The Food & Truck Rock Carnival Unforgettable in Oak Ridge Park, Clark, NJ 9-20-15

The Food & Truck Rock Carnival Unforgettable in Oak Ridge Park, Clark, NJ 9-20-15

After non-stop Rock-n-Roll fun on Saturday September 19th, the third and final day of The Food & Truck Rock Carnival was ready to go out with a bang on Sunday the 20th. Many arrived early to catch up with the food trucks they missed out on the day prior, with a few managing to sit back and relax in the beer garden to check out some of the local acts while conversing with other festival goers. The crowd was once again diversified with families, dedicated Clutch and Anthrax fans, Lita Ford idols, to genuine Hard Rockers present on the grounds. No matter what walk of life the attendees came from, this was the best way to spend a Sunday afternoon with a lineup of acts like Out of Bands, Ashes of Your Enemy, Graveyard Lovers, Dead Fish Handshake, Prophet, TT Quick, Like A Storm, Crobot, Skillet, Out of Bounds, LA Guns, Lita Ford, Slaughter, Anthrax, Clutch, Stone Temple Pilots, and Godsmack on tap to perform.

Ashes Of Your Enemy

Arriving on the intimate Birch Hill Stage at 3:30 PM was New Jersey natives Ashes of Your Enemy. Since their formation in 2005, they have been climbing up the ranks of the Metal scene while playing alongside major Hard Rock acts including Sevendust, Disturbed, and Killswitch Engage. On this afternoon, Kevin Schormann (lead vocals/lead guitar), Shottie (guitar), Joey Craparotta (bass/backing vocals), and Matt Goida were ready to dive into a set to awaken everyone’s eardrums. They forcefully delivered songs from the latest 2013 EP Anthem, including the brutal “Black Out The Sun” and “Hate Anthem.” Be sure to check them out at the fifth annual Darkness Fest held on November 14th at Dingbatz in Clifton, NJ.

Dead Fish Handshake

After winning a battle of the bands contest, New Jersey/Rhode Islanders Dead Fish Handshake earned their spot on Main Stage 2 at 3:50 PM. Matthew Paul (vocals), Rob Ferreira (guitar), Darren Furman (bass), and Mark Birkelbach (drums) stunned the early crowd with their Alternative Post-Grunge sound. Plunging in with synchronized melodies and engaging guitar hooks during “Nothing Stays Gold” and “Black and Blue” certainly sparked and held the crowd’s interest. Despite being a fresh act, Paul managed to reach out to the crowd with confidence as he expressed to all how honored they were to play in their hometown, and moved right into “Turning a Blind Eye.” Springing straight into the heartbreaking track “Leave the Light On,” which is about showing support to those who have experienced traumatic situations, truly struck a chord with the gathered crowd. Picking up with Pearl Jam-esque vocals, the pace resumed with “The Blackest Skies,” which saw the band close with “Undercurrent.” Hitting the streets of New York City for one more show on October 16th at Slake alongside Syka, the band will then head back to the studio to record a new album.

Like A Storm

Heating up the afternoon, Like A Storm charged onto Main Stage 1 at 4:20 PM. New Zealand brothers Chris (lead vocals/rhythm guitar/keys/didgeridoo), Matt (lead guitar/backing vocals/keys), and Kent Brooks (bass/backing vocals) followed their dreams and took the chance to move across the globe to the United States in hopes to formulate a successful Rock-n-Roll band, and they did. Being a true example of the expression “anything is possible if you put your mind to it,” the Brooks brothers have worked tirelessly and endlessly. Having played alongside major acts including Three Days Grace, Shinedown, and Alter Bridge, a large fan base filed in to support them.

