A Rockville Monster Awakens

By on May 2, 2014

Brian Marshall (left) and Mark Tremonti of Alter Bridge (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Jacksonville, Fla. — Monster Energy’s Fourth Annual “Welcome to Rockville Festival” took place on April 26th and 27th at Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville, Florida, and by all accounts, it was a huge success.

The keys to this year’s success included the raucous crowd, the strong lineup of new and established bands, as well as the picture perfect Florida weather.  The Florida sunshine was in full force the entire weekend, yet a nice breeze from the St. John’s River kept things tolerable during the day and really cooled things off in the evening.


Metropolitan Park was packed from the word go and Monster Energy and the event’s organizers, provided plenty of shaded areas, phone charging stations, beer, liquor and water sales, a wide variety of food tents, clean restrooms, and first-aid stations for its guests, as well as four VIP areas.  The VIP areas provided additional shaded seating and served ice-cold Monster Energy drinks to the sold-out crowd.


The venue showcased four stages: The Monster Energy Stage West, Monster Energy Stage East, Jagermeister Stage, and Ernie Ball Stage.  Forty-one bands graced the four different stages over the two days of the festival, including headliners Avenged Sevenfold on Saturday night and Korn closing out the festival on Sunday night.  Other notable sponsors included Jagermeister, Ernie Ball Guitar Strings, Metro PCS, Jack Daniel’s, F.Y.E, The Crazy Dave’s Music Experience, and Jack Link’s Beef Jerky.


Fans traveled from all over to pack Metropolitan Park (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Upon arrival on Saturday morning, two things struck me. First off, the park was crowded early.  Secondly, I realized that the organizers changed up the location of the two main stages this year, putting them on opposite ends of the park. Last year, The Monster Energy Stages were directly next to each other. While this set up did lead to some logistical issues in regard to catching certain acts on time, it worked out great for the bands that were playing on the Ernie Ball and Jagermeister stages.  Last year the up-and-coming bands that played on the two smaller stages found themselves playing to crowds that were sometimes in the double digits. This year, because the Ernie Ball and Jagermeister stages were located next to The Monster Energy Stages, the bands got to play in front of huge crowds and on much larger stages than last year.

Vinnie Paul, Hell Yeah (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Speaking of the bands, World Gone and Digital Summer kicked off the event on Saturday, but, unfortunately for me, I missed their sets.  Gemini Syndrome was the first to rock the Monster Energy Stage East.   Gemini Syndrome is based out of L.A., and is led by Chicago native, Aaron Nordstrom. Aaron is a unique person, not only in the way he looks, (i.e., his white hair and beard), or his incredible vocal range, but Aaron is also legally blind and can shoot a mean game of pool.  Gemini Syndrome took the stage and set the tone for the festival’s next two days playing tracks off its debut release, Lux,  including “Pain & Pleasure,” and  finishing off their off their six song set with their recent number one on Sirius/XM’s Octanes’ Big Uns, “Stardust.”


After Gemini Syndrome, Rev Theory crushed it at the Monster Energy Stage West. After playing a full set the previous night at the Rockville pre-show party at 1904, Rev Theory showed no worse for wear. Vocalist Rich Luzzi commanded the crowd with extreme intensity and impressed everyone in attendance and the band didn’t skip a beat, closing with their hit from 2008, “Hell Yeah.”  Rev Theory has it all: from looks to musicianship, and hit song writing capabilities.  Of all the up-and-coming bands at this festival, I’m expecting big things from Rev Theory in the future.


 Rich Luzzi, Rev Theory (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Two of the newer bands that I have recently become familiar with due to my homage to satellite radio, were Monster Truck and We As Human.  Monster Truck hails from the Great White North and its members include Jon Harvey (lead singer and bassist) Jeremy Widerman (guitarist), Brandon Bliss (keyboardist) and Steve Kiely (drummer).  Monster Truck recently won the 2013 Juno Award for Breakthrough Group of the Year and released their first radio single “Old Train.”

