Monster Energy’s Fort Rock Awakes in Sunrise

By on May 8, 2018

Ivan Moody-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

Monster Energy’s Fort Rock Day 1

 After 5 years in Fort Myers, Monster Energy Fort Rock moved to its new venue in Sunrise, Florida’s Markum Park.  Danny Wimmer Presents  with AEG Presents determined that South Florida’s Biggest Rock Experience outgrew its old digs in Fort Myers and moved the April 28th and  29th, 2018 Festival to the expanded capacity venue.

 This year’s lineup included a wide range of genres, from the Prince of Darkness, Ozzy, to hip hop rock, Hollywood Undead, metal thrashers, Trivium and Hatebreed, to today’s hottest rock bands: Shinedown, Godsmack, Halestorm, Stone Sour, Five Finger Death Punch, Sevendust and Seether.  The early bands had 35 minute sets, Halestorm had 50 minutes to give us a little mayhem, and the last three bands had 70 minutes each.

 

Lzzy Hale-Halestorm (Photo-Travis Failey)

 Day one was a hot, breezy, not a cloud in the sky kinda day. It rained the night before, so I was worried that the park would be muddy, but luckily that was not the case. Markum Park is a spacious park, with a lake and two stages, right next to each other (same basic set up as last year) , and three huge video screens. For a few extra bucks, you could purchase a VIP pass, which benefits included a VIP only entrance lane into the park, large tented viewing area, with seating/tables, and a VIP lounge area with dedicated bar, beverage and food venders. While the food prices were a little on the high side ($15 for a cheese steak), there were lots of options for every budget.

(Photo-Travis Failey)

We arrived at Markum Park just in time to hear Bad Wolves play Cranberry cover, “Zombie.”  Apparently Bad Wolves “Zombie” is the first “heavy metal song” to make it to #1 on ITUNES.  After acknowledging Dolores O’Riordan’s tragic and ill timed passing, Bad Wolves’ vocalist, Tommy Vext, announced that all the proceeds from the song go to Dolores’ three kids. You may recall that O’Riordan was found dead on the very day (January 15, 2018) she was scheduled to record her vocal tracks for the remake.  The early crowd in attendance cheered, and added their own vocals when they sang along to “Vext.”

Josh Scoggin-68 (Photo-Travis Failey)

Georgia noise punk band, ‘68, was up next on this now blistering hot day. If you’re not familiar with this 2 man show, you might be surprised at the sound that comes out of this singer/guitarist and drummer. And believe it or not, these guys were playing some super heavy rock! At one point 68’s singer, Josh Scogin, threw his guitar straight up into the rafters and caught it!  Another thing I’ve never seen before, Josh took down the set and drum kit, bit by bit, until everything on stage was gone, leaving his drummer, Niko Yamada, with only his sticks.  These guys are out of the festival tour, so get there early and check out this duo of talented musicians.

Josh Scoggin-68 (Photo-Travis Failey)

Texas Hippie Coalition was up next.  The band is fronted by Big Dad Ritch and THC brought their own sound that they describe as Red Dirt Metal to this year’s Fort Rock. It’s a combination of outlaw country, toss in a dash of Southern-fried classic rock and mix it with some potent Texas power grooves. Never hearing or seeing THC perform before, I was pleasantly surprised with their set.

Big Dad Ritch-Texas Hippie Coalition (Photo-Travis Failey)

Big Dad Ritch controls the stage like a maestro while his young buck backing band gets out on the front line to put on a full on show for the fans and especially the ladies. Guitarists Cord Pool and Nevada Romo not only have perfect stage names, but their lead riffs are impressive and original. Texas Hippie Coalition are out promoting Dark Side Of Black on a U.S. tour that runs through June 16th.

Texas Hippie Coalition (Photo-Travis Failey)

Another first for me was 2017 Loudwire’s Metal Song of the Year winner PowerTrip. The band took home the Hand of Doom for their song “Executioner’s Tax (Swing of the Axe)”. The five- piece from Texas is a no-frills, all substance metal/thrash band that took the stage while Slayer was potted down at the sound board. I was thinking that they had some balls coming out using Slayer as their bumper music, but damn they pulled it off.

