October 8, 2015 The Food & Truck Rock Carnival Rolls Into Oak Ridge Park, Clark, NJ 9-19-15
No one was prepared for the outstanding turnaround of the first annual The Rock Carnival, which is also referred to as The Food Truck and Rock Carnival. Taking place on the last weekend of the Summer, Oak Ridge Park in Clark, New Jersey had over fifty thousand people, including families of all ages, beer drinkers, Rockers, and Slash impersonators. The diversified selection between bands, food trucks, and carnival attractions appeared to be endless.
In fact, everyone had a handful of goodies to choose from between Fruity Pebbles Ice Cream Sandwiches, the smashing Empanada Food truck; where there was always a line, many places for Grilled Cheese, and a local truck that made a hearty Macaroni and Cheese. No matter where one would walk towards, there would always be some sort of amusement, including the multiple beer gardens filled with Craft and Domestic delights, a Karaoke tent, local vendors; where many could buy items such as Guitar Spatulas and a Boombox mug. Everyone also had an opportunity to check out the Pro Wrestling station and the Carnival attractions including riding the Ferris Wheel, the Fun Slide, and the daring few that adventured onto the Seven Seas and the powerful Hurricane.
Local bands would perform near this area, meanwhile, on the other side of the park, there was a second entrance that had three days filled with Non-Stop Rock -n- Roll music. This sea of mixed Rockers were dressed for many different styles as Day One included acts such as Slash, Three Days Grace, Black Label Society, Sevendust, Puddle of Mudd, Skid Row, Pop Evil, Otherwise, Fit For Rivals, Bad Case For Big Mouth, Kix, King’s X, Stephen Pearcy, Faster Pussycat, Edgar Cayce, Gilby Clark, Rahway, and Second Skyn.
Bad Case Of Big Mouth
Opening Main Stage 2 at 2:45 PM were New Jersey Rockers, Bad Case For Big Mouth. Tyler, John, James, and Tony powered onto the platform, ready to demonstrate their distinct “Easycore” sound. Sharing two sets of unique vocals, one with Alexisonfire-esque Hardcore screams and the other reminence of an earlier 2000’s Blink 182 Pop Punk sound. Pounding the platform, they demanded the early arrivals to jump up and shout out loud with them.
Continuing to want everyone to let loose and go crazy, the band shared a few new tunes along with “From the Shallow End of the Gene Pool” and “Elmer and the Man That Feeds Him” from 2014’s Straight Up Bad Luck. This group sure knew how to interact with the crowd while maintaining a fierce performance that interestingly combined two types of Rock music. This fresh group appears to have a bright future ahead of them.
Fit For Rivals
Over on Main Stage 1 at 3:15 PM, Fit For Rivals were ready to take on the platform. Formed in 2008, they moved right into the Rock scene after the release of 2009’s Steady Damage. Continuing to receive praise, these Jacksonville Floridian Rockers recently released their EP Sugar in July 2015 via Big 3 Records. The lineup includes Renee Phoenix (vocals), Thomas Amason (keys/guitar), Eli Clark (bass), Rufino Lomboy (lead guitar), and Dorman Pantfoeder (drums). Opening with “Better Off (Alone),” the cut included howling vocals by Phoenix. Conversing with the early birds, Phoenix thanked everyone for watching their set and mentioned how it was a pleasure being there as they went into “Crash.”
Mesmerizing the crowd, they continued with tracks such as “Novocaine.” Phoenix asked if everyone was still with them as they moved into the robust “Fake.” Dedicated fans cheered along when the latest smashing hit of “Freak Machine” from Sugar erupted on the stage. Before hitting the final tune, Phoenix asked who wanted to hang out with them at the merchandise booth as they have, “shirts with boobs, whiskey, and eagles, just what America loves.” As the instrumentals picked up, Phoenix asked everyone to jump along with her as they closed with the pounding track “Hit Me.” There are currently no tour dates, hopefully they will hit back to the studio to release a full length album soon enough.
