Opening Day 2 of Welcome to Rockville was Jacksonville Florida’s own Yashira, the only locally based band in the festival line-up. With their hard core prog based licks and mother nature giving us another clear blue sky, we didn’t find ourselves with an ounce of grief.
Saturday featured a mitt full of up and coming acts with Joyous Wolf, Palaye Royale, and Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown rocking the stages throughout the afternoon. Wolf’s lead guitarist Blake Allard reminds me of a young Dave Mustaine, while Tyler Bryant could trade blues riffs with any of the greats !
Canadian punk rockers The Wild! burst on stage with eager anticipation from the crowd. With non-stop energy and a pistol full of tricks, the band raised the energy level 10 fold. Taking lessons from Gene Simmons and Nikki Stixx, lead singer Dylan Villain pulls out a bag full of on stage antics, but they are the perfect compliment to songs such as “Roadhouse” and “Slow Burn.”
Gothenburg Sweden’s Avatar brought a whole new routine to the festival with lead guitarist Jonas Jarlsby sitting front and center as The King in his throne, while the heavy beats of “A Statue of the King” poured through the speakers.
With half the day under my belt, it was time to eat and hydrate and there was no shortage of food or drink. For less than $10, you could find a plateful of pulled pork, blacked shrimp, tacos or even a custom made wood fired pizza, a far cry from the hot dog and a bag of chips this would normally get you at the stadium. As far as beverages were concerned, I had an issue with $4.00 bottles of warm water, but Monster Energy came through with ice cold freebies while Jack Daniels, Bud Light, Caduceus Cellars and Heavy Tiki served up island cocktails and spirits.
Back to the action, I’m not quite sure why they were relegated to the side stage, but The Butcher Babies made the most of the smaller crowd with one of the most energetic sets of the day. Carla and Heidi let it all hang out in the scorching heat, exchanging high fives with crowd surfer after crowd surfer.
A young lad named Landon and his father attended the Music Experience tent as part of their Welcome to Rockville trip, where he met Clint Lowery of Sevendust. Lowery was so impressed with the 12 year old’s shredding skills , that later that afternoon he invited him on stage during their set. His magical weekend didn’t end there, the next day Landon participated in the Music Experience 30-Seconds-To-Shred contest hosted by Gear Factor’s Squiggy and ended up winning 1st place and a Paul Reed Smith guitar in the “Best of the Best”.
The afternoon continued with festival favorites Hollywood Undead, Black Veil Brides, and Asking Alexandria. A treat for all their fans to see them perform outside of dark venues and into the bright warm sun.
Andrew W.K. closed out the side stage with an energetic set with the fans “partying hard” along with the beats. As only a part-time musician along with his motivational speaking and game host careers, this act reminded me more of a comedy routine than a true serious artist.
Similarly, I just can’t overcome Jeff Gutt as a replacement for Scott Weiland with Stone Temple Pilots. With the bleach blonde hair and over the top rock star antics, Gutt just can’t pull it off. The vocal skills are there for a fresh remake ( aka Hagar vs. Roth ) of the STP sound, but he just doesn’t have Weiland’s grunge.
On the other hand, Corey Taylor, fronting the other rock in the line-up Stone Sour, has all of the chops to front multiple entities. Touring relentlessly in 2017/2018 to support their latest release “Hydrograd”, Taylor and the band left nothing behind during their set. Opening with “Whiplash Pants” off the new LP and for the first time on the tour, the crowd was immediately engaged. The 10 song set was littered with fantastic lighting, pyro, and Corey soaking the crowd with water bottles and even a confetti shooting bazooka.
The day ended on a somber note as Avenged Sevenfold’s M. Shadows was clearly suffering from serious vocal issues and halfway through their set a serious injury to a crowd surfer forced them to suspend performing for about 30 minutes.
With Sunday comes a forecast of even better weather and the band of the weekend The Foo Fighters set to perform.