Currently promoting their latest album Awaken the Fire, released last Winter via Century Media/Another Century Records, the crowd were in for a whirlwind of a treat as the band charged in with “Chaos,” “Never Surrender,” and “Break Free.” Chris let the audience know how incredible of a welcome they had given Like A Storm as they dove into earlier cut “Become the Enemy.” As the New Jersey fans indulged themselves with hands raised in the air, Like a Storm switched into heavier gears with “Wish You Hell.” Chris successfully had the crowd cry out “AC/DC” as they thundered into a cover of mega-hit “TNT.” As he remained stunned by the captivated audience, he asked everyone to help scream along the phrase “Hate me!” with the next and final song. Wishing he could play all night if he could, Chris continued to introduce the final track by explaining how it is about being true to oneself as they went into “Love the Way You Hate Me.” Launching their first official headlining tour with the Didgeridoo Destruction North American Tour, they kick off in November with support being provided by From Ashes to New, Stitched Up Heart, and Failure Anthem.

Crobot

From Pottsville, PA, Crobot owned Main Stage 2 at 4:55 PM. These nifty Rockers have been building a name for themselves since the initial formation in 2011. Brandon Yeagley (lead vocals/Harmonica), Bishop (guitar/vocals), Jake Figueroa (bass), and Paul Figueroa (drums) have been traveling on the road tirelessly to promote their debut 2014 release of Something Supernatural via Wind-Up Records. Kickin’ it with animated energy while performing tracks, “The Legend of the Spaceborne Killer,” “Skull of Geronimo,” and “Night of the Sacrifice” allured the audience from the get-go. Continuing with “La Mano de Lucifer,” “Welcome to Fat City,” and “The Necromancer” had Yeagley dazzle everyone even further to a Rockin’ bliss, including the use of the harmonica. Yeagley enjoyed the energy they received from the crowd, as he wanted to “rock some shit,” and grooved into “Chupacabra,” followed by the brand new track “Serpent Shepherd.” As they closed with “Fly on the Wall,” it was obvious that everyone was simply enjoying themselves. After a busy Summer stateside, the band now take their show overseas to rock Europe.

Prophet

At 4:55 PM on the Birch Hill Stage, New Jersey Hard Rockers Prophet hit the stage. Initially began as an infamous cover band in the 80’s, and moving into a Progressive style of their own, they faced several lineup changes and breakups over the years. The latest lineup includes Russell Arcara (vocals), Ken Dubman (guitar), Scott Metaxas (bass), Bill Dellicato (keyboard), and Jim Callahan (drums). Not only was there a line of dedicated fans waiting to get into the enclosed beer garden area, Metaxas himself showed his own devotion as he hobbled his way onto the stage in crutches. Belting out energized vocals during the catchy “Restless Hunger” and the keyboard induced “Can’t Hide Love,” they brought the crowd back to an 80’s delight. Their enthusiastic set included mesmerizing guitar solos by Dubman during songs “Cycle of the Moon,” “Asylum,” and “Peace of Mind.” A special guest arrived on the stage as Arcara brought Eddie Trunk up to the platform to show his gratitude. Trunk briefly grabbed the mic to express his own love and appreciation for Prophet. Moving back to the set, Arcara wanted to “show something pretty for you all” and went into the ballad “Sound of a Breaking Heart.” The laid-back Rock -n- Roll set ended with “Red Line Rider.”

Skillet

Hard Rock band Skillet hit Main Stage 1 at 5:35 PM. Successfully rising to platinum status since their initial formation in 1996 in Memphis, Tennessee, they continue to support 2013’s Rise via Atlantic records. Known for their inspiring lyrics, passionate song arrangements, and most of all, heart-pounding stage shows, Skillet has become a leader of their respected genre.