Tackling Main Stage 2 at 3:45 PM were Las Vegas Rockers, Otherwise. Formed in 2006, they have released three studio albums including the latest, 2014’s Peace at All Costs via Century Media Records. Adrian Patrick (lead vocals), Ryan Patrick (guitar/vocals), Corky Gainsford (drums/vocals), Andrew Pugh (guitar vocals), and Tony Carboney (bass/vocals) presented an immense amount of energy to the New Jersey crowd. Ready to rock with loud aggression, Adrian sprung onto the stage wearing a Superman shirt, holding a red cape-esque flag, and an American flag running down his pants. Marching in during “Love & War,” from Peace At All Costs, sparked the crowd’s attention. Adrian conversed with the Jersey audience by asking if this was a Bruce Springsteen country as he demanded all to put their horns and arms up in the air and proceeded into “Die For You,” from 2012’s True Love Never Dies.
Adrian creatively announced the next tune by telling everyone, “great making a heart you can turn it into an O. You know everything in life comes ‘Full Circle.’” Knowing exactly how to perform and wittingly announce tracks, Adrian expressed how it was a beautiful day and that there was a new moon out that night as they went into “Darker Side of the Moon.” Keeping up with an invigorating set, they mastered brutal songs such as “I Don’t Apologize (1000 Pictures),” “Meet Me in the Dark,” and “Coming for the Throne.” As they closed with “Soldiers,” Adrian left off repeatedly shouting out, “We are Otherwise!” Fans cheered along with them. It’s not too late to see them as they are touring throughout the Fall on the Brothers In Arms Tour.
Heading back to Main Stage 1 at 4:20 PM were North Muskegon, Michigan Rockers Pop Evil. Known for playing down-right American Rock music, they have been rising up the Rock platform since their initial formation in 2001. Pumping out numerous radio hits over the last few years, their fan-base has grown. Promoting their fifth album, Up, released in August via eOne Music, there was a plentiful amount of tunes to perform as Leigh Kakaty (vocals), Davey Grahs (guitar), Nick Fuelling (guitar), Chachi Riot (drums), and Matt DiRito (bass) conquered the stage. Beginning with “Last Man Standing” and “Boss’s Daughter” had fans moving and singing along, including those out in the fenced beer garden area. Maintaining a stimulating amount of energy, they introduced newer material in “Ways to Get High” and “Take it All” from Up.
After briefly leaving the stage, including an early closed set, they returned with the heartfelt “Torn to Pieces” from 2031’s Onyx. The remainder of their set included tunes from Up and Onyx as they went into “Footsteps,” “Deal With The Devil,” and “In Disarray.” Kakaty wished the crowd to have an amazing day as he introduced the last and final track, wanting all hands up and proud, to clap, jump, and go crazy with their acclaimed “Trenches.” Continuing to tour across North America throughout the Fall, they are definitely worth while seeing live.
New Jersey natives Skid Row fled to Main Stage 2 at 5:00 PM. A legendary success in the late ’80s and ’90s, on this day, they dove into their infamous hits that fans have adored over the years. These American Hard and Glam Rockers reached a multi-platinum status, especially with 1989’s Skid Row and 1991’s Slave to the Grind. Battling through a history of ongoing lineup changes over the years has questioned the status of the group, especially after Sebastian Bach’s departure in 1996. Quite a few singers, including Sean McCabe and Johnny Solinger, replaced the notorious Bach, however, recently Tony Harnell joined the group in 2015, and this day, he proved to be a well-deserving frontman. The rest of the latest lineup includes Scotti Hill (guitar), Rachel Bolan (bass), Snake Sabo (guitar), and Rob Hammersmith (drums). Currently working on the United World Rebellion series, which consists of three EPs, where the first two were released in 2013 and 2014, many are waiting for the third and final piece to this trilogy.
Skid Row were there to simply give the New Jersey crowd a piece of fun and joy. Opening with the classic “Slave to the Grind,” that has a huge meaning to many, fans were awestruck as they sung along. Continuing to stun the crowd with classics including “Piece of Me” and “18 and Life,” fans raised their fists in the air with utter enjoyment. Harnell confidently engaged with the audience by saying, “How many of you are out there? There’s good food, get drunk, and having a good time. We are Skid Row. Let’s do this thing,” and they went into “Makin’ a Mess.”
