Rockville Bands - Godsmack. Photo: Steve Thrasher

Top Dozen – Welcome to Rockville Bands

The Best Bands at Welcome To Rockville 2018

This year’s three-day lineup featured about fifty bands spread across the three Metropolitan Park stages. At events like this, it’s impossible to see every band, but I did manage to catch about 25 full sets and another dozen partial sets. For the most part, the music was great, but here is the best of the best…

As we tend to do here at Rara’s Farm, our lists provide you a farmer’s dozen in reverse order, where we finish with the top band. Here are my top acts from this year’s Welcome To Rockville. Let me know your thoughts.

One caveat before I start this, I expect the headliners to be better so I hold them up to a higher standard.

Bonus Pick – Hollywood Undead: There is no denying that these guys are fun and had the crowd moving for their entire set.  They sounded great, but negative points for all of the pre-recorded loops and tracks in their set.  With close to 17 guys on stage, they should be able to play everything live.

12. Five Finger Death Punch: Lead singer Ivan Moody has been in a well-publicized battle with alcohol addiction and has just started touring again last week.  There were a few on-stage screw-ups, but when he was on, which was often, the band sounded great. Moody was refreshingly honest and emotional throughout the performance.

Halestorm at Welcome To Rockville. Photo: Jazmin
Halestorm at Welcome To Rockville. Photo: Jazmin

11. Halestorm: Let’s face it, Lzzy Hale is Jacksonville’s First Lady or Rock. Her band always enjoys a huge crowd and fervid reception and Rockville was no different.  The band sounded sharp and drummer Arejay Hale was his typical crazy, entertaining self.

10. Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown: One of the newer bands that made a great first impression.  The Nashville rockers boast a sweet, bluesy Southern rock vibe which went over perfectly in Jax. Bryant and drummer Caleb Crosby stood out in the set that had the local crowd engaged and singing along, an impressive feat as it is likely  they had never heard any of the material previously.

9. Queens of the Stone Age: They got off to a blistering start and kept their foot on the accelerator including blistering versions of “No One Knows” and “Go With the Flow.”  They delivered to the largest crowd we saw at the Metropolitan Stage all weekend. Lead singer Josh Homme raced from the stage and across the grounds to introduce the Foo Fighters five minutes after they closed down the Metropolitan Stage.

8. The Bronx – They got Day 3 off to a raucous start.  The LA band dished out breakneck, punk-laced rock with a  distinctive sound. The entire band was energetic and talented. We heard pristine guitar riffs, some talk box parts, and many sweet harmonies. Not a wasted sound on stage and it came together nicely.

Huge Rockville crowds witnessed some killer performances. Photo: Nathan Zucker
Huge Rockville crowds witnessed some killer performances. Photo: Nathan Zucker

7. Billy Idol: Last time I saw Idol was in the 80’s and surprisingly, he hasn’t changed much: Same trademark look and snarl and his voice still quite powerful. It was a real treat watching Idol and Steve Stevens play off of each other. Both musicians, now in their sixties moved all over the stage on their tight, polished, hit-fillet set.

6. Greta Van Fleet: It was bluesy swamp rock from a band cut right out of the 70’s. They looked like they had just helicoptered in from Woodstock and sounded like Zeppelin at Royal Albert Hall. Lead singer Josh Kiszka definitely deserves the Robert Plant comparisons, but the entire band vibe fits the Zeppelin mode, as well.  “Flower Power” featuring some sweet Hammond organ could have been a lost track from Led Zeppelin IV, and it would have been one of the better songs.

5. Godsmack: Powerful set from these veteran New England rockers. This was my first time seeing Godsmack live and I was damn impressed by the talent on stage (and a bit surprised at how pedestrian these guys look). Guitarist Tony Rombola was on fire all night with stellar guitar work, and lead singer Sully Erna worked the crowd into a frenzy.

Joyous Wolf impressed at Welcome To Rockville. Photo:Steve Thrasher
Joyous Wolf impressed at Welcome To Rockville. Photo:Steve Thrasher

4. Joyous Wolf – One of the new bands that I was most interested  in and they blew me away. They sounded fantastic and their live performance belied their youth. All four band members shined and front man Nick Reese was one of the most charismatic and dynamic entertainers I saw during the entire festival. As entertaining as Reese is on stage, Joyous Wolf is a complete band where every member is impressive in their own right. Can’t miss live music from a band with a bright future.

And as a side note, these four guys  were totally accessible for two days.  I saw them in the crowd a few times and roaming the media area frequently.

(Joyous Wolf will be featured in our last Rockville piece on Monday so make sure you check back.)

3. Ozzy Osbourne – It had been thirty years since my last Ozzy show and I was a little worried about what the Ozzman would be like as he took the stage as a septuagenarian. Absolutely no need to worry. Ozzy was great, if not a little hobbled moving around the stage, but he sounded great and his band was electric. Zakk Wylde was the single most impressive performer I saw at Rockville and drummer Tommy Clufetos was not far behind. “Get your fucking hands up!

Ozzy still rocking at Welcome To Rockville. Photo:: Ross Halfin
Ozzy still rocking at Welcome To Rockville. Photo:: Ross Halfin

2. Spirit Animal – Wow. The quartet from Brooklyn dished out an addictive fresh sound that had the entire crowd engaged. It was an alt-rock vibe that reminded me of Cold War Kids mash-up with the Neighbourhood. Good stuff! Lead singer Steve Cooper was animated and charismatic and this entire band just oozed talent.  Shout out to guitarist Cal Stamp who offered up some sweet back-up vocals. I am guaranteeing right now that Spirit Animal will have a breakout hit this year, and they have all of the ingredients to quickly gain notoriety.

1. Foo Fighters: I had very  high expectations and they were  actually exceeded. Substantially. Foo Fighters showed why they are at the top of my list for best live rock bands touring these days.  So good, I wrote an entire article on their set. Check it out here: Foo Fighters Close Out Rockville.

Check out all of our Welcome To Rockville 2018 coverage this week:

Rock On!

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