When I arrived the morning of May 5th at the Charlotte Motor Speedway for Day 2 of Carolina Rebellion, it was much cooler than it was on Friday, which I’m sure the fans appreciated. Today was a solid day of rock and metal bands and I was very much looking forward to it. After checking in at the media tent, we had a surprise visit that morning from The Student Experience. The Student Experience was providing kids the opportunity to see behind the scenes of what it takes to produce a festival. One of our media members talked to the kids to get an understanding of what it’s like to be a photojournalist and the amount of hard work and effort media members put in covering these festivals. After their stop, I headed out for a full day of live music coverage.
From Ashes To New – Monster Rebellion Stage
The band from Lancaster, PA formed in 2013 and released a self-titled EP in the same year. They followed up with a second EP in 2015 before releasing their first full-length album, ‘Day One’ in 2016. The band had some members depart and with a new lineup released their second full-length album ‘The Future’ on April 20, 2018. From Ashes To New is Danny Case (vocals), Matt Brandyberry (vocals), Lance Dowdle (guitar), and Mat Madiro (drums). There was a full crowd that early afternoon waiting to see them and I could see why. This high energy, crowd engaging band plays hard, has fun, and has great music behind them. Their setlist included “The Future”, “Forgotten”, “Broken”, and “Through It All”.
Shaman’s Harvest – Monster Carolina Stage
The band from Jefferson City, MO has been rocking since 1996. They’ve been successful over the years releasing 6 studio albums recently releasing ‘Red Hands Black Deeds’ on July 28, 2017. A number of their singles peaked within the top 35 of the Billboard charts. They also notably released a cover of Michael Jackson’s “Dirty Diana” that peaked at number 28 in 2015. Shaman’s Harvest consists of Nathan Hunt (vocals), Josh Hamler (rhythm guitarist), Matt Fisher (bass), Derrick Shipp (lead guitar), and Adam Zemanek (drums). I had the opportunity to photograph them when they were on tour with Nickelback during the summer of 2017 and there was no way I would miss their performance at Carolina Rebellion. They are a very talented rock band musically and Nathan is an amazing vocalist. They are also genuine down to earth people, as I chatted with them in the Media Tent after their performance. Some of their setlist that day included “Dangerous”, “The Devil In Our Wake”, and “Dirty Diana”.
Asking Alexandria – Monster Rebellion Stage
The rock band located in York, Yorkshire, UK originally formed in 2006. The released their first EP ‘Tomorrow. Hope. Goodbye.’ in 2006 and then their debut album ‘The Irony of Your Perfection’ in 2017. They released two additional albums before lead singer Danny Worsnop departed from the band in 2015 and was replaced by Denis Stoff. They released ‘The Black’ in 2016 with Denis on vocals. In late 2016, Denis Stoff departed and Danny Worsnop returned as their lead vocalist. On December 15, 2017, the band released their self-titled fifth album. Asking Alexandria is Danny Worsnop (vocals), Ben Bruce (lead guitar), James Cassells (drums), Cameron Liddell (rhythm guitar), and Sam Bettley (bass). The rock band was on their A-game that Saturday to a packed crowd. Danny looked happy and pleased to see their support from the crowd and the band was energetic and sounded phenomenal. Their setlist included “Into The Fire”, “To the Stage”, “Not the American Average”, “Eve” and “The Death of Me”.
Trivium – Monster Carolina Stage
The metal band from Orlando, FL formed back in 1999 when current and former members met at Lake Brantley high school. After finding their music sound and after a string of performances around Orlando they made a demo CD who caught the attention of German label Lifeforce. The label signed Trivium and under them, they produced their first album ‘Ember to Inferno’ in 2002. Trivium would release 7 additional studio albums with the latest ‘The Sin and the Sentence’ released on October 20, 2017. The album received high praise and peaked at #23 on Billboard’s Top 200. Trivium is Matt Heafy (vocals, rhythm guitar), Corey Beaulieu (lead guitar), Paolo Gregoletto (bass), Alex Bent (drums). The crowd was massive when Trivium took the stage. I always loved them for their intensity and awesome music. That day they went above my expectations putting on one of the best performances I’ve seen. And an added bonus with crowd surfing Stormtrooper and Deadpool. Their setlist included “The Sin and the Sentence”, “Betrayer”, “The Heart From Your Hate” and “Capsizing The Sea”.