Riley Gale-Power Trip (Photo-Travis Failey)

Vocalist Riley Gale doesn’t care about his apparel but neither do his fans.  Old-schoolers and new, appreciate Power Trip carrying the torch for thrash metal and how well they do it.  The dual guitar attack of Blake “Rossover” Ibanez and Nick Stewart switched out leads and were very impressive throughout their hard hitting and exhausting 7 song set. There was also more headbanging during Power Trip’s set than any other through the weekend.

Blake Ibanez-Power Trip (Photo-Travis Failey)

A veteran of the World’s Loudest Month, Trivium, and founding member Matt Heafy put on another memorable performance at Fort Rock. These guys always give 100%, no matter where they are slotted during the festival. Opening with the title track from their release “The Sin and the Sentence,” Trivium then followed up with one of the heavier songs of the weekend with fan favorite “Throes of Perdition.”

Matt Heafy-Trivium (Photo-Travis Failey)

Trivium’s been around since 2003, but is now getting the recognition it deserves with a help from Sirius/XM Octane and Liquid Metal. Trivium’s recent single, “The Heart From Your Hate,” has gained the band a new fans who were happy to help Heafy sing the chorus throughout Markham Part. While Trivium has experimented with their sound a bit to appeal to the “mainstream,” they have stayed true to their sound that they have had since the onset of their career.

Matt Heafy-Trivium (Photo-Travis Failey)

 

Jamey Jasta-Hatebreed (Photo-Travis Failey)

The always-smiling Sirius/XM’s Jose Mangin hit the Fort Rock’s Yellow Stage and introduced the next band, Jamey Jasta’s Hatebreed.  Formed in Connecticut in 1994, Hatebreed has survived multiple lineup changes with Jasta and bassist Chris Beattie being the remaining founding members. Hatebreed is on the World’s Loudest Month festival circuit in support of The Concrete Confessional on the 20 Years of Desire & 15 Years of Perseverance tour. Jasta commanded the crowd and his band through a brutal ten song set that included “Through The Threshold” and “Beholder of Justice.”

Jamey Jasta-Hatebreed (Photo-Travis Failey)

Underoath was the last hardcore aggressive band before the transition to the rock hitmaker’s portion of Saturday’s lineup. Underoath has an interesting band lineup with two drummers and a keyboardist thrashing while he crushed the black and the white keys.

Aaron Gillespie-Underoath (Photo-Travis Failey)

The combination of lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain along with founding member and drummer, Aaron Gillespie, gave the now-packed Markham Park their own version of metalcore Christian based themed originals, “In Regards to Myself”, and the song that has been getting a lot of airplay on Sirius/XM’s Octane, “Rapture.” “Rapture” also distinguishes itself from the rest of Underoath’s set by being more melodic than aggressive, as they also try to capture a broader audience.

Spencer Chamberlain-Underoath (Photo-Travis Failey)

 

Aaron Gillespie-Underoath (Photo-Travis Failey)

Lzzy Hale-Halestorm (Photo-Travis Failey)

Next up was the only female fronted band in this year’s Fort Rock lineup, Halestorm. Lzzy and the guys stormed the stage, and Lzzy proceeded to put on possibly her best performance ever, showcasing her unbelievable vocal range.  Halestorm, as they like to do, opened their set with new song, “Black Vultures” off their upcoming album that’s due to come out in a couple of months.

Halestorm treated the crowd to “Apocalyptic”, “It’s Not You” and “I Get Off.”  Drummer and Lzzy’s little brother, Arejay, busted out the big sticks for during his mandatory drum solo.   Lzzy killed it, while she screamed her way into the crowd’s Halestorm virgins’ hearts. I saw more than one nod of approval from the male dominated crowd as the show went on.

Joe Hottinger & Lzzy Hale-Halestorm (Photo-Travis Failey)

 Bullet For My Valentine once again brought the “Fever” to Fort Rock along with “Your Betrayal”, but unfortunately left out one of their biggest hits, “Scream Aim Fire” during their Fort Rock Set. The Fort Rock festival veterans sported a multi-colored winged backdrop with singer and guitarist Matt Tuck and the boys transitioning to a more mature release in their recent single, “Over It.” BFMV also included their previous hit in “Waking the Demon” in their limited set timeframe.

