I loved the lineup at this year’s Earthday Birthday at Central Florida Fairgrounds. The fine people at 101.1 WJRR approved us for a photo pass and we snagged a few nice photos of the festival acts. Here are 25 for your viewing pleasure.
We’ve been raving about this year’s stacked Earthday Birthday show for several months here at RarasFarm, and this weekend we saw those expectations fully realized in a fantastic show at Central Florida Fairgrounds. Shinedown, Three Days Grace and Bush delivered killer sets but the whole day was pretty damn good.
Central Florida’s premiere rock festival is only nine days away, and today, we get our first peek at set times for this year’s impressive lineup. 13 killer bands rotating between two stages, with additional acoustic performances in the Service Experts AC Chill Zone.
Orlando’s rock station, 101.5 WJRR has just announced a sweet addition to this year’s already formidable Earthday Birthday lineup. The under-rated UK rockers have been doing nothing but creating hits for 20+ years and they put on a hell of a show.
This year’s 101.1 WJRR Earthday Birthday was the most women-centric rock event I can remember, and the approach helped make it one of the best festivals I’ve experienced. We were treated to five female fronted bands, a key sponsor was breast health awareness non-profit organization Rock Pink, we had a chance to honor a local survivor, we saw plenty of Mel and LT, and of course, there were painted breasts celebrated everywhere.
As I’ve noted in my two prior articles, when I first saw the line-up for the Big Ticket Festival, I had lofty expectations. I had covered about half of the acts previously and was a big fan of each. As it turned out, the bands I was familiar with all delivered what I expected, but I was amazed by how good the rest of the acts were. Here’s a quick peek at each band in the order they played. (All of the bold text link to related material).
Sunbears! – This duo had a chance to play in their hometown of Jacksonville. We arrived just at the tail end of their set and they sounded good, in front of a decent crowd. I’d describe their sound as a modern blend of psychedelic rock, but take that for what it is worth as I only heard a small sample. Sunbears Photos
Paper Tongues – Our first nice surprise of the night. I was aware of these guys out of Charlotte but didn’t know much about their music. They seem to have a bit of a cult following in Florida, and after seeing them perform live I totally get it. Lead singer Aswan North just reeks charisma, which is matched by their leopard clad bassist, Daniel Santell. The entire band sounded great and got a rousing welcome from the crowd. The highlight was North singing “Trinity” from the crowd. Next time these guys are in the neighborhood, I need to see them. Paper Tongues Photos
Whole Wheat Bread – Another band with local ties, these three guys also hail from Jacksonville. They have a unique sound, sort of a mainstream Southern Rock Alt-Rock thing from the inner city, and it works! The crowd was grooving to the trio that reminded me of Lenny Kravitz with more of a funk groove. Bass player, Willy, won the award for best dreads at the festival. Whole Wheat Bread Photos
Grouplove – I had great expectations for this LA Band, as their Never Trust A Happy Song was our #2 Ranked album of 2011(that’s right, we knew they’d be special long ago). Still, they blew me away. All three lead vocalists sounded great, the music was superb and they just put on a damn good show. They immediately amped the energy level with a great version of their current hit “Itchin’ On a Photograph” and offered up a great ukulele driven version of “Spun,” before closing with a killer version of “Colours.” Oh, and they sneaked in a version of Whitney Houston’s “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.” Cool, cool stuff. Grouplove Photos
Twenty | One | Pilots – True confession – these guys opened for a band recently at HOB – Orlando, and I skipped their set when I saw they wore skeleton suits on stage and dismissed them as a gimmick act. Sometimes, I’m an idiot. These two guys are tremendous entertainers and musicians. Lead singer Tyler Joseph plays organ and is accompanied on stage by drummer Josh Dun. The music was good, Joseph interacted with the crowd the entire set and was a madman – singing one song from the speaker stack, one from the scaffolding in the middle of the crowd and the finale from the Griswold Family Winnebago next to the stage. Not to be outdone, Dun uncorked an impressive back flip off of the speakers onto the stage as they wrapped up the show. One hell of an entertaining set. Twenty One Pilots Photos
Of Monsters And Men – I caught the band in Orlando two nights before the Festival and thought their show was great. Shorter set, Festival mode, this day, but still very impressed. These guys had a slew of their peers watching from back stage and did not disappoint. Their names are impossible to remember (and pronounce), so check out our earlier review for the particulars, but the vocals and the music are superb. They started with a great version of “Dirty Paws” and featured some fun interactive versions of “Mountain Sound” and “Lakehouse.” Was wondering what the Icelanders were thinking of the toasty Jacksonville weather… Of Monsters And Men Photos
The Joy Formidable – This Welsh trio sure delivers a big sound. Singer and guitarist Ritzy Bryan was a whirling dervish and had great chemistry with animated bassist Rhydian Dafydd. Good, energetic set that was highlighted by a fantastic closing version of “Whirring.” The Joy Formidable Photos
Silversun Pickups – Love the band’s sound, but wasn’t sure how their layered perfection would translate into a festival atmosphere. Bottom line, the sound was superb, despite the absence of bass player Nikki Monninger who was home preparing to give birth. Brian Aubert’s voice was pristine and dominated the performance Not the most exciting stage show, but the setlist was great, featuring “Bloody Mary,” “The Pit,” “Panic Switch” and a rocking extended version of “Lazy Eye.” Silversun Pickups Photos
Flogging Molly – One of my favorite live bands ever, and they actually disappointed a bit this show, but I had set the bar pretty high. I wasn’t crazy about their set list, but perhaps that is because I am used to them having twice as long to play. There were still some great moments. Loved “The Likes of You Again,” and really enjoyed the tin whistle and Dylan cover of “The Times They are A-changin.” Bassist Nathan Maxwell absolutely tore it up during a rollicking version of “Saints and Sinners.” Flogging Molly Photos