Married couple John (lead vocals/bass) and Korey Cooper (rhythm guitar/keyboards/backing vocals), along with Jen Ledger (drums/backing vocals/co-lead vocals) and Seth Morrison (lead guitar) were ready to unveil their symphonic-like mastery. Whimsically opening with a classical induced sound, they erupted into the compelling “Whispers in the Dark” from 2006’s Comatose. Energetically moving along, the powerful drumming by Ledger was on full display during “Sick of It” from 2013’s Rise, and hooked the crowd even further. As the band gracefully moved across the platform, billows of fog crept in during “Comatose.” John spoke with the audience, emphasizing, “everybody here has something you are sick of, whether it’s loneliness, violence, abuse, addiction.” The entire crowd raised their hands in sharing an experience of the turbulence they are tired of facing in their own lives, as John thanked everyone and went into “Awake and Alive” from 2009’s Awake. As the cellist and violinist lifted towards the skies, “Rise” began. John dedicated the next track to the Armed Forces currently serving overseas as they marched into “Hero,” also from 2009’s Awake. Enjoying the positive aura from the crowd, the set carried on to magnified heights with “Not Gonna Die,” “Monster,” and closed with “Rebirthing.”

Recently John alerted the fans on their website that a new album is in the works, currently having over fifty songs in the debate pool for the aimed Spring-Summer 2016 release date. In the meantime, after hitting a few shows in South America, they will be back to North America in November for quite a few shows, so it is not too late to catch them.

TT Quick 

Returning o the Birch Hill Stage at 5:55 PM, TT Quick was preparing their set. Despite the brevity of TT Quick’s initial existence, their success and inspiration have been nothing but a long-lasting praise. These Heavy Metallers formed in New Jersey in the late seventies, and this day had long awaited fans in true excitement to see such a reunion come together on the stage. Mark Tornillo (vocals), who currently fronts the Heavy Metal band Accept, and Dave DiPietro, who taught Zakk Wylde how to pick up and properly shred a Marshall axe, members also consist of Walt Fortune on bass and Erik Ferro on drums. Despite the constant breakups, they managed to sprinkle in a few new releases including 2012’s EP, Go For the Throat II. Marching in with Heavy Metal praise, they opened with “Metal Man,” “Hard as Rock,” and into the Creedence Clearwater Revival cover of “Fortunate Son.” Fans were lucky to see such mastery on the stage as they continued with “Child of Sin” and into the Black Sabbath covers of “Into the Void” and “Sabbath Bloody Sabbath.” It was their finale that kept the crowd moving in ’80s Metal nostalgia with “Front Burner” and concluded with “Metal of Honor.” Hopefully they will shine together again in the near future.

Anthrax

Pounding the Main Stage at 6:20 PM were legendary Thrashers, Anthrax. Since their formation in 1981, the band has displayed such mastery and energy where they are now one of the big four American acts in Thrash Metal history. Continuing to promote their tenth studio album, 2011’s Worship Music, along with embracing their historic tunes, fans were cheering in anticipation. After battling lineup changes and returns, the current batch includes founding member Scott Ian (guitar), Charlie Benante (drums), Frank Bello (bass), Joey Belladonna (vocals), and since 2015, Jonathan Donais (guitar).

Pumping the crowd up from the beginning, “Madhouse,” from 1985’s Spreading the Disease, had fans raise their Metal horns in the air. Continuing into the classic “Caught in a Mosh,” from 1987’s Among the Living, had many circle and smash into one another during this enjoyable classic. It was obvious how much Belladonna enjoyed the energy, as he thanked the firing crowd and moved into the Joe Jackson cover of “Got the Time” from 1990’s Persistence of Time.  Belladonna had the crowd shout along with him as they went into the epic Trust cover hit “Antisocial” from 1988’s State of Euphoria followed by “Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t” from Worship Music. Belladonna thanked the crowd, emphasizing how New Jersey is their second home aside from New York, and continued to converse by heading back to 1985’s Spreading the Disease. Belladonna informed all about this one person who gave their first radio interview, a person named Eddie Trunk from That Metal Show, and explained how he has been asking them to perform this track since 1985, as they shockingly went into “Lone Justice.” Switching the side Anthrax banners to honor the late Dio and Dimebag Darrell, the Metal God tribute track of “In the End,” from Worship Music, hailed in. During this piece, a young Metalhead was lifted onto the shoulders of one of his loved ones as he threw out his Metal horns and headbanged along just as the Metal Gods would want. Moving forward, they closed the night with “Indians” from Among the Living and left off with the grand finale of the Rainbow cover “Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll.” It is only a matter of time until Anthrax releases album number eleven, as a new release is bound to happen soon enough.

