May 6, 2015 Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville day 1 ignites storm Jacksonville, FL 4-25-15
Only in Florida, will one find a Rockin’ Ferris Wheel and a Ferry Ride amid threats of an impending tornado. Back in 2011, the northern part of Florida was struck by a storm of the sonic variety. This maelstrom first made landfall along the banks of the St. Johns River at Metropolitan Park, in beautiful downtown Jacksonville. Instead of rain and wind, the area experienced a weekend filled with Rock music galore consisting of bands such as Godsmack, Halestorm, Stone Sour, Seether, and Puddle of Mudd. Four years later, Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville hit its peak with two back to back days of sold out shows April 25th and 26th. Showcasing a host of bands strutting their stuff before the eyes of a legion of dedicated rockers, it was a celebration of one of Florida’s biggest Rock festivals.
In 2014, there was a total of fifty-thousand people in attendance at Rockville. Now one year later, there was already a ten-thosand fan increase. This could have everything to do with bringing in an amazing lineup that included Korn, Marilyn Manson, Slayer, Ministry, Halestorm, Queensrÿche, Testament, Of Mice & Men, Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts, Live, Hollywood Undead, Suicidal Tendencies, The Devil Wears Prada, Periphery, Nonpoint, Exodus, Fozzy, Beartooth, Upon A Burning Body, Sons Of Texas, Red Sun Rising, World Gone, Slipknot, Godsmack, Slash featuring Myles Kennedy and The Conspirators, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach, The Pretty Reckless, In This Moment, All That Remains, In Flames, Tremonti, Motionless In White, Hatebreed, Starset, Butcher Babies, The Vamps, Young Guns, We Are Harlot, Like A Storm, ’68, Islander, and From Ashes To New. Guaranteed to be a fun weekend, there were tents and stages, including Monster Energy, Bud Light, Jack Daniel’s, Jägermeister, Firehouse Subs, MetroPCS, and Crazy Dave’s Music Experience, where everyone can pick up an axe and feel like a rockstar. Excited fans could also wait in line for a meet and greet with such luminaries as Corey Taylor of Slipknot or Lzzy Hale of Halestorm. With so much ahead, it was time to get Day One started on Saturday April 25th despite the impending stormy weather in the forecast.
Kicking it off at the Jägermeister stage at 11:20AM was Jacksonville’s own World Gone. Rocking out with their eccentric Zombie Apocalypse attire, they played songs such as “Enemy” and “Beg,” ending with “Obey.” Their ferocious adrenaline and stage presence was just what the crowd needed to launch two days of non-stop Rock-n-Roll. Wearing their metalocalypse masks, they headbanged while simultaneously waving their own flags. This was a great self-promotion for their loyal followers and, perhaps, they made a few new fans when it was all said and done.
Like a Storm
On the Jack Daniel’s Main Stage, at 11:45 AM, New Zealand’s Hard Rock band Like A Storm began. Supporting their new album Awaken The Fire, and celebrating their ten years stride, the band consists of Brooks brothers Chris (vocals/rhythm guitar), Matt (guitar/vocals), Kent (bass), along with newest member, Zach Wood (drums). They opened up with “Chemical Infatuation” from their 2009 debut album The End of the Beginning (2009) and took the entire crowd for a ride when they covered the twenty year old Coolio tune “Gangsta’s Paradise.” Look out for them opening for bands such as Steel Panther, Tremonti, Slash, and Hellyeah until the end of May.
Red Sun Rising
At 11:55 AM, the ReverbNation Stage brought Ohio’s Red Sun Rising, recently signed with Razor and Tie. Ready to make a big splash, the band is currently working with producer Bob Marlette (Shinedown, Seether) to record their major label studio debut album. With a fearless amount of energy, they rocked hard and played a set that included their single, “The Otherside.” They are currently on tour with Seether, and soon after with Nothing More, so check out this band as they climb the Rock-n-Roll ladder.
Back at the Jägermeister Stage, at 12:30 PM, the unsigned band, Sangre, from Los Angeles was ready to go. Formed in 1999 and heavily influenced by Lamb of God, Pantera, and In Flames, Sangre was there to show no mercy to what live Metal music is all about. The band consists of members Henry Sanchez (vocals), Mike Reyes (guitar), Anthony “Ant” Ibarra (guitar), Danny El Pistolero (bass), and Josh “The Roach” Durante (drums). With plans on recording new material, hopefully more people can enjoy seeing them live during the peak of the summer.
