Tag Archives: Festival

Welcome To Rockville On-site Experiences

We all know about the amazing onslaught of rock ‘n roll we experience every Welcome To Rockville, but there’s a lot more going on around the grounds. Attached is the latest press releases focused on the on-site experiences.

Welcome To Rockville Logo
Continue reading Welcome To Rockville On-site Experiences

Welcome To Rockville Storms Into Jax

Smashing Day 1 at Welcome To Rockville

It’s the premiere hard rock event in the country, and yesterday, Welcome To Rockville thundered into Jacksonville for the first of two powerful days packed with explosive rock.

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Unfortunately for the local rock fans, they also had to endure a thunderous show from Mother Nature, but in the end the story was still all about the rock ‘n roll.

The key word for the 2015 version of Welcome To Rockville was “More.”  More stages, more bands, more food trucks, more vendors, more space (a lot more space), more activities and more fans, and it all came together nicely.

Chuck Billy of Testament at Welcome To Rockville
Chuck Billy of Testament at Welcome To Rockville

For this year’s event, we were treated to four stages of music spread across the greatly expanded footprint.  The set-up this year was perfect for the sound, with very little bleed over from one stage to the others. The Reverbnation and Jagermeister Stages were side by side and located in the shadows of Everbank Field, an entirely new area for 2015.  In the slightly expanded original festival area, the Jack Daniels and Monster Energy Stages faced each other, but probably had an additional 100 feet or so of space, which came in handy for the headliners, Korn.

The first band we caught was Red Sun Rising, a quintet out of Akron, Ohio.  they delivered an energetic entertaining set that proved to be one of the highlights of the day for us.  They debuted “The Other Side,” the first single from their new album which will be released on June 9th. It’s a perfect fit for active rock radio stations that should be blasting through our speakers all summer.  We chatted with the talented band after their set and will have the full interview on this site in the next few days.

We caught powerful sets from Sangre, Stars in Heaven and Sons Of Texas before the first alarm went off.  Due to severe weather in the area, the crowd was asked to disperse back to their cars for about two hours while the storms cleared through the area.  The organizers handled it well, and with calm, and did a nice thing when they opened the VIP areas under the overpass to all fans. It was a nice touch and the right thing to do.

Queensryche at Welcome To Rockville
Queensryche at Welcome To Rockville

Unfortunately, we missed a few bands due to the rain, including Fozzy, Hollywood Undead and Scott Weiland and The Walkabouts. But, we did get back underway in time to catch the full set from legendary progressive metal rockers Queensryche. With Todd La Torre manning the vocals in place of Geoff Tate, they sounded pristine and offered a great sampling of tracks from their fantastic thirty year career.

From there, we trekked across the field in time to hear the crowd chanting for Testament, a band I had never seen previously.  And, they delivered a tremendous, fiery 30 minute set.  All of the band members flew around the stage, constantly connecting with the crowd, defying their age as thirty year veterans of the heavy metal scene. Front man Chuck Billy stalked the stage constantly playing air guitar on his mic stand. It was a great surprise and the highlight of the day for me.

We then sat through another hour storm delay, but were excited to see that the festival was able to squeeze in a late performance from Halestorm who sounded great and dished out a fun and engaging set.  We also saw Mike Muir and Suicidal Tendencies who dished out an equal serving of thrash metal and solid motivational life advice.

Halestorm at Welcome To Rockville
Halestorm at Welcome To Rockville

Marilyn Manson closed down the Jack Daniels Stage with an entertaining freak show.  His mobscene sounded great, but the show seemed a little sloppy.  I did, however enjoy his stories, particularly of the time he was arrested in Florida. From there, it was across the grounds to the fevered Monster Energy Stage, where Korn thundered through a set that had the remaining crowd headed to the streets extremely pleased with their fill of rock music.

It was a powerful ending to a turbulent day, but a day that ultimately was all about the rock ‘n roll, and a great way to kick off Rockville.

Make sure you Like our Facebook Page, as we will load photos from all of these bands, and a few others in the days to come, exclusively for our Facebook fans.

Rock On!


Recap of Big Orlando Bands

Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy - photo by rarasfarm.com
Patrick Stump of Fall Out Boy – photo by rarasfarm.com

Fall Out Boy and Weezer Headline Big Orlando Fest

As the temperatures dipped, the steady stream of alcohol began to take its toll on more than a handful of concert-goers and the drizzle started up, the action on the Big Orlando stages began to heat up.

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(For my afternoon session reviews click here: Sleeper Agent, Bear Hands, Big Data, Know Hamilton, Crazy Carls, The Hip Abduction, Kasson, A Hero’s Fate)

I covered the first eight Big Orlando Festival bands that I saw in my summary published yesterday (you can see it here), and today, I focus on the last six acts, which included three killer performances.  Here they are in the order I saw them.

