Chill on the Hill 2015 Part I: Arkells, Coleman Hell, Vinyl Theatre, Beartooth, Night Riots, and Thousand Foot Krutch

We had such a great time last year at Chill on the Hill that it was basically guaranteed that we’d snatch up tickets as soon as they went on sale. When the list of bands was released all I needed to see was Weezer’s name on the list to completely sell me on getting tickets. Thankfully the rest of the lineup was just as enticing and was filled with bands that I knew would put on a great set and bands that I had been wanting to see. Just like last year, the weekend was filled with rousing performances and music fans that helped enhance the experience even more.

There was no question about getting to the show early enough to catch the Hamilton Canadian quintet, Arkells. I saw them last year when they opened up for another band on the Chill on the Hill roster, X Ambassadors and was blown away by their performance. I knew it would be a great way to start the weekend. The guys kicked off their set with one of my favorite tracks off their newest album, High Noon, “Come to Light.” The temperature was much colder than we had anticipated so it was nice to have a set packed with danceable tracks to help warm us all up. I was surprised at how many people had shown up early to catch the opening band and happy to see that everyone seemed to be enjoying their set. “This is a dancing song,” singer Nick Dika informed the audience, ” so put on your dancing shoes like Molly fucking Ringwald!” The band then launched into another personal favorite, “Dirty Blonde.” “Thank you so much for coming out early it means a lot to us,” Dika made sure to restate as the guys closed out their set with the infectious “Leather Jacket.” It was a great way to start out Chill on the Hill and a wonderful reminder of why I love Arkells so much.

If you haven’t heard Coleman Hell’s single, “2 Heads,” you’ve probably been living under a rock. Honestly, I’m quite sick of the song myself as it seems to be on the radio every five minutes or so but I was interested in seeing what else the band had to offer. The crowd reaction was huge when the band took control of the small stage, filling their set with new tracks like “Flower Child.” The song was filled with a tropical vibe that helped the audience forget the cool temperature and dance their hearts out. Like many of the bands that played through the weekend, it was Coleman Hell’s first time in Detroit and I can safely say that we gave them quite the welcome. The band’s synth filled set kept the crowd moving, especially when they closed it out with “2 Heads” and ensured that the people that had shown up early to the event were starting the weekend out on a high note.

Vinyl Theatre was a band that was high up on my anticipated acts list for the weekend as I enjoyed their album that dropped last year, Electrogram. They were the first band to hit the main stage and the pit was pretty packed considering it was still early in the day. The Wisconsin fivesome delivered a great set to keep the energy flowing and the crowd warmed up. Their electronic indie rock sound filled the amphitheater and I was not disappointed feeling that the great things I heard about their live show was an understatement compared to the real thing. The ever growing crowd filtering into the pit and lawn sang along as loud as they could for the band’s hooky single, “Breaking My Bones.” Hearing the band live made me want to go back and put Electrogram on repeat for the foreseeable future and left me waiting for another chance to catch the band live.

Ohio’s Beartooth was one of the last bands to be added to the bill and was one of the bands that I knew the least about. The hard rock genre may not be something that I listen to regularly but I have found that many hard rock bands can put on quite the live show. Again, the band received a very warm welcome as they took the small stage with snarling distorted guitars echoing through the air. The band didn’t get very far into their first track, “The Lines” before the area in front of the stage was a mass of moving people. I found myself enjoying the song more than I thought I would and I couldn’t help but get swept up in the energy that the band and crowd were putting out as they thrashed their way through the half hour set. Lead singer Caleb Shomo has stage presence to spare and was encouraging the crowd to push harder and sing louder throughout the set. I returned to the hill during their last song and watched in awe at the crazy size of the mosh pit that had formed by the end of their set.

The pit seemed to double in size by the time we returned to the big stage for Night Riots. Lead singer, Travis Hawley, took the stage and wasted no time ensuring that the crowd was up and ready for their set. Another glistening indie rock set that made me fall in love with the band even more after listening to their new Howl EP that came out earlier this year. Hawley has a Brandon Flowers vibe to his vocals and the charisma and stage presence that would make anyone attending their live show an instant fan.

Thousand Foot Krutch drew the biggest crowd I had seen in front of the small stage. The band packed their set with singles that kept the crowd up and moving. Though I’m not a fan, Thousand Foot Krutch puts on an irresistible show and the enthusiasm from the crowd definitely helped make the experience. I stood off the side the and just watched the band and fans fuel each other as they thrashed through the set, unable to resist getting swept up in it all.

We may have been huddling to keep warm throughout the first part of day one but the bands that played ensured that we had sets filled with tracks that had us up and moving to keep warm.

Make sure to check out the rest of our Chill on the Hill 2015 recap:
Part II featuring The Wombats, We Came As Romans, Andrew McMahon in the Wilderness, Panic! At The Disco, and Weezer
Part III featuring Five Hundredth Year, Kaleido, The Struts, Civil Twilight, Robert DeLong, and The Glorious Sons
Part IV featuring JR JR, X Ambassadors, Cold War Kids, Coheed and Cambria, and Cage the Elephant