98Rockfest & Godsmack Crush “The Oil Can”

By on April 18, 2019
98 Rockfest Microphone (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

98 ROCKFEST 2019

Featuring Three Days Grace and Godsmack

          For the 11th 98 ‘ROCKFEST’ held in Tampa, FL on April 14th, fans got the gamut of Tampa weather experiences. Kicking off the day in the 80’s with brilliant sunshine, fans came to the free portion of the day at the outside stage of the Amalie Arena ready to rock!! With storms slowly making their way east from the Gulf of Mexico, crews were ready just in case they moved faster than expected.

Fans in the Stands (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

          Kicking off the day, The Blue Stones were first up on the outside stage. A bluesy rock duo from Canada, they are new to the scene. Having released their debut album Black Holes back in October of 2018, they aren’t a band many in attendance were familiar with. Only playing a 20-minute set, they presented a good introduction to their style, and the crowd responded in kind.

Chris Koster- The Glorious Sons (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

          The Glorious Sons thundered to the stage next. With an energetic, but controlled vibe to their set, they commanded the stage. Another Canadian band, they have released one EP and two full length albums, with multiple Canadian #1 songs, and one #1 track here in the US. As more people began to show up, the band was captivating their attention with some seriously smooth sounds. While not the hard rock the many in attendance go for, they ramped up the energy exponentially as they went through their se.

Sonny Sandoval-POD (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Finalizing the outside sets, P.O.D. took the stage. It was a bit of a surprise to see them not on the main bill. With Sonny Sandoval’s energetic stage presence, they get every crowd they play to riled up, and within minutes of them starting, mosh pits were trying to form.

Mark Traa Daniels-POD (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

As the outside stage is on cement, you saw security stopping them as soon as they started. With a shoulder to shoulder crowd of people, there was little space on the cement pad for more people to crowd in. I’ve seen P.O.D. numerous times, and these San Diego boys have never sounded better.

Marcos Curiel- POD (Photo-Jordan Raiff)
Chris Motionless Cerulli-MIW (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

          Opening the main bill inside, was Motionless In White. Decked out in a Tampa Lightning #24 Ryan Callahan jersey, Chris Motionless and the rest of the band took the stage as the fans continued to file in. Naturally, Chris couldn’t help but make the ‘that’s what she said’ joke as he proclaimed that it was ‘filling up’, which elicited a loud laughter and cheers from the audience.

Vinny Mauro-MIW (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Playing on, he expressed his gratitude for the fans and got them in on the act. As they played “Untouchable” he asked the fans to yell back ‘HEY’ in unison when told. They naturally yelled along, and this energy was incredibly infectious. Looking around the arena you could tell who was new to this band.

Ricky Horror Olson-MIW (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Regardless of their attire as the band is coated in black paint (and some white on some of their faces), those who have never seen them seemed a little uncertain when they hit the stage, but their performance turned everyone in attendance into a believer.

Jay Buchanan-Rival Sons (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

          Up next was Rival Sons. Since their debut in 2009, they have been a band making calculated and fast moves through the rock music scene. Their look alone was much softer and more ‘classic rock’ to the point of almost being hipster.

(Photo-Jordan Raiff)

With front-man Jay Buchanan’s stage presence being reminiscent of an early Robert Plant, and Scott Holiday playing with a tone that is similar to some of the softer rock of the early 1970s, they are definitely a more visual band.

Scott Holiday-Rival Sons (Photo-Jordan Raiff)
Mike Miley-Rival Sons (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

          Now don’t get me wrong, their set was definitely very visual and drummer Mike Miley opened with a great drum solo, and Scott definitely had some great solos, but they definitely are not as hard rock focused as many of the other bands so far. It seemed like the audience took notice of this and treated them as the ‘smoke time’ band.

Aaron Gillespie-Underoath (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

          If you’ve ever seen a group of 6 little kids playing after discovering the jolt of Red Bull you can understand the hyper energy Underoath brings to the stage. Opening with a drum solo from Aaron Gillespie (who also provides backing vocals) this group of Tampa area natives brings something completely different to the show.

Spencer Chamberlain-Underoath (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

          Despite heavy sampling and electronica sounds in their music (which has garnered them multiple Grammy nominations), they bring a very welcome sound to 98 ROCKFEST.

Their backdrop banner being mostly hidden but with a terrific light show, they played to an audience that had begun skidding around on the slick rubber covered ice surface. Forming circle pits, these fans were more than happy to slam around to the barely understood lyrics and enjoy the beat.

(Photo-Jordan Raiff)

          Announcing their great inspiration from Nirvana, they covered “Heart Shaped Box” and did an amazing job at it too. Honestly, this redeemed the whole lack of understandable lyrics simply because they knocked this song out of the park and many others fail at it. Their closing song ‘Sink with You’ was their saving grace with the fans. Many were singing along at the top of their lungs, and it made for a great transition out of their 45-minute set into Three Days Grace.

Spencer Chamberlain-Underoath (Photo-Jordan Raiff)
Matt Walst-3DG (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Kicking off with the intro to ‘Livin on A Prayer’ from Bon Jovi, Three Days Grace took the stage to arguably the loudest response of the night. Using a regular mic and a classic Shure 55 (commonly called Elvis Mic), Matt Waist (older brother of bassist Eric Waist) shows off his phenomenal vocal range, and rhythm guitar skills through the whole set. Considering the majority of their hits came with their former vocalist, it’s hard to replicate that sound and emotion with someone else. Needless to say, he succeeds.

