This year Lazerfest has a new home, the Central Iowa Expo in Boone. But before you start thinking you will be required to trek to the middle of nowhere, KAZR 103.3 program director Ryan Patrick wants to make it clear — it’s only a 10-minute drive from Jack Trice Stadium in Ames.
“With the grounds the way they were at the Indianola Balloon Grounds, we only had so much room to grow,” Patrick said. “We looked around a bit and this turned out to be a good site that hopefully we can use for years to come.
“If people from Des Moines are used to going to Cyclones games, they’re used to going that way.”
The new space provides more parking, which has been an issue at recent incarnations of Lazerfest. The rolling hills around the balloon grounds made parking difficult, and even more so when flooding wiped out some of the parking lots last year. Despite having more space available, Patrick said Lazerfest is keeping its capacity at around 25,000. If the demand is there in future years, festival organizers will reexamine expanding, but they want to balance growth with the experience fans have come to expect.
Five Finger Death Punch
When Five Finger Death Punch first played Lazerfest in 2008, it was one of the smaller acts playing the main stage. The band had played the House of Bricks a few months earlier, and the group’s first album, “The Way of the Fist,” was just a few months old.
In 2010 the band returned to Lazerfest, with a solid middle of the festival slot, but this year it gets a big upgrade, co-headlining the event with Shinedown. The band’s style of metal makes it one of the most intense acts on the Lazerfest bill and 5FDP has racked up eight top-10 singles on the Billboard mainstream rock charts in the last five years.
This will only be the second Lazerfest for 5FDP guitarist Jason Hook. He joined the band shortly before the making of 2009’s “War is The Answer.” After years as a touring and session musician, Hook had established a home with the band by the time it headed into the studio for last year’s “American Capitalist.”
“With the last album I was brand new and still trying to figure out how everything interacts and what my role was as a new member,” Hook said during a phone interview. “By the time we were working on ‘American Capitalist’ things seemed a bit more comfortable.”
While touring, 5FDP is also recording thanks to a mobile studio the band has set up. Hook compared the process to going to the gym, saying that if the band members spent all their time watching TV and sitting around their creative muscles would get soft. Hook said the quality of the recordings is more like demos, and that the band will head into a professional studio before recording anything for public consumption.
The band is known for its intense live shows, and the group stopped a show last month when it felt security was being overly aggressive with fans. Hook said the high energy of the crowds at 5FDP shows can be misinter- preted as violence by security, but it’s just people having a good time. Hook said frontman Ivan Moody makes sure to address situations like that so fans know the band has their backs.
Chevelle is a first-time Lazerfest act, but it is a familiar band to Des Moines fans. The Illinois band has played at the Val Air Ballroom, and opened for Lazerfest headliner Shinedown at the 2010 Iowa State Fair.
The band is comprised of brothers Pete and Sam Loeffler and their brother-in-law, Dean Bernardini. Chevelle was originally an all-sibling band, with Joe Loeffler on bass, though the brothers had a less than amicable split in 2005.
On Chevelle’s latest album, “Hats Off to the Bull,” the trio made it even more of a family affair, bringing in their sister, Natalie (Bernardini’s wife), to do vocals on the song “Same Old Trip.”
“We were in the studio and Pete was laying down some falsetto parts for the chorus. Joe (Barresi, the album’s producer) said, ‘Nat, you’ve got a girl’s voice, why don’t you sing it?’ Since she’s our sister, if she hadn’t stepped up we would have made huge fun of her,” Sam Loeffler, the drummer, said during a phone interview.
In the song “Face to the Floor” the band tackles the topic of greed, mentioning Ponzi schemer Bernie Madoff. Loeffler said the album’s title is about how Americans are always the underdog against an elected government full of officials who are too often helping themselves. It’s a rare bit of political comment from a band that has largely steered clear of politics and religion since the band’s first album, “Point #1,” was released in Christian bookstores at the same time they were touring with acts like Cradle of Filth.
“For the most part we try to keep politics and religion out of our music,” Sam Loeffler said. “Whatever you read into it is what it is to you. We want people to get out of our music what they need to get out of it. It’s why we’ve never gone into pop radio; these songs are not simple.”
When: 11:30 a.m. Sunday
Where: Central Iowa Expo, 1827 217th St., Boone
Cost: $42 in advance through Ticketmaster, $50 day of show
1 p.m.: Dead Horse Trauma
1:25 p.m.: Art of Dying
1:55 p.m.: Black Stone Cherry
2:25 p.m.: Adelitas Way
3 p.m.: P.O.D.
3:40 p.m.: Sebastian Bach
4:25 p.m.: Volbeat
5:10 p.m.: Buckcherry
5:55 p.m.: Theory of a Deadman
6:40 p.m.: Chevelle
7:30 p.m.: Slash featuring Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators
8:35 p.m.: Five Finger Death Punch
10 p.m.: Shinedown