EDBD24: Photo by Barbie Gilmore.

The Biggest Party with the Best Soundtrack in Central Florida (A.K.A. EDBD24)

Our Recap of EDBD24 (A.K.A. Earthday Birthday 24)

When you pull into the parking lot of the Central Florida Fairgrounds at ten in the morning and see groups of people adorned with piercings, tattoos, and multi-colored hair drinking beer by their cars, you might think: “I might be in the wrong neighborhood!” Or, if you’re like me, you think: “This is going to be one hell of a party!”

Well, that was just the scene I pulled into Saturday, April 22nd; for on that day, the fairgrounds were to be filled with all those interesting folks tailgating in the parking lot, and more as the day went on. You see, Saturday was no ordinary day- it was earth day. And in Orlando, that can mean only one thing: Earthday Birthday 24, or as the locals call it, EDBD24, presented by WJRR, our beloved rock station.

A bit of a snafu at the ticket booth kept me from seeing the “Star Spangled Banner, performed by the winner of a contest put on by the station. I also missed Meka Nism, a local band that is well known and adored throughout the Central Florida rock scene. They were wrapping up their set on the Rock Pink stage, one of two main stages at the event. The other, called the Bud Light stage is actually the recently erected Orlando Amphitheater, built right next to the lake that abuts the property.

There, one of Tampa’s popular local groups, Clenchfist, was cranking up their set. They are what I would define as Nu metal, citing influences such as Korn, Mudvayne, and Deftones. They were well received by the early morning crowd, who were into the hard rock sound. I liked them, and would recommend them to any of our readers, and to that end, here is a link to their site: clenchfist.net.

EDBD24: Soulswitch. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Soulswitch. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Soulswitch

After that, it was a short walk over to the Rock Pink stage, where SoulSwitch was taking the stage. SoulSwitch is a favorite of Orlando locals, and have been at Earthday Birthday three times that I know of, and have opened for major acts like Sevendust and Papa Roach. I feel like most people that see them feel their energy, and find their songs relatable. I know I do.

They put a great deal of effort into their show, the band members fly across the stage, interacting with the crowd, jumping into the air. Their energy is incendiary, igniting the crowd into a fever of movement… it is impossible not to. Vocalist Tom Huestis tells the crowd what the songs mean to him, and just makes sure everybody is having a good time, before delivering all the music they packed into their set list. Songs such as “Change” being crowd pleasers.

Another set, another walk. Earthday Birthday’s organizers made sure that their customers had the chance to see every group playing, unlike other festivals like Rockfest or Welcome to Rockville, but to make this happen required trip after trip across the fairgrounds from one stage to the other. This time it was to see Eve to Adam, a four piece from Queens, New York, who I honestly thought would play much heavier music than what they did.

Drummer Chris Warner was part of Butcher Babies talented stable before teaming up with Eve to Adam, but this band is not really like them. Their music reminds me more of the glam metal bands of the late nineties rather than the heavy stuff most bands are putting out these days. They brought their a-game but had to mount the hurdles of technical difficulties, like dead microphones and monitors giving audible feedback. The guys took it all in stride, however, and gave the audience a great show. To hear them for yourself, check out their page: evetoadam.rocks.

By now, however, the midday heat was beginning to take its toll. I found respite in the “Acoustic Chill Zone”, a stage within the building nearest the amphitheater. Here, Dark Summer was about to play, and since I am a fan of this Tampa group, I decided that a cold beer and some acoustic versions of the bands normally-much-heavier songs were just what I needed to beat the heat.

Singer Troii Peak jokingly called it “grandpa style”, but they sounded great that way. It was clear they had been practicing their “grandpa style” before sitting down to strum a few bars to the small crowd who were also taking in the air conditioning. Soon, however duty called once more, and I was forced back outside into the blast furnace that is our lovely afternoons here in Central Florida. I’m sure I will see Dark Summer again, much like I did during Metal for the Masses: in their fully electrified glory, but for now it was time for some Supervillains.

EDBD24: Supervillains. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Supervillains. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Supervillains

The Supervillains are from Saint Cloud, I even attended school with some of them, and in spite of this, I had never actually seen them play. They have embraced the ska sound, and take a humorous approach to songwriting, with subjects any teen from my hometown could relate to: underage drinking and doing drugs. There really wasn’t much else for us to do, after all, but these guys have taken it to the next level, inviting crowds of strangers to hear their autobiographical sonnets.

Drummer/singer Dom made sure the crowd was having a good time, and asked if everyone brought their weed. Now, we all know that mj is illegal and all, but these festival-goers seemed to have brought copious amounts of it, and they assured him that they had, most only too happy to exhale big puffs of aromatic smoke.

Neither ska nor reggae are really my forte, but I have to admit, I liked The Supervillains fun take on life and music. Next time I see them on a bill somewhere, I will definitely do my best to make the show. Check out their unique brand of music here: Youtube.

