After 7 successful years as a two day festival, WELCOME TO ROCKVILLE in Jacksonville, Florida expanded to three days for their 8th Annual Edition. The festival has grown from the grassy, tree lined grounds of Metropolitan Park to also include portions of the EverBank Field parking lot. Mother Nature provided the best of weather conditions with clear skies and a soothing breeze for the crowd of over 90,000 rockers.
WTR is the opening weekend of what is now commonly known as “the world’s loudest month” of festivals produced by Danny Wimmer Presents which take place across the USA throughout the month of May.
Opening up the festival was Boston, Ma based MDFK with their very own unique blend of Prog-Death metal. Next up was a little southern blues and classic rock influenced jive courtesy of Them Evils, Texas Hippie Coalition, and 68. Each was like a runaway locomotive of unique sound that had the crowd up and grooving along to every beat. Rock and Roll is about cutting loose, throwing back a few brews, raising your hands, banging your head, and living life loud and proud. A recipe each of these bands puts down with their lyrics and beats.
As the only female fronted act on today’s line-up, Lzzy Hale and Halestorm had their work cut out for them and they shredded the competition. Opening with “Love Bites (So Do I)” off their LP The Strange Case Of…, they ripped through a 10 song, sixty minute set that clearly showed the power of Hale’s vocal range. Hale confirmed at the festival that HALESTORM fans should expect to hear some new music from the band this summer. “It’s happening, we’re going to unleash something for you, actually, within the next two months or so — probably less than that, actually.”
Next up…fans and even the event organizers themselves got the surprise of their life as Jim Steelman and Michelle Carlisle got married on site and sat down to enjoy the honeymoon of a lifetime. “I think that’s incredible,” said Lindsey Medina, head of marketing. “For us, these festivals are a really special moment in time for all of us so I love that other fans are viewing it the same way.”
Ivan Moody was Ivan Moody as Five Finger Death Punch launched into a heavy set of classic hits combined with political rants. There was no signs of the previous malcontent as the band members smiled and joked throughout the set with Zoltan Bathory laying down the licks while smiling ear to ear. As per usual, Moody peeled off piece after piece of jewelry throwing them out to his adoring fans and even invited a couple of young crowd surfers up onto the stage. The stop in Jacksonville provided sixty minutes of hits and covers of Bad Company’s “Bad Company” and LL Cool J’s “Mama Said Knock You Out”.
As the sun began to set and the cool breeze set in, and the opening riffs of Cypress Hill’s “Rock Superstar” filled the air, the crowd became fired up with the anticipation of
Sully Erna and Godsmack taking the stage. Hot on the heels of their latest release “When Legends Rise”, their first album in 4 years, the band was primed and ready to let loose. Launching their career at Woodstock 99, Godsmack is the king of festival show and tonight was the crown. Filled with pyro, extreme lighting, sonic booms, and their entire catalogue of hits, this was an adrenaline rush entering your veins from start to finish. Opening with “When Legends Rise” and “Eye of the Storm” off their latest release, Sully and the boys laid down 12 tracks during the set with an even mix of hits and new work. During “Batalla de los tambores”, the crowd was treated to a rock roll snippet of licks including The Beastie Boys “So What’cha Want”, Metallica’s “Enter Sandman”, and Led Zep’s “Moby Dick” complete with Erna dueling Shannon Larkin on the drums and a crowd surfer inside a plastic beach ball rolling atop the crowd.
Walking out on stage to the thunderous applause of his adoring fans, Ozzy Osbounre quickly announced “I’ll never retire. I am not f@*king going nowhere!! “Before breaking into the opening lyrics of “Bark at the Moon”. Officially kicking off his No More Tours Part 2, his 14 song set closed out day 1 of the festival. Included in the set was a long 20 minute rendition of the Black Sabbath hit “War Pigs” that included a killer drum solo by Tommy Clufetos and a crowd surf by legendary guitarist Zakk Wylde.
Ozzy admitted a while back that his voice doesn’t always hold up these days. “Sometimes it blows out,” he said. “I do the best I can. Sometimes I sound terrible, and sometimes it’s good, you know. But I’m only human. I mean, I’m honest about it, you know.” Well on this night, he sounded in rare and classic form as he belted tunes from across his storied career including “Crazy Train”, “Road to Nowhere”, “Shot in the Dark”, and the encore closer “Paranoid”.