Matt Tuck-Bullet For My Valentine (Photo-Travis Failey)

Michael Paget-BFMV (Photo-Travis Failey)

Brent Smith, and the guys from Shinedown are out promoting their newly released album, Attention Attention.  They got the tired crowd going with “Sound of Madness” then “Bully”, “Simple Man” and closed their set with the new single, “Devil.” Brent looked and sounded great, and although it was still light outside, the pyro was impressive.  Brent is a talker, so he addressed the crowd and asked everyone to look to their right and left and introduce themselves to their “neighbor,” reminding the crowd that rock and roll is not a genre, it’s a life style.

Brent Smith, Barry Kerch & Zach Myers-Shinedown (Photo-Travis Failey)

Eric Bass-Shinedown (Photo-Travis Failey)

 A visibly heavier  Ivan Moody and Five Finger Death Punch hit the stage just as the day was beginning to wind down.  Ivan looked healthy, angry and sported a new head tattoo.  5FDP got the crowd going with “Under and Over It”, and “Wash it all Away.” The band has always supported our troops, and true to form, Ivan thanked all the veterans in attendance prior to performing their cover of “Bad Company.” After a couple recent setbacks due to internal health issues, FFDP has a renewed purpose and will be out on tour this summer with Breaking Benjamin, Bad Wolves and Nothing More.

Ivan and Chris Kael-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

 

Ivan Moody and Jason Hook-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

Godsmack, Saturday’s headliner, took the stage promptly at 9:40. Markum Park has an 11:00 curfew.  As they often do, Godsmack put on a solid show and impressive pyro display.  At one point, the pyro was accompanied by four heart beat skipping booms.  Godsmack just released their new album the day before on April 27th.

Sully Erna-Godsmack (Photo-Travis Failey)

Front man, Sully Erna said that the crowd looked one dimensional and ordered the ladies to get up on their man’s shoulder so it would look like a rock show. The audience complied.  Like the pyro, Godsmack kept the hits coming with “Crying Like a Bitch,”  “Voodoo” and “I Stand Alone,” and ended with Godsmack’s latest release, “Bulletproof.”

Shannon Larkin-Godsmack (Photo-Travis Failey)

The day went off without a hitch, until we got to our cars.  While the show may have been over at 10:50, most of the fans didn’t get out of Markum Park until after midnight.  It seems that there was only one way out of the Park for the 30,000 fans. It was all fun and games until the concertgoers, many who had been there for eleven hours or more in the hot Florida sun, sat motionless in their cars for an hour.  The two lanes out turned into three as tempers started to rise.  If this event is to return to this venue, the parking and exiting of Markum Park must be addressed.  Other than the parking debacle, the day was a perfect one for South Florida’s biggest rock festival.

 More Photos from Saturday:

(Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

Underoath (Photo-Travis Failey)

Spencer Chamberlain-Underoath (Photo-Travis Failey)

68 (Photo-Travis Failey)

Jason Bowld-BFMV (Photo-Travis Failey)

Matt Tuck-Bullet For My Valentine (Photo-Travis Failey)

Jeremy Spencer-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

Chris Kael-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

Jason Hook-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

Ivan Moody-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

Sully Erna-Godsmack (Photo-Travis Failey)

Joe Hottinger-Halestorm (Photo-Travis Failey)

Lzzy Hale-Halestorm (Photo-Travis Failey)

Lzzy Hale-Halestorm (Photo-Travis Failey)

Frank Novinec-Hatebreed (Photo-Travis Failey)

Nick Stewart-Power Trip (Photo-Travis Failey)

Brent Smith & Zach Myers-Shinedown (Photo-Travis Failey)

Barry Kerch-Shinedown (Photo-Travis Failey)

Zach Myers-Shinedown (Photo-Travis Failey)

Eric Bass-Shinedown (Photo-Travis Failey)

Christopher Dudley-Underoath (Photo-Travis Failey)

(Photo-Travis Failey)

 

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