Harnell mentioned how it was great to be back home in New Jersey, emphasizing that they travel to several places around the world, and wanted New Jersey to do a favor for him. He shared the text message he just received from his sister, “Rock out with your cock out!” Fans cried out as the band went into a track that was dedicated to phenomenal acts including Twisted Sister and Kiss, as they roared into the Ramones cover “Psychotherapy.” The audience raised their beer and lighters, as they went into the acclaimed ballad, “I Remember You.” Knowing exactly how to interact with the crowd, they fired into the hit “Monkey Business.” Harnell mentioned how this was their shortest set-list as they closed out with “Youth Gone Wild,” where fans screamed out “Hey! Hey! Hey!” There is still time to check out a longer set as there are a few tour dates left, including heading back to the East Coast at Irving Plaza in New York City on November 4th.
Puddle of Mudd
As the evening was heating up, it was time for Puddle of Mudd to take on Main Stage 1 at 5:40 PM. These Alternative Rockers from Kansas City, Missouri hit the spotlight after 2001’s Come Clean, when the hit “Blurry” received radio play. These guys were there to demonstrate to their fans how to have a relaxing and fun time. Initially formed in 1991, after a handful of lineup changes, the latest includes Wes Scantlin (lead vocals), Matt Fuller (lead guitar, backing vocals), Dave Moreno (drums, backing vocals), and Michael John Adams (bass, backing vocals). Commencing with “Control” and instantly following with the Black Sabbath cover of “War Pigs” led the crowd to a cheering frenzy. Maintaining an energetic performance, the lights shimmered into the crowd, despite the fact that it was still daylight out.
Delivering with an immaculate sound, they continued with tracks “Drift & Die” and “Psycho.” Cutting in with “Spaceship,” the song featured abrasive and engaging hooks. Thereafter, they dove into the Rolling Stones’ hit “Gimme Shelter.” Surprising the audience, they closed the set with the favorable track “She Hates Me” followed by the head-turning, unexpected cover of Grease’s “Summer Nights Medley.” The band is currently working on a follow-up to the latest cover album, 2011’s Re:(disc)overed and 2009’s Volume 4: Songs in the Key of Love & Hate. After a few shows in India, they will be back to North America for a few more.
Over on Main Stage 2 at 6:20 PM, it was time for the Alternative Metallers Sevendust to put on a memorable set. Formed in 1994 from Atlanta, Georgia, the original lineup of Lajon Witherspoon (lead vocals), Clint Lowery (guitar/vocals), Morgan Rose (drums/vocals), John Connolly (guitar/vocals), and Vince Hornsby (bass) still remains. It was their self-titled debut album in 1997 that have made them flourish over the years and built an extensive phenomenal catalog with an always growing, dedicated fanbase. Promoting their 11th studio album Kill the Flaw, the backdrop revealed the album cover to all of the New Jersey fans.
Anticipation grew as red lights circled around the stage while flickers of “Black” was heard. Witherspoon grabbed the mic and before moving into the piece, he engaged with his fans first, asking everyone how they were feeling and wanted them all to raise their hands and make noise. While pumping the crowd, the music picked up and “Black” ignited. Witherspoon demanded all to scream as they drove into “Driven” off of 2007’s Alpha, which had the entire band run across the stage with an immense amount of energy. Fans clapped their hands together while Witherspoon deeply looked into the audience and confessed, “I believe in magic and I believe that music is a magical thing. Thank you guys for being here… if it wasn’t for each and everyone of you guys, we wouldn’t even have a fucking job, so thank you very much…I am never going to be too cool to come out and hang out with you guys because if you all wouldn’t be here, who the fuck would be playing? We are Sevendust. Thank you.” Witherspoon looked into the crowd, appreciating each and every one of the New Jersey audience, and moved into “Denial” from 1999’s Home followed by “Dead Set” from 2001’s Animosity.
Witherspoon’s gratitude did not stop there as he opened up once again, “I look over to the side of the stage and it brings me back to the first people that ever gave me a chance in the music business. It’s this record label called TVT Records out in NYC. I look over and I see a young lady that thought they were going to a Strip Club and accidentally came in and saw Sevendust. They ended up giving us a record deal and changed our lives forever.” As veteran fans screamed out in honor, Witherspoon continued, “I can’t believe we’re still here, which leads us to take almost a year to be daddies, to be husbands to our wives, to do the real thing because we get so lost sometimes, but we made this new album called Kill the Flaw. It will be out October 2nd…Always stay true because we always stay true to you all.” As fans screamed louder, they went into new track “Not Today” followed by the older “Disease” off of 2003’s Seasons.
