For those that don’t know, or are not hip to what’s going on in the land of the elderly in Southwest Florida, there was a festival last weekend called Fort Rock that rattled the dentures from the skulls of the retirement villages, golf courses, and old person sex in the STD capital of America. Fort Rock is the sister show of Welcome to Rockville that happened way up north in Jacksonville, FL. During the same weekend nonetheless. The two festivals swapped bands on Saturday and Sunday…
Read our review of Welcome To Rockville here.
And no offense to the Saturday lineup of Fort Rock consisting of Papa Roach, Alter Bridge, and Def Leppard among others, but the Sunday lineup was organized in such a way – and I’m going to be selfish here for a minute – as if the promoters just called up all my favorite bands and asked if they would give me an early birthday present. Eagles of Death Metal, Mastodon, In Flames, A Perfect Circle, and Soundgarden, not necessarily in that order, but all within a few hours of each other rained rock ‘n roll hellfire onto my brain.
The festival itself was killer, the organization of the bands was killer, the food was killer… see the pattern? I was pretty impressed; Fort Rock was one of the better festivals I have been to. It wasn’t terribly crowded but there were no shortage of people, the bands were all on time and with two stages rotating you didn’t need worry about rushing to see the bands you really wanted to see. It was seamless, albeit some sound issues on the bigger stage, but the overall coordination and production was stellar. Newcomers Goodbye June and Dinosaur Pile-Up provided some early Saturday love and woke our asses up for an incredible day. Check out some of our favorite acts from Fort Rock below.
Eagles of Death Metal
In my humble opinion, Eagles of Death Metal won the day. In the unenvious midday slot, Jesse Lynch and company brought a 60’s Nuggets style punk rock ethos and equally high energy show with the Florida sun beating nearly everyone to death, but not the band. It is hard to imagine any performer coming back with such vitality after the horror’s of the Paris attacks at the Baclatan in 2015, but Eagles of Death Metal are the real deal and showed the audience a good time during their 45 minute set. Mastodon’s Brent Hinds joined the band on stage for the first couple of songs including one of the bands bigger songs “I Only Want You”, even getting into a semi-dance off with Lynch. But Lynch was the star of the show stalking around stage like a prancing lion, having as much fun as anyone in the audience with the rest of the band following suit.
Mastodon, in all their Viking majesty, have never played Fort Myers, but you would have never known it. The audience showed some major love as the band played a punishing set heavy on songs from their stellar new record Emperor of Sand. I fucking love Mastodon. They have a witty sense of humor, and show it in the way they conduct themselves. The band tiptoes a fine line where they don’t take themselves too seriously, but on stage, it’s all business all the time. Mastodon had another midday set , around 5:30 or so, and I thought they should have been considered a headlining band, but fuck if they didn’t bring the sauce.
For a band with three lead vocalists, they move around each other seamlessly, with all three singers providing a little something extra that we didn’t know we needed. This translates to a live setting very well. Brann Dailor’s drumming gives the impression there are three of him, and how he sings at the same time is beyond me. Each member of Mastodon is doing something autonomous of each other all at the same time… so tight…. They are a well-oiled machine and make it look easy. Did I mention that I fucking love the band?
A Perfect Circle
A Perfect Circle arrived on stage around 7:30 to a packed field of people. The stage setup was sick with Maynard James Keenan taking his usual place in the back of the space, but this time up high on a circular platform without any of the usual smokescreens blocking his view. The band hasn’t played on a proper tour since a run of shows in 2011, but have promised new music this year accompanying their schedule. APC was easily the best sounding band of the evening with their music eerily close to the records as it gets. Newcomers Jeff Friedl, and Matt McJunkins fit nicely within the touring band, but it was all Howerdel and Keenan. They cranked out songs from the Mer de Noms, and “>13th Step albums and included the atmospheric, new song “Hourglass” presumably from their forthcoming record. Keenan writhed on the platform in his singing style at times stopping to stare at the crowd as if he were the Pope holding mass in St. Peter’s Square.
Soundgarden stalked the stage at 8:45 sharp just as APC was ending the last note from their set. Chris Cornell, Kim Thayil, Ben Shepard, and Matt Cameron poured all that Seattle charisma into their instruments and made it rain knives on the crowd. They opened with the juggernaut “Spoonman” and unleashed many of their greatest hits including “Outshined”, “Black Hole Sun”, “Jesus Christ Pose”, and “Fell On Black Days”. Soundgarden recently re-released their Sub-Pop classic Ultramega OK and showed the audience some love with “Incessant Mace”, and “Beyond the Wheel” from that record. It’s a wonder that Cornell can still hit those notes, a little scratchy for 2017, but the band was on point.
Fort Rock was definitely worth my 2 hour drive south to Fort Myers. Hopefully I can make this an annual trip, and hopefully they continue to scan my brain for the lineup in 2018.
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