Fort Rock’s Metal Monster Rises

By on May 6, 2016
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Anthrax (Photo-Travis Failey)

The 2016 Monster Energy’s Fort Rock Festival at Jet Blue Park in Ft. Myers, FL made its two-day debut on April 30 and May 1, 2016.  And let’s just say, it couldn’t have been any better, as AEG did a great job organizing this year’s festival.   This year’s sponsors included: Monster Energy, Jack Daniels, Bud Light, Southern Hospitality Concessions, Altpres.com, Fuck Cancer, FYE, TeamRock.com, Blabbermouth.net, Boston Red Sox, El Jimador, ESPN, Revolver, 93X,  96k Rock, the Fan 97.3, and Jagermeister.

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Jason Hook-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

The first thing that I noticed was that there were only two stages, and they were positioned right next to each other, with huge jumbo-trons on each side of the stages.  Plus, there were two more screens on the sides of the sound board, so nobody at Jet Blue Park had a bad seat this weekend.  This was great for two reasons: one, no band overlaps, and two, no logistical issues when trying to get to other stages in the heat.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

There were plenty of places to eat, and get cold drinks and security went above and beyond to make sure that the patrons and the media were safe throughout the 2 day event. The organizers provided a huge “cool zone” in the middle of the park, where several misting fans blasted cold/wet air in your face under a sun-blocking tarp.  The VIP section also provided powerful fans in all four corners of the tent, and plenty of shaded seating.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

This year’s lineup was a who’s who of past and present hard rock heroes, along with up and coming bands that are being played on terrestrial and satellite radio on regular rotation.

The Glorious Sons got things started on Saturday, followed by Avatar, who was out promoting their new release, Feathers and Flesh.

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Johannes Eckerstrom- Avatar (Photo-Travis Failey)

Avatar sported their new black attire and vocalist Johaness Eckerstrom commanded his five-man circus to the delight of the Fort Myers masses. They performed a 7 song set with 2 tracks off the new release Feathers and Flesh, “For The Swarm,” and “The Eagle has Landed.”  “Get in Line,” off Hail the Apocalypse, got the first mosh pit of the day underway.

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John Alfredsson-Avatar (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Jonas Jarlsby-Avatar (Photo-Travis Failey)

By the end of Avatar’s set, Eckerstrom had taken off his trademark hat, gloves and jacket in the 90 degree weather. Avatar’s bandmates were truly in sync with one another on stage, and like a few other bands on this weekend’s bill, Avatar is a must-see show, especially as a headliner.

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Tyler Carter-Issues (Photo-Travis Failey)

Issues, an American metalcore band from Georgia, was next.  The two things that stood out to me were the two singers’ clean and dirty approach, and the crushing bass lines and activity from Skyler Acord. Skyler stole the show as some of the other members were having “issues” with their equipment and made it obvious that they were not pleased.

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Skyler Acord-Issues (Photo-Travis Failey)

A recently formed supergroup, (or as the band has said, “refugees that hit if off creatively”), Saint Asonia, took their experience from their previous bands and applied to their performance at Fort Rock. Saint Asonia consists of guitarist Mike Mushak from Staind, Corey Lowery from Stuck Mojo and Dark New Day, and the most recognizable of the members, Adam Grontier, from Three Days Grace.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

Saint Asonia confused some attendants who thought they were a cover band because they played songs from their previous bands, such as “For You,” by Staind, and Three Days Grace’s, “I Hate Everything About You.”   Saint Asonia also included songs from their self-titled debut release.

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There were a bunch of bands on Saturday’s lineup that I was excited to see, and Sevendust was definitely one of them. Great songs, big personalities, and monster musicians, all five of them. And Sevendust would not disappoint with a combination of songs from their 20 plus year career. Lajon Witherspoon is an absolute beast on the vocals and he takes the listener on a roller coaster of intensity and emotion.  It is also hard to take your eyes off of drummer, Morgan Rose, who is affectionately known as “The Octupus” in the musical community. Sevendust also provided the first surprise of this year’s Monster Energy’s Fort Rock as Anthrax’s Joey Belladonna came on stage and performed “Face to Face” with them.

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Lajon & Joey Belladonna (Photo-Frank Colucci)

Ghost, this year’s participant of the horror rock genre and Grammy award winner for the single “Cirice,” introduced themselves by donning their Nameless Ghoul garb but with one caveat: frontman Papa Emeritus III didn’t not have on his trademark mitre head wear and just went with black and white face paint. It was understandable as the temperatures in south Florida continued to rise throughout the day.  Luckily there was some cloud cover and a killer breeze, plus security guards spent the day spraying the crowd down with a hose. There was one security guy in particular that really loved his job and smiled the ENTIRE time as he sprayed the crowd playfully as they chanted “water boy” in between Ghost playing their hits “From the Pinnacle to the Pit,” and the aforementioned “Cirice.”

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Ghost (Photo-Travis Failey)

The next three bands on Saturday’s lineup were a chiropractor’s dream.  Megadeth, Anthrax, and Lamb of God have all released new albums recently and have enjoyed their highest chart positions in years. Metal has made a resurgence lately, partially due to festivals like these, with Megadeth and Anthrax enlisting a whole new generation of fans.

