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GALLERY: Welcome to Rockville

Welcome to Rockville

By: Troy Browder

What a better way to say hello to the start of the concert festival season than a road trip down to beautiful Jacksonville, Florida to rock out to same amazing bands at the Welcome to Rockville Festival!

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With WTR being one of the first few festivals on the Danny Wimmer “World’s Loudest Month”, Rockville brought the heat and set the bar for the remaining festivals of the season. Headliners like Ozzy Osbourne (Friday), Avenged Sevenfold (Saturday), and Foo Fighters (Friday) means you simply could not ask for a better line up, plus the beautiful weather averaged a temperature of 82 Degrees throughout the weekend!

Having personally covered this festival three other times in the past, I’ve noticed the layout each year has changed. This year, they pretty much nailed it with stage locations. Stages were laid out and easily accessible without walking too far, and your own buffet of food and drinks could be found at every corner.

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I was approved for the River Festival stage but tried to see as many of the main stage bands as I could.

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Top acts and highlights of the weekend were Ozzy Osbourne, Atreyu, Butcher Babies, Andrew W.K, Halestorm, Breaking Benjamin, and Power Trip.

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Friday started off with us checking out Power Trip on the River stage. Power Trip is a hard metal band that could have easily been mistaken for Lamb of God, or Cannibal Corpse. With their high energy and grungy guitar riffs, it was easy to see why they had veteran fans rocking on the barricade already.

Halestorm brought in a large crowd like they usually do, with Lzzy Hale rocking a new dark hair color.

Atreyu was probably my favorite act of Friday (Sorry Ozzy), but being a fan of for years, and finally getting to see them live and photograph them, was an absolute pleasure, especially because they do not tour the East Coast often. They played quite a few tracks, including “Becoming The Bull”, “Doomsday” and “Slow Burn” from the band’s fourth album Lead Sails Paper Anchor. They also, surprisingly, played a few older songs, like “Bleeding Mascara”, as well.

Once Atreyu, I finished up I moved to the main stage to grab a spot to see the Prince of Darkness: Ozzy. While fans chanted OZZY, his intro of some of his greatest hits played over the PA. A firework display from a nearby baseball game went off behind the crowd and ferris wheel just a few blocks away as “Bark at the Moon” started to play. After the first song, Ozzy got a feel for the crowd and asked how everyone was doing. He continued to spout of about his new tour named No More Tours 2 and added “I don’t plan on fucking stopping anytime soon!” This put fans into a roar before everyone went silent and the band went into the son “Mr.Crowley” to continue his hour and a half set. The festival set included a 15 minute version of “War Pigs” and ended with a double encore of “Mama, I’m Coming Home”, and “Paranoid”. Despite being 69 years old, Ozzy slithered his way around the stage smoothly, still owning the frontman title.

Saturday I woke up to weather just as lovely as Friday. I started the day by photographing and checking out this rock and roll band called The Wild. Composed of a few guys with beards that brought a very great sounding rock, The Wild is the perfect band to catch mid-walk to another stage. They’re the kind of band that catches your ear on the way to another band’s set, that has you kicking yourself for not planning to see them sooner.

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After that I did some grubbing around at the food tents, and went to check out the set from Pop Evil, who  sounded great as they always do.

Following shortly after was one of my favorites, Asking Alexandria. Danny Worsnop’s vocals sounded great, and he even threw some jokes and smiles the crowd’s way between songs to let us all know what a pleasure it was for us to see them live. Though I am a fan of their music, I was disappointed in the set list, as it was was rather soft, and slow music from the bands two latest albums featuring Worsnop. However, they did play “When The Lights Come On” live for the first time ever, which was a treat.

I got some rest under an unusually green tree during their set, and after a quick siesta, I made my way over to get ready for Butcher Babies, who came out highly energetic as usual.

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With thunderous roars of both female vocalists Heidi Shepherd, and Carla Harvey, they got the crowd pumped and bouncing together before joining them on the barricade as well. There is a reason why they are liked, not only for their hard rocking metal, but their genuine down to earth personalities, on and off the stage.

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I checked out a few songs from Breaking Benjamin before heading back to the stage to join the party Andrew W.K. was about to throw. Breaking Benjamin always sounds amazing live, but I was excited for the Andrew W.K. performance so I set up camp and chatted with the nice security guys at the River Stage.

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W.K. came out with blasting energy toward the crowd before he started pelting away on his keyboard. Very big energy, thumping bass, and electric guitar solo’s had people gathering at the River stage to see what the commotion was. The guitarist he had on stage reminded me a lot of the Dragonforce guitarist as he battled himself after multiple solo’s.

After his set it was time to check out another band full of battling guitar solos from the act know as Avenged Sevenfold. A7X never puts on a disappointing show. With a live show that has you wondering if you are listening to their CD, and pyro that makes you feel as if you were in hell, A7X brought more heat than the Jacksonville skyline as they headlined Saturday evening. They kicked things off with “The Stage”, and continued on to play hits like “So Far Away” to remember their beloved drummer Jimmy “The Rev” Sullivan. They ended with a great live rendition of “Unholy Confessions”. I was unable to make it to Sunday’s action due to some assignments back home, but did speak to others that said Foo Fighters brought an amazing close to the festival, along with Greta Van Fleet and Billy Idol. This was Shutter 16’s first Welcome to Rockville, and we can’t wait to make it back next year for all three day of great music, weather and food.

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