once had a dull moment, and engaged every single audience member.
For the after party of the evening, a funk band made entirely of mummies came from Nashville, Tennessee. Here Come the Mummies rocked it out. The band partied with their songs “Freak Flag” and “Ra Ra Ra”.