Day 1 review – Jacksonville, FL
April 29, 2017
This year’s Welcome to Rockville Music Festival in beautiful Jacksonville, FL. was a massive and successful 2-day celebration of the best the classic genre has to offer. Audiolove were lucky enough to be on hand on both dates covering all artists and events taking place on the River Stage of the festival. Day 1 of the festival was jam-packed with stellar presentations and out-of-this-world shenanigans, as one could expect from a musical celebration of this proportion. The gargantuan festival saw thousands of fans form lines early on in hopes to capture a close glimpse of their favorite acts. Welcome to Rockville - sponsored by such names as Monster Energy Drinks, Metro PCS, Bud Light, Jack Daniel’s and Zippo - displayed over 40 musical acts during their 2-day extravaganza, taking on what would seemingly be a logistics nightmare, and executing a smooth presentation for all bands in exemplary fashion.
AS LIONS - The London quintet made the best of their time on stage with hard-hitting single after single. Front-man Austin Dickinson is quick to warn his crowd: “We will not chatter your ear off with stories about ourselves, we’ll let the music speak for itself,” this brought on a massive cheer and appreciation for the up-and-comers. Covering several tracks off their debut album Selfish Age, it was apparent that by set’s end, these youngsters had won over their crowd and made a positive impression on the fans at hand.
ROYAL REPUBLIC- The Swedish garage rockers formed roughly a decade ago. Front-man Adam Grahn makes a somewhat stunning admission that this was their first tour in the United States; however, on stage, this snappy-dressed quartet play unnerved, like seasoned rock veterans. The significant crowd at hand were treated to kick-ass tunes like “Tommy Gun” and “Full Steam Spacemachine,” among others; as well as playful banter from Grahn with lucky front-row audience members. The Swedish rockers had one chance to make an impression, safe to say, they waltzed into the hearts of the Jacksonville fandom.
VOLUMES - Hailing from Los Angeles, the metal-core rockers came out swinging. Led by dual vocalists Myke Terry and Gus Farias, the quintet loudly implore and incite their fans to form circle pits and rage to the best of their ability. Joining in was Terry, who made his way to the fans and crowd surfed as he delivered his powerful vocals. For his part, Farias lets his hair loose – literally – and excites the crowd with hair-whipping hype-man duties. As a band, Volumes impressed and energized the Jacksonville fans delivering an unforgettable 30-minute set that left attendees’ ears buzzing.
FRANK CARTER AND THE RATTLESNAKES - Possibly the strongest presentation of the day 1 River Stage performances. Frank Carter is an absolute rock-star. Donned in a black & gold pinstriped suit, the English rocker made his presence felt instantly as he jumps and runs across the stage like a mad-man. The high-energy atmosphere created by Carter is absolute welcomed pandemonium. With the band recently releasing new album Modern Ruin, Carter and the boys perform tracks like “Wildflower,” “Vampires,” and hit single “Lullaby.” However, it was Carter’s performance of a hand-stand while crowd-surfing that really brought the house down. This was a performance for the Welcome to Rockville record books.
IN FLAMES - Royal Republic was not the only Swedish band to hit the stage on this humid and sunny day. Led by front-man Anders Fridén, the melodic death-metal band played to thousands of fans on hand. The quartet played hard and loud, and lived up to their reputation of talented musicians and complete showmen. Adoring fans on hand were treated to a dynamic 9-song, 40-minute presentation that reminded everyone of In Flames’ musical genius. With excellent presentations of tracks “Leeches” and finale “Take This Life,” it’s no wonder how In Flames has kept relevant in the rock scene for over 25 years.
PIERCE THE VEIL - The River Stage performances for day 1 come to a satisfying end with Experimental/Pop-Punk rockers Pierce the Veil taking a massive crowd for a wild ride. The San Diego foursome are welcomed to the stage by a hype-man in a monkey mask detonating prop dynamite as the band makes an impactful entrance. The 45-minute showing is a melodic extravaganza as the crowd sang to every tune the boys sent their way. Front-man Vic Fuentes charms his crowd with strong vocals and playful banter; at one point even confusing the crowd into singing Creed’s “Higher.” The strong string play set forth by Tony Perry and Jaime Preciado are on point, while drummer Mike Fuentes ties all together with epic drumming skills. The 7-song set comes to a close with finale and fan-favorite “King for a Day,” which was fitting as the band’s performance truly ruled the River Stage.