  • Dirty Heads – Saw these Huntington Beach natives at last year’s Big Ticket in Jacksonville, and loved their unique blend of ska and hip hop. The band revolves around front men Jared (Dirty J) Watson  and Dustin (Duddy B) Bushnell. In an interview before the show, Watson summed it up perfectly, “Nothing compares to live music. There’s something magical in the energy of a live show that I just love so much,” and it  showed, as the band seemed to be having a blast from the first moments of “Franco Eyed” to the final notes of “My Sweet Summer,” and the crowd had just as much fun. Check out our interview with Watson here.
  • J. Roddy Walston and The Business – Long hair and rugged-looking, they took the stage looking like a classic Southern Rock quartet spit out of the seventies.  As it turned out, they were not exactly Southern rockers, but definitely boasted a cool, classic rock vibe. Walston deftly bounced between guitar and piano and ripped off impressive throaty vocals.  Their set seemed to wrap up a bit more quickly than planned, but their closing offering, “Heavy Bells,” was one of the best songs we heard throughout the day.
  • Young The Giant – Coming into the show, I suspected that I wouldn’t be crazy about this set, despite the fact that I really enjoy the band’s first two albums. Their music sounded good, the band was tight, and lead singer Sameer Gadhia’s voice was excellent, but their performance just didn’t impress me.  It was a nice backdrop for chilling in the food tents, but not the kind of moving performance I hope for in a festival headliner.
  • New Politics – Wow! One hell of an entertaining set.  This Copenhagen trio stole the show with an extremely energetic, unpredictable set. Their set boasted half a dozen great songs, which had the crowd bouncing and singing along throughout.  Drummer Louis Vecchio spent more time on his feet than on his stool, guitarist Soren Hansen flew around the stage with reckless abandon, and lead singer David Boyd was an acrobatic madman, back-flipping, break dancing, crowd surfing and doing headstands. He was an athletic freak, but also a fantastic singer and entertainer, and the entire crowd loved him and his mates.  There were many highlights, but “Everywhere I Go,” “Yeah, Yeah, Yeah” and “Harlem” ignited the crowd. My favorite was the Beastie Boys cover of “Sabotage.” Killer stuff!
David Boyd of New Politics o stage at The Big Orlando - photo by rarasfarm.com
David Boyd of New Politics o stage at The Big Orlando – photo by rarasfarm.com
  • Weezer – Last time I saw this band, they were supporting their second album 18 years ago, and honestly, they did not impress me at the time.  Fortunately, their live act is aging nicely.  From the moment Rivers Cuomo grabbed his guitar and ripped into “Hash Pipe,” he seemed to be having a great time.  Their set featured a killer mix of old and new and left the crowd thoroughly satisfied.  Early in the set, Cuomo invited Sleeper Agent’s Alex Kandel to join him for a nice version of the new single “Go Away.” Deeper into the set, I loved the versions of “Say It Ain’t So” and “Pork and Beans,” but the highlight was a fantastic sing along version of “Undone.”  Surprisingly, a good number of fans left after they closed with their encore “Buddy Holly,” apparently more intent on beating the rain and traffic than catching Fall Out Boy.
  • Fall Out Boy – the thousand or so fans who split early missed a blistering set. From the minute they hit the stage, the crowd was totally engaged. I think the set started off good, but they kicked it into a frenzy with a tremendous four song stretch, that went like this: “Sugar, We’re Goin Down,” “Centuries,” “Immortals” and “Dance, Dance.” It was the highlight of a fantastic set. Pete Wentz gets a ton of attention and soaks up the spotlight, but he was literally the least important performer on the stage.  Andy Hurley’s hard driving drums powered the band and Joe Trohman’s guitars punctuated most of the selections, but lead singer Patrick Stump absolutely blew me away with his vocals and is clearly the heart of this band, and on this night was the most impressive performer to grace the main stage.

So, there you have it – I caught 14 very talented alt-rock bands in one incredible day in the fields of Orlando, spent the day with thousands of happy, satisfied fellow rockers and can’t wait to see what next year holds.

See a slew of our Big Orlando photos here.

Rock On!

Okay, well if you made it this far in the article, you are obviously a rock music fanatic like the Rock And Roll Animals at RARAsFarm. Do us a big favor and like our Facebook page for future updates, rock news and photos from this festival. Thanks and please spread the word to other intelligent, creative, beautiful music fans like you 🙂


Big Orlando Line-Up Review and a few Samples

Big Orlando Line-Up and Videos

Well there’s been some exciting change since I last wrote about the Big Orlando, Central Florida’s biggest rock music event in years.  The line-up was filled out, and the newly announced bands are pretty damn impressive.

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Make sure you check out some videos of our featured bands below the article.

We already knew about Alternative rock legends Weezer and one of the hottest bands around, Fall Out Boy, riding the huge success of their latest single “Centuries.”  In addition, we were excited to see our favorite edgy ska band, Dirty Heads, Alt-Nation favorite Young The Giant and two very hot alternative bands, Big Data and J. Roddy Walston and The Business.

