May 12, 2015 Monster Energy Welcome To Rockville day 2 levels Jacksonville, FL 4-26-15
With the first day of Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville consisting of torrential downpours, drenched sneakers, and musical bliss, Floridian Rockers united once again in Jacksonville for day two on Sunday, April 26th. It was a typical, scorching hot Florida day, and sunblock and bathing suit attire was recommended for a long diversified lineup consisting of: Slipknot, Papa Roach, The Pretty Reckless, In This Moment, We Are Harlot, Slash, Breaking Benjamin, Motionless in White, Young Guns, All That Remains, Hatebreed, Butcher Babies, Starset, ’68, Shattered Sun, The Sweet Escape, In Flames, Tremonti, Islander, Vamps, From Ashes to New, and Nothing More. With that many bands on the schedule, everyone was ready for a great day of head-banging to eleven hours worth of pure Rock-N-Roll.
The Sweet Escape
From Port Saint Lucie, Florida, The Sweet Escape opened up Day Two at 11:10 AM on the Reverbnation stage. The Pop-Punk-Rock influenced band consists of Dennis Walsh (vocals), Chase Chenault (drums), John Rivas (guitar/vocals), Zach Fawcett (guitar) and Joey Bushey (bass). Currently unsigned and endorsed by Steve Clayton, they played a set consisting of songs like, “All I Want” and “I’ve Loved You This Whole Time.” No news of a tour or full album yet, but only time will tell as this band makes their way toward a bright future.
From Ashes to New
At 11:40 AM, Lancaster, Pennsylvania’s From Ashes to New hit the Jägermeister stage with their Alternative, Rap-Rock vibrations. Formed in 2013 and signed with Better Noise Records, the band consists of members Matt Brandyberry (vocals/guitar/keys/programming), Chris Musser (vocals), Dan Kecki (guitar), Branden “Boo” Kreider (guitar/vocals), Garrett Russell (bass) and Tim D’onofrio (drums). They crushed the small stage with their Electronic and Heavy melodies, playing songs such as “Stay This Way,” “Live Again,” and “Through it All.” With their full length studio album to be released over the Summer and going on tour with Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, and Papa Roach this fall, these guys are here to make a big statement.
Meanwhile, over at the Jack Daniel’s main stage at 11:40 AM, Atlanta, Georgia duo ‘68 were ready to go. This two-piece band came together in 2013 and consists of vocalist Josh Scogin, formerly The Chariot, and Michael McClellan on drums. Bringing their experimental and rebellious energy supporting their 2014 debut album, In Humor and Sadness, ’68 were non-stop action from the moment they began. After a successful run with Stick To Your Guns, they are about to kick off their European tour to spread the word overseas.
As the Florida sun continues to melt the crowd, the schedule was on point and running on time, when at 12:15 PM over on the Reverbnation stage the Alice, Texas based Shattered Sun quenched the crowd with their riveting guitar riffs and barbarous vocals. Officially founded in 2011, and now signed with Victory Records, the band is promoting their debut full-length studio album, Hope within Hatred. The six piece band consists of Marcos Leal (vocals), Daniel Trejo (guitar), Jessie Santos (guitar), Joseph Guajardo (bass), Robert Garza (drums), and Henry Garza (keys/samples). Bringing an aggressive, melodic, and uplifting brand of Metal, Shattered Sun proved why no one should miss them live. Fresh off their tour with Testament and Exodus, they are scheduled for a spot on Rockstar Energy Drink Mayhem Festival this Summer.
We Are Harlot
Back on the Monster main stage at 12:20 PM, a supergroup known as We Are Harlot tore up Metropolitan Park. Founded in 2011, this band has the familiar faces of vocalist Danny Worsnop (formerly of Asking Alexandria), guitarist Jeff George (formerly of Sebastian Bach), drummer Bruno Agra (formerly of Revolution Renaissance), and bassist Brian Weaver from Silvertide. They recently released their self-titled debut album in March via Roadrunner Records, and powered through their latest singles such as “Dancing on Nails” and “Denial.” They will be playing across North America until the end of May and launching their European tour on June 2nd in Italy.
