It is as if there is a friendly rivalry going on between Bullet For My Valentine and Trivium, two bands that parallel each other in style, influence, and charisma. Each group repurposes old thrash and NWOBHM, plating them with a chrome sheen, something that makes them controversial in certain metal circles. There are those who would say that both bands are entirely commercial, their photogenic, heartthrob frontmen, high production values, and big arena choruses raising the ire of many a scowling underground metallion. Oddly, some 30 years ago, one could envision them on Metal Blade or other such label. Yet times change along with context. I myself am somewhat ambivalent about BFMV and Trivium. There are songs I like from them and material I find lukewarm, their best invoking the aforementioned eras of metal, their worst being static, formulaic, and a little saccharine. The Stage AE stand saw a mixture of both, really, but I felt the setlists were lacking somewhat, almost as if they second-guessed themselves. Yet, a fiery, fun, summertime kick-off, Rock On The Range vibe was felt throughout the well-attended event. Neither act pooched anything. Trivium impressed me in particular. I’ve criticized them for being a tad too “polite” and “safe” in past concert outings, but on this night Trivium brought the rage. Perhaps they read my last review? BFMV proved themselves to be master tacticians as well, gliding through their set with laser-lit precision. Openers Toothgrinder had an odd, proggy, metalcore groove thing going on, their dapper frontman reminding me of…an aggro Justin Timberlake??? I respected their craft but found that they didn’t completely jibe with me or make me want to buy their record. Will BFMV and Trivium earn more respect as the years wear on? I doubt this stand would’ve made converts out of the corpsesniffers and blooddrinkers out there in the cemetaries and morgues of America, but moderately entertaining it was. If only they’d pick more of the right songs to play.