My Monstrous Kind Of Rockville

By on May 10, 2016
3 Doors Down 3

(Photo-Will Ogburn)

Monster Energy Drink’s Welcome to Rockville is more of an experience than a show. Though they passed out schedules at the door, you’d be lucky to see even half of what the event had to offer due to its enormity. Walking through the gate felt like being transported to a new world – a place full of colorful people, bacon-covered food, and rock music loud enough to leave your ears ringing for days.


(Photo Will Ogburn)


Inside of this vortex, time flew by. Whatever plans you made to catch a few songs here and there were quickly re-arranged by a few surprises. The side stages featured bands like Megadeth, Anthrax, Parkway Drive, and We Came As Romans. These would often be running at the same time as heavy-hitters on the main stage, making for some hard decisions. Lamb of God or Anthrax? Bullet for Valentine or Crown the Empire? HELLYEAH or Pop Evil?

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Andy Glass We Came As Romans (Photo Will Ogburn)

Some people strategically missed bands or had their friends save them spots in the crowd; some went with the flow, meandering to whichever stage caught their attention. Either way, a good time was easy to find during the two-day festival.

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Frank Bello Anthrax (Photo Will Ogburn)

The Surprises

Ghost is a band that doesn’t jump off the lineup card, but their performance will leave you speechless. The band takes the stage in costume, lead by their front man Papa Emeritus III. His stark face paint, booming Swedish voice, and effortlessly sinister gestures grab you instantly – locking your eyes onto every movement.

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Ghost (Photo Will Ogburn)

Behind Emeritus stands a group of “Nameless Ghouls”, supporting musicians with equally frightening masks. The band makes anonymity a big part of their act so that fans can focus on the art; there are no egos and no drama, just six artists on the same page.

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Papa III Ghost (Photo Will Ogburn)

The entire performance looks like some kind of satanic ritual, with bandmates filing out on to the stage to monkish chants. From there I was expecting a heavy sound similar to the face-painting Motionless In White – or Avatar, who had played on a main stage earlier in the day. What fans got was closer to 80’s rock with a dark twist.

Their voices chanted along with “Cirice”, the track that won the band a Grammy for Best metal Performance back in February. ­­­Emeritus was great at fan interaction, and actually made a girl cry by singing to her. This one was pretty special.

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Michael Wayne Atha Yelawolf (Photo Will Ogburn)

Yelawolf held it down for both his home state of Alabama, and the entire hip-hop genre at Rockville. I was curious to see how he and fellow lyricists Cypress Hill would do in front of this “metal or die” crowd, and both exceeded my expectations. Though Yelawolf’s journey ended with turntables and beats instead of guitars and drums, his background is very similar to the average Rockvillian.

The high point came when he stood above the masses and led a mosh to he track “Push Em” off of his collab with Travis Barker. As bodies bounced off each other, and Yelawolf stood above them spraying words like a machine gun, he looked like hit fit right in.

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Scott, Charlie & Joey Anthrax (Photo Will Ogburn)

I knew Anthrax would be put on a great show, but I didn’t expect them to have one of the wildest pits of the weekend. Classic bands are almost always better on stage than new bands – partly due to years of experience, and partly due to the arms race that was rock and roll at its peak.

Frontman Joey Belladonna had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. He and the other three “classic” members have been at this since ’81, but were incredibly energetic and creative onstage. They were always pointing and joking with fans, including when Belladonna pretended to smoke a bowl after seeing a fan toking up. Some of the youngsters at the festival should get some tips from these guys  as their stage show and presence is undeniable.


Joey Belladonna Anthrax (Photo Travis Failey)

The Winners

A Day to Remember take pride in their Floridian heritage, and often feel a certain home field advantage when playing in the state. Even so, the friends from Ocala have risen to international fame – selling out stadiums across the country. Many fans were here specifically for ADTR, and there was a noticeable impact on the crowd after the closing of their set around 6:30 on the second day.


Jeremy McKinnon ADTR (Photo-Travis Failey)


A Day To Remember (Photo-Travis Failey)

ADTR’s set began with the iconic intro to “Downfall of Us All”, drawing every metalhead within earshot to sing along. There was another roar in the crowd during “All Signs Point to Lauderdale”, a relatable track about growing up in small town Florida. The band kept things lively during their 12-songs set – playing some throwbacks and deep tracks for the true fans.

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David Draiman Disturbed (Photo Will Ogburn)

Disturbed is one of the undisputed kings of the metal genre. Since dropping The Sickness nearly 20 years ago, the band has been constantly evolving ­– never pigeonholing themselves into one style.



