May 17, 2017 Carolina Rebellion Closes With A Bang Concord, NC 5-7-17
On the third and final day of the 2017 Carolina Rebellion, on Sunday, May 7th, the sun sat high with barely a cloud in sight. This would be the warmest day of the weekend, but despite the need for a bit more sunscreen, the Rebels would not be deterred. People flocked back to the Rock City Campgrounds to indulge in the final day of music and mayhem that was set to ensue. With two chillier days behind them, fans prepared themselves for the cloudless, sunny day ahead with lots of SPF, H20, and 19 Rock/Metal bands from all walks of life.
The Charm The Fury
Kicking the day off at 12:30 PM was Amsterdam Metal band The Charm The Fury opening the Gold Stage for the day. Cultivating a nice draw of the early afternoon crowd, their vicious and blistering guitar riffs paired with the ferocious vocals of Vocalist Caroline Westendorp ripped through the air and helped enliven the masses for the day. The band shredded their way through a fiery set of songs from their repertoire, including “Echoes” from their latest album The Sick, Dumb & Happy, which was released March 17 via Nuclear Blast. A big step forward for The Charm The Fury, their brand of harsh, yet melodic Metal should work its way into the heart of many more thanks to this appearance.
Less than an hour later, the Hardcore Punk influenced Beartooth was introduced by Sirius XM DJ Jose Mangin on the Carolina Stage at 1:20 PM. The Ohio outfit released their sophomore album Aggressive back on June 2nd of 2016 via Red Bull Records and quickly earned the praise of Slipknot’s Corey Taylor who stated, “Beartooth Give Me Hope For The Future.” Quite an accolade, the band smashed through songs from Aggressive as well as their prior record, 2014’s Sick, and it did not take long for the circle pits to kick up. At one point in the show, the band even called for a “wall of death” or the separation and then heavy collision of two sides of the mosh pit as two “walls” of people. Despite the intensity shown by the band and the crowd, it seemed that all in attendance were enjoying themselves and people in the pits could be seen helping their fallen comrades.
Shifting gears a bit, Detroit, Michigan’s Citizen Zero catered to the afternoon crowd on the Black Stage around 1:50 PM. Bringing a Theory of a Deadman style Rock-n-Roll with a little less twang, Citizen Zero jumped right into the fray with their set. Playing a bevy of songs from their catalog, including “Save You,” “Lure and Persuade,” and “Banging In The Nails,” the guys smoldered onstage with incredible energy and well-orchestrated playing. Closing on “Save the Queen,” Frontman Josh LeMay threw himself, at times literally, into his performance. He even went as far to come down onto the barricades to reach out to the audience directly. Their commitment and fervor are part of what made Citizen Zero’s set so captivating.
Back on the Carolina Stage, Skillet was up next just before 3 PM ready to bring their cataclysm of sound and passion. Veterans on the scene who have shifted their style through the years, Skillet has developed a reputation for heavy percussions, sizzling guitars, and Vocalist John Cooper’s signature raspy voice. In addition, Drummer Jen Ledger is an animal on the skins, pounding with a vicious fury song after song as Guitarist Korey Cooper (John’s wife) delivers a visually visceral performance. In fact, Korey literally throws her entire being into her playing and the band as a whole is visually stunning to watch. Skillet made sure to hammer their way through songs across their history as well as songs from their 2016 album Unleashed. Some of the songs from the set included “Feel Invincible,” “Whispers in the Dark,” “Sick of It,” “Awake and Alive,” and “Monster.” Those who have yet to see this powerhouse live, more dates are lined up all through the summer including festivals such as Bangor, ME’s Rise Above Fest 2017.
