That time of year again… The loudest weekend in Northeast Florida. Two days of music, food trucks and tank-top tan lines.
The gates at Metropolitan Park opened at 11 am on Saturday, April 29th with bands Goodbye June, Bad Flower and The Charm The Fury kicking off the weekend. Starset gave a unique performance while wearing some high-tech looking spacesuits. They played their hits Satellite, Carnivore and closed out the set with Monster, which the crowd loved. Eagles of Death Metal was another crowd favorite playing songs such as So Easy, I Want You so Hard, and Whorehoppin’. Brent Hinds from Mastodon helped out with the performance of I Only Want You. The band also gave tribute to the late David Bowie with their cover of Moonage Daydream.
Newcomers Highly Suspect put on a stellar show. They played their popular song Wolf as well as hits My Name is Human and Suspect. Here’s hoping that this is the first of many Rockville appearances for this up and coming band. Over on the Metropolitan Stage Rockville veterans, The Pretty Reckless played for one of the largest crowds of the day. They played their classics Since Your Gone and their first hit Make Me Wanna Die. They also performed songs from their latest album “Who You Selling For” much to the crowd’s delight. Up next on the Monster Energy Stage was Coheed and Cambria. They were easily one of the best performances of the day. Opening up with The Willing Well IV, the band played non-stop. They were one of the most energetic bands that afternoon. Welcome Home, A Favor House Atlantic being the crowd’s favorites. Lead singer/guitarist Claudio Sanchez ended the set by slamming his guitar with his half cab while playing In Keeping Secrets if Silent Earth: 3. Coheed is a band that should not be missed live. They put on such a great show. Mastodon opened up their set with Sultan’s Curse and also played their latest hit Show Yourself before closing with Mother Puncher. The Offspring also gave an energetic performance with the longest set of the day. They played sixteen songs which included their classic hits Come Out and Play and Bad Habit, which of course caused a mosh pit. They also played hits Pretty Fly for a White Guy, Why Don’t You Get a Job and closed out their set with Self Esteem.
As the sun started to set, people made their way over to Metropolitan Stage for the much anticipated A Perfect Circle. The band opened up with The Package. The stage was filled with fog and light casting an eerie shadow on the band. This made it difficult to see them, but it also added to the mystique that is Maynard. The band was truly the highlight of day 1 with solid performances of The Noose, Magdalena and Orestes. They played a different mix of their hit 3 Libras, but the crowd did not seem to mind at all. Maynard, a man of few words, did pause to let the crowd know that “Florida is balls hot” while also dancing with a shake weight. They finally closed out with The Outsider and left the audience craving more. Soundgarden closed out Day 1 of the festival. They played the classics Spoonman, The Day I Tried to Live and Blow Up the Outside World. They also played what sounded like a slightly altered version of Black Hole Sun. They ended their set with Jesus Christ Pose and Beyond the Wheel.
Sunday started off with killer performances by Cover Your Tracks, Kyng and Rival Sons. Beartooth gave a riveting performance as well. Nothing More was back and their performance of the song This is the Time (Ballast) was by far the best of the set. Another crowd favorite Motionless In White got the mosh pits going early in the afternoon playing hits such as A-M-E-R-I-C-A, Devil’s Night and Abigail. They also played Loud (F*ck It) and Eternally Yours off their new album Graveyard Shift (which came out May 5th). They closed the set with their popular song Reincarnate. Playing just seven songs, Motionless In White’s set was definitely a tease. Hopefully, they will come back to Jacksonville in the near future. In This Moment, Everytime I Die and Of Mice and Men kept the crowd surfing, mosh pits and debauchery going until late in the afternoon. French heavy metal band Gojira were a pleasant surprise. Originally called Godzilla, they changed their name in 2001 before releasing their debut album Terra Incognita. The best performance from their set was Stranded which is off their latest album Magma. It is easy to see why they were nominated for Best Rock Album and Best Metal Performance (for the song Silvera) at the Grammy’s in 2016. Of course, Papa Roach got the crowd pumped playing the classics Last Resort, Scars and Getting Away With Murder. They also performed Crooked Teeth and Help off their latest album, Crooked Teeth. Jacoby Shaddix surprised fans when he brought Maria Brink from In This Moment on stage to join him for the song Gravity.
Headliners Def Leppard proved they still got it after forty years with their phenomenal performance. People of all ages were amazed by their spectacular stage set up complete with a laser light show and bright neon stage props. They did not disappoint playing 80’s classics such as Foolin’, Bringing on the Heartbreak, as well as Pour Some Sugar on Me and Love Bites (which had a beautiful backdrop with the lyrics all in white lights). Midway through the set, they did a spot on cover of David Essex’s Rock On. Also during the song Hysteria they had a video montage playing with clips from all their shows throughout the years. It was brilliantly done and surely made anyone who grew up during the 80’s feel nostalgic. They played just one song off their Adrenalize album and played a couple newer songs like Let’s Go, Dangerous and Man Enough. Lead singer Joe Elliot seemed to be having just as much fun as the crowd telling them that this was his first experience with a mosh pit (yes, there was a mosh pit during Def Leppard). They finally ended their amazing show with encore performances of Rock of Ages and Photograph. Longtime fan, George Stevens said “I’ve lost track of how many times I have seen Def Leppard. Each time was a blast, but tonight was the best I‘ve ever heard them sound and the most electric I’ve ever seen the crowd. The energy, the showmanship, the songs, the singing, the playing… Perfection.”
In addition to the plethora of bands playing this year, Welcome to Rockville had a variety of vendors, food trucks (Mama’s Food Truck was delicious), and beer/liquor stations. Even given the large crowd, the lines for these things weren’t terribly long (except for the ATM machine). Crazy Dave’s Music Experience gave fans a chance to compete in their infamous 30 Seconds to Shred contest as well as some band meet and greets. New this year was the Caduceus Wine Garden which featured wine from Caduceus Cellars and Merkin Vineyards which is owned by A Perfect Circle’s Maynard Keenan. Visitors were able to sample the different wines available. Fans of Welcome to Rockville seemed genuinely pleased with the festival this year (only a few complaints were heard) and are already looking forward to next year which is rumored to be even bigger and louder than ever.
Review by Jessica Morano