Fort Rock Reigns at Jet Blue Park

By on May 7, 2017

Jonny Hawkins-Nothing More ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Were you ready to rock? Because tens of thousands of fans got their rock on at this year’s 5th Annual Fort Rock music festival on April 29th and 30th, at JetBlue Park.  The event was produced by Danny Wimmer Presents and AEG Live, and is part of the World’s Loudest Month Festival Series.  This year’s sponsors included: Monster Energy, Bud Light, Southern Hospitality Concessions, FYE, and Jakprints.

( Photo-Travis Failey )

The weather was both beautiful and brutal all weekend.  Both Saturday and Sunday saw temperatures into the mid 90’s, mostly sunny skies, with a killer breeze keeping things tolerable.  It also helped that security was spraying the crowd (and the photographers) with the hose during the heat of the day. I gotta say that security, D.A.K., did a fantastic job keeping the crowd safe and were there to catch every crowd-surfer, no matter what their size.

( Photo-Travis Failey )

This year’s lineup featured bands spanning from the 1980s to the present.  There was something for everyone this year, and the crowd contained a good number of Gen Xers and Millennials and Generation Zers, a/k/a teenagers.   Despite the heat, many in the crowd proudly wore their favorite black t-shirts, and because of the heat, many in the crowd wore their bikini tops. People were scattered throughout the park, lounging on blankets, relaxing in the VIP tents.

Bridgett & Miss Guam 2016 Delilah Velez ( Photo-Travis Failey )

This year’s festivities again included the huge misting fans in the VIP tents and in the shaded area in the back of the park. There were food offerings for everyone from Vegetable Noodles to Elephant Ears.  The beer was flowing and the water was cold.

Shaun Morgan – Seether ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Unlike previous years, this year’s festival had an impressive crowd by 12:30 pm. JetBlue Park was set up with two stages, each right next to the other. This was a great set up for the fans and the media. One band played on the right stage, while the next band set up their gear on the left stage.  So obviously, this meant that there were no set time overlaps. I think that this is important because I don’t think that anyone should have to choose between bands.

( Photo-Travis Failey )

Because if you did have to choose, you would most likely pick the band you already like/know.  But I love these festivals because some of the most memorable sets were performed by bands that I have never seen play before, and I might not even know one song from them. This year’s lineup was so diverse (genre-wise), you couldn’t help but be introduced to at least one new band.

Caleb Shomo – Beartooth ( Photo-Travis Failey )

After Felicity and Cover Your Tracks opened Saturday’s festivities, Beartooth’s Caleb Shomo took the stage at 1:30 and ordered the crowd to “Push the aggression out!” Shomo has been named one of Alternate Press’ Best Screamers in Modern Metalcore, (2nd actually) and he didn’t disappoint on Saturday.  Beartooth also showcased powerful backup vocals by Taylor Lumley and Kamron Bradury.  Beartooth ended the set with its current hit, “Hated,” and with that, Saturday was off and running.

Chris Motionless – Motionless in White ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Motionless in White burst out on stage with their 2013 hit, “A-M-E-R-I-C-A” and followed that up with their new release, “Loud (Fuck It)” from Motionless’ fourth album, Graveyard Shift.  This was a great strategy because it really got the crowd pumped up during the brutal 2 pm Florida sun.

( Photo-Travis Failey )

Devin ‘Ghost” Sola broke out a new costume like he does every tour and self-proclaimed “White Boy,” Chris Motionless, professed his love for the Florida sun all while keeping the adrenaline pumped up for the next band, Nothing More.

Devon “Ghost” Sola – MIW ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Nothing More took the stage and opened with their hit “This Is the Time.”  They showcased a new one-of-a-kind drum riser/mic stand for singer Jonny Hawkins, and treated the crowd to a new song, “Ripping Me Apart.”

Jonny Hawkins-Nothing More ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Nothing More has spent the last few months in the studio recording, and I can’t wait to see what their next album will bring.  Jonny and guys closed with “Salem” and as the crowd screamed “Burn the Witch!” we looked out over the massive audience, and WOW! What a huge contrast from their sparsely attended performance at Welcome to Rockville back in 2014.

Mark Vollelunga – Nothing More ( Photo-Travis Failey )

In this Moment and Maria Brink have been touring non-stop for the last few years and are veterans of the World Loudest Month Festival scene. They brought all the bells, whistles and … well, knives again this year.

In This Moment ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Even though it was a shortened set, it was a strong set featuring “Blood,” “Black Widow,” and “Whore,” providing the Fort Rock fans with a memorable daytime performance by In This Moment.  ­

Randy Weitzel – In This Moment ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Travis Johnson – In This Moment ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Of Mice & Men inspired the appearance of beach balls and the Fort Rock crowd was introduced to their new singer, Aaron Pauley. Pauley replaced Austin Carlisle who was diagnosed with Marfan Syndrome and is now living in Costa Rica.

Aaron Pauley – Of Mice & Men( Photo-Travis Failey )

Of Mice and Men’s dual axe-attack was in full effect as guitarists Alan Ashby and Phil Manansala traded off leads during “Bones Exposed,” “Real,” and their most recent single, “Pain,” off their 4th studio album, Cold World.

