April 27th through April 29th kicked off a historic weekend in the city of Jacksonville, FL. This was the first year that Welcome To Rockville became a 3 day festival starting on a Friday and ending on Sunday. Also, it was the first time the festival dedicated an area to camping as an alternative option over people staying at nearby hotels. The festival put together by Danny Wimmer Presents and sponsored by Monster Energy wasn’t holding back for this momentous occasion with headliners of Ozzy Osbourne, Avengend Sevenfold, and Foo Fighters over the three days. And also including star attractions of Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, Stone Sour, Breaking Benjamin, Bullet For My Valentine, and Billy Idol. DreadMusicReview was provided access to the show to provide coverage for the artists playing on the River Stage and doing interviews with artists throughout the weekend. Though most attendees stay at the two main stages during the festival, there were some fantastic artists performing at the River Stage this year that people missed.
Friday, April 27th started off with a mad rush of people going through the gates as soon as they opened. Metropolitan Park, which are the grounds that sit right outside of EverBank Field, home of the Jacksonville Jaguars, would be flooded with about 90,000 people over the 3 day weekend. The media area was setup in a far corner of Metropolitan Park where I got to catch up with a number of my media friends also covering the show. Welcome To Rockville has a very large media presence being the first festival of the 2018 year and the first in the “World’s Loudest Month”. My day didn’t officially get rolling until later in the afternoon where I went to capture the performance of one of my favorite bands, Them Evils.
The band from Southern California have been rocking the roads over the past 4 years. Playing some of the major festivals like Louder Than Life and Aftershock, the band is taking the festivals by storm in 2018 playing Welcome To Rockville, Carolina Rebellion, and Rock on the Range. They released their most recent EP ‘Rollin’ Stoned and Livin’ Free’ on May 4, 2018. The three piece band of Jordan Griffin (vocals, guitar), Jake Massanari (bass), and David Delaney (drums), kicked off the River Stages performances with their high energy rock sound. This is a band that is on the rise and is a must-see artist.
You know you’ve made an impact in the music scene when you get introduced by Jose Mangin from Sirius XM. Bad Wolves is a band that made a huge impact on the music scene almost immediately. The band became an immediate sensation with their cover of “Zombie” by The Cranberries that not only became the #1 rock song of 2018 but also the music video garnered over 100 million views and was certified as Gold. The band donated all the proceeds from the single to the family of Dolores O’Riodarn, who passed away tragically. Though people immediately connect the band to the single, they are so much more than that. The band revealed their track “Hear Me Now”, an unbelievable ballad, with their labelmate Diamante. The video for the song hit over 3.2 million views. And with the release of their debut album ‘Disobey’ on May 11th, this band is a powerhouse that is going to make major impacts, especially on their tour with Five Finger Death Punch this summer. Tommy Vext (vocals), John Boecklin (drummer), Doc Coyle (guitars), Chris Cain (guitars), and Kyle Konkiel (bass) had a huge crowd waiting for them at the River Stage and rocked out with songs “Shape Shifter”, “Officer Down”, “No Masters”, “Zombie”, and “Better The Devil”.
Later in the day, Toothgrinder came to tear up the River Stage to a tremendous crowd. The band from New Jersey received rave reviews for their second album ‘Phantom Armour’ released on November 10, 2017. Touring earlier in the year with Meshuggah and Code Orange, the band is making themselves known as one of the up and coming elite metal acts. Performing this year at all the festivals during “World’s Loudest Month” which includes Welcome To Rockville, Fort Rock, Carolina Rebellion, Northern Invasion, and Rock on the Range, the band is tearing up the road going on tour with Bullet For My Valentine and Trivium. Justin Matthews (vocals), Jason Goss (guitar), Matt Arensdorf (bass), Wills Weller (drums), and Johnuel Hansey (guitar), ripped out a killer set that afternoon.
After this set I headed back to the media tent for an interview with members of the Texas Hippie Coalition. Nevada Romo (guitar), Rado Romo (bass), and Cord Pool (guitar) came over to chat with about their performance, the Year of the Bull tour and in the process of working on their sixth studio album. You can watch the video interview here.
Power Trip was next up on stage. The band from Dallas, TX had released two full-length albums since their formation in 2008. On the same day of their performance, they released ‘Opening Fire: 2008-2014’. It is a compilation of never before heard tracks and being published by Dark Operative. Riley Gale (vocals), Chris Ulsh (drums), Chris Whetzel (bass), Blake Ibanez (guitar), and Nick Stewart (guitar) pleased the huge crowd with a headbanging set including “Soul Sacrifice”, “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)”, “Nightmare Logic”, and “Murderer’s Row”.
From there it was back to the media tent for two more exciting interviews. The first was with Tommy Vext (vocals) and Kyle Konkiel (bass) of bad Wolves. Tommy and Kyle talked with me about their performance, their current tour, and their new album ‘Disobey’. Both of them were so nice. Tommy actually said hello to my kids (without me asking) as I was on a video chat with them right before the interview. You can see that interview here. Second, I got to speak with Tim McTague (guitar) and Chris Dudley (keyboards) of Underoath. After just releasing their 8th studio album ‘Erase Me’ and making a return to the music scene, the guys were on a whirlwind day of interviews and their performance. We talked about their return, the new album, and their experience that day at Welcome To Rockville. You can watch that interview here.
Our evening wrapped up with a performance from Atreyu. The metal band from Orange County, CA hit the stage with a fury that got a tremendous roar from the crowd. And it was a massive crowd filling up the grass area as far back as you could see. With the sun down Atreyu’s light show and music was a perfect way to wrap up the performances on the River Stage. Alex Varkatzas (vocals), Dan Jacobs (guitars), Travis Miguel (guitars), Marc “Porter” McKnight (bass), and Brandon Saller (drums) absolutely tore up the stage that evening. The fans especially loved it when Alex jumped down into the pit and was singing up against the barrier. Their setlist included “Becoming the Bull”, “Ex’s and Oh’s”, “Bleeding Mascara”, “Doomsday”, and “The Crimson”.
Day 1 of Welcome To Rockville was exciting, entertaining, and overall just amazing. I was definitely looking forward to Day 2, especially that something completely unexpected happened in a very good way.