As the smoke cleared, and the acoustical vibrations died down, it was time again to traverse the field again, this time for Dinosaur Pileup. Their set was a mixed bag, but I wasn’t very interested in sticking around, so I blazed a path back to see Nonpoint.

EDBD24: Nonpoint. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Nonpoint. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Nonpoint

I really didn’t know much about them, other than they were from South Florida, and of course- their popular hit: “Bullet with a Name”. A brief stop over at their Facebook page, tells me that among their interests is “destroying stages”. This bit of info I can believe, because if not sturdily constructed, the Rock Pink stage would have surely felt the abuse these guys lashed out.

They were all over the place, stirring up the audience, inciting them into matching circle pits. To be honest, it would be hard to try to stay still or maintain some semblance of calm during their performance. Their sound is like that of a late-coming Nu-metal band, very like Sevendust or Mudvayne. They have plenty of energy and angst to share with all, and the EDBD crowd was all too eager to echo that sentiment back to the group. It was a beautiful thing.

If their show this day was any indication, these young men are on their way to the top echelons of the modern rock pantheon. They are currently touring with Hinder and Nine Shrines throughout the Southeast U.S., but no more Florida dates in the near future.

EDBD24: SickPuppies

Afterwards, the one and only Sick Puppies graced the Bud Light stage. It has been a year since I’ve seen them, but not because they haven’t been playing. They have been, and still are, on tour supporting their latest album: Fury, featuring the hit single, “Where Do I Begin?”, and “Stick to Your Guns”.

The front man they recruited last year, Houston native Bryan Scott, has gelled so well with his bandmates that it’s hard to believe they ever even had a different singer/guitarist. Their set was flawless, featured all the songs we know like “Riptide”, and finishing up with fan favorite, “You’re Going Down”.

If you happen to have missed them this time around, you don’t want to miss their next appearance around these parts, believe me. Follow them on Facebook, for more info about where they are off to next, and if you haven’t already, check out their latest release “Fury”.

Thankfully, some cloud cover had rolled in, cooling things off a bit, and not any too soon. The rambunctious group of festival goers who had started moshing during “You’re Going Down” had to pick themselves off the concrete to go see Thrice, back at the rock pink stage.  Thrice has had an on-again off-again relationship with rock n roll, first appearing in the late nineties- early 2000’s with some fanfare, touring with groups like Coheed and Cambria, but parted ways after only a few years.

WJRR plays a song from their newest album, To be Everywhere is to be Nowhere, titled “Black Honey”. The song is kind of dreamy and slow, and so was the rest of their set. I decided my best bet was to go back to get a good spot for Candlebox, a band I have been singing along with since the mid-nineties, but never seen live.

These guys knew how to work a crowd and did so like the old masters they are. Vocalist Kevin Martin left the stage to be closer to the crowd, first standing atop the speakers in front of the stage, but working his way onto the security barrier, where some lucky concert attendees got to touch him.

We all sang along to old favorites “Far Behind”, and “You”, and listened to some newer material which was good, but unfamiliar. I’m sure, given time, these new songs will receive airplay, and the next time we get to see these heroes left over from the golden age of grunge, we will all be singing along with them as well.
You can fall in love with the new material as well, check out their merch page, where you can purchase the new album, Disappearing in Airports, and some great Cbox swag: candleboxrocks.com.

EDBD24: Sevendust. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Sevendust. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Sevendust

Sevendust was next on the bill. Among the unique things about Earthday Birthday is the ability of the promoters to put such diverse types of bands together, and draw in such a wide range of attendees. This year’s acts were drawn from a wide range of musical styles, but felt like there was more ska-type bands than usual. Some friends of mine on Facebook even referred to it as “reggae fest”, but let me assure you, Sevendust was here to rein in all those mellow vibes and make sure some faces got melted.

They were, by far, the heaviest group of the day. Security had to be on high alert as crowd surfers broke over the barricade, and mosh pits opened up throughout the throng of people pushing ever closer to the stage. This, in spite of the big signs discouraging these activities. Lajon Witherspoon, along with his crew of hard-hitting music men are Earthday Birthday veterans, and know how to get the audience all fired up.

Veterans is of course an understatement, considering the band has graced the festival’s stages six times. These guys spent most of their set belting out hit after hit, songs like “Black”, “Waffle”, and “Denial”.
Sevendust’s barrage of metal was interrupted by brief moments of reflection and tenderness. Lajon took some time to introduce us to the newest member of the Sevendust family, a smiling baby wearing noise-cancelling headphones, holding him aloft to survey the crowd.

He also took time to point out Jesus, or at least a guy who enjoys dressing like him to go to concerts. He told us all how Jesus made a major impact on his life, and how blessed all of our days were. The man had a point – here we were, on a beautiful spring afternoon, collectively enjoying a day of rock music. Like the ad I won’t mention goes: “It doesn’t get any better than this.”