Witherspoon admitted that a surprise guest was in the audience as he apologized, “Sorry if I got taken back, because every time I look around, I see somebody that I can’t believe is here…There’s someone here that I have looked up to as an artist my whole entire life and I cannot believe I am able to say that after all the years I have admired, and felt like this is a mentor to me that I can say, he’s a brother, a friend, and I hope one day we can tour together. You guys, make some noise for Mr. dUg Pinnick of King’s X!” Fans roared out as Witherspoon had everyone briefly sing along to King’s X track “Black Flag.” Witherspoon pumped the crowd for the upcoming bands that included Slash and Three Days Grace, while giving a special shout out to Pop Evil.
Moving back to their set, Witherspoon introduced “Shine” from Animosity. Witherspoon asked everyone to march in a circle as there were actual babies in the crowd, when they went into “Decay” from 2013’s Black Out the Sun. As much as everyone was enjoying this stunning intimate moment, it was time for Sevendust to leave the stage as Witherspoon introduced the final song of their set, “We love you guys. I would like to dedicate this, this is our new single called ‘Thank You,’ this is for you guys. Let me see your hands in the air!” As they performed with effortless gratifaction, it was an incredible and humbling performance. Fans were honored to see such honesty. Despite not being the main headliner, they were a true highlighted moment of the entire festival. Touring across North America throughout the Fall in support of their latest Kill the Flaw, there will be plenty of chances to see them.
Black Label Society
Crowd rushed towards Main Stage 1 as it was time for Black Label Society to rumble through everyone’s eardrums at 7:10 PM. Formed in 1998 from Los Angeles, they have become the epitome of today’s Heavy Metal music utilizing a sharp sound by the one and only, Zakk Wylde. Releasing nine studio albums, including the latest Catacombs of the Black Vatican; which was released in 2014 via eOne Music, they were ready to bulldoze through an epic and flawless performance. The lineup includes Wylde (vocals/guitar), John DeServio (bass), Jeff Fabb (drums), and Dario Lorina (guitar). The stage was perfectly set for Metal lovers as displays of skulls were spread about, making it obvious that the New Jersey crowd was in for a treat. As sirens went off, they blistered in with “Whole Lotta Sabbath” which turned into “The Beginning… At Last” from the debut album, 1999’s Sonic Brew.
Mesmerizing the audience with instrumental mastery in headbanging fashion, they moved right into “Funeral Bell.” Wylde even stood up on a platform and churned out a few beastly guitar solos. As the red lights flicked in a heartbeat manner, they cut into “Bleed for Me” and “Heart of Darkness.” Continuing to master through their set, they dominated tracks such as “Suicide Messiah,” “My Dying Time,” and “Damn the Flood.” As fans were, at this point, in a deep enchantment, Wylde went into a near ten minute guitar solo which moved into the thunderous, “Godspeed Hellbound.” Having no need to chatter, as their music live satisfyingly speaks for itself, they closed the set with “Concrete Jungle” and “Stillborn.” Fans were reawakened and officially amped for the remainder of the night. Black Label Society is currently touring overseas but will return in December with Huntress and The Shrine.
Three Days Grace
Closing down Main Stage 2 of the night at 8:00PM were Canadian Rockers Three Days Grace. Battling quite a few Rock -n- Roll hurdles since their initial formation in 1997, it was not too long ago where Matt Walst replaced Frontman Adam Gontier in 2013. Many have questioned their future, especially since it is hard for fans to welcome a new vocalist. Luckily, in March of 2015, the fifth studio album Human, via RCA Records, was released and fans have accepted Walst’s vocals since. There is a difference between hearing a different vocalist on an album, than seeing one perform live in front of their own eyes. Hardcore fans were curious and a handful were fearful to see Walst dominate the microphone as the frontman. On this evening, there was no room for disappointment, as this performance was riveting in non-stop enjoyment. The rest of the lineup includes Brad Walst (bass), Neil Sanderson (drums), and Barry Stock (guitar).