Continuing with the Alternative Metal vibe on the Jägermeister stage, at 12:50 PM, the Greenville, South Carolina group Islander swayed right in. Signed to Victory Records, the band originally came together back in 2011 and is made-up of Mikey Carvajal (lead vocals), Chris Doot (bass), Eric Frazier (drums), and J.R. Bareis (lead guitar). Pumping up the crowd with songs from their 2014 debut album, Violence & Destruction, some of the highlights of their set included “The Sadness of Graves” and “Coconut Dracula.” Featured on 2014’s Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival, and a part of countless other tours, the band continues to pound the pavement, touring through North America all Summer long.
London Alternative Rockers Young Guns came out with their own unique sound to the Jack Daniel’s Main Stage at 1:00 PM. Morphing their style since their beginnings back in 2009, the lineup consists of Gustav Wood (vocals), John Taylor (guitar), Fraser Taylor (guitar), Simon Mitchell (bass), and Ben Jolliffe (drums). Attaining recognition for their debut studio album, All Our Kings Are Dead in 2010, five years later, Young Guns are as strong as ever. Performing songs like “I Want Out” and “Bones,” they had the festival grounds pumped up and enjoying their set. Promoting their third studio album, Ones and Zeros, which is set to release in June 2015 via Virgin EMI Records, Young Guns are a band worth checking out before they head back over to Europe for more touring.
Reaching into another galaxy at 1:25 PM on the Reverbnation stage, the cinematic Rock band Starset awakened the crowd with their innovative tone. These Columbus, Ohio Rockers are a mix between 30 Seconds to Mars, Orgy, Breaking Benjamin, and something they can call all their own. Signed with Razor and Tie, the band includes Dustin Bates (lead vocals/keyboard), Ron DeChant (bass /keyboard /backing vocals), Brock Richards (guitar /backing vocals), and Adam Gilbert (drums). With their debut studio album Transmissions under their belt, the band has been building a name for themselves, and their set at Welcome to Rockville consisted of songs like “Rise and Fall,” “Carnivore,” and “My Demons.” Check them out as they continue to hit states throughout the months of May and June.
Around 1:40 PM, when many were on a lunch break and pouring water on their heads, a familiar sound was heard on the Monster main stage. For the entire build-up to the festival, a band name was never mentioned, but a time slot was placed and the surprise act turned out to be one of Hard Rock’s hottest acts, Nothing More. Founded in 2003, this Texas based do-it-yourself group of musicians include the likes of Jonny Hawkins (lead vocals/aux drums), Daniel Oliver (bass/backup vocals), Mark Vollelunga (guitar/backup vocals), and Paul O’Brien (drums). Disregarding the heat, the band came out with their eyes on wowing the masses as they played “Christ Copyright,” “Mr.MTV,” “Jenny,” and “This is the Time (Ballast).” Those who know Nothing More are aware of the potential this band has and those who are just learning are being converted to believers. Look forward to hearing more of them over the Summer, playing with acts such as Shinedown.
On the Jägermeister stage, at 2 PM, the Japan based Hard Rock duo VAMPS commanded the stage. Formed in 2008 by Hyde (vocals/rhythm guitar) and K.A.Z (lead guitar/backing vocals), the supporting members consist of Ju-ken (bass/backing vocals), Arimatsu (drums), and Jin (keyboards). A unique band in their own right, they played songs off their latest album, Bloodsuckers, including tracks “Reincarnation” and “Zero.” After a headlining show in NYC May 1st, Vamps will make an appearance at Rock on the Range May 15th, so go and see what everyone is talking about.
