Welcome To Rockville took place between April 30th and May 1st in the 89 degree sun over in Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville, Florida . To those who had a hand in any part of Welcome To Rockville 2016 go ahead and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. The show drew a record breaking 50,000 fans. Not only were the festival and band times organized, but everything went smoothly.
The Crazy Dave’s Music Experience was my favorite part of Welcome To Rockville’s side experiences. Inside the music experience you could pick up any instrument, sit down, and just play with it. This was a big draw for passers-by who wanted to have a quick little shred in between sets. Also, the food trucks were amazing! If you were lucky enough you could find the ultimate food: loaded cheese fries for just $5!
Thank you for having Concert Addicts at your festival Welcome To Rockville and we look forward to next year!
3 Doors Down:
In middle school I was a major 3 Doors Down fan, which helped grow my love for music. Fast forward 8 years and I’ve been given an opportunity to shoot this iconic rock band. I was excited to see how 3DD’s stage performance and sound would match up to their albums’ consistent successes over the years, and also the crowds’ demands.
3 Doors Down line up consists of Brad Arnold (lead vocals), Chris Henderson (lead guitar), Justin Biltonen (bass), Greg Upchurch (drums) and Chet Roberts (rhythm guitar).
Despite being far from the stage there was an undeniable connection between the attendee’s and Arnold as he hit each note with accuracy. The audience was enthralled with the 12 song set put on by the band. It’s Not My Time, Loser, Away From The Sun, Here Without You, and Kryptonite had the fans fired up under the hot Florida sun. 3 Doors Down had a great time playing in Jacksonville as you can tell from their display of passion and determination in the photos below. From what I witnessed during the first couple of songs the band has secured their place in rock history as one that can not only perform, but also have the ability to make music with the power to touch and capture their audience.
Big Jesus is made up of CJ Ridings on guitar, Spencer Ussery on bass and lead vocals, Thomas Gonzales on guitar, and Joe Sweat on drums.
Big Jesus caught my ear with their unique performance style. When you listen to BJ you hear Ussery’s vocals in the background softly as Ridings’ and Gonzales’s guitars, Sweat’s drums, and Ussery’s bass takes over the amplifiers. This created an interesting contrast between Big Jesus and the rest of festival’s line up.
Cane Hill consists of Elijah Witt (lead vocals), James Barnett (guitar), Ryan Henriquez (bass) and Devin Clark (drums).
Cane Hill is a metal band from New Orleans, LA. The four piece had no problem bringing their L.A. emotion to Florida to raise all sorts of chaos to get the crowd to move. During the set Witt began to speak the intro to Sunday School (from the bands self titled album). It reminded of the similarities between Hill’s and King 810’s lead singer David Gunn’s style of speaking/screaming during their vocal performance. The audience showed Cane Hill their love for the band by opening up a large mosh pit during Gemini, another song from the bands self-titled album that was released in 2015.
Cane Hill played an impressive set that showed why they deserve to be one of the metal groups to make it to the main stage, next year.
Crown The Empire:
Crown The Empire is made up of Andy Leo and David Escamilla (both on vocals), Brandon Hoover (guitar), Hayden Tree (bass), and Brent Taddie (drums).
The group formed six years ago in 2010. Within the first year of being together they released their first EP titled Limitless in November of 2011. Since then the band has released three albums: The Fallout, The Resistance: The Rise of The Runaways, and Mercury. The band’s popularity has risen, if you hop over to their Facebook page you can see their legion has grown to over one million followers. Another thing you will notice on that page is the willingness of the band to connect with the fans, which has led to a close bond within their follower base over the years. However, we all know a band needs to be more than words, bands must have talent in order to succeed. With that being said, it was no surprise they came out and worked their asses off to give the sun-burnt Florida crowd a show they will never forget. The advantages of Crown The Empire having two vocalists is that it allows them to switch off during verses and the chorus, or sing in unison to create an eargasmic impact.
Crown The Empire will continue to rise in popularity the more they expose their music to festival fans and concert goers. So you should make sure you hop on the band wagon before it leaves your city!
Enter Shikari is a 4 piece band from England consisting of Rou (vocals), Chris (bass), Rory (guitar), and Rob (drums).
I’ve seen Enter Shikari twice now, the first time was a few years ago on tour with Falling In Reverse, and I must say this band knows how to keep it cranked up. When I saw ES awhile back with Falling In Reverse, Rou jumped off a high set of amplifiers down to the stage. I wasn’t expecting any less this time from Rou, as he played keys and spun the keyboard around mid air, as he continued to deliver an explosive set. Chris, Rory, and Rob followed in suit by making faces at the fans and wreaking havoc on the stage. Overall this group brings a different sound than compared to everything else out there, and they continue to evolve with every album.