Neil Sanderson-3DG (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Drummer Neil Sanderson and guitarist Barry Stock put the icing on the cake for Three Days Grace. Decked out with a long beard and tweed coat, Barry provides amazing lead guitar skills that keeps people moving. Him and Brad (along with Matt at times) rained out guitar picks throughout the set which kept the fans on the floor scampering for picks. I think in the first three songs, I probably handed back a half dozen that had bounced off fans hands as they were rocking out.

tock-3DG (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Crowd chants of “THREE DAYS GRACE!!! THREE DAYS GRACE!!!took over any ‘dead’ space in the set. ‘The Good Life’ was a terrific break up in the middle of the set. Stock introduced a double necked SG during the 4th song ‘Pain’ and the crowd roared even louder than before. Singing along to every word, there were few fans who weren’t on their feet by this point and then 3DG followed it up with ‘I Hate Everything About You.’

Matt Walst-3DG (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

While singing ‘The Animal’ the band dipped into ‘Seven Nation Army’ by The White Stripes, and back into ‘The Animal’. Not something you would expect, yet it worked perfectly. “Pain Killer” was the only song of their set where the vocals were noticeably different prior to Walst taking over, yet it was different in a good way. It was almost as if this was how it should have sounded all along.

Brad Walst-3DG (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Dedicating ‘Never Too Late’ to those affected by suicide, Matt called for the audience to light the arena with their lighters and cell phone lights. The white glow filled the arena, despite the arena being less than jam packed. Looking around you could see numerous fans hitting their breaking points and sobbing. This song has some truly deep meaning for many, and they couldn’t go out on that note.

tock-3DG (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Closing with ‘Riot’ those tears quickly dried as the mosh pits opened back up, and people began jumping around once again. Ending the set, Matt and the rest of the band tossed out the rest of the picks and some drum sticks as well as the towels they were wiping their sweat drenched faces with; causing one member of the audience to leap the barricade in the attempts to get a towel.

Sully Erna-Godsmack (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Ending off ROCKFEST was Godsmack, kicking the set off with ‘We Will Rock You’ by Queen, ‘Dream On’ by Aerosmith, and ‘Hey Jude’ by The Beatles as an intro mix, they launched right in to ‘When Legends Rise’ to a roaring audience. The energy coming from lead vocal and rhythm guitarist Sully Erna, with his dual microphone setup, and Gibson Les Paul was nothing less than exceptional. Following that up with “1000HP” (about how strong this set was), they were going nothing short of full throttle. With the red glow of their Diamond guitar amps against the back, it really added something to the feeling of the song.

Tony Rombola-Godsmack (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

“Cryin’ Like a Bitch” followed up next, and you could see the mosh pits spreading out now. Sully along with Robbie Merrill on bass, Tony Rombola on guitar, and Shannon Larkin on drums, had the audience eating out of the palm of their hands. Following Sully, the fans had their hands up high in the sky and were hanging on every note of the songs.

Robbie Merrill-Godsmack (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Reminding people of concerts long ago, Sully began encouraging the guys to get their ladies up on their shoulders. Reminding everyone that if we’re lucky we might just see…..you guessed it BOOBIES!!! Instantly you saw 3 women up on shoulders, and throughout the next song 6, others got up too.

Sully Erna-Godsmack (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

You could see the smirks from Tony as he was playing along during Sully’s hyping up the crowd, and as always, he plays the quiet professional. His guitar playing has never wavered, yet this was some of the best playing I’ve heard from him despite having caught them at least a half dozen times over the years.

Sully Erna & Shannon Larkin-Godsmack (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Covering a wide variety of tracks, the best part was the now legendary ‘drum off’ between Sully and Shannon. Yet this was different than in years past. Rather than play against one another, they played in duet; showing how strong their playing styles are linked and influenced by one another. With Sully initially starting off with Conga drums, his transition to playing a full drum kit was seamless. Drumming to a sampling from ‘Back in Black’ by AC/DC, ‘Walk This Way’ by Aerosmith and Run DMC, ‘Enter Sandman by Metallica’, and some freestyled riffs; this was a great way to end the middle of the set.

Tony Rombola-Godsmack (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Despite being a Boston based band, Sully went on to encourage the Bolts to ‘kick the shit outta the Blue Jackets’. With Robbie reminding them that the Bolts had lost tonight, he still managed to start a “Let’s Go Bolts!!” chant from the crowd. He also made sure to grab a stick from Shannon and toss it to a kid against the barricade, who had been there headbanging along all night.

Sully Erna-Godsmack (Photo-Jordan Raiff)

Before closing off the set, Sully gave a shout out to his gel company (who he never named) who kept his hair perfectly in place all night long. Despite him dripping sweat, and headbanging around the stage it was true; his hair had not moved an inch all night. The funny part of this though was him acknowledging his failed attempts to clean his sides up; he had knocked off the plastic guard and taken a chunk out of the side of his head.

Vain or not, Sully played like he intended to patch his head, and kept the crowd going all night. Despite some people filing out before the encore of ‘Bulletproof’ and the infamous ‘I Stand Alone’, these songs turned into loud and intense sing-alongs. You could not have asked for a better set from these Boston boys.

(Photo-Jordan Raiff)

While the crowd was not as large as it has been in years past, 98 ROCKFEST did not disappoint. With all the bands hawking their tour merch at more than reasonable prices, a beautiful Tampa day to start, and traditional rain to leave the arena; this was a festival far too many missed out on. Tampa fans, can we make next year a jam-packed house?  Those looking to catch these bands, they all have various stops coming up this year.

More Pics From Jordan Raiff

Justin Morrow-MIW (Photo-Jordan Raiff)
Shannon Larkin-Godsmack (Photo-Jordan Raiff)
tock-3DG (Photo-Jordan Raiff)
Scott Holiday-Rival Sons (Photo-Jordan Raiff)
Dave Beste-Rival Sons (Photo-Jordan Raiff)
Sully Erna-Godsmack (Photo-Jordan Raiff)
Categories: Entertainment, Music, Sports


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