Motionless in White
Rising above the Jack Daniel’s main stage at 2:20 PM was Scranton, Pennsylvania’s Motionless in White. Formed in 2005 and mixing musical genres between Metalcore, Goth, and Industrial, band leader Chris Motionless is joined by Ricky Horror (guitar), Josh Balz (keyboards), Ryan Sitkowski (guitar), Devin “Ghost” Sola (bass), and touring member Vinny Mauro (drums). Their stage presence riled up the audience with crowd surfers and circle pits, especially when they performed the fan-favorite, “Devil’s Night.” Promoting their 2014 album Reincarnate, with tracks such as “Break the Cycle” and “Contemptress,” Motionless in White was appealing to a broad range of listeners’ ears. Heading overseas for a few shows, they will return for a tour this Summer with Slipknot.
Butcher Babies have built a reputation for putting on killer performances, and their tireless energy tackled the Reverbnation stage at 2:35 PM. Out of Southern California, the dual vocal attack of Heidi Shepherd and Carla Harvey is completed with Henry Flury (guitar), Jason Klein (bass), along with Chrissy Warner (drums). Shepherd and Harvey engaged the crowd, demanding screams, jumps, and fist pumps as they played songs such as “The Mirror Never Lies” and “Goliath.” Showing their flair for classics, they threw in a ZZ Top cover of “Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers,” which everyone in the crowd ended up raising their hands to. The band recently announced they would be supporting Gwar’s 30 years of Total Domination Tour, which kicks off on August 25th in Millvale, PA. Be sure to check them out.
In This Moment
The theatrics continued on the Monster stage at 3:00 PM with In This Moment. Just a mere few years removed from reconstructing their entire lineup, mainstays Maria Brink (vocals) and Chris Howorth (guitarist) are now joined by Travis Johnson (bass), Randy Weitzel (guitar), and Tom Hane (drums). Facing the drastic changes with no fear allowed the band to experiment, thus putting together their 2012 massively successful album, Blood. Recently pushing the envelope even further with 2014’s Black Widow, their slot on the main stage was well-deserved. Known for their dramatic performances, wardrobe, and set changes, and of course the seductive backup dancers, they played some of their best songs such as “Sick Like Me,” “Big Bad Wolf,” “Blood,” “Adrenalize,” and “Whore.” In This Moment remain dedicated to the road as they continue the Black Widow tour throughout the summer.
The Orlando, Florida Metal band Tremonti rocked the Jägermeister stage at 3:20 PM. Named after highly accomplished guitarist Mark Tremonti, formerly of Creed and currently of Alter Bridge, the solo project consist of Eric Friedman on guitar/backing vocals, Garrett Whitlock on drums, and Tanner Keegan as their touring bassist. As a whole, Tremonti showcased precision and effortlessness during their performance, especially during “Brains” and “Decay.” Promoting their second studio album Cauterize, set to release on June 9th, 2015, they also played “Cauterize” and “Another Heart.” Tremonti continues to prove that he is a guitarist who cannot be pigeonholed and can shred with some of the best guitarists in the world today.
At 3:50 PM on the Jack Daniel’s stage, the area was packed with patient fans anticipating to see the return of Breaking Benjamin. Originally formed in 1998, the Pennsylvanian Rock band returned from a four year hiatus in 2014, when mastermind Benjamin Burnley eventually found a brand new lineup consisting of Keith Wallen (formerly of Adelitas Way), guitarist Jason Rauch (formerly of Red), drummer Shaun Foist (Picture Me Broken), and bassist Aaron Bruch. For many, it was the first time seeing the band in years, and all were singing along to their notorious hits such as “Polyamorous,” “The Diary of Jane”, and “Breath.” Burnley was so honored to see such a mass amount of people sweating profusely just to see them perform, that he thanked them by handing out water bottles. It was a momentous occasion, especially when “Failure” came on, reminding all that their fifth studio album, Dark Before Dawn, will soon be released on June 23rd, 2015.