Stars in Stereo
Over at the Monster Main Stage at 12:30 PM the vivacious group from Los Angeles, California, Stars in Stereo were ready to go. Formed 2011, their riveting energy consisted of members Bec Hollcraft (vocals), Jordan McGraw (guitar), Frogs McCormack (bass), and Drew Langan (drums). Being louder than ever, fans outside in the parking lot could hear them while tailgating. McGraw’s guitar illuminated the crowd along with Hollcraft’s impeccable vocals. Stars In Stereo pumped up the crowd with pure Rock adrenaline and no doubted ignited the audience’s interest in their 2014 album Leave Your Mark.
Sons of Texas
At 1:05 PM, on the ReverbNation stage, the Bluesy Texas Natives, Sons of Texas, embraced the spotlight filled with their fans from across the states. Supporting their 2014 debut album, Baptized In The Rio Grande this group consists of members Mark Morales (vocals), Mike Villarreal (drums), Nick Villarreal (bass), Jon Olivares (guitar), and Jes De Hoyos (guitar). Soulful, powerful, and grity this is an act not to be missed. They will be touring with In This Moment during the beginning of June at their home state, after hitting the stage at the infamous Rocklahoma festival.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s rockers Nonpoint conquered the Jack Daniel’s Main Stage early, closer to 1:00 PM than their scheduled 1:15 PM, due to an announced tornado approaching nearby. The crowd disregarding the warning and continued to rock out, enjoying Nonpoint with their heavy throat tearing delievery. Made up of Elias Soriano (vocals), Robb Rivera (drums), Rasheed Thomas (guitar/vocals), Adam Woloszyn (bass), and the newest member BC Kochmit (lead guitar/vocals), Nonpoint was able to gather their fans around to join in on endless Metal fist-pumping while jumping up and down. Little did they know it was a rain dance. Between their songs of “What A Day,” “Bullet With A Name,” they also had a few interesting covers between Jay Z’s “99 Problems” and Phil Collins’ “In The Air Tonight.” Shortly after Nonpoint’s energetic performance, fifty thousand people were evacuated, but not before being thoroughly pleased with a great performance.
Of Mice & Men
Shortly after the storm blew over, fans bolted to the Monster stage to see the Orange County, California based Metalcore band Of Mice & Men. Signed with Rise Records and supporting their latest album, Restoring Force, Austin Carlile (vocals), Aaron Pauley (bass/vocals), Valentino Arteaga (drums), Philip Manansala (guitar), and Alan Ashby (guitar) fueled the massive crowd with an electrified amount of energy. Carlile’s intense and passionate vocals remained astounding, especially during “Never Giving Up” and their closer “The Depths.” They are currently on their Full Circle Tour with Crown the Empire and Volumes, so catch them before the run ends on June 9th in Mexico City.
Continuing on with the schedule, at the Jägermeister stage shortly after 4 PC, Washington DC based band Periphery soared in with their Progressive Metal mastery. Formed in 2005, Periphery’s line up is made up of Spencer Sotelo (vocals), Misha Mansoor (guitar), Matt Halpern (drums), Jake Bowen (guitar), Mark Holcomb (guitar), and Adam “Nolly” Getgood (bass). They are known for their triple guitar attack and their artistic metal melodies, which fans were able to witness live. Well-respected in the music community, they are celebrating ten years as a band as well as promoting their double Juggernaut: Alpha and Omega release in January. Rocking the stage, each of their songs being completely different from the next, their great storytelling and songwriting ripped into the crowd with a Metal rush. Opening up with “Icarus Lives!” from their 2010 debut self-titled album, they continued with hits such as “Make Total Destroy” and one of their latest “22 Faces.” There is still a chance to see them as they are currently on the Charming America Tour with In Flames and All That Remains for the month of May.
Straight from Bellevue, Washington, the Progressive Metal gods, Queensrÿche, dominated the Jack Daniel’s Main stage in the late afternoon, just before another storm was about to rise. This did not stop them, nor the fans, as they were determined nothing would get in their way. Three years since parting ways with original vocalist Geoff Tate, Todd LaTorre has found a comfortable home with the band after 2013’s Queensrÿche and a second album is in the works. Having played in St Petersburg, Florida the night prior, now Northern Floridians had a chance to see the band put on a stellar show with tracks like “Nightrider” and “Eyes of a Stranger,”among others. For those that missed this act, they are still jamming around the states until middle of July, including Saint Louis, Missouri’s Hard Rock Invasion on June 20th.