Fire From the Gods
When Fire From the Gods took to the Gold Stage at 3:30 PM, they were greeted by an anxious throng of bodies awaiting their arrival. The masses piled in for the Austin, Texas Metal band and they were not disappointed. Fronted by the lively and fervent AJ Channer, Fire From the Gods kicked in immediately with tunes from 2016’s Narrative and their upcoming album, Narrative Retold, due out May 19th. Channer greeted the swarm by saying, “There is nothing more beautiful than a room full of metalheads!” He continued with, “(I am) proud to be a metalhead and call you my brothers and sisters.” This was the theme of their set on this day: unity. As legions of fans crowd-surfed to the front to be closer to Channer as he sang their latest single “The Voiceless,” he made the effort to fist bump or high five everyone he could in a show of solidarity. Closing on “Excuse Me,” Fire From the Gods left the Rebels feeling a little less like a group of strangers at a concert and a lot more like a Metal family.
South Africa’s Seether has a history of creating poignant and impactful songs about their real life experiences, especially those of Frontman Shaun Morgan. On this final day of Carolina Rebellion, it was no different as they took to the Carolina Stage around 4 PM. The seasoned Hard Rock band coaxed fans along on a journey through their career with songs like “Gasoline,” “Fine Again,” “Words As Weapons” and “Nobody Praying for Me.” Ever the showmen, the band kept fans’ eyes fixed through their precision and entrancing melodies, maintaining attention through skill more than stage running. Closing on “Remedy,” Seether left the Rebels jumping and moshing their way back onto the grounds seeking their next musical adventure. For those looking for more Seether, their new album Poison the Parish is out now.
Taking Back Sunday
At 5:20 PM, it was time for Long Island, NY natives Taking Back Sunday at the Black Stage. A jaw-dropping turnout, it can only be speculated this was the largest crowd to assemble at the Black Stage all weekend. Rising up into the main walkways and upon the grassy hills, fans of the Pop Punk veterans swarmed the area near the stage in the hopes of catching even a glimpse of the band and Frontman Adam Lazzara. Performing his usual microphone swinging tricks and stage antics, Lazzara crooned out old hits to a diverse, yet ecstatic crowd. “A Decade Under the Influence,” “Liar (It Takes One To Know One),” and “Tidal Wave,” the title-track their 2016 album of the same name, were just some of the songs to stir the dancing feet of fans in attendance. Closing out their set with their timeless classic, “MakeDamnSure,” there was visible rejoicing amongst members of the audience as Taking Back Sunday wrapped up their time at Carolina Rebellion.
Meanwhile, over on the Rebellion Stage around 6 PM, Papa Roach dropped in to bring a party to the Rebels for this final day. Vocalist Jacoby Shaddix was all energy, pomp, and excitement as he worked the stage from end to end, singing the songs that the majority of the horde of fans knew by heart. Blasting out tunes like “To Be Loved,” “Scars,” “Last Resort,” “Lifeline” and “Forever,” Papa Roach gave the fans the adventure they were seeking and seemed to be having a great time doing it. Shaddix made several trips along the barricade on the ground, getting right in the trenches and interacting directly with fans. The Cali natives even took time out from their regular set of Papa Roach songs to pop out a high energy cover of Blur’s “Song 2.” Rounding out their performance by taking it way back for the old school Papa Roach fans, the band shut things down with “Between Angels and Insects,” from their sophomore album Infest. Exciting as ever live, Papa Roach now prepare to release their ninth studio album,Crooked Teeth, on Friday, May 19th.
By the time 6:50 PM came around, and it was time for Volbeat, the Rebels had endured a long, toasty day of cloudless skies, increased hydration needs, more moshing than they could stand, and more overpriced festival food than they could afford. In enough words, the day was winding down and, on the Carolina Stage, Volbeat was set to give around a shot of adrenaline as they offered a dose of Metal with a Rockabilly twist. The Danish Metal band has long had an affinity for providing heavy, jolting riffs and pummeling drums with the accompaniment of Frontman Michael Poulsen’s recognizable deep, accented vocals. Then there is the guitar playing of Rob Caggiano, which leaves little to be desired as he shreds and demolishes riffs with ease. Galloping through a hybrid setlist of very different songs like “The Devil’s Bleeding Crown” and “Dead But Rising,” Volbeat helped put a little pep back into a part of the day that had begun to feel laborious and tiring. Also touring around the USA, be sure to check them out on the road with Avenged Sevenfold and Metallica, but also some headlining gigs such as July 17th at Starland Ballroom in New Jersey.