Keeping the crowd in suspense, they tricked everyone by blasting Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name.” Shortly after, a long introduction recording about machines hit, which built a further anticipation as they stormed onto the platform and ripped right into the latest “I Am Machine,” off of Human. Walst introduced the next track by explaining, “This next one is for the old school Three Days Grace fans in the house.” Fans roared as they cut into “Just Like You” from 2003’s self-titled debut album. Walst made sure everyone would jump and sing along to this enjoyable tune. Continuing to astonish the crowd, Stock switched to his double neck guitar as they whipped into “Pain” from 2006’s One-X. The momentum continued as Walst, Stock, and Sanderson moved across the stage with an imminent amount of energy. Walst knew exactly how to engage with the fans in New Jersey, as he had everyone sing along during the favorable chorus.
Flowing into the next, Walst asked everyone how the crowd was doing, seeing if they were having a good day, and had fun with bands such as Black Label Society and Sevendust. He wanted the party to get started, to have a mosh pit, as they sliced into “Break” from 2009’s Life Starts Now. As the screams settled, Walst explained the next classic track, “You work all fucking day and then you come home, and you try to make everyone around you satisfied. But sometimes people are just never satisfied, and you just want to say get the fuck up. Well this song is about that, this song is called ‘Home,’ get your fists in the air, get that fucking mosh pit going!” Fans managed to headbang back and forth during the catchy intro. Morphing into a familiar, non-Three Days Grace sound, Tool’s “Sober” led the crowd to a surprising dumbfounded gaze. After this interlude, they managed to switch it back to “Home” as though “Sober” fit perfectly well with this track. Walst walked into the audience during this part, making sure everyone shouted out “Home! Home! Home!” on repeat until the song’s closing.
This moment more than proved Walst’s deserving spot as the new frontman for the group. It was after “Home” when Walst would not stop getting the crowd moving as he made everyone shout once again in repeat, “Three Days Grace!” over and over again. As the chants settled, Walst introduced the next one by saying, “So this next song is about why you come to a place like this, to mess shit up, to get fucked up, to release the beast and to release the animal!” The entire field pounced along with “Animal I Have Become.”
Moving along, Walst expressed his gratitude for the crowd by saying, “we like to thank everybody in this crowd for making this next song number one…this is the first song we released off of Human, this song is called ‘Painkiller.’” Fans enjoyed this one as they screamed along with it. Continuing to interact with the crowd, he then explained the next heart-felt tune, “This next song is about losing the people that we love, and wishing we could be the ones to save them. This is our next single…‘Fallen Angel.’” As a few could be seen taking sips of beer to hide from their own tears, this track beautifully expressed an immense amount of emotion.
Walst changed the pace as he spoke once again to everyone, “thanks for having us man, we’re lucky to be here and we love you. You know what? I can tell you like a little of ‘The Good Life.’ I want to see the whole crowd getting up for this one, get a fucking mosh pit going. Come on New Jersey! One, two, get the fuck up!” The smashing sound of “The Good Life” came on and everyone joyously chanted along with the catchy chorus that has inspired many to focus on living their own lives to the fullest, and as enjoyable as possible. Moving into a song that is made for everyone, as many must have something or someone they despise, the favorable classic tune of “I Hate Everything About You” ripped in, which reminded all on how they fell in love with Three Days Grace in the first place.
Fans shouted “Three Days Grace” once again as Walst introduced the next track, “this next song is about never giving up, and Three Days Grace will never give it up for you, because it’s ‘Never Too Late’ to turn it around.” Walst asked everyone if they want more, as he had everyone repeat the title of the next song, “Riot” closed their one hour set. Not only did they perform all of the fan favorite tracks, Walst’s vocalization and engaging energy was non-stop from beginning to end. Many did not want this moment to end, as they were now wide awake, ready to see Slash or Kix.