Fun. – I was curious about these guys, not sure what to expect. I knew that every teen chick within 100 miles was there to see Nate Ruess, which made me a bit skeptical, but I also knew that their album, Some Nights is masterful. To put it simply, I was impressed. Ruess is a charismatic guy who sounded excellent, and the band (which doubles in size for their road show) was spot on. “Some Nights” and “Gets Better” were great, for the band who opened the festival just last year. Good stuff! Fun. Photos
Anberlin – Yet another local band. These guys closed out the day at The Jagermeister Side Stage in grand fashion. Front man Stephen Christian had the crowd engaged throughout and the band offered up some nice punk pop with a Christian touch. Their six song set was highlighted by “Little Tyrants” and a killer version of “Someone, Anyone.” Anberlin Photos
Bush – From the moment the spotlight hit Chris Traynor for the opening guitar riff of “Machinehead” you knew this was going to be a special set. Twenty years after founding the band, Gavin Rossdale and Bush are just getting back into their rhythm after a seven year hiatus. The music was impeccable and Rossdale, sounding great, put on a great show. They played all of their hits in a show highlighted by one of their more marginal hits, “The Afterlife,” during which Rossdale raced through the packed crowd, singing from a few different spots on the field. Immediately after he returned to the stage, his band mates left him alone for a stark solo version of “Glycerine,” which was the best song of the entire festival. They closed with a rousing version of “Comedown” leaving the rocking crowd thirsting for more. Bush Photos
Rise Against – OK, this didn’t work out well for us. Due to the bands falling slightly behind schedule, and our 150 mile ride home, I had to split before Rise Against took the stage to close the night. Based on Tweets I received, I can share that they opened with “Survive” and closed with “Savior.” I also heard they did a nice acoustic version of “Swing Life Away.”
So, there you have it ten hours of great rock ‘n roll, 13 bands, and one incredibly well-oiled festival. Already looking forward to the 2013 version!
We’d love to hear what you thought about the show – leave your thoughts in the Comments section below.
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Rock music festivals just don’t get much better than this!
Over the past twenty-plus years, I’ve been a rock music junkie, attending many hundreds of rock shows and festivals all along the East Coast. But, I’m not sure I ever witnessed as much good music in one day as I caught at The Big Ticket on the riverfront in Jacksonville. X102.9 is Jacksonville’s New Rock Alternative, and they delivered a talented diverse line-up that was damn near perfect for Alternative Rock fans.
The festival featured Alt-Rock legends Bush and Rise Against and some of today’s hottest new acts, such as FUN. Grouplove and Of Monsters And Men, as well as a handful of local rockers. The Met Park venue was set-up perfectly, with music alternating seamlessly between the two primary stages.
The Main Stage was packed with can’t miss acts the entire day, and no one disappointed. I was just as impressed with the diverse line-up playing the Jagermeister Side Stage; – Rarely have I seen a second stage boasting the kind of talent we were presented with, including the likes of Flogging Molly, Anberlin and the most pleasant surprise of the festival Twenty One Pilots.
We’ll get to the band-by-band recap in a bit, but first, lets focus on the festival in general.
We took a slew of great photos, and you can check them all out on our Facebook site. Just do us a favor and Like Us while you’re there. RARAs-Farm Facebook Page. We also offered up our Best of The Big Ticket earlier in our three part Big Ticket series, if you want to check that out.
The Metropolitan Park location was the ideal venue for a festival, with plenty of room for four stages, dozens of bands, a slew of vendors and ten thousand rabid rock music fans. It didn’t suck that the weather on the riverfront was absolutely perfect either. Met Park is one of the few places I’ve seen a show where you could “get away” for awhile if you wanted, including some nice spots on the river, and still hear the acts on the Main Stage. At the North end of the park there were two smaller stages featuring local acts and numerous merchandise booths offering a kicked back festival feel.
The bands alternated between the Main Stage and Side Stage impeccably, with there rarely being a break of more than few minutes. The only exception was a twenty minute delay for Grouplove that may have been the result of a wiring issue. The stages were set-up close enough that a few thousand fans could literally just rotate 45 degrees, twice an hour to catch non-stop fantastic performances.
The Side Stage featured a bit more of aggressive Alt-Rock, and leaned towards the punk side. Flogging Molly, Anberlin and Joy Formidable all had the crowd bouncing. The earlier acts on the stage were also entertaining and well-received by the crowd. Whole Wheat Bread, The Sunbears and the aforementioned Twenty | One | Pilots all had the crowd engaged, as well. Tyler Joseph was a mad man and one of the stand out performers of the day.
On the Main Stage most of the performances were exceptional. Paper Tongues immediately got things started with an energetic, animated performance. One of many bands with Jacksonville or Florida roots, they engaged the crowd as much as any band throughout the day. Grouplove and Of Monsters And Men followed up with great sets that had the crowd dancing and singing along, and Silversun Pickups sounded superb.
The Main Stage closed with three great sets. An incredibly well-received set from Fun, sounded as good as their richly layered recorded material and Nate Geuss was thoroughly entertaining. Gavin Rossdale was all over the venue, and disappeared into the crow a few times during Bush’s set. Then, Rise Against, delivered a powerful set to close out the night. The sound quality was superb all day from both stages, and did not suffer at all from the outdoor locale.
It was a near perfect line-up in a fantastic venue on a spectacular day, run exceptionally well by X102.9 and the promoters. It doesn’t get much better than that.
Check back tomorrow for our final Big Ticket article, our band-by-band recap – lots of great anecdotes.