LA Guns

Hitting the Birch Hill Stage at 6:55 PM were Glam Rockers L.A Guns. Formed in 1986, they have survived the Grunge Rock era and lineup debacles, including the disbandment from founding member Tracii Guns in 2002. The latest formation includes Phil Lewis (vocals), Michael Grant (guitar), Kenny Kweens (bass), and Steve Riley (drums). The mid to late eighties was a highly competitive time for Glam and Hair Metal bands, however, it was their self-titled debut album in 1988 that guided them to standout from the rest. Knowing exactly what the fans wanted to hear, they presented hits from the ’80s including “No Mercy,” “Showdown (Riot on Sunset),” “Sex Action,” “Never Enough,” “I Wanna Be Your Man,” and “Over the Edge.” Fans embraced and sung along to each tune as the set continued with 2002’s “Hellraisers Ball” from Waking the Dead. The audience was lucky to witness a set that mainly displayed hits from the self-titled debut release and 1989’s Cocked & Loaded as they closed out with “Electric Gypsy,” “The Ballad of Jayne,” and the roaring “Rip and Tear.” Currently, the band has a few shows lined up for the remainder of 2015, so there is still a chance to see them live again.

Clutch

On Main Stage 1 at 7:10 PM were Maryland Rockers Clutch. Respectfully maintaining the same lineup since their initial 1991 formation, Clutch is Neil Fallon (vocals/guitar), Jean-Paul Gaster (drums), Dan Maines (bass), and Tim Sult (guitar). Influencing and tackling the Rock scene for nearly twenty-five years, a dedicated fanbase was seen this day. Many members in the crowd proudly wore their Clutch T-shirts, as a few arrived specifically just for them. They are currently promoting their eleventh studio album, Psychic Warfare, released on October 2nd under their own label, Weathermaker Music.

With a plethora of their latest material, they began with tracks “X-Ray,” “Firebirds,” “Crucial Velocity,” “A Quick Death in Texas,” and “Noble Savage Clutch,” all from Psychic Warfare, and fans were lucky to have a taste of their latest before its initial release. Fans cheered as Fallon thanked the audience and moved into tracks such as “Unto the Breach” and “The Face” from 2013’s Earth Rocker. A near full hour set, the crowd remained satisfied as older tunes included “Pure Rock Fury” and “The Mob Goes Wild.” Maintaining speed until the blistering end, Fallon and Sult displayed spirited axemanship during “D.C. Sound Attack!,” “Electric Worry,” and “One Eye Dollar.” Grateful to see the positive turnout from the New Jersey crowd, Clutch promised to return, real soon. Continuing to perform throughout North America up until Halloween in New Orleans, shortly after, they will be flying overseas to Europe to continue promoting Psychic Warfare.

Lita Ford

Fans packed the floor of the Birch Hill Stage to witness the Queen of Metal, Lita Ford, conquer the platform at 7:55 PM. Launching her career as a teenager as a part of the ’70s, all female Rock Band  The Runaways, success continued to shine as she kicked off her own solo career. Ford possesses an impressive catalogue of albums, which includes her latest eighth studio album, 2012’s Living Like a Runaway. Accompanying Ford this evening were Patrick Kennison (guitar), Bobby Rock (drums), and Marty O’Brien (bass) ready to dazzle New Jersey with pure Rock-n-Roll fury.