Since that first review, things have been kicked up a notch.  The big news for me was the addition of Sleeper Agent.  The Kentucky-based band has one of the most unique sounds on rock radio today, and they are famous for their entertaining shows.  They are a can’t miss band.  Another band in the same vein with a great live reputation is another newly added act, New Politics.

Know Hamilton, of “We Can Work It Out” fame is another intriguing artist.  An interesting surprise for me was the addition of The Crazy Carls. We’ve wandered into The Flagler Tavern in New Smyrna Beach twice in the past year and both times, found these talented guys gracing the stage. They are uber-talented and charismatic as hell, and local guys to top it off.  Make sure you check them out.

The final four announced bands are all talented as well: Bear Hands, Twin Atlantic, The Hip Abduction and A Heroes Fate.  All told – 14 excellent alternative rock bands in one fantastic day in Central Florida – December 7th and Central Florida Fairgrounds.

Tickets are available here: The Big Orlando

If you cannot make the 12/7 show, most of these same bands are playing the Big Ticket in Jacksonville on 12/5. More info here: The Big Ticket.

Rock On!

To whet your appetite, here are some live looks at the 5 bands we are most looking forward to. Like our Facebook page as we will be adding video for every performing band this weekend as we countdown to The Big Orlando.

The Big Orlando – Huge Alt-Rock Festival Heads to Orlando

big orlando (800x296)

The Big Orlando Alt-Rock Festival

After a few years of watching the season’s best alt-rock festivals hit Jacksonville and Tampa, we finally get to see this killer line-up make a stop at Orlando. This is something we hoped for when we heard that X107.3 was coming to Orlando, and couldn’t be happier to see this come to fruition (See our prediction here).

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December 7th will be the date which will live in infamy for Orlando rockers.  The headliners are a great cross-section of artists spanning the alternative rock scene over the past twenty years.  We will get to see two RARA’s Farm favorites, Weezer and Dirty Heads, as well as other stalwarts who we have not caught live yet: Fall Out Boy, Young The Giant,  J Roddy, Big Data, Bear Hands, Twin Atlantic, Islander, and more.  J. Roddy, Bear Hands and Big Data are three acts we are anxious to see.

The venue for the first annual edition of The Big Orlando festival is the Central Florida Fairgrounds. I absolutely love the Metropolitan Park venue for the Big Ticket in Jacksonville and am curious to see how the The Big Orlando stacks up.  And, how long before local fans shorten this to the Big “O”?

“After four years of success with X102.9 in Jacksonville and The Big Ticket, I am very excited to launch this new festival with Cox Media’s new alternative station X107.3 and AEG Live. We look forward to bringing an incredible alternative festival to Orlando,” says The Big Orlando producer Danny Wimmer of Danny Wimmer Presents.

For those of you interested, the Jacksonville festival, The Big Ticket, which is one of the best run festivals we’ve experienced in the past, is being held on Friday December 5th.  Very similar line-up, but substitute Alt-J, Chevelle and New Politics for Young The Giant, Twin Atlantic and Islander.  Sounds like a nice long weekend, eh?

Ticket Information

A special discounted presale for The Big Orlando runs from Friday, September 19 at 10:00 AM ET through Sunday, September 21 at 11:59 PM ET at www.TheBigOrlando.com and all Ticketmaster outlets. Military discounts are also available as noted below.  The presale offers a limited number of general admission and VIP tickets at discounted prices as follows (plus fees):

General Admission: $34.50
VIP: $89.50

Regularly priced general admission and VIP tickets go on sale Monday, September 22 at 12:00 AM Eastern Time at www.TheBigOrlando.com. Ticket prices will be as follows until September 29, when prices will increase:

General Admission: $39.50
VIP: $89.50
4-Pack: $119.00

VIP tickets include: a VIP entrance to venue; access to VIP lounge area featuring dedicated bar, beverage and food service; viewing of main stage (seated and standing areas); seated area with shade for dining; private restroom facilities; and a VIP guest laminate.

Ticket discounts will also be available for active military through The Big Orlando partner GovX. For full details about all tickets, military ticket discounts, and VIP packages, visit: www.TheBigOrlando.com.

Central Florida Fairgrounds is located at 4603 W. Colonial Drive, only 3 miles west of downtown Orlando. The Fairgrounds are set on 87 acres with ample free parking and a Lynx Bus stop at the main entrance.


Below are all of the links that you’ll need, but do us a favor, please, and Like / Follow Us first for continued coverage of The Big Orlando, and all things that rock!

Facebook: www.facebook.com/rarasfarm
Twitter: twitter.com/rarasfarm

Website: www.TheBigOrlando.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/TheBigOrlando
Twitter: twitter.com/bigorlandofest
Instagram: instagram.com/bigorlandofest

The Big Ticket: www.x1029.com/s/big-ticket-2014/

See you in December…
Rock On!