When Sevendust wrapped up, I migrated along with the rest of the herd back to the amphitheater to take in the more relaxed sounds of Hawaii’s Pepper. I saw them before with Sublime, so I knew what these guys were all about. You may know them from radio hits “No Control” and “Give it Up”.

The sun was beginning to set, and plenty of adult beverages (and other substances) had lubed the crowd, and they dispensed with any remaining inhibitions. This was no longer a concert, but a party. A party with 15,000 guests, some wearing little more than body paint, all with a like-minded purpose: to have as much fun in a twelve hour window as possible.

Pepper was doing a great job keeping the party going. Their positive vibes were infectious, and had everybody feeling good. Singer Kaleo Wassman encouraged people to blow some smoke his way, it was clear that Pepper was here to party too. Kaleo told us as much, explaining that coming to Florida was like their version of a vacation, and even though it seemed odd, even Hawaiians needed vacations sometimes.

Trust me, my friends, if anyone understands that, it’s Floridians. I mean, right now, most of were in flip flops walking through sand, but unlike today, not every day here is a day at the beach. We have to work sometimes, too.

See additional EDBD 24 Photos by our Barbie Gilmore on the Rarasfarm Facebook page HERE.

EDBD24: Alter Bridge. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Alter Bridge. Photo by Barbie Gilmore.
EDBD24: Alter Bridge

Right now, however it was time to go see Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti. The last time Kennedy was here, it was in the role of the voice for Slash, Myles Kennedy and the Conspirators. Mark was here as well, playing with his other band, aptly named Tremonti. Now they were here together, with their band Alter Bridge.

If you have never heard of them, you probably have, and didn’t know it. Alter Bridge is pretty much the band Creed but with a better singer. Tremonti formed the group in 2009, after Scot Stapp left Creed because of some personal issues. He and Myles had jammed together before and really enjoyed working together. Fast forward to 2017, and after some ups, downs and a hiatus, during which Mr. Kennedy was touring the world with Slash and pals, they are reunited and back on tour, promoting their latest composition, The Last Hero, which features the track “Show Me a Leader”. Here they were in Orlando, from which half of the band calls home.
They played that, and also hits from other records, like “Addicted to Pain” and “Rise Today”.

I may get some negative feedback over saying this, but I’m glad Creed fell through, giving these artists the chance to bring us this wonderful music. Alter Bridge blew me away. They are better live than on the studio tracks, if that’s even possible. Mark Tremonti is a monster. He has to be one of the best guitarists I’ve ever witnessed. I think if more people got to see them, they will meteorically rise in popularity.

Alter Bridge has got to be among the most underrated groups in the rock universe right now, and I was happy to have had the chance to see them. To see if you’re an Alter Bridge fan and didn’t know it take our fun, free quiz here. Just kidding, seeing them on YouTube should do the trick.

When Alter Bridge was done, there was only the wait for Sublime. While the stage was prepped, mariachi renditions of popular rock songs played over the p.a.’s which was slightly disturbing, but I imagine some people were so stoned they didn’t know the difference.

After some time, the main EDBD24 act finally began. It seems one of WJRR’s personalities’ motorhome caught fire, which forces the members of Sublime out of their bus and total chaos in the backstage area. Luckily no one was hurt and all that toxic smoke produced was a great reminder of how the earth is in trouble from human activity and needs some good stewardship.

Sublime with Rome started out with “Date Rape”, then went into “Smoke Two Joints”, which was perfect for this occasion- the joints part, not the rape part.  They played April 29th, 1992”  and other hits. This was definitely the soundtrack to the biggest party in Orlando. The hot day had become a warm night. Exhausted rock fans swayed rhythmically to the mellow sounds of Sublime and created a fog of aromatic smoke.

Another Earthday Birthday done, logged into the annals of Central Florida music history. The EDBD24 concert goers were slow, zombie-like, and I imagine all-but-a-few partied out for the day.

I know I was done, slightly burnt, but feeling well. I had a buzz, partly from a contact high I’d received, but more from the warm, fuzzy feeling of sharing in a great day of music with thousands of like-minded people. This was Earthday Birthday as it should be. The biggest party with the best soundtrack in Central Florida.
It will be back next year, and we will be there to cover it. Until then, stay tuned to RarasFarm for all the latest about it, and every other festival, concert, album reviews, and rock news you can handle, and if you haven’t already, follow the Rarasfarm Facebook to keep in the know on everything that rocks.

RARA’s Farm is a rock music blog keenly focused on sharing killer rock music news to the rock music fans who visit our site. Make sure you Like / Follow Us below to keep in the loop on new music worth a listen, or just to be nice to us.

Rock On!
Philip Snyder


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