Coheed and Cambria
If guitar playing efficiency was a contest, many musicians would find themselves with stiff competition in Coheed and Cambria’s Claudio Sanchez. Between his piercing and emotive vocals and billowing locks of hair that flow when he plays, Sanchez is a man to watch behind a guitar and a microphone. Closing out the Black Stage just before 8 PM, the band opened up their set with “Welcome Home” and took off from there with songs that both draw one in and connect on some level. The steady increase in percussion and winding guitars to the pinnacle of soloing are part of what make Coheed and Cambria such a blast to watch and listen to at any given time. The band and Sanchez are relentless in their musical pursuits and this was evidenced in the affection with which they committed themselves to the task at hand. Not ones to leave a stone unturned, they made sure to play “The Suffering” from 2005’s Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV, Volume One: From Fear Through the Eyes of Madness. For those interested, Sanchez released the 2nd issue of The Amory Wars: Good Apollo, I’m Burning Star IV Comic series on May 3rd.
Finally, it was time to wind things down and the night began to come to a close at 8:30 PM with The Offspring. The Punk Rock band drew an incredible crowd, cheering them on and singing along to nearly every song, including “The Kids Aren’t Alright,” “Why Don’t You Get A Job,” “Gone Away,” and of course, “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy).” Lead Guitarist Kevin “Noodles” Wasserman seemed to especially be in the spirit of the evening, often taking time between songs to thank the audience for being in attendance and encouraging everyone to have a good time and enjoy themselves. Frontman Dexter Holland’s voice has definitely matured with age, but has not lost its impact or effect. Hearing the songs live after several years, for some as long as 10 years, was still just like hearing it for the first time – just as impressive and engrossing as the day they hit the airwaves. “Self Esteem” signaled the end of the audience’s time with The Offspring, but for many, the memory will last a lifetime.
When it was all said and done, Avenged Sevenfold was the last band standing over at the Carolina Stage just prior to the 10 PM hour. Avenged Sevenfold (often abbreviated A7X) brought the fire, literally. Per their usual ensemble of effects, the entire band was very casually dressed and not overly adorned in elaborate costumes or outfits, but the pyrotechnics were intense. Bassist Johnny Christ maintains a charismatic and cool demeanor while Vocalist M. Shadows kept things incredibly low maintenance in jeans, a red flannel shirt, and black baseball cap. Performance-wise, Guitarist Synyster Gates proves time and again why he is a force to be reckoned with and worthy of one’s attention.
Even those who care nothing about Avenged Sevenfold, Gates’ work on some of those solos is worth a listen by themselves. Songs like “Afterlife,” “Hail to the King,” “Nightmare,” and “Bat Country” served to ignite the fire inside the hearts of all the Avenged Sevenfold fans on the grounds while they set off the actual fires in their pyro effects onstage. Wrapping things up with “Unholy Confessions,” Avenged Sevenfold shut down Day 3 of Carolina Rebellion with crunchy guitars, blended melodies, and the appreciation of many in attendance.
After three long and immersive days in the trenches at Carolina Rebellion, Rebels from all over made the journey back to their sleeping arrangements to plan for their respective journeys home. That is one thing that is magical about multi-day music festivals, they may come across as labor intensive and overwhelming, but many often leave better than they arrived. When they leave a festival, they leave with new experiences, new information, potentially new souvenirs/merchandise, and most importantly, a new extension of your Metal family. Life can be hard, but the enduring power of music to connect people can often be the best way to shed some light in otherwise dark times. So, here is to you Rebels – the things you learned, the friends you made, and the plans to do it all again next year, Cheers!
Photos by: Andrew Fiero Photography