Juliet Simms

The sun blazed, bouncing off the blacktop to engulf fans, standing at the Festival Stage at Rockstar Disrupt Festival held at the Hollywood Casino Amphitheatre in Tinley Park on July 12, in overwhelming heat. Despite the hostile weather, the Chicago area crowd summoned their energy reserves to rock right along with Juliet Simms throughout her early afternoon set.

The one-time contestant on “The Voice”strode onto the stage to the thumping cadence of her band, grabbed her mic and belted out the first lines of “100 Little Deaths.” The temperature was hot and getting hotter, but Simms didn’t seem to notice.

“How you feeling, Chicago? You guys are looking truly fine today,” said Simms after performing “Say Hello,” an unabashed rocker bubbling with self-confidence and female empowerment, and “Trouble Finds You,” adding, “Thanks for coming.”

The prophecy of the trouble-centric previous song came true as Simms soon suffered from technical difficulties dealing with a guitar that would not produce any sound. Rather than delaying the set or showing frustration, Simms rolled with the punches and poured everything she had into singing the power ballad “Take Me.” Her bluesy vocals – shaded with a rocker’s growl – came in like a fluffy white cloud blocking the sun, refreshing and cool.

‘I’ll play guitar next time. We’ll be back,” said Simms.

After one more failed attempt to get her guitar in working order, Simms let out any anger she felt with a fitting song selection.

“This song is about not giving a f*ck about what anybody thinks about you,” she said. “It’s called ‘Wild Child’ and it goes like this.”

Simms took the opportunity to get up close and personal with fans during the poppy ode to rebellion, but it was her set closer “Bad Love” – her new hit with Sumerian Records – that obliterated the force field separating audience from artist. The seductive single added a few more notches of heat to the set as Simms stepped off the stage, leaned into the crowd and passed the microphone off to fans aching to sing every word of the chorus.

Disrupt Festival continued to offer attendees a veritable potpourri of pop punk, rock and metalcore mayhem with Atreyu, Sleeping with Sirens, Sum 41, The Used and more performing throughout the day, but fans who arrived early experienced one of the most soul satisfying sets of the fest. The musical gospel of Juliet Simms encouraged young women to confidently be themselves, love fearlessly, and embrace their own wild child.

The touring Rockstar Disrupt Festival will continue to trek across the United States through the end of July. More information on Juliet Simms can be found at Julietsimms.com.

Laurie Fanelli

Laurie Fanelli is a Chicago-based writer and photographer who specializes in live entertainment coverage. She is at home at major music festivals like Coachella, Bonnaroo and, of course, Lollapalooza and...