Welcome To Rockville Band Recaps

Welcome To Rockville Crowd Surfing
Welcome To Rockville Crowd Surfing

(Our band photos from the festival are provided after each band’s recap)

Before I get into my capsule band reviews, let me remind you of a few things. There were two bands playing at a time, virtually all the time, so by default, I missed half the artists. I also was backstage interviewing from time-to-time, so I  missed a few other bands. Basically, if I missed your favorite act, it wasn’t for lack of trying.

If you are interested, here’s my overall Festival Recap: Welcome To Rockville, and HappyJack’s in-depth review of Hellyeah: Ex-Pantera Members Rock Jacksonville.

These bands are listed in the order that I saw them:


  • Rev Theory – The crowd and I were really into “Hell Yeah,” but truthfully, the rest of the set was kind of mediocre.
  • Middle Class Rut – Two talented musicians, but still, just two guys! Hard to believe with the sound they pumped out but they filled the air with powerful, hard driving alt-rock, and drummer Sean Stockham was one of the highlights of the day. Middle Class Rut Photos
Middle Class Rut at Welcome To Rockville
Middle Class Rut at Welcome To Rockville
  • Monster Truck – was not familiar with this soulful foursome at all. I assumed they were a big Texas rock band based on their guitar driven southern sound. I was wrong, these guys hail from Hamilton Ontario, but they’ve got a sound big enough for Texas. Monster Truck Photos
  • Adelitas Way – Lead singer Rick DeJesus had tremendous rapport with the crowd and quickly had them at a fever pitch. At one time, he directed the fans to keep crowd surfing stageside where he jumped down to greet them. He joked that the Security crew wasn’t going to be happy. Yeah, no shit. He nailed that one, as a tidal wave of fans surfed to the stage front. He and his mates sounded great and put on a killer show, but he was a bit of an ass for putting the fans and Security crew at risk when the surfing escalated out of control. Adelitas Way Photos
  • Evergreen Terrace – They killed it. I don’t love their music, but I was about the only one in the crowd who didn’t. Local boys definitely on the brink of bigger things. Front man Andrew Carey sang the closer from amidst the crowd.  Cool stuff. Evergreen Terrace Photos
  • Chiodos – These midwest rockers offered up engaging alt-rock with a gritty hard edge. The band has reunited and sounded sharp. They offered one of our favorite lines of the festival: “You’re all hot and sweaty, and not even with your own sweat; but that’s rock n roll.” Indeed it is. Chiodos Photos
  • Smile Empty Soul – Hard to believe these guys have already been around for 15 years.  Their grunge infused rock sounded great in a set nicely book-ended by their early hit “Bottom Of The Bottle” and their strong new release “Chemicals.” We caught up with drummer Jake Kilmer afterwards and will be sharing that interview shortly on this website. (So Follow / Like for alerts) Smile Empty Soul Photos
  • Alter Bridge – As good as the first group of bands were, they just kicked the talent up a notch. Two uber-talented guitarists, Myles Kennedy and Mark Tremonti absolutely lit the stage up; and Kennedy also offered up what might have been the best vocals of the day. Their thirty minute set was damn near perfect. I liked hearing the band express their appreciation for the active, engaged crowd, despite the fact that they took the stage at the sweltering worst time of the day. Alter Bridge Photos
Alter Bridge at Welcome To Rockville.
Alter Bridge at Welcome To Rockville.
  • Volbeat – Love their music, but had never seen these Danish rockers perform live.  They’re making some of the most intriguing hard rock gracing the airwaves these days and it translated great on the big stage, as they were my Top Artist of Welcome To Rockville. Front man Michael Poulsen’s voice was distinctive and powerful and he humorously interacted with the crowd throughout the set.  The entire band sounded fantastic, and dual lead guitars from Poulsen and Rob Caggiano stole the show. They also offered a campy Johnny Cash cover that had the crowd singing along. Volbeat Photos
  • Cult – The first time I saw Cult, they opened for Billy Idol in the mid-eighties. I love their music and their album Love is one of my personal Top 10 ever.  But, quite frankly, they still are weak live. I just get the feeling there’s someplace (anyplace) that Ian Astbury would rather be, and even Billy Duffy and his band mates could care less.
  • We Came As Romans – I heard they were a talented band with a unique approach to their rock music, but was surprised by how good this band sounded. Their mix of hardcore metal and sweet pop worked perfectly. The crowd loved them and these guys are destined to continue their ascent up the rock music charts.  The vocal trade-offs between Kyle Pavone and David Stephens was one of the highlights from the entire Festival.  I need to catch this band performing a full set soon. We Came As Romans Photos
  • Avenged Sevenfold closed night one with a big arena set, plenty of effects and pyro, and they were smoking. Why the heck they closed the show at the smaller of the two stages, I will never understand. Unfortunately I watched from somewhere just north of St. Augustine but there’s no denying they nailed their set and closed night one mightily.