Highly deserving to be out on the main stage, fans were lucky to see Ford gather up in a more intimate setting. Beginning the set with “Larger Than Life,” from 1991’s Dangerous Curves, the crowd inched as close to the front as possible. Making all know how resilient one can be, Ford fired in with “Relentless” from Living Like a Runaway. Moving right along, Ford embraced her New Jersey audience as she pounded into the luscious track “Hungry” from 1990’s Stiletto, followed by “Gotta Let Go” from 1984’s Dancin’ on the Edge. As the set progressed into “Can’t Catch Me,” from 1988’s Lita, Bobby Rock excited the crowd with his thunderous drum solo. Heading further back in time, the audience howled in amazement when the Runaways cover of “Cherry Bomb” ignited. As Ford switched to her double neck guitar, she joked around, expressing how her two hour set has been compacted into forty minutes, and flowed into “Close My Eyes Forever.” Kennison joined in on vocals, substituting for Ozzy Osbourne, for her duet in this track. Despite the fans enjoyment, Ford unfortunately had to leave the stage, and left after performing “Kiss Me Deadly” from Lita. Ford’s memorable performance inspired the crowd thanks to her enthusiastic energy. A few gigs are lined up until the end of the year, but no updates on a new album. Look out for her book Living Like a Runaway: A Memoir, that will be out on February 23, 2016.

Stone Temple Pilots

As the near final headlining hour approached, Stone Temple Pilots packed the area on Main Stage 2 at 8:00 PM. One of the most successful Alternative Rockers from the ’90s, the band has released six full-length studio albums, including 1992’s official debut Core. Without question, there has been a history with former frontman Scott Weiland, who has officially been terminated from the group since 2013. Since then, brothers Dean (guitar)and Robert DeLeo (bass), along with Eric Kretz (drums), have picked up the pieces and decided to continue without Weiland by adding Linkin Park frontman Chester Bennington to the group on lead vocals. Moving forward with Bennington as Lead Vocalist, the band released 2013’s EP High Rise, and have not looked back since.

Fans ecstatically gathered across the field, ready to enjoy a full hour of non-stop Alternative. As blue LED lights shined on the stage, along with the classic “STP” backdrop, the band rolled through a set featuring historic nineties tracks, including “Sexy Type Thing” and “Wicked Garden,” from Core. Bennington confidently vocalized through these acclaimed tunes with complete professionalism as they continued with “Vasoline,” “Big Bang Baby,” “Crackerman,” “Pruno,” and “Coma.” As the set appeared to be filled with nostalgic hits, there was time to perform “Out of Time” from the latest High Rise. Recollecting again, they carried on with the nineties jam of “Big Empty,” “Plush,” “Interstate Love Song,” “Trippin’ On a Hole in a Paper Heart,” and concluded with the infamous “Dead & Bloated,” leaving everyone satisfied. Not too many tour dates announced, however, they will be at this year’s Monster Energy Aftershock Festival out in Sacramento, CA on October 25th.

Slaughter

Closing down the Birch Hill Stage at 9:00 PM were Las Vegas Hard Rockers Slaughter. Formed in the late ’80s, they became a huge success after 1990’s Stick It to Ya. Since then, they have released five studio albums, including 1999’s Back to Reality. Original founding members Mark Slaughter (lead vocals/rhythm guitar) and Dana Strum (bass/backing vocals) still remain, joined by Jeff Bland (lead guitar) since 1998 and Zoltan Chaney (drums) since 2011  to complete the lineup. Continuing to perform good old Rock-n-Roll tunes, New Jersey fans were ready to have some classic fun. Performing notorious tracks such as “Mad About You” and the phenomenal “Up All Night” was the ideal way to conclude the small stage. There are a few shows lined up for November and December, however, next October they will be hitting the Monsters of Rock cruise. Wherever they may go, Slaughter continue to prove they are one of Rock’s elite.