Meanwhile, on the Reverbnation stage at 4:05 PM, the Connecticut Hardcore band Hatebreed was conquering a massive, seventeen song set. Founded in 1994 with Jamey Jasta (vocals), Chris Beattie (bass), Wayne Lozinak (guitar), Matt Byrne (drums), and Frank Novinec (guitar), they put on an epic performance, playing through their discography, including earlier tracks such as “Smash Your Enemies,” “Betrayed By Life,” and “Driven By Suffering.” Their enthusiasm inspired the crowd to moshing in pure chaotic bliss. Continuing to tour in support of 2013’s The Divinity of Purpose, they will soon kick off their European tour at the end of May, before returning to the states for Motörhead’s Motörboat Cruise out of Miami, FL on September 28th.
The Pretty Reckless
Back to the Monster main stage at 4:50 PM, sizzling rockers, The Pretty Reckless, came roaring in like a New York minute. Actress-turned-Rock frontwoman, Taylor Momsen, has proven to all that she has matured into a fearless and legitimate vocalist. Signed with Razor and Tie, the rest of the group consists of Ben Phillips (guitar), Mark Damon (bass), and Jamie Perkins (drums). Still promoting their acclaimed second studio album from 2014, titled Going to Hell, the band played the gritty tracks “Fucked Up World,” “Going To Hell,” and “Heaven Knows.” They continued to vanquish the crowd with tunes from their 2010 debut, Light Me Up, with other rockers such as “Since You’re Gone” and “Make Me Wanna Die.” Touring throughout the month of May, hopefully more dates will be announced in the near future.
From Gothenburg, Sweden, Metal veterans In Flames melted the Jägermeister stage at 5:10 PM with a prodigious performance. Together now over two decades, these heroes of Melodic Death Metal consist of Anders Fridén (vocals), Björn Gelotte (lead guitar), Peter Iwers (bass), Daniel Svensson (drums), and Niclas Engelin (rhythm guitar). Supporting their eleventh studio album, Siren Charms, they jammed through songs that included “Everything’s Gone” and “Paralyzed,” before taking everyone back to 1999 with “Embody the Invisible” from Colony. Mixing in some of the audiences favorites like “Cloud Connected” and “Drifter,” In Flames showed why they are still champions of their brand of Metal that has morphed through the years. Complemented by a wonderful sense of humor of Fridén, In Flames were dominating. Sadly, their last North American performance is on May 24th at River City Rockfest in San Antonio, TX, but hopes are that they will be back again sometime soon.
At 5:40 PM on the Jack Daniel’s main stage, Hard Rock legend Slash with Myles Kennedy & The Conspirators bolted straight into their set. Led by former Guns N’ Roses axeman Slash, Alter Bridge’s Myles Kennedy (lead vocals), Todd Kerns (bass), and Brent Fitz (drums), everyone was amped up to see the performance. Supporting their 2014 album, World on Fire, their set included songs like “Bent to Fly” and “World on Fire.” Kennedy’s hammering vocals and enchanting presence created a welcoming vibe for all. Soaring high, the most pinnacle moment of the band’s showcase was watching Slash nail each and every guitar solo, especially with the flashback surprises of Guns N’ Roses’ “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” and closer “Paradise City.” The entire band was in unison and had everyone cheering for more.
All That Remains
Taking over the Reverbnation stage at 6:15 PM was the Metalcore band from Springfield, Massachusetts, All That Remains. Founded in 1998, these veterans of Metal consist of Philip Labonte (vocals), Mike Martin (guitar), Oli Herbert (guitar), Jeanne Sagan (bass), and Jason Costa (drums). Supporting their recently released seventh studio album, The Order of Things, they plowed through a set that included the colossal track of “No Knock.” Labonte’s grunts and screams shook the crowd into massive circle pits, especially during “Six” and had everyone screaming during the melodic hit “Two Weeks.” They will be continuing to tour with In Flames until the end of May, so get out there and see them.
