PACIFIC JUNCTION, Iowa — On a night so cold the merch tent sold out of sweatshirts, thousands of rock fans stood in a field fist pumping, jumping, crowd surfing and dancing.
The young crowd had a wild Friday night, many drinking beer, some smoking illicit substances and at least a dozen women lifting their tops.
With the smell of carnival food, pizza and pot in the air, five bands — Incubus, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, Emphatic and After the Fall — played into the late hours.
All but Incubus are of the hard rock sort, and the tattooed, pierced and partying crowd was whipped into a frenzy for 89.7 FM's River Riot concert at the Mid-America Motorplex.
The last two groups were the highlight.
Shinedown played its brand of hard rock, which mostly features blasting, frenetic guitars over a radio-friendly beat.
The band's singer had a sharp voice that glided through “If You Only Knew,” “45,” “Second Chance,” a cover of “Simple Man” and a bunch of others.
Incubus, one of the most popular rock bands of the past decade, took the stage next.
Incubus combines hard rock, funk elements and electronica into a strange but serene mix. Songs such as “Nice to Know You” pack ripping riffs and singer Brandon Boyd's powerful voice with DJ scratches and electronic samples.
The audience loved the headliner and sang many of the band's popular songs, such as “Wish You Were Here” and “Pardon Me.” A cool moment came in “Drive” when the band cut out entirely for a few beats and the crowd sang all the words.
The group played a lot of older material, with only a few selections from its latest album, “If Not Now, When?,” including the single “Adolescents.”
Boyd's intensity was infectious. He thanked the crowd often and they shared his joy.
“You boys and girls been having a good time?” he said, to cheers. “It's been my pleasure hanging out with you guys.”
Incubus played almost two hours, ending with an encore of “Circles.” Longtime fans were happy, considering the band hadn't played the area for years.
The concert, which was topped off with a fireworks display, made for a fun day, but the venue had major problems. Too few bathrooms meant long lines. ATMs also ran out of cash and/or went out of service, and some food vendors sold out of some of their items before the last bands even took the stage.
That was no big deal compared with the traffic problems. One two-lane road is the only way in or out. As of this writing, we had been waiting in the parking lot for more than an hour. And we hadn't moved an inch.
Contact the writer: 402-444-1557, firstname.lastname@example.org, twitter.com/owhmusicguy