Lamb Of God and Megadeth surprised the Fort Rock fans when Lamb of God’s drummer, Chris Adler, performed double duty on the skins for both bands. And I happen to know that that decision wasn’t made until game day because I had the opportunity to interview Megadeth’s bassist David Ellefson earlier in the week, and Ellefson couldn’t confirm or deny that this would happen.  (Audio Interview: https://www.rocketsports-ent.com/audio-interview-with-david-ellefson/

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Chris Adler (Photo-Travis Failey)

Lamb of God was the first of the three, and vocalist Randy Blythe was definitely one of the highlights of the day. Blythe moved across the stage with seamless aggression while maintaining crowd control and vocal integrity. He was a powder keg on stage and the biggest mosh pits and most amount of crowd surfing occurred during Lamb of God’s 9 song set which included “Laid To Rest,” ”Redneck,” and my personal favorite, “ Walk With Me in Hell.”

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Randy Blythe-LOG (Photo-Travis Failey)

Continuing to tour off their highly successful For All Kings album, Anthrax is on fire. Just getting back from playing sold out shows in Mexico with Iron Maiden, the singles “Breathing Lightning” and “Evil Twin” are in regular rotation on three different stations on Sirius/XM radio and across terrestrial radio stations. The boys are back and it’s obvious to everyone that watches Joey, Frank, Charlie and Scott on stage, that riding out the lean years was worth it.

Scott Ian (Photo-Travis Failey)

Scott Ian (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Joey Belladonna-Anthrax (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Frank Bello-Anthrax (Photo-Travis Failey)

Another band that has had their ups and downs is Megadeth, but they too are back on the upswing. This is not only due to their crushing new release, “Dystopia” but it’s also due to the addition of drummer, Chris Adler, and guitarist, Kiko Loureiro, from Brazil. These two have breathed a new life in co-founding members, Dave Mustaine and David Ellefson, and Megadeth fans have benefited greatly. The addition of these two has been a seamless transition in the studio and on stage.

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Dave Mustaine-Megadeth (Photo-Travis Failey)

Megadeth’s set mixed some of their greatest hits, “Peace Sells,” and “Trust,” with recent singles from Dystopia, “The Threat is Real” and “Fatal Illusion.” They closed out their set with “Holy Wars,” which never gets dated for obvious reasons.  Along with Anthrax, Megadeth can now ride this next wave of their career to new heights and hopefully a co-headlining tour will be in the cards……

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Kiko-Megadeth (Photo-Travis Failey)

A Day to Remember, Five Finger Death Punch and Rob Zombie concluded the day’s festivities as the hot sun set Saturday at Fort Rock.

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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ADTR (Photo-Travis Failey)

Ocala, Florida boys, A Day To Remember, or ADTR, was definitely the ladies’ favorite on Saturday, as was evidenced by the amount of rabidly screaming woman in the  crowd. Vocalist, Jeremy McKinnon, rhythm guitarist, Neil Westfall, bassist, Joshua Woodard, percussion and drummer, Alex Shelnutt, and lead guitarist, Kevin Skaff, gave a memorable performance with plenty of toilet paper rolls being thrown from the stage.

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ADTR (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Ivan-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

Five Finger Death Punch has been a recording and touring machine unlike any that I have seen as of late. Their recent drama with their label may have been splattered all over the news lately, but it didn’t seem to have an effect on them other than frontman Ivan Moody mentioning the plights of social media.

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Chris Kale-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

All the band members know how to control a crowd and Moody invited a family and several young fans onstage to sing “Burn Mother Fucker Burn.” It’s Five Finger Death Punch’s way of initiating a new generation of metal fans. Other highlights of their set was the opening song, “Lift Me Up,” and “Under and Over It.” Will the drama swallow them and their success? Only time and Five Finger Death Punch will tell.

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Rob Zombie (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Ginger Fish- Zombie (Photo-Travis Failey)

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John 5-Rob Zombie (Photo-Travis Failey)

Rob Zombie is out in support of The Electric Warlock Acid Witch Satanic Orgy Celebration Dispenser and brought his own horror show to Fort Rock. With various masks and stage props, Zombie’s shows rival those of Kiss and Alice Cooper and tonight’s set provided those theatrics. If it’s one thing that Rob Zombie knows, is that the show is just as important as the music.

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Piggy D-Zombie(Photo-Travis Failey)

Bassist Piggy D and guitarist John 5 donned their signature masks during the opener “More Human than Human” and Rob Zombie kept the crowd going throughout their 14 song set. Some in the crowd started to tail off during the guitar solo but Zombie brought them back to life with “Thunder Kiss 65” and the finale, “Dragula.”

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John 5-Rob Zombie (Photo-Travis Failey)

Day 1 of Monster Energy’s Fort Rock set a high bar that would be hard to beat. From the slightly overcast weather and cool breezes, the excellent scheduling of the sets, to the diversity of metal bands, young and old, Sunday at Fort Rock had some big shoes to fill. Did Sunday outshine Saturday?  Click the link to find out

https://www.rocketsports-ent.com/sunday-festival-sunday-at-fort-rock/

 More Pictures From Saturday by Travis Failey

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Johannes Eckerstrom- Avatar (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Zoltan-FFDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Papa III-Ghost (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Jeremy McKinnon-ADTR (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Clint Lowery-Sevendust (Photo-Travis Failey)

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ADTR (Photo-Travis Failey)

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(Photo-Travis Failey)

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Lajon-Sevendust (Photo-Travis Failey)

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Johannes Eckerstrom- Avatar (Photo-Travis Failey)

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