It might only be in its second year, but the Taste of Chaos tour is gaining momentum at a near-unstoppable rate. The expertise of Warped Tour visionary Kevin Lyman at the helm provides the experience to make the event thrive.

With more than a dozen bands, booths surrounding the back of the main floor, video games and an Ernie Ball guitar demo station, Taste of Chaos provides far more than just live music. Not much is different from its summer sister tour, but its novelty lies in timing. The tour starts in the dead of winter, several months before the slew of summer package tours even begins.

Music constantly reverberated through Cobo Arena on Saturday at the tour’s stop in Detroit. With an early door time of 4:30 p.m., the show kicked into gear quickly. One of the tour’s special features is a localization of each show, with a band from every hometown kicking off at each venue. The opening slot was filled with Red I Flight, a local band selected through an online poll on the music-fueled web community, the sponsor of the tour’s second stage.

The dual-stage setup filled the front area of the main floor, with a larger stage for the more prominent acts and the smaller MySpace stage where the supporting groups played to fill the gaps. Acts bounced between the two stages, so the show found a consistent pace throughout the entire evening, eliminating the lull of soundchecks and stage changes.

“The tour’s been great so far,” Thrice frontman Dustin Kensrue said. “It’s got that ‘festival-y’ vibe, but at the same time, it’s a lot mellower. You don’t have hundreds of people fighting for a shower.”

Bringing together bands from several of rock’s current subgenres, the tour blends the musical scenes fluidly and unites fans together for one night of solid live rock. Groups on the tour range from the experimental sounds of Dredg to the rustic percussion of Street Drum Corps and the brutal screams of As I Lay Dying.

The concept of the tour is almost flawless: Pack in seven hours of music, set up meet-and-greets with most of the bands, hand out free promotional merchandise and set up video game booths for free play – all for less than $30.

Taste of Chaos is growing at a formidable pace, with the number of stops up eight cities – most of which are in Canada – from last year’s 36-city jaunt. Don’t be surprised to see next year’s tour take on even more venues, pack in even more bands and span even more time. Out of necessity, the show is confined to arenas, limiting its capacity for bands and fans, but that shouldn’t stop it from becoming an important part of the expansion of today’s rock scene.

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