  • Within Reason – These guys kicked off Day 2 of Welcome To Rockville, after doing the same thing the night before in Ft. Myers. The quartet from Alabama are doing there own thing on this tour and with their new album and it seems to be working great as their tight set was packed with excellent active rock ‘n roll. A great way to start the day! (We’ll have a full band interview in the next few weeks so make sure you Follow for updates). Within Reason Photos
  • The Pretty Reckless – Well, Taylor Momsen was “Pretty” but their music was just plain bland.  I was bored.
  • Sick Puppies – This talented trio brought it from Down Under to the Monster Energy Fire Museum stage and put on a nice Alt-Rock set. Shimon Moore sounded great and had the crowd’s apt attention and as they raced through an engaging set.  Female bass player Emma Anzai was one of the few females gracing a stage this weekend and without a doubt, the most memorable, as she delivered a great performance bouncing all over the stage. Sick Puppies Photos
Sick Puppies at Welcome To Rockville
Sick Puppies at Welcome To Rockville.
  • Nothing More – For the second straight festival, Nothing More, a talented quartet out of San Antonio stole the show. They play gritty addictive hard rock that had the crowd engaged throughout. Still, as good as the music is, it is blown away by their stage show. Every band member is a consummate performer, and their theatrics on the stage were unparalleled all weekend. A spinning elevated bass, four drum kits and a whole lot more. Trust us these guys put on one hell of a show and are a can’t miss act. Nothing More Photos
  • Black Label Society – Another band that just didn’t really do it for me.  They had a big passionate crowd, and the guitar work from Zakk Wylde and crew was solid, but nothing really stood out about their set, so I left early to see…
  • Lacuna Coil – caught the end of their set, and quickly wished I had seen the whole thing. Goth metal with underlying catchy melodies.   Christina Scabbia and Andrea Ferro nicely traded off girl-boy lead vocals and sounded strong. Lacuna Coil Photos
Lacuna Coil at Welcome To Rockville
Lacuna Coil at Welcome To Rockville.
  • Theory Of A Deadman were the first band we saw at the featured Metropolitan Park stage, and they commanded the crowd’s attention, with lead singer Tyler Connolly by far the most entertaining front man of the event. He played a fun brief “Sweet Home Florida” and before “Bitch Came Back,” introduced it as a song for the ladies. The band absolutely killed it. Theory Of A Deadman Photos
  • Seether sounded good, but quite frankly did not live up to my expectations – a decent set, but not the “Can’t Miss” band I expected. Their closing song, “Remedy” did not suck, however 🙂
  • Staind – Aaron Lewis was at the opposite end of the spectrum, his voice was fantastic and Staind sounded damn near perfect. They had the singalong set of the night, too. “Now,” “Outside,” “Something To Remind You,” and “It’s Been Awhile” had the crowd singing in unison back to back… Staind Photos
Rob Zombie at Welcome To Rockville
Rob Zombie at Welcome To Rockville
  • Rob Zombie – Unfortunately, we knew we were going to miss Korn, so this was our last act of the weekend. Thankfully Zombie and his band killed it.  The stage was a sight to behold, covered in muted eerie images, and Zombie and the band fit in perfectly.  They opened with a rousing version of “American Band” and kept the energy going for a fun and powerful set.  Zombie was a theatrical front man who put on a killer show. Rob Zombie Photos

All told, it was two days of obscenely sweaty, loud and aggressive rock ‘n roll, and one hell of a good time.

We have hundreds of photos coming in the next 24 hours, which we will share via Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

If you were there, who were your favorite acts?  We’d love to hear your thoughts.

Rock On!

Jacksonville is About to Become Rockville

Welcome To Rockville, Florida!

Florida rock fans are in for a tremendous rock ‘n roll experience this April, when The Welcome To Rockville Festival comes storming through the city previously known as Jacksonville.

The festival boasts one of the best hard rock line-ups in the country (see the bands below) with an all-star line-up of diverse hard-rocking acts coming to Metropolita Park on April 26th and 27th.  Avenged Sevenfold and Korn are the featured headliners on their respective evenings, but they have plenty of impressive company throughout the two days.

The Saturday line-up features two veteran hard rock acts near and dear to our heart, Motorhead and The Cult, as well as two acts featured in our 2013 Albums of the Year edition, Avenged Sevenfold and our featured act of Day 1, Volbeat.  Aside from those four powerhouse acts, we highly recommend checking out Sacramento rockers Middle Class Rut, a dynamic dup who always put on a great show.

Day 2, Sunday the 27th offers another killer day of rock, with an even more impressive line-up.  Korn, Staind, Rob Zombie, Theory of A Deadman and our featured act of Day 2, Five Finger Death Punch are the highlights, but there’s plenty more.  Seether is a great live act, and RARA’s Farm favorite Sick Puppies are another act to catch.

