Welcome to Rockville Blows Away Jacksonville
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It was a battle worth fighting for.
As I headed to my favorite local parking spot, I was immediately greeted with a disarming “Lot Full” and I was early! By the time I hit the Monster Museum Fire Energy stage around noon, the rabid crowd gathered for Rev Theory already numbered in the thousands. From their first powerful notes, there was electricity in the sweltering air, and the show was most definitely on.
The powerful quintet had the crowd in the palm of their hands and quickly set the bar for the dozens of acts to follow. But before we dive into the music, let’s set the stage, errr stages.
This venue is the perfect place for events like this; the grounds had ample room for the FOUR stages spread across the property, and the layout and logistics were damn near perfect, with little to no bleed over from one stage to another, and with the copious wattage the towers of speakers was pouring out, that’s one hell of a feat.
The basic setup was that the one large stage at each end rotated acts, while simultaneously the smaller stages at each end played. You get the drift, there was a crap load of excellent hard rock constantly. Due to the broad spectrum of bands, and the healthy walk between stages, I tried to see as many acts as possible, meaning I typically caught a few songs and moved along. All told, I saw parts of or full sets from thirty different artists, and honestly, there were precious few who did not impress.
The Monster Energy Metropolitan Park Stage featured bands with a bit more of an Alt-Rock feel, while the Fire Energy Stage highlighted bands with a harder edge. Both stages, as well as the side stages, offered a truly diverse rock music experience.
Avenged Sevenfold and Korn were headliners their respective nights and offered up powerful explosive sets. They delivered exactly what the crowd so passionately desired, but they had plenty of company.
I’ll share a few of my highlights here, but make sure you check back later this week for our band-by-band wrap-up. Volbeat and Rob Zombie were hugely popular and drew big crowds of both fans and fellow performers for their sets. Volbeat was the top act of day one and lived up to their excellent reputation and as a top live act.
On the Sold Out second day, I was impressed by the performance from Staind, certainly the most well received artist of the festival and the act who invoked the most sing-along moments. A rising artist that impressed again was Nothing More, a foursome from San Antonio who but on a spectacular show.
A few of the other acts who really shined included Adelitas Way, Within Reason, the aforementioned Avenged Sevenfold, Theory of a Deadman, Rob Zombie and Sick Puppies.
The only letdown for me was Cult. I hadn’t seen the band in 25 years, and despite the fact that I absolutely love their music, their set was just drab. Ian Astbury seemed a bit pretentious and never really bonded with the crowd.
- Fewer speakers more decibels – I continue to be amazed at how small the speaker towers have gotten, and how much better the sound has gotten. Impressive!
- Commercials – Movie trailers at concerts? Hey; if it defrays some of the cost, I’m cool.
- ADA viewing areas – Loved seeing these strategically placed platforms for the disabled, and appreciated the security who kicked out the scumbags sneaking up there on Saturday.
- The staff – Folks are always good at the Metropolitan Park venue – friendly, helpful and abundant help. The media team with the festival was top-notch, too!
- Better clean up – They actually did a good job cleaning up a bit throughout the day.
- Water hoses – Loved the Staff spraying down the scorched fans in the pits
- Not much public water – finding a water fountain was way too difficult
- Boobies and Boo boos – I’ve never seen as many flashers at a festival as I did at this show, made for some entertaining times between sets. On the flip side, I saw a large number of crowd surfers take nasty spills, and more than a handful who needed immediate medical attention. Scary…
All told, it was nothing short of spectacular. The acts were excellent, the crowds passionate and involved, and everything was perfectly arranged.
It seems as though the festival was at risk due to city noise ordinances, but Mayor Brown, who made an on-stage guest appearance, was an advocate who apparently helped seal the deal. Based on the success this year, I can’t imagine that the festival isn’t back again next year, and maybe even a bit bigger and louder.