Black Veil Brides – Monster Rebellion Stage
The band formed back in 2006 out of Cincinnati, OH before Andy Biersack (vocals) relocated to Los Angeles, CA. He reformed the band in 2009 and they signed with StandBy Records. They had instant success with their debut album ‘We Stitch These Wounds’ released in July 2010. It peaked at #36 on the Billboard Top 200 and reached #1 on the Billboard Independent Chart. Their sound and looks were looked at as a modern-day version of 1980s glam rock bands. The band’s popularity had their music featured in movies (such as Transformers: Dark of the Moon and The Avengers) and even as theme songs for WWE pay-per-view events. Black Veil Brides released four additional albums with their most recent ‘Vale’ released on January 12, 2018. The album peaked at #14 on the Billboard Top 200 and hit #1 on the Billboard US Top Hard Rock Albums. Black Veil Brides is Andy Biersack (vocals), Ashley Purdy (bass), Jinxx (rhythm guitar), Jake Pitts (lead guitar), and Christian “CC” Coma (drums). Though I knew their music, I never had the opportunity to see the band perform live. The crowd was even bigger than when Asking Alexandria graced the stage. And when they stepped out, the crowd roared. On stage, they are high energy and interact with the crowd and the photographers. Black Veil Brides were enjoying their moment and played a great setlist that included “Faithless”, “Coffin”, “Wake Up”, “Fallen Angels”, and “In The End”.
Interview with Alex Bent of Trivium – Media Tent
After photographing Black Veil Brides I went back to the Media Tent to meet up with Alex Bent, drummer of Trivium. Alex was very cordial and so easy to chat with as I was setting up for the interview. And he was the exact same way once I got him on camera. We talked about the band’s last album ‘The Sin and the Sentence’, their tour including their festival appearance, and what he likes to do when he’s not on tour. You can watch the full interview below.
After the interview, I was packing up my tripod and re-hooking up my camera harness for the next set I was going to cover when I had probably my first larger than life artist meeting. Since I’ve started photographing and reviewing musical artists I’ve been fortunate enough to meet many of my favorite artists. I always remind myself that they’re just like me except they’re in the public eye in front of thousands of fans regularly. Until my friend Scott came running around the corner to tell me that Ivan Moody from Five Finger Death Punch was in the media tent. As a Five Finger Death Punch fan this was a band I never thought I’d never had the opportunity to meet. I remember telling Scott “Don’t fuck with me, that’s not funny” and he swore on his life he was serious. I poked my head around the corner and there was Ivan Moody chatting with one of the radio groups there. He must have seen me poke my head around and said, “How are ya brother?” Of course, trying to be composed though I was internally screaming in joy I simply said, “Great, how are you?” He simply smiled stating, “I’m great, thanks for asking.” His tour manager came over and said he would bring Ivan over to chat with us in a few minutes.
True to his word a few moments later, Ivan Moody was standing there in front of me shaking my hand and smiling. We chatted about various things including his love for Marvel and what new tattoos he was planning on getting. I asked if he would mind taking a photo with me to which he obliged with a smile. While he was chatting with my friend The Metallicougar, I decided to take a chance and video called my wife. When she answered I asked her to get my son on the phone ASAP. She put him on and my daughter snuck into view as well. I told him to hang on a second as I waited for Ivan to finish up. I then asked if he would mind saying hello to my son who is a fan of their music. Ivan smiled saying “Absolutely”. I brought Ivan into view as he waved and said hello and my daughter smiled and waved back. It was then it dawned on me my son while knowing their music had never seen a photo of Ivan. So I said, “Brady, I want to introduce you to Ivan Moody, lead singer of Five Finger Death Punch.” He squealed in delight. Literally. Ivan laughed saying “Scream it out brother, I would!” They chatted for a quick moment and then told my kids Ivan had to go. I thanked Ivan for his time and he made his way off to chat with the rest of the people in media.
People have their opinions about Ivan with his recent experiences but all I can say is from my experience with him, that man is a kind soul who likes to bring joy to other people. He didn’t have to come to the Media Tent that day. He didn’t have to take photos with us. He certainly didn’t have to talk to my kids. But, he did. The festival publicists didn’t even know he was dropping by. He took time out of his day just to hang out and say hello and make a lot of people smile. And this will be an experience I won’t ever forget and will probably be the highlight of my concert photographer experiences.