Of the thirty plus bands invading Jacksonville for this huge event, our “Can’t Miss Artist” of the festival is Nothing More.  This quartet from Texas are an extremely promising band and a blast to watch. Their explosive rock is creative and distinctive and their stage show is absolutely fantastic.

Check out the full line-up here: Welcome To Rockville Artists

The Metropolitan Park venue is one very familiar to RARA’s Farm and one of the best festival grounds in the state.

Tickets are on sale now.

Here are the RARA’s Farm favorites in the line-up:


Avenged Sevenfold
The Cult
Hell Yeah
Adelitas Way
We Came As Romans
Middle Class Rut
Rev Theory
We As Human
Smile Empty Soul
Devour the Day

Five Finger Death Punch
Rob Zombie
Theory of a Deadman
Black Stone Cherry
Sick Puppies
Nothing More
Lacuna Coil
Twelve Foot Ninjas
Make sure you Like Us on Facebook and Follow Us on Twitter for additional Welcome To Rockville information including set times in the weeks to come.

Rock On!

RARA’s Florida Music-Festival Survival Guide

RARA’s Farm Florida Music-Festival Survival Guide

As winter nears an end, festivals season beckons. With Music fests like Aura, 9 Mile, and Wannee coming up, Florida has a lot to offer rock lovers. If you really want to get the full festival experience, it’s a good idea to do the camping option that most festivals offer. Camping alongside thousands of rock loving festival goers and future friends is just as awesome as it sounds. Not only will you meet lots of cool people but you’ll also be able to get into the festival grounds before everyone commuting there.

Hardcore festival goers know how important it is to come prepared but for the first timer, it’s difficult to know exactly what to prepare for. I went to my first festival several years ago and found myself severely under packed and under prepared, but have since learned a few key rules to remember when preparing for a festival. Follow this brief survival guide to make the most out of your festival experience.

The first and most important item on the shelter list is your tent. You won’t be spending much time in here but the time you do spend will be vital. Festivals certainly aren’t cheap, so you’re going to want to get your money’s worth by seeing as many acts as possible during your time there. In order to do this you’re going to have to wake up early and go to bed late, leaving you little time for sleep. Yet, sleep is necessary in order to sustain the festivities another day.

If your festival is a multi-night event, an air mattress is a necessity. I thought I could go without an air-mattress on my first festival experience and was sorely mistaken. Each night that you spend sleeping on the ground leaves you more sore. If you don’t own an air-mattress, I highly advise investing in one; it will make every bit of your experience that much more enjoyable. It doesn’t have to be the highest quality air-mattress; it just shouldn’t require electricity to inflate.

Whatever you do, don’t forget your tent’s rain covers. Even if the forecast predicts clear skies, you still need to bring your rain covers. According to Daven Hiskey at todayifoundout.com, “air holds a certain amount of water vapor in it. How much water it can hold depends on the current ambient temperature. The higher the temperature, the more water vapor air can hold”. This is bad news for Florida festival goers because Florida is hot at the start of festival season and becomes more so as the season progresses. According to Hinskey “the temperature along the surfaces of these objects can eventually cool past the ‘dew point’ and once this happens, water from the air will condense on the objects, forming droplets” and these droplets will form all over your tent.

In other words, if you don’t bring your rain covers, your tent will get soaked inside. Dew droplets will form on the top of your tent and proceed to drop right inside while you’re making the long trek back from the festival grounds. After a day of music and party, all you’ll want to do when you get back is collapse into your tent and pass out. Yet, this might not be so enjoyable if the bottom of your tent is soaked. However, even if you forget your rain covers, at least you’ll have your air-mattress to float around on inside your tent.

While your tent is important, it’s not the only piece of shelter you’ll want to have with you. Listening to music all day is tiring, especially if you’re as passionate about it as I am. That being said, you’ll want to make the journey from the festival grounds to the camp grounds at least once a day for a rest-sesh. You’ll be standing or dancing all day so it’s nice to be able to sit down in a comfortable spot and grab a bite to eat midday. Unfortunately, your tent will most likely be scorching hot during the day due to the heat trapped inside. Luckily, you read RARA’s Florida Music-Festival Survival Guide, so you knew to bring a canopy with you; cheers to you, my friend.

Canopies are a great way to get shade from the brutal Florida sun, while still being able to enjoy a nice breeze. If you have two or three tents worth of people going it’s a good idea to setup the tents facing towards one another with the canopy in the middle. Set-up some folding chairs around the edges and just like that, you’ve created a living room for you and your friends. It’s also a good idea to lay down a tarp underneath the canopy and in between the tents; this will prevent dirt and mud from getting into your tent.