If you love a great performance, and a British accent make sure to catch Enter Shikari.
Escape The Fate:
Escape The Fate is a 5 piece rock band from Las Vegas, NV. Members of Escape The Fate include: Craig Mabbit, Kevin Thrasher, Robert Ortiz, TJ Bell, and Max Georgiev.
After seeing Escape The Fate throughout the years with different members, different albums, different drama, et cetera, there’s one thing that will always remain true about this band, you can’t hold them back. These guys have remained in the spotlight despite feuds and internal fighting between members. After five albums and a few line up changes they are right where they were meant to be.
Craig Mabbit, Kevin Thrasher, and TJ Bell seem to get along well onstage and off meanwhile Robert Ortiz smiles from behind his kit at his adoring fans. The group played 10 Miles Wide followed by The Flood, and Just A Memory to lead into their set. During 10 Miles Wide and The Flood you could see the fans soaking in the nostalgia as they sang along.
Filter is an industrial rock band from Cleveland, OH. The group is made up of Richard Patrick, Oumi Kapila, Ashley Dzerigian, Chris Reeve, and Bobby Miller.
I walked in to Welcome To Rockville without knowing this band, but walked away impressed from the first 3 songs they played. Richard Patrick who has been doing vocals since the groups start in 1993 has yet to slow down as the five-piece finished their seventh album Crazy Eyes. With the addition of a few new members in 2015, Filter rocked their set, hard.
Lacey Sturm is a songwriter and musician from Homestead, FL.
Lacey Sturm is another act that impressed me during day 1 of Welcome To Rockville. When you see a female in a nice dress and pink converse take the stage you might think light heartedly of what will follow but Lacey Sturm would prove you wrong. Sturm has vocals that can feed those that like it soft, but she also can scream for those who like it heavy. I find it uncommon at shows and festivals to find a female vocalist who can howl while making it look effortless. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the whole song as I was switching stages, but as I left I could hear Sturm covering Roxanne by The Police. It sounded great.
Miss May I:
Miss May I is an metalcore band from Troy, OH, which features members Levi Benton, Ryan Neff, BJ Stead, Justin Aufdemkampe, and Jerod Boyd.
I’ve been lucky enough to see Miss May I a handful of times and each time they are grand. Levi Benton’s lion like hair flows through the air as he delivers jumps and hard hitting lyrics, meanwhile Ryan Neff lays down the clean backing vocals, BJ Stead and Justin Aufdemkampe shred on their guitars as well as providing backing vocals, and Jerod Boyd goes faster than the speed of light on drums making this one of the most impacting rock bands in metals current scene. MMI played Turn Back The Time as well as Hey Mister which kep the onlookers jumping during their set. Levi mentioned early in the set that this was his favorite time of year because of all the great festivals the band can play at and share their time with the fans. He had a hard time keeping the grin off of his face while the band destroyed Welcome To Rockville. This is one hell of a band that is going no where but up.
One of the best parts of shooting Welcome To Rockville was the variety of big name bands not only playing main stages, but side stages as well. By doing so I was able to cover Anthrax as well as get a glimpse at their live performance. The set began with Charlie Benante on drums, Scott Ian on rhythm guitar, Frank Bello on bass, and Jonathan Donais playing guitar to Impaled. At one point Ian stopped and raised his “metal horns” and the crowd returned the favor with a giant yell. This was followed up by Caught In A Mosh to which lead singer Joey Belladonna came out running and jumping around the stage. Fans began singing along with Belladonna and moshing in the dirt. Anthrax went on to play Got The Time (Joe Jackson cover) and Antisocial (Trust cover). Despite being in their 50’s Anthrax still has their act together and are actively enjoying the attention, and dedication, from their fans.
Caleb Shomo used to be in Attack Attack! but due to personal reasons he chose to step away, get his life back on track, and write some new music for his band Beartooth. Beartooth kicked off in late 2012 and were signed to Red Bull Records by 2013. 3 years later the group has released one studio album titled Disgusting and are setting up to release their second album Aggressive on June 3rd of this year. The group currently consists of Caleb Shomo, Taylor Lumley, Kamron Bradbury, and Oshie Bichar. The foursome began their performance by having the entire crowd sit down before they led into The Lines. Once things started to get heavy Shomo shouted, “get up! get up!”, and the entire crowd made the floor move. For the second and third song they played Aggressive and Dead.