Jeremy Widerman, Monster Truck (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)


Monster Truck played straight forward foot tapping, in your face rock-n-roll.  Every year a few bands get their opportunity to shine at festivals like these. Last year’s favorite performance for me was Nothing More’s and this year it was Monster Truck’s.  Check out Monster Truck’s video and single “Old Train” on YouTube but I would also recommend that you check them out live when you can. They are the epitome of a “live band” and just finished touring with Alter Bridge and are heading out with Alice in Chains.


We as Human are a Christian rock band based out of Nashville and have been gaining steam in the mainstream music scene. With the release of We as Human’s self-titled EP, which includes the hit singles “Strike Back,” and “Take the Bullets Away,” it was obvious that they have accumulated a following throughout the years. The crowd knew the songs’ lyrics and was singing along with vocalist Justin Cordle throughout their set.  With quality songwriting, a multi-genre fan base and being signed to Atlantic Records, We As Human has a legitimate shot to hit the big stage, big time.

Christian rockers We as Human with Justin cordle on the vocals  (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

As the 3:30 p.m. time slots rolled around, it was time for the big boys to take the stage. Hellyeah started it off to a crowd that was filled with anticipation and didn’t disappoint. Vinnie Paul was the first to take the stage and stood up behind the drum kit and the fans went crazy. Everyone loves Vinnie from his Pantera days plus Vinnie is one of the nicest guys in the business. Vocalist Chad Grey along with Tom Maxwell (guitarist), and Kyle Sanders (bassist), stormed the stage and ripped into the title track and first single, “Sangre Por Sangre” or “Blood For Blood.” What a way to start the set! Grey busted out the megaphone and the first multiple mosh pits of the festival were born. For the first time on Saturday, the security guys had their hands full as crowd surfers were being tossed over the rail at a frenetic pace. Hellyeah pounded through their six-song set, which included “Drink, Drank, Drunk” and “You Wouldn’t Know.”  After seeing Hellyeah live and listening to their recent super heavy release, Hellyeah now seems like a cohesive unit where previously they seemed like a supergroup full of individual parts.  For more on Hellyeah, check back to our site at https://www.rocketsports-ent.com for our backstage interview with Chad Grey and Kyle Sanders.

HELLYEAH! Front-man Chad Grey did not disappoint (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)


After Hellyeah, the voyage to the other side of Metropolitan Park was on.  I was on a mission to check out one of the best and most recognizable voices in all of rock…Myles Kennedy of Alter Bridge. Hailing from Gross Pointe Park outside of Detroit, Alter Bridge was formed after the initial breakup of Creed, and has attained critical acclaim for their third release, ABIII, and their most recent release, Fortress. Kennedy, Mark Tremonti (guitarist and founder), Brian Marshall (bassist), and Scott Phillips (drummer), are veterans of the big stage and are, in a word, ‘awesome.’  Opening with their hit single “Addicted to Pain,” Kennedy and the boys had the crowd mesmerized. Myles Kennedy is a great frontman in the vein of Morrison and Plant and the crowd watched his every move except when Tremonti was out in front. Mark Tremonti is a great player and, in my opinion, very underrated. Other highlights from Alter Bridge’s performance included, “Cry of Achilles” and “Rise Today.”  I’m looking forward to seeing a full set from Alter Bridge on their upcoming tour because there aren’t any tricks or bells and whistles with this band, just musicianship at its finest.


Chevelle was up next but we missed them due to having to attend scheduled interviews during their set.  This was unfortunate for me because everyone I talked to said that Chevelle crushed it. We will make it a point to cover them soon.


Rocket Sports & Entertainment Network’s Travis Failey on a mission for Alter Bridge and Myles Kennedy (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

As far as a backstage area was concerned, Thirty Three Star sponsored the Artist Lounge and provided the artists and media a place to relax, perform interviews, drink, play pool and foosball.  The air conditioned tent’s walls were covered with striking rock and roll artwork, and Thirty Three Star’s proprietor, Thressa Anderson, made everyone in attendance feel right at home. Check out Thressa’s 33 Star Rock & Roll Boutique in Jacksonville Beach for all of your rock and roll clothing needs.