The schedule continued to run on time, and at 4:55 PM, on the Reverbnation stage, Thrash Metal legends Testament lit up the platform in fierce fashion. Formed in 1983 in Berkeley, California, longtime member Eric Peterson (rhythm guitar/ backing vocals) was joined by Chuck Billy (vocals), Alex Skolnick (lead guitar/backing vocals), Gene Hoglan (drums), and after a ten year hiatus from the group, Steve DiGiorgio (bass). Their aggressive energy and participation with the crowd is what makes them stand out compared to other acts. Still showing that they have what it takes with no signs of fatigue, their time on stage was breathtaking. Sadly this was the near end of their North American tour as the official end was at Carolina Rebellion on May 3rd. They will soon spark their European tour and, shortly after that, will hopefully complete their eleventh studio album via Nuclear Blast, expected to release sometime in the near future.
Halestorm was about to begin at the Monster stage when the second evacuation was announced. It was sadly during this time when the Dayton, Ohio based band The Devil Wears Prada, was cancelled. Their equipment was destroyed and deemed unusable. During this evacuation the crowd was more hopeful and decided to not fully evacuate the venue. Many stayed under the tents to stay dry and find shelter in other forms. After the storm had passed, Halestorm’s set got moved, and loyal fans rejoiced. Frontwoman Lzzy Hale and the rest of the Pennsylvania Rock clan; Arejay Hale (drums), Joe Hottinger (lead guitar), and Josh Smith (bass), were stronger and heavier than ever. Promoting their third studio album, Into The Wild Life, released April 2015 via Atlantic Records, Halestorm performed their latest tracks such as “Scream,” “Amen,” and “Apocalyptic.” Their shortened set did not stop them from unleashing other hits such as “Freak Like Me,” “I Get Off,” and closer “I Miss the Misery.” They are currently on their North American tour throughout the middle of July, and tickets are selling out fast.
Thereafter fans ran over to the Jack Daniel’s stage to see the Los Angeles based Industrial Metal band, Ministry. Founded by the wicked Industrial genius, Al Jourgensen, in 1981 the lineup currently includes Sin Quirin (guitar, bass), Cesar Soto (guitar), Tony Campos (bass), Aaron Rossi (drums) and John Bechdel (keyboards). After Guitarist Mike Scaccia’s sudden collapse and passed away back in 2012, it was decided that Ministry will no longer record any new albums after the release of 2013’s From Beer to Eternity. The crowd went crazy for them while creating muddy circle pits as the band played “Hail to His Majesty,” “Punch in the Face,” and “PermaWar.” The North American tour is moving strong throughout May and June, including Ohio’s Rock on the Range on May 16th.
Rebelling on the ReverbNation stage, the Punk Rock band Suicidal Tendencies came on just before the headlining acts. Formed in 1981 in Venice, California, years of lineup changes and the death of bassist Tim Williams on August 27th, 2014 finds original member Mike Muir (lead vocals) currently joined by Dean Pleasants (lead guitar), Eric Moore (drums), Nico Santora (rhythm guitar), and Michael Morgan (bass). With over thirty years worth of material and twelve studio albums released, including their latest 13 (2013), they were there to simply rock out and have a good time in front of their fans. Rocking out the classics including “I Saw Your Mommy,” “War Inside My Head” and “Possessed to Skate” were two great surprises. They will be touring in Europe for the month of June, but they will be back to the United States in August; kicking it off at The Ink N Iron Festival in Nashville Tennessee on August 6-9th.
Scheduled to start at 7:10 PM on the Monster Main Stage, the Thrash Metal Gods, Slayer, were supposed to begin. Due to having two evacuations and schedules changing, along with being cancelled, they ended up going on shortly after 8 PM, causing a headliner overlap between Slayer and the Controversial Rock Star genius, Marilyn Manson. During this hour long wait, a metalhead couple confessed their love to each other and decided to get engaged right before one of the Big Four Thrash Metal American acts begun. Now it was time for the three plus decade old band from Huntington Park, California to cause their own havoc. Sustaining the unfortunate death of guitarist Jeff Hanneman in 2013, and the departure of drummer Dave Lombardo the same year, the lineup currently consists of Tom Araya (lead vocals/bass), Kerry King (guitar), Paul Bostaph (drums), and Exodus’ Gary Holt (guitar). Playing a set for the masses including tracks “Chemical Warfare,” “Seasons in the Abyss,” “Raining Blood,” “Postmortem” and “Dead Skin Mask,” they knew exactly how to please the crowd. Slayer are one of the masterminds in Thrash Metal, and with Araya fronting the show as always, it was an act worth seeing. They saved the absolute best for last, closing their set with “Angel of Death,” leaving the fans’ ears ringing. Slayer is currently working on their eleventh studio album, which should be released sometime in 2015. This will be the first without both Hanneman and Lombardo, but this is Slayer, and nothing will stop them.