Day II – Jacksonville, Fl.
April 30, 2017
With day 1 in the memory books, the activities at the River Stage for the Welcome to Rockville Music Festival were underway by 11:15AM. Once again, thousands of fans formed lines early on to get another dose of rock-mania.
COVER YOUR TRACKS - Kicking off the day at River Stage were Atlanta’s Cover Your Tracks. Led by front-man Paul Rose, the Hotlanta outfit began their set to a handful of fans; however, by the end of their opening track, multitudes flocked to the stage. Having released their debut album in September of 2016, the metal quartet made sure to pump up their fans with hellacious renditions of the album’s strongest singles; after which the band announced they’d be meeting fans and signing autographs, capping off a strong first act of the day.
FIRE FROM THE GODS - Hailing from Austin, TX., Fire From the Gods are a force to be reckoned with. The hardcore metal band took to the stage as the day’s second act. From the get-go, front-man A.J. Channer’s heavy growl echoed through Metropolitan Park and incited the wildness that is a Fire From the Gods concert. The metal quintet upped the ante with exciting performances from their debut LP Narrative and left their 30-minute set with plenty of new fans in the bag.
SYLAR - Known around the rock industry as a high-octane live act, Sylar put forth a presentation that upheld that famed reputation. Sylar, formed in Queens, New York, hit the stage guitars blazing and full of excitement. Front-man Jayden Panesso may look young, but don’t be fooled, the rocker can handle a crowd and stage like a rock veteran. Sylar’s latest album Help! is out now and we highly recommend picking up a copy.
ATILLA - Also from Atlanta, Ga., Atilla rose to fame back in 2007/08 and has since become a household name to all metal-core fans. Having released their latest effort Chaos in November of last year, it’s only fitting band would create that exact reaction with their superlative musical display. Safe to say, Atilla are on their way to becoming a household name to all music fans.
EVERY TIME I DIE - This presentation was a head-bangers’ dream. Led by front-man Keith Buckley, the Buffalo quintet put on a pedal-to-the-metal showing that was a blast to all fans in attendance and a work-out to all security dealing with heavy mosh-pits and abundant crowd-surfers. After nearly 20 years in show-biz, it’s evident that Every Time I Die will be around for a very long time. Be sure to check out their latest LP Low Teens, as it has garnered rave reviews from both critics and fans alike.
GOJIRA - One of the most anticipated presentations of the day was Gojira. The French progressive-metal band has been riding a high-wave of success for nearly two decades; and thousands of fans were in attendance for this show. Coming off a strong 2016 – in which they released their critically acclaimed sixth album Magma – the quartet were everything their fans were hoping for and more. Not only did Gojira treat attendees to an epic concert, but the stage props, from powerful strobe lights to industrial fog machines heightened the senses to a whole new level. Gojira alone was worth the price of admission.
AMON AMARTH - Closing the River Stage presentations for 2017’s Welcome to Rockville were Swedish melodic death metal quintet Amon Amarth. The Viking-themed musicians were the highlight of the evening, as they put on a monstrous stage-show that included a front-half sculpture of a model Viking ship, ornately displayed Viking shields across the stage, heavy head-banging and, of course, drums, strings and front-man’s Johan Hegg’s signature vocals. This presentation was the epitome of all things rock.
With the festival coming to a satisfying end, we now look forward to what Welcome to Rockville has in store for us come 2018. Before concluding our coverage piece, we’d like to highlight the amazing work set forth by the festivals’ sponsors and organizers. Fans looking to attend a future Welcome to Rockville festival should know of the smooth and quick moving conditions created by the entire staff at the festival, the amazing food and drinks available by local vendors, and of course, incredible musicianship from all acts. The logistics of putting on 42 shows across 3 stages in 2 days, while hosting over 30.000 fans and attending to hundreds of vendors is no easy feat, but the Welcome to Rockville staff made it seem like a day at the park, Metropolitan Park.
Article and Images by Andres Alvarado