While the canopy is great for relaxing, it’s even better for making friends.The campgrounds can be like a small city; and if the campgrounds are Party City, then you want your camp to be the mayor’s office. With the canopy/tarp living room setup you’ll undoubtedly have people stopping by to say hello. I’ve met significantly more people at the festivals I brought a canopy to, which is cool, but what’s cooler is what people are willing trade you for just a minute in the shade.

There’s not a lot of use for money at most festival campgrounds; and because of this, not a lot of people bring money with them. This lack of U.S. currency leads to something pretty awesome happening – people start to barter for everything. You can trade a good conversation and a seat in the shade for just about anything from cigarettes to food. Although, it’s not polite to ask anything in return for an open seat, a lot of people will be eager to repay you for your hospitality.

Remember, the amount of rest you are able to get determines the amount of party you’ll be able to comfortably enjoy. Make the most of your night so that you can make the most out of your day.

Every festival provides food vendors but you’ll want to avoid these if you’re on a budget. It’s not that the food is unappetizing, in fact a lot of times vendors will offer up mouthwatering meals. The catch is that these vendors prey on the unprepared festival goer. If you forget to bring food, you’ll have no choice but to buy food from them and they name their own price. Since all the vendors are likely run by the company putting on the festival, there’s no competition to drive the price down. Because of this unfortunate food monopoly, I have ended up paying as much as fifteen dollars for hamburger the size of a McDouble.

If you don’t have copious amounts of money to spend on food then you’re going to want to come prepared. Check with your festival’s website to find out if the campgrounds offer grills. Unfortunately, you won’t be grilling up any hamburgers or steaks. In the Florida heat, you’ll be lucky if the ice in your cooler lasts into the second afternoon of the festival. This means anything you bring in a cooler must be eaten within the first thirty-six hours or it will start to go bad. When you consider the distance you may have to walk from your car to your campsite, it just isn’t worth it to haul a cooler.

However, just because you can’t grill up steaks doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a hot meal. Canned foods like ravioli or soup can be heated up using the can as a cooking pot. All you’ll need is a canned food, a spoon, a knife, a lighter, coals and a potholder, and you’ve got yourself a hot meal. Open your can of soup using your knife and place it on the grill over the hot coals, wait a few minutes and take the hot can off the grill using the potholder when ready. BOOM! The lunch of champions has been made, and now it’s time to enjoy your meal in the comfort of your camp’s living room.

While hot meals are most desired during your festival experience, they’re not always practical. You’ll want to bring snacks with you when you leave your camp for the festival grounds. You’re going to be gone for hours at a time and it’s nice to be able to stop and snack at times. Trail mix and beef jerky are two examples of good snacks to bring. You want something that not only tastes good but will also fuel your body. Protein, carbs, and calories are vital to keep you head bangin’ through your favorite band’s set list.


With all this eating, you’re also going to be doing a good deal of drinking. Water is key to survival, especially when you’re constantly sweating from dancing so much. Water bottles are awesome but they are heavy and awkward to carry. A lot of people who bring water bottles end up abandoning them on the hike from the car lot to their camp site. Gallon jugs are a little bit easier to carry and are more eco-friendly. Make sure to bring a refillable water bottle or canteen. To avoid weighing down your luggage, make sure to fill up your canteen as often as possible from the free water fountains on site at the festival grounds. If you remember to drink a lot of water while in the festival, you’ll only need to bring about a half a gallon of water per person per day for the campgrounds.

It’s also a good idea to substitute some of your water for Gatorade or some other form of sports drink. Your body may not be used to so much abuse. According to Edward Kane with bodybio.com, “Body fluids are primarily water and electrolytes” and with all the sweating you’ll be doing during the day, you’re going to lose a lot of both of these. Kane says “Electrolytes turn on all thought and motion, almost like a wall switch. They trigger all events like muscle action by controlling ion channels”. So in laymen’s terms, you need to replace the electrolytes you sweat out in order to keep partying.

Finally, once you have all the drink you need to survive, you’ll want to pack the drink you need to party. Rules vary from festival to festival so remember to check your festival’s website for exact specifications; but most festivals permit one handle of alcohol or one case of beer per person. If food inside the festival grounds is expensive, then alcohol is priceless. You’ll want to drink at the camp before you head out to the festival grounds in order to avoid paying an arm and a leg for alcohol. I advise the handle over the case as the beer will be warm by the end of the first day. However, keep in mind that most campgrounds prohibit glass bottles, so you’ll want to find your favorite liquor in a plastic bottle.
Even if you don’t drink alcohol, it’s not a bad idea to bring some with you anyway. With all the bartering going on in festival campgrounds, everything has a value. In my festival experience, alcohol seems to be at the top of a lot of festival goers’ hierarchy of needs, giving it high value among barters.