Halestorm – Monster Rebellion Stage
Though Lzzy and Arejay have been playing music since 1997 out of Red Lion, PA, even releasing an EP during their teenage years, it wouldn’t be until 2005 when they signed with Atlantic Records under the name of Halestorm. After releasing a live EP ‘One and Done’ in 2006, the band released their self-titled debut album in April 2009. The album was certified Gold and the band kept on the road often to promote it. Since then the band has released 3 additional albums, with their most recent ‘Vicious’ released on July 27, 2018. In between albums the band also released 3 EPs of cover songs all titled ‘Reanimate’ with a version number (1.0, 2.0, 3.0). Halestorm is Lzzy Hale (vocals, rhythm guitar, piano, keyboards), Arejay Hale (drums), Joe Hottinger (lead guitar), Josh Smith (bass). Two things you are guaranteed to get from a Halestorm show, a humungous crowd, and a mind-blowing performance. Both occurred that day as Halestorm took command of that stage and rocked the fans out of their minds. It’s never a dull moment with Halestorm and Lzzy’s vocal range and intensity is beyond comprehension. Their setlist included “Black Vultures”, “Love Bites (And So Do I)”, “I Get Off”, “Freak Like Me”, and “I Miss The Misery”.
Breaking Benjamin – Monster Carolina Stage
The rock band from Wilkes-Barre, PA originally formed in 1998 as a softer rock band covering Weezer songs but broke up when lead singer Benjamin Burnley left for California. He returned and formed a new band called Plan 9 thought they were constantly mislabeled as Planet 9. Benjamin had a roll of old Breaking Benjamin stickers from the prior band and they decided to use that original band name. Their debut album ‘Saturate’ was released in August 2002 and was eventually certified as Gold. But, their second album ‘We Are Not Alone’ released in June 2004 grabbed the fans as that album was certified Platinum. Though the band went through lineup changes over the years, they achieved great success with four additional albums with ‘Ember’ as their most recent released on April 13, 2018. Breaking Benjamin is Benjamin Burnley (vocals, rhythm guitar), Jasen Rauch (lead guitar), Keith Wallen (rhythm guitar), Aaron Bruch (bass), and Shaun Foist (drums). The band was overwhelmed with the crowd that was there waiting for them, one of the biggest of the Monster Carolina Stage that day. The crowd surfers were coming in droves as the band played through their set that included “Red Cold River”, “I Will Not Bow”, “Breathe”, “So Cold”, and “The Diary of Jane”.
Five Finger Death Punch – Monster Rebellion Stage
The band based out of Las Vegas, NV formed back 2005 and released their self-produced album ‘The Way of the Fist’ in July 2007 to huge success getting certified Gold. The followup ‘War is the Answer’ was released in 2009 and certified Platinum. The following four albums since then have been certified either Gold or Platinum. Five Finger Death Punch released their seventh studio album ‘And Justice for None’ on May 18, 2018. The band is Ivan Moody (vocals), Zoltan Bathory (rhythm guitar), Jason Hook (lead guitar), Chris Kael (bass), and Jeremy Spencer (drums). The roar from the crowd when the band hit the stage was deafening and Five Finger Death Punch didn’t hold back with their heavy metal music. The more the crowd cheered, the heavier the band played. Their setlist included “Under and Over It”, “Jekyll and Hyde”, “Lift Me Up”, “Burn MF”, and “Coming Down”. In a touching moment, Ivan Moody brought up a young girl who was brought to the festival by Fxck Cancer as he held her and sang “Remember Everything” to an acoustic performance.
Godsmack – Monster Carolina Stage
The rock band from Lawrence, MA formed in 1995 and through their DIY method released an album called ‘All Wound Up’ in 1996. It ended up being picked up by Boston Radio Station WAAF night time DJ, Rocko, about two years later who played “Keep Away” in his rotation. The sales for the album skyrocketed and Universal Records signed the band in 1998. ‘All Wound Up’ was re-mastered and re-released as their self-titled first album. The album was eventually certified Platinum four times. Since then the band released six additional albums with the latest ‘When Legends Rise’ released on April 27, 2018. Godsmack is Sully Erna (vocals, rhythm guitar), Robbie Merrill (bass), Tony Rombola (lead guitar), Shannon Larkin (drums). The band wrapped up Day 2 at Carolina Rebellion with an earth-shattering set that rocked the grounds, almost literally. Fire and explosions went off on stage as part of their set, making the crowd gasp and then cheer. Their set included “When Legends Rise”, “Awake”, “1000hp”, “Keep Away”, “Voodoo”, “Whatever”, and “I Stand Alone”.
Carolina Rebellion Day 2 was a fantastic day with great music and fun. I looked forward to seeing what Day 3 had in store.