Fans rejoiced when Marilyn Manson headlined at the Jack Daniel’s Stage at 8:20 PM. Formed in 1989, originally from Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Marilyn Manson now consists of the notorious Twiggy Ramirez, back since 2008 on bass and keyboards, along with newest members since 2014; Paul Wiley (guitar) and Gil Sharone (drums). Opening up with the sound of Mozart’s “Requiem” only stirred the crowd with pure anticipation, wondering which song would hit next. One of his latest singles, “Deep Six,” erupted the stage, which is from the ninth studio album The Pale Emperor, released in January 2015 via Manson’s own Hell record label. The musicianship from the band was incredibly tight during Marilyn Manson’s performance. The setlist fair to what the fans would love to hear, including hits such as “The Dope Show,” “Disposable Teens,” “mOBSCENE,” and of course “Rock is Dead.” Despite the weather interruptions, the lighting remained impeccable as Manson wandered across the stage, engaging his fans. Manson performed two back to back covers consisting of Eurythmics’ “Sweet Dreams (Are Made of This)” and Depeche Mode’s “Personal Jesus.” These two tracks only made the crowd scream, begging for a few more songs. The closing encore set featured “The Beautiful People” and “Irresponsible Hate Anthem” from 1996’s Antichrist Superstar. It was a night for loyal fans to rejoice over twenty-five years of Marilyn Manson’s career. The celebration will continue during the Summer of 2015 with The Smashing Pumpkins.
Rumors were floating around about another storm brewing, with a possible third evacuation. Fans shrugged those nightmare tales off as they rushed to the Monster Main stage to see one of the first Nu Metal bands from Bakersfield, California, Korn, to close the first night of Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville. Formed in 1993, this band’s sound changed the Metal music scene in ways that Grunge music could not. It was a time when Adidas striped pants were a thing, along with long dreadlocks and full blown headbanging. This is Korn, and it currently consists of Jonathan Davis (vocals/bagpipes), James “Munky” Shaffer (guitar), Brian “Head” Welch (guitar) returning in 2013, Reginald “Fieldy” Arvizu (bass), and Ray Luzier (drums). Dedicated and busy throughout their entire careers, they have released eleven studio albums. With an immense back-catalogue of original, thought provoking, and heavy material; including their latest album The Paradigm Shift ( 2013), they have plenty of choices to put together an amazing setlist. The glory about festivals is that anything goes, and in this case it was a night that reminded all KoRn fans where and when they fell in love with them.
With that being said, the ultimate highlight of the festival began. Beginning with Davis belting out “Are You Ready,” introducing “Blind” from their debut self titled studio album in 1994,Korn invited the entire crowd to headbang and made everyone remember how much they loved Nu Metal. Davis, decked out in his Adidas attire and holding his signature microphone, the style did not seem outdated and they look as though they have not aged one bit. “Ball Tongue,” “Need To,” “Clown,” “Divine,” “Faget,” and “Shoots and Ladders” followed through, back to back, flawlessly. They knew exactly what the fans loved, and after the heart wrenching track “Daddy,” the crowd was brought to tears. The encore started with “Falling Away From Me,” from their fourth studio album Issues, and then went into “Freak on a Leash” from their third studio album Follow the Leader. Including Untouchable’s “Here to Stay,” fans were disappointed to not have heard “Got The Life.” Either way, fans should bow down to these talented geniuses and thank them for an incredible evening.
All in all Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville Day One was a blast despite the weather issues. While a torrential downpour escalated into the venue midday, fans feared the entire day would be cancelled, but thankfully it was not. No one knew, or even cared that a tornado, along with severe thunderstorms were within the area. Sadly bands such as Upon a Burning Body, Hollywood Undead, Fozzy, Scott Weiland and the Wildabouts, and Exodus had to be cancelled due to the schedule time; remaining under the curfew. Thanks to the production crew of Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville, the fans remained safe all day long and, after drying out over night, were ready for Day Two just hours away.
Stay tuned for full coverage of Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville day 2
Photo credit: Rick Triana Photography