Taking on the Monster stage at 6:35 PM, from Vacaville, CA, Papa Roach was up next and looking sharper than ever. Together for over twenty years, the band is made-up of Jacoby Shaddix (vocals), Jerry Horton (guitar), Tobin Esperance (bass), and Tony Palermo (drums). Promoting their eighth studio album, F.E.A.R., Shaddix controlled the stage, while the crowd eagerly raised their hands to the sky. The energy was heavily consistent throughout, especially during the latest “Warriors” and “Face Everything and Rise.” The audience’s eyes were glued to the stage, and when they played “Between Angels and Insects” from their breakout 2000 album, Infest, the crowd was singing along with passion. Songs played back to back seamlessly while the tight instrumentation flowed effortlessly. Shaddix engaged with the crowd, making sure to listen to 50,000 fans scream and shout “whoa” in “…To Be Loved.” After all that, the set would not be complete without their signature song, “Last Resort.” Papa Roach continues to tour in support of F.E.A.R., so there are plenty of opportunities to see them on this run.
Closing out the Jack Daniel’s stage and performing right before Slipknot at 7:30 PM, was the one and only Godsmack. Hailing from the Boston, Massachusetts area, Sully Erna (vocals), Tony Rombola (guitar and vocals), Robbie Merrill (bass), and Shannon Larkin (Drums) have pushed out six studio albums with solid hit singles for nearly twenty years straight. Their positive energy circulated the field, making the entire audience feel welcome. Mixing up their set with songs from their sixth studio album released last year, 1000hp, they opened with “Generation Day” and “1000hp.” In addition to the newer material, “Cryin’ Like a Bitch,” “Voodoo,” “Awake,” “Whatever,” and “I Stand Alone” had fans shouting along and creating circle pits. Godsmack showcased the quality of their career’s work and tastefully executed it on the stage. Completing a series of shows in the states in May, Godsmack will then turn their attention overseas in June.
The best way to close out two days of non-stop Rock music at Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville was with Slipknot on the Monster main stage at 8:40 PM. In fact, the entire area was packed with fifty thousand fans wondering what tricks Slipknot had up their sleeves. Formed in Des Moines, Iowa back in 1995, the band has gone on to release five solid albums, including their most recent, .5: The Gray Chapter. With the amount of high quality material they have, their setlist can be delightfully interchangeable. With their large lineup of Corey Taylor (vocals), Mick Thomson (guitar), Jim Root (guitar), Craig Jones (keyboard), Sid Wilson (turntables), Shawn Crahan (custom percussion), Chris Fehn (custom percussion), and the touring members Alessandro Venturella (bass) and Jay Weinberg (drums), the time had come for the Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville finale.
After roughly three years using a similar backdrop, it was finally changed to fit the gray aesthetic for the latest album. Before any song started, Taylor walked out to pump up the crowd and prove to all that Rock Music is not dead. He wanted to dedicate the opening song to those that believe Rock is Dead, and demanded to all, “And when I tell you to sing, you sing, and when I tell you to jump, you jump, and when I tell you to lose your minds, you lose your fucking minds. Are you ready?” With that, “Sarcastrophe” launched the onslaught. They continued on with “The Heretic Anthem,” “Psychosocial,” “The Devil in I,” “Wait and Bleed,” “Purity,” and “Before I Forget.”
Taylor tricked most in attendance to think that “Spit it Out” and “Custer” were the final songs, but it was merely a diversion before an epic encore. Walking away and feeling content, the sound of “742617000027” had many bolting back towards the stage at lightning speed. Starting it all was “Sic,” before having everyone at the height of exhaustion for “Surfacing.”
It was a very long, hot, and humid day where many were faced with sunburns, feet stuck in muddy shoes from the day before, and deodorant which had been long gone. None of this mattered and everyone enjoyed every last moment of the two days of Rock. This is what music is all about, and that is why Monster Energy Welcome to Rockville was one hell of a way to spend the weekend as the Summer Rock festival season opens up.Photo credit: Rick Triana Photography