Godsmack

Closing up Main Stage 1 at 9:00 PM were the headliners Godsmack. Since the formation of these Bostanian Alternative Metallers in 1995, they have received a plentiful amount of radio play, number one selling albums, and remarkable musicianship. Sustaining a solid lineup since 2002 with Sully Erna (vocals/rhythm guitar), Robbie Merrill (bass), Tony Rombola (lead guitar), and Shannon Larkin (drums), they continue to promote their sixth studio album, 2014’s 1000hp via Universal. On this evening, Godsmack were prepared to blow New Jersey away with a few tricks up their sleeve.

Opening with “I’m Shipping Up to Boston” from Dropkick Murphys had the audience gather closer to the stage while a video screen displayed a montage of highlighted moments in Godsmack’s career. As the band fled onto the stage, it was time to heat up the set with “Generation Day” and “1000hp” from 1000hp, which had fans chant along until Erna interrupted. Checking in to see if everyone was awake, the crowd howled once again with pleasure. Erna thanked everyone for being there and expressed how honored they were to share the same stage with Anthrax, Stone Temple Pilots, and how the list goes. Continuing to engage with all, the band band then unleashed “The Enemy,” and fists were raised in the air.

Moving along, “Keep Away,” from the acclaimed 1998 debut self-titled album, had everyone singing along, shouting out “keep away from me!” As the crowd were enjoying this groove, the melody shifted to a familiar, non-Godsmack sound. Many began to headbang to the snippet of Pantera’s “Walk,” realizing it was just a glimpse. The band moved back into “Keep Away,” and many returned to sing along in praise. Erna maintained such enthusiasm, including when they powered through “Cryin’ Like a Bitch,” “Straight Out of Line,” and “Awake.” Erna taunted the fans, expressing how the best crowd was from Sydney Australia, as he wanted to see if the New Jersey crowd had what it takes to be louder, and stronger, by asking to give it their all to the catchy “Something Different” from 1000hp.

Continuing to converse with the audience, Erna requested the house lights be turned on. Mentioning that one of their brothers were in the crowd, John Kosco, who has sang this next tune before, they asked him to join them on the stage during “Touche.” At this point, the crowd were enjoying the diversified set from across their career, and it was time for “Voodoo” to entrance the crowd. A lengthy, captivating dueling drum battle between Erna and Larkin flooded in shortly after, and jamming surprises continued to flourish including Queen’s “We Will Rock You,” AC/DC’s “Back in Black,” Aerosmith’s “Walk This Way,” amongst snippets from Metallica and other legendary jams. Erna walked back to the mic and looked into the crowd, asking if they were still with them, and went into the classic “Whatever.”

As fans thought things were back on track with a traditional set, they were wrong as cover surprises continued. Erna thanked everyone and mentioned how they were not done yet, and emphasized how he would not leave until his glass of whiskey was finished as they went into the classic Alice Cooper cover of “School’s Out,” followed by Deep Purple’s “Highway Star.” After the surprises settled down, it was time to close with “I Stand Alone” from 2003’s Faceless. It is not too late to see them since they recently kicked off a Fall North American tour that will end on November 14th in Las Vegas.

All in all, this was unforgettable weekend for the first annual The Food & Truck Rock Carnival. It was a great balance of music, food, and fun. Having their heads rattled with Rock-n-Roll for three straight days, concertgoers walked away from Oak Ridge Park feeling completely satisfied and they were already talking about what next year’s carnival will have in store.

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Zenae Zukowski
Zenae Zukowski
zenaefilms@gmail.com

Zenae has been working in the Entertainment industry since she graduated The School of Visual Arts in 2006 with a BFA in Film. Managing to keep herself busy and glued to the city that never sleeps in NYC with the multiple media facets such as Advertising, Film, Broadcast, and Music, the scene has led her to be a well-rounded content creator focusing in writing, photography, and post production. Taking the industry a step further as a travel enthusiast, she would one day love to afford to fly out to several Music and Film festivals. When she is not working or at a Metal show, she spends her free time with her fur-babies.

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