The New Jersey crowd had a variety of artists to choose from, whether it was one of the headlining acts on the main stages, a local band out by the carnival while grabbing a bite to eat in one of the many food trucks, or the intimate Birch Hill Stage. This enclosed area was a 21+ only, and was located parallel from the main stages. The acclaimed King’s X hit this platform at 8:45 PM. It was Out Of The Silent Planet in 1988 where many have officially discovered their unique Progressive Metal and Blues Rock sound. Their avant-garde advancements have had many conclude that they were the Future of Rock music. Several do not know that King’s X pushed the Rock envelope even further to inspire many Alternative acts formed in the ’90s, which also includes the Grunge Rock movement. Still, to this day, professional musicians, including the infamous Lajon Witherspoon of Sevendust, have looked up to these masterminds. Die-hard fans packed this small area to see this Texan trio including Jerry Gaskill (drums/vocals), dUg Pinnick (bass/vocals), and Ty Tabor (guitar/vocals).
Performing tracks such as “Groove Machine,” “Vegetable,” and “Over My Head” hooked the crowd, however, a special guest appeared in the audience. Lajon Witherspoon himself was spotted in the crowd, standing amongst the other fans and becoming one with the music. Everyone, including Witherspoon, embraced the immaculate instrumental closeout during the acclaimed “Goldilox.”
The official closure of the night, who played longer than the one and only Slash on the main stage, took place on the Birch Hill platform. Scheduled to go on at 9:45 PM, the crowd filled the Birch Hill beer garden stage area as Maryland Rock legends Kix killed it. These Glam Rock legends fought hard over the years since their formation in the late seventies, including facing a breakup shortly after the Grunge and Alternative Rock scene ruled the nineties, in 1996. Since their return in 2003, and bringing back most of the original lineup, the band includes Brian Forsythe (guitar), Steve Whiteman (lead vocals), Jimmy Chalfant (drums), and Ronnie Younkins (guitar). Mark Schenker joined the group on bass since the beginning of their revival, who replaced Donnie Purnell. Promoting their seventh studio album in 2014’s Rock Your Face Off via Loud & Proud Records, the album is a near twenty year follow up from their sixth studio album, 1995’s $how Bui$ne$$. This evening, it was time for the New Jersey audience to relax to this epic ’80s Rock -n- Roll finale.
Opening right into their newest material with “Can’t Stop The Show,” followed by the classic “Midnite Dynamite,” had the band moving across the small platform. Forsythe and Younkins gathered up on the stylized Kix-enhanced apple boxes in order to strut out their axemanship even further. Hammering in next, the catchy “No Ring Around Rosie” from 1988’s Blow My Fuse had fans raise their beer cups in utter enjoyment. Whiteman thanked the crowd and could not believe how much was happening at the Rock Carnival, where he described it as, “This is what you call a Rock -n- Roll overdose.” Whiteman continued to engage with everyone, mentioned the new album, and wanted to let them know that they should “like the album, love it, buy it, and share it,” and went into “Wheels In Motion.”
After powering through the new track, Whiteman thanked the audience’s vibe, followed by giving them a lesson in manners by having all of them shout out “you’re welcome,” after he said his thanks. After the performance of “Girl Money” from 1991’s Hot Wire, Whiteman tested the crowd as he thanked them once again, and many remembered to shout out “you’re welcome!” Continuing with “Cold Shower” from Midnite Dynamite, Whiteman, Younkins, and Forsythe gathered towards the front of the stage for a triple singalong. Lighters were raised up high when the substantial ’80s ballad hit “Don’t Close Your Eyes” was performed, and they remarkably dominated through this emotive tune on the intimate stage for the dedicated fans. Moving along with adrenaline, Whiteman grabbed a maraca and grooved into “Hot Wire.”
Whiteman demanded noise from the crowd as he had everyone shout out “ohs” and “ahs” in order to prepare for “Love Me With Your Top Down” from Rock Your Face Off. As the set was coming down to a near close, a mesmerizing guitar solo hit and instrumental gratification progressed as Whiteman sprawled down into a full split on the stage, while the rest kneeled down, without missing a note. This moment transitioned into “Cold Blood” and the closing of “Blow My Fuse.” It is not too late to see Kix perform live as they will be playing across the United States, including January 2016 Def Leppard’s Hysteria on the High Seas Cruise hitting Miami, FL.
This wrapped up Day Two of the Rock Carnival, where many were left with full stomachs from the variety of flavorful choices between the food, craft beer, and freshly made lemonade. As this was the last weekend of the Summer, a diet was out of the cards. Many were ready for round two of the Food Trucks, a second chance to ride Scrambler, and of course, a full dosage of Rock -n- Roll.