Welcome To Rockville 2018. Photo: Steve Thrasher

Welcome To Rockville 2018 Delivers

Foo Fighters and Ozzy Headline Spectacular Weekend of Rock

2018 will go down as the year that Welcome To Rockville became a transcendent rock music festival – one of the premiere live music events in this country.  It was a year where we saw the raucous festival add a third day, expand the venue size, greet record crowds, and deliver the most impressive lineup in their history. All of that, and they got the little things right, as well.

The venue set-up was perfect this year, everything ran like clockwork, and the sound at each stage was stellar.  At the end of the day, everything else can be perfect, but without a killer lineup, nothing else really matters.  And this year’s schedule was the best I remember… at any festival… ever.

Welcome To Rockville 2018 delivered an impeccable lineup featuring iconic headliners who shined bright – none more impressive then rock legends Ozzy Osbourne and Foo Fighters who headlined the first and last nights respectively. Add in Saturday headliners Avenged Sevenfold and Stone Sour and the weekend had something for every rock fan.

Welcome To Rockville – Friday

We arrived at 5:00 where we were greeted by a vigorous set from The Used. Over the next three hours I bounced around the perfectly laid out festival grounds to see excellent sets from Jacksonville favorites Halestorm and Godsmack at the packed Metropolitan Stage.

Five Finger Death Punch played the Monster Energy Stage before Ozzy and drew a huge crowd.  The set was a bit erratic but it was good to see front man Ivan Moody sober and clearly appreciative of his new lease on life.

Then it was time for the Prince of Darkness to send the capacity crowds  out into the cool Jacksonville night.

I had last seen Ozzy 30 years ago on his mediocre No Rest For the Wicked Tour and honestly was not expecting much. To say I was pleasantly surprised is an understatement, as he closed night one with a hellacious set.

Ozzy looks a bit like my grandmother on stage and at 70 has lost a step, but damn can he still put on a rock ‘n roll show.  He interacted with the crowd all night and seemed to be having a blast.  It also didn’t hurt that he has surrounded himself with amazing musicians, particularly the uber-talented Zakk Wylde on guitar who stole the day.


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

Welcome To Rockville Saturday

One of my favorite aspects of any festival is prowling  the early day stages hoping to find future stars, as well as rediscovering rock ‘n roll stalwarts.

And early on Day 2, I excitedly discovered two excellent new bands. Tyler Bryant and the Shakedown are a bluesy Nashville outfit with a delicious Southern rock vibe who delivered the sweetest, most soulful rock of the weekend.

Joyous Wolf were another band with classic rock roots that truly shined on the glorious Florida afternoon.  All four of the young band members stole the spotlight throughout the set, but I couldn’t take my eyes off of dynamic and talented front man Nick Reese who threw himself around the stage with reckless abandon.  He’s a dynamic performer who just drips with charisma.

Other highlights from the middle day included a hit-packed set from Pop Evil, a fun segment from Hollywood Undead that had the crowd dancing, and a pristine set filled with singalong moments from Breaking Benjamin.

Unfortunately, I was suffering some nasty ear pain and ended up having to leave half way through Stone Sour’s set in search of a nearby pharmacist. I missed all of A7X, but from past experience, I’m sure they delivered a rocking set punctuated by plenty of volume and pyro.

Welcome To Rockville 2018. Photo: Nathan Zucker
Welcome To Rockville 2018. Photo: Nathan Zucker
Welcome To Rockville Sunday

Well-rested and properly medicated, I was looking forward to Sunday’s packed lineup. It promised to be the highlight day of Welcome to Rockville 2018.  It exceeded all of my expectations.

The first band to hit the Monster Energy stage was The Bronx and they got the day rolling with infectious punk-laced guitar rock.  From there we strolled over to the River Stage where I saw a band destined for greatness.  Spirit Animal was the best River Stage band all weekend and they killed it with a dynamic, distinctive set.  I guarantee this band has at least one huge hit this year – their music is that good.

We made it over to the Monster Stage for the much hyped  quartet (including 3 brothers) who are Greta Van Fleet.  Yup, Josh Kiszka has a bad ass voice reminiscent of Robert Plant, but the full band is damn talented and quite entertaining on the big stage.

After enjoying a few more strong sets from the likes of Red Fang and Wolf Alice, we went old school for a set from Alt-rock legend Billy Idol. He did not disappoint. Idol sounded and looked great in his hit-filled hour-long set that spotlighted his engaging dynamic with iconic guitarist Steve Stevens.  An hour didn’t seem like enough, but more on that to come…

While Baroness closed down the River Stage, Queens of the Stone Age did the same at the Metropolitan Stage. Their crowd was huge and they delivered a smoking set, which seemed to end too soon as well, but more on that….

We snaked through the crowd and made our way back to the Monster Stage VIP section for the final act of the weekend. While we made our way over, Queens of the Stone Age front man Josh Homme raced across the festival grounds and strolled onto the Monster Stage to introduced his friends from Foo Fighters.  The final act took the stage in front of an impossibly large crowd.

I have a full piece on the set coming up tomorrow, but let me just say we saw Billy Idol, John Travolta and Freddie reincarnated. The Foo Fighters delivered a priceless show and put the perfect wrap on an iconic weekend of rock ‘n roll in a city built on a solid foundation of rock.

Welcome At Rockville 2018 kicked it up a notch and delivered rock ‘n roll perfection that left many thousands of rock fans euphorically exhausted, fully-satiated and thoroughly entertained. The stake is in the ground and this aging rocker can’t wait for the chance to see how Welcome To Rockville tops this in 2019.

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

Rock On!

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