The amount of clothing you’ll need depends on the number of days and nights you’ll be camping and festival going. It’s a good idea to bring two pairs of clothing per day; it’s usually a little bit cooler at night than it is during the day so it’s nice to be able to change clothes accordingly. More importantly, your clothes will be disgusting by midday and you’ll want to get out of them. If your sweat isn’t enough to make you want to change your clothes midday, perhaps the thousands of other sweaty people bumping into you will be enough to make you want to change, not to mention the dirt and dust constantly getting kicked up into the air.

It’s also important to have a plan B when it comes to clothing. It’s usually hot in Florida during festival season so it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s going to be hot during your festival. However, there’s nothing worse than being caught in the cold unprepared, so it’s usually a good idea to bring an emergency set of cold weather clothing. As with most things, better safe than sorry.

When it comes to shoes, there’s only one way to go – comfort. I get it, hiking shoes aren’t the coolest or maybe you want to wear your converse so you can get all your new friends to sign them, but none of that matters. The only thing that matters is that you can comfortably get around. You will walk more in a four day period at a festival than you will in two weeks’ time anywhere else. If walking from the car lot to the campsite, and then from the campsite to the festival grounds isn’t enough, once you’re in the festival grounds, stages can be over a mile apart in some cases. Don’t let your shoe choice stop you from making it to your favorite band’s set on time.

Finally, it’s very useful to bring a backpack with you. You’ll want to bring snacks with you from your camp to the festival grounds, and you’ll need a place to keep that drumstick you catch during the show. You don’t need a hiking pack or even a school backpack. I recommend a small drawstring bag; it’s light and simple with just enough room for the necessities.

In the end, it’s important to look cool at a festival, and you should always stay true to your own unique style, but you need to remember why we wear clothes. When a caveman first strapped some leaves to his foot and called it “ughuh” by which I’m sure he meant “shoe”, he did so because it helped him get around, not because it looked cool, which it did. Festivals and festival camping have a way of making us remember our most basic needs and clothing is no exception. Remember to bring the clothes you need, even if they’re not the clothes you want.

Bonus Tips

  1. Bring a decongestant or nasal spray. Festival snot is a thick, black mucus that forms as a results of inhaling the dirt and dust that gets kicked up into the air by the thousands of people shuffling around the festival grounds.
  2. Be cool, man! Remember that everyone is there to have a good time, same as you. You will undoubtedly run into loud, pushy, or generally annoying people, but don’t let it get to you. When you’re in the pit at a festival, moving ten feet can literally make all the difference in the world. Moving a short distance means surrounding yourself with an entirely new group of people, so if the people surrounding you are getting on your nerves, don’t sweat it!
  3. See what you came to see. Checkout the set times online and make sure none of your favorite artist’s set times overlap. If they do, make plans to leave one artist partway through their set in order to make it to the end of your other favorite artist’s set. Overall, it’s not a bad idea to plan out exactly who you want to see and when you want to see them each day. I have found that it’s hard to stick to the plan but it’s always helpful to have one.
  4. Lock it up. For the most part you’ll come across nothing but goodwill and good vibes at a festival, but there are always a few bad apples in the bunch. Bring a padlock for your tent to prevent smugglers from raiding your camp. Just the sight of a lock will deter most thieves since there are so many tents without locks.
  5. R.I.P.! Prepare a eulogy because your phone will die. It doesn’t matter how sparsely you use it, it will die. I find it’s best to keep your phone turned off except for times that you really need it. If you’re like me and your phone is your only camera, it’s a good idea to only turn your phone on every now and then to take pictures.
  6. Dirty is a relative term. Festivals that offer showers at the campgrounds charge a lot for patrons to use them and as a result, most people just don’t shower. Stay ahead of the game by showering in the sink or at the hose; most campgrounds offer one of these two options, it’s where you’ll be brushing your teeth.
  7. See no evil, hear no evil, sleep better. It’s a good idea to bring ear plugs and eye-covers in order to get the best night’s sleep possible. The ear plugs are to block out the people that don’t sleep. I don’t know how it’s possible but some people party from the time they get back to the campgrounds at night till the time the sun comes up in the morning. That same sun comes up pretty early and if you want to sleep a minute past sunrise, eye-covers are clutch.
  8. Yearbook it! Bring a permanent marker and something to sign. You’re going to meet a lot of really cool people and it’s nice to be able to keep something to help you remember all the new friends you made.

I hope this survival guide has been useful to you. Festivals are exhausting and strenuous but most of all they are fun. Pack well and prepare for the time of your life, but above all else, rock on. If you have any questions that weren’t answered in this survival guide feel free to tweet me with any questions or concerns. Find me @JoeyFarese.

Hiskey, Daven. “What Causes Dew.” todayifoundout.com. Vacca Foeda Media, 21 6 2012. Web. 8 Feb 2014. .

Kane, Edward. “The E-Lyte Story: Why You Need Electrolytes!.” bodybio.com. Body Bio Inc., 7 5 2010. Web. 10 Feb 2014.