Clutch is a four piece rock band from Maryland that began in 91. Since the bands formation Clutch has released 11 studio albums and recently co headlined with Mastadon on their spring 2015 tour titled The Missing Link tour. Clutch’s lead singer Neil Fallon brought a bluesy vocal sound with their opening song Crucial Velocity to Rockville while his band consisting of Tim Suit, Dan Maines, and Jean-Paul Gaster backed him up with a roller coaster of sound from fast rock to blues, matching the vocals. The band kept up with Book, Saddle, and Go and X-Ray Visions. Fallon had the following to say about X-Ray Visions, “It’s a tale about an unnamed protagonist who is forced to seek refuge in a flop house motel. He is hiding from several nefarious psychic forces, the worst of which is his own sleep deprived paranoia.” I enjoyed this song live because Neil gave the right amount of emotion making the story lines heartfelt.
Ghost was my favorite performance from Welcome To Rockville hands down. The members of Ghost wear masks to cover their identities, except for their lead singer who is said to wear a prosthetic face mask with a skull painted over it. After every album the band uniform changes except for Papa Emeritus, lead singer, whose appearance has only changed minimally over time. The group opened with one of their most popular songs From The Pinnacle to the Pit, followed by Stand By Him, and Cirice. Though Ghost’s members don’t act as wild as most, they have a powerful presence. Papa Emeritus played conductor and “paused” the band and then had them continue playing From The Pinnacle to the Pit.
The first time I witnessed Issues perform was at Aftershock 2015 and they put on a solid performance. This time around was no different as they interacted with the packed crowd and delivered their set with heart and soul. Issues began in 2012 and in the four short years they’ve been a group they’ve produced 2 studio albums, 2 EP’s, and have released 11 singles. The group took most of their setlist from their self titled albums with tracks such as Hooligans, Life of A Nine, Mad at Myself, and Stingray Affliction. Although Issues may not be every audience members cup of tea, their lyrics are so relatable and honest, it’s impossible not to enjoy them. My favorite line from Issues comes from Hooligans – “You dream but you never move, so don’t be mad when I do.”
Opening with Hangar 18 from Rust In Peace, Megadeth came out to the stage and shredded like no other. There will never be anything quite like watching a classic heavy metal band perform; especially Hangar 18 which showcases the instrumental talent of the band. The other two songs I caught were The Threat Is Real from Dystopia and Sweating Bullets from Countdown To Extinction. Dave Mustaine who has had a controversial reputation in the past wasn’t too shabby, and blasted on the guitar David Ellefson who recently got finished touring with Metal Allegiance was great to see live again.
Memphis May Fire:
Memphis May Fire brought love, inspiration, and heavy rock to Rockville. Opening with lead singer Matty Mullins saying, “Rockville let me hear you scream!” The band led into Beneath The Skin from their album Unconditional. Mullins hit a slow point in the song and said, “Is our generation to blind to see true beauty lies beneath the skin?”, to which the audience screamed with approval. A personal favorite from the beginning of the set was No Ordinary Love, it speaks about trialing times in a humans life and God giving his unconditional love towards us. Memphis May Fire has a way of sharing the idea of a God’s love without it feeling so pressed. It allows the crowds to enjoy the music whether or not they are believers or non-believers in any sort of deity. In my opinion this goes to show the power of music and our metal community’s bond and acceptance of one another, regardless of race, creed, or religion.
The first time I witnessed a Parkway Drive performance was at House Of Blues Anaheim last October. The group holds a place in my heart as the best live band I’ve seen to date. Unfortunately because they didn’t play at night or at an inside venue they weren’t able to use their usual light set up, but they made up for it in energy and ability. Parkway Drive opened with Destroyer which had the crowd to chanting, “DE-STROY”, until lead singer Winston McCall came out and helped out by screaming, “DESTROYER”. The fun didn’t end there for the fans as the group played Carrion from their 2007 album Horizons and followed up with Vice Grip from their fifth and most recent album Ire.
Texas Hippie Coalition:
Texas Hippie Coalition opened day 2 and man did they fire up audience. Before playing Turn It Up from their album Peacemaker, lead singer James Ritch, aka Big Dad Ritch, said, “When Big Dad Ritch is up everyone gets up. I know there’s some rockstars in the back that are sleeping off last nights drink. Lets turn it up and wake up those rockstars”. Shortly after the group played Angel Fall from The Dark Side of Black, Timmy Braun broke in with his double kick pedal, while guitarist Cord Pool let out a powerful solo, and bassist John Exall stood with his bass against his legs, tearing away at the strings without missing a note. A really impressive set by a really impressive band.
We Came As Romans:
We Came As Romans were happy to be invited back and keep it heavy for the Jacksonville crowd. Playing through Ghosts the band spun, kicked, screamed, sang, and entertained the crowd throughout their set. I didn’t catch much of the group’s set, but they stirred up some serious energy within the audience that left them hyped long after.