You got to love the Thirty Three Star Artist Lounge! I’ll Rack’em, Aaron Nordstrom from Gemini Syndrome (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Volbeat has come on like gang-busters over the last year and a half. The Danish rock band that fuses a combination of rock and roll, heavy metal, and rockabilly, has been all over terrestrial and satellite radio with their hit singles “Lola Montez” and “The Hangman’s Body Count.”  There was more buzz backstage for this group than any other on Saturday (except for maybe Avenged Sevenfold) and Volbeat’s performance was seen by a large number of musicians from other bands who showed up to watch their set from the stage. This was also the largest crowd gathered for any one band that I had witnessed up until this point and Volbeat did not disappoint. Rob Caggiano (lead guitarist and producer), is now a full-fledged member of the group and it shows in the chemistry that he demonstrated with Michael Poulsen (vocalist/guitarist), Jon Larsen (drummer), and Anders Kjolholm (bassist).  Volbeat played an extended set that included “Doc Holliday,” “Fallen,” and finishing with their hit, “The Human Instrument / A Warrior’s Call.”  Volbeat and their fans showed that they are here to stay and a force to be reckoned with going forward.


M. Shadows, Avenged Sevenfold (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Finally, promptly at the strike of 9:40 p.m., Avenged Sevenfold took the Monster Energy Stage West in front of a packed, sunburned, rabid mob of fans.  Avenged Sevenfold didn’t win the 2014 Revolver Magazine’s Golden Gods Award for Most Dedicated Fans Award for nothing!


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Avenged opened their set with “Shepherd of Fire,” and pounded out such hits as “Hail to the King” “Doing Time,” “This Means War,” “Buried Alive,” and concluded Saturday’s events with “Unholy Confessions.”  Avenged Sevenfold dedicated the song “Afterlife,” to the late James “The Rev” Sullivan (drummer), who passed away in 2009.  Avenged Sevenfold showed no restraint when it came to their use of pyrotechnics and were spectacular to see live.


No matter what the venue Florida weather always brings out bikini clad women! (photo by Travis Failey)

Saturday’s show also included performances by Cathercist, Silver Tung, Middle Class Rut, Adelitas Way, Evergreen Terrace, Chiodos, Smile Empty Soul, Memphis May Fire, Fozzy, A Day to Remember, and The Cult.

Saturday’s line up provided twelve hours of non-stop rock and roll.  Thousands of fans showed off their ink, bad tan lines and their devotion to their favorite bands, both big and small.  Surviving twelve hours in the Florida heat/sunshine in late April is no easy task.  Luckily, Metropolitan Park and Monster Energy provided the concert-goers with plenty of shaded seating, ice-cold energy drinks, reasonable water prices, and a huge selection of food vendors.  Without a doubt, day one of Jacksonville’s Fourth Annual Rockville Festival was a great success.


Brandon Bliss, Monster Truck (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Brian Steele Medina, Gemini Sydrome (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Chad Grey, Hell Yeah (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

John Harvey, MONSTER TRUCK (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Kelly Sanders, Hell Yeah (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

M Shadows (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Brian Steele Medina, Gemini Sydrome (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Matt McCloskey, Rev Theory (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Myles Kennedy (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Hell Yeah! Vinnie Paul  (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

It’s all about pacing yourself with a power nap (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Yeaaahhhh! (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Zacky Vengeance (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

We as Human (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

We as Human (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Throw him to that S.A.F.E, dude! (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Fans are smiling! (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Zacky Vengeance, Avenged Sevenfold (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Synyster Gates, Avenged Sevenfold (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Paul Phillips (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Really? Is that a glow stick?  Really? (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Rich Luzzi, Rev Theory (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)

Alessandro Paveri, Gemini Syndrome (photo by Travis Failey / RSEN)






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