Alan Ashby – Of Mice & Men ( Photo-Travis Failey )

There was a buzz backstage and in the crowd for the next band who absolutely crushed the Rockville stage in 2014. Alter Bridge, out of Orlando, formed after Creed disbanded, shredded through their set which featured hits “Addicted to Pain,” “Isolation,” and their most recent single, “Show Me a Leader,” from 2016’s the Last Hero release.

Myles Kennedy – Alter Bridge ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Myles Kennedy once again proved that he is one of the best singers in the industry and that what you hear in the studio is what you hear during a live performance, which is rare these days.

Brian & Myles – Alter Bridge ( Photo-Travis Failey )

The evening finally began to cool down and with sundown looming; the hitmakers portion of Saturday’s Fort Rock lineup was at hand.

Matt Walst – Three Days Grace ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Three Days Grace opened it up, and former lead singer of My Darkest Days, Matt Walst, really killed it.  Every song of Three Days Grace’s 10 song set was a radio hit. The crowd sang with Walst throughout, and he is fronting Three Days Grace as if he was there from the jump.

Matt Walst – Three Days Grace ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Despite the 90 degree temperatures, Walst came out in a leather jacket and engaged the fans during “I am Machine,” “Animal,” & “Chalk Outline.”  Walst got a lucky break in the music industry by landing with a monster band and he is taking advantage of it. His talent is shining through with his brother Brad sharing the stage with him.

Three Days Grace ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Seether started the show 5 minutes early, which pretty much never happens in rock and roll, and opened with “Gasoline.” About ten minutes into the set, a full set of lights toppled over on to the stage, nearly crushing their guest lead guitarist, Clint Lowery, from Sevendust!   Luckily tragedy was averted, and honestly, the seasoned band didn’t even miss a beat.

Clint Lowery – Seether ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Backstage crew tries to pick up the fallen light rig ( Photo-Travis Failey )

This was Seether’s first stop on their new tour, promoting their upcoming album, Poison the Parish, which comes out on May 12th. Even though Seether doesn’t put on an extravagant stage show,  the band’s talent more than makes up for it.

Shaun Morgan – Seether ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Just like Three Days Grace, every song that Seether played was a radio hit and had the crowd singing in perfect harmony throughout its impressive 10 song set that included “Fake It,” “Words as Weapons,” and concluded with Seether’s latest release, “Let You Down.”

Jacoby Shaddix-Papa Roach ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Saturday was the third time that veteran rockers, Papa Roach, graced the Fort Rock stage.  Papa Roach was in a perfect time slot as the sun started to set.  Again, Papa Roach killed it with a hit-filled set, but a personal highlight of Papa Roach’s set was seeing Maria Brink come on the stage to join Jacoby Shaddix to perform their 2015 collaboration, “Gravity.

Jacoby Shaddix-Papa Roach ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Speaking of Shaddix, he is a fireball of energy every time he hits the stage. Other mentionable highlights from Papa Roach’s set included “Scars,””Last Resort,” and “Getting away with Murder.”

Pete Loeffler – Chevelle ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Chevelle was up next and their spot in the lineup, preceding the headliner, Def Leppard, was somewhat surprising to me. But once they started playing, I remembered how many hits Chevelle had! Chevelle had the first light show of the day, and it did not disappoint.

Pete Loeffler – Chevelle ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Sam Loeffler – Chevelle ( Photo-Travis Failey )

( Photo-Travis Failey )

Def Leppard had the honor to close out Saturday’s lineup.  In talking to several people, I found that there were contrasting opinions regarding Def Leppard being the headliner on Saturday as the day’s previous bands had recent releases, and Def Leppard hasn’t really been active since the late 1980’s/early 1990’s. In any event, it was a sharp contrast to last year’s closers, Shinedown and Disturbed.

( Photo-Travis Failey )

Def Leppard opened with “Let Go” then “Animal” from Hysteria. Their next song, “Dangerous,” from their self-titled new release, was a surprising choice. Joe Elliot thanked the crowd for listening to the new song while acknowledging that most festival crowds just want to hear the hits and promised that they would provide the crowd with the hits for the rest of their set.

( Photo-Travis Failey )

A notable highlight from Def Leppard’s set was the phenomenal guitar playing by Phil Collen. In my opinion, Collen has been an underrated guitarist.  I hope that Cullen will get the recognition that he deserves as he participates in the next version of G4 with Joe Satriani.

Def Leppard played 17 songs and finished Day One of Fort Rock with two classics from Pyromania, “Rock of Ages” and “Photograph.”

Jonny Hawkins-Nothing More ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Saturday’s Fort Rock experience included a high dose of modern rock with a dash of the 80’s. How would Sunday’s lineup match up with Saturdays? You’ll just have to stay tuned for Part 2 of our coverage from Fort Rock.

Maria Brink – In This Moment ( Photo-Travis Failey )

( Photo-Travis Failey )

Mark Tremonti – Alter Bridge ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Dale Stewart – Seether ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Ben Anderson – Nothing More ( Photo-Travis Failey )

Phil Manasalsa-Of Mice & Men ( Photo- Travis Failey )

Valentino Arteaga – Of Mice & Men ( Photo- Travis Failey )

( Photo- Travis Failey )

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