David Draiman Disturbed (Photo-Travis Failey)

Their vocalist, David Draiman, is a force. As one of the most distinctive talents in rock music, and he perfectly displayed this at Rockville. From the guttural barks of “Down with the Sickness”, to a cover of Simon and Garfunkel’s “Sounds of Silence”, Draiman tantalized the crowd with his vocal range. That wasn’t the only cover on the menu, as he spliced together a montage of NIN’s “Closer”, U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For”, The Who’s “Baba O’Riley”, and Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name.


Disturbed won the day by building off their existing success and interlacing new tracks. With heavy guitars and nostalgic vibes, they were able to pull from their dense stack of greatest hits and keep fans singing along.

Megadeth’s set was a blur of activity. Rock legend Dave Mustaine flipped his curly hair as he shredded away. Fans poured over the barricade like water into the frantic arms of security. The crowd police were on high alert, shutting down the photographers early as the congestion spilled over into the photo pit.

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Dave Mustaine Megadeth (Photo Will Ogburn)

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Dave Mustaine & Kiko Loureiro Megadeth (Photo Will Ogburn)

During “The Threat is Real”, it reached fever pitch. The face melting guitars and classic metal headbanging had the crowd moving as one. Their set was so intense that it kind of morphed into a giant metallic trance. This onslaught had no beginning or middle, just a constant stream of classic metal. I’m pretty sure I got kicked in the head.

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Kiko Loureiro Megadeth (Photo Will Ogburn)

The Headliners

After the cancelation of ZZ Top, the lineup rotated down to give some unexpected names real estate on the big stage. Though all of the headliners were solid, a word I would use to describe them is “safe”. Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, and 3 Doors Down have all been playing so consistently for so long that you know exactly what to expect. Rob Zombie was the only true wild card. You see some weird stuff at a Zombie show.

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(Photo Will Ogburn)

Shinedown’s (Day One) frontman Brent Smith was a lot more…southern than I expected. Having listened to the band since their second album back in ’05, its been interesting to see them go from introspective and dark to the chart-topping arena rockers that they are today.

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

The set featured a little of both eras – from 2003’s “Fly From the Inside”, to their latest mega hit “Cut the Cord”. Because so many people knew their lyrics, they were able to take the audience on a ride from ecstatic to sad.

Five Finger Death Punch (Day Two) is a record label’s dream: a heavy, but consistent band that is able to put out hit after hit. Having seen them numerous times, mostly at festivals, I’ve never seen anything close to a bad show from the Las Vegas natives.


Jason Hook 5FDP (Photo-Travis Failey)


Zoltan Bathory 5FDP (Photo-Travis Failey)


Ivan Moody 5FDP (Photo-Travis Failey)

Their set featured a perpetually wicked mosh pit that peaked during “Under and Over It” as all of the emotions from a day of sweating and thrashing in the sun came out. Frontman Ivan Moody also gave a salute to the military before the somber intro to “Bad Company”, causing the crowd to erupt seconds later when the guitar kicked in.

FFDP had a solid show, and carried the Rockvillians to their twenty-third hour of mayhem on day two.


Rob Zombie (Photo-Travis Failey)


Rob Zombie (Day Two Finale) is a weird dude. Like a realistic voodoo doll, he dances around the stage erratically. Zombie is a character made of ideas – from music, to movies, to costumes. As his popularity has grown, so have his budgets and the scale of those ideas. His is a special kind of show, because it’s basically just his life on stage.

The dreadhead rocker started off strong with “Superbeast”, with a huge stage display that lit up the night sky. The electronic pulse of the speakers floated through people’s brains, keeping them on one unified beat.


John 5 Zombie (Photo-Travis Failey)

Through the dude loves talking about corpses, this energy is contagious. Like Papa Emeritus, Zombie’s spooky gestures had the audience glued to his every move. The difference was Zombie’s persona came with much bigger dash of crazy – you genuinely didn’t know if he was about to jump off the stage and start biting people.

Zombie is something you should really see at least once in your life, mainly to be sure he’s not a myth.

The People of Rockville

If you live in Florida or are familiar with Florida Man on Twitter, you’re aware of the interesting, incredible, and downright terrifying people that fill this great state. Rockville seemed to bring all of this together, from porn-star-looking blondes in lingerie to giant sweaty juggalos, it was all on full display in Jacksonville.

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(Photo Will Ogburn)

PPL 12

(Photo Will Ogburn)


(Photo Will Ogburn)


Monster Energy’s Welcome to Rockville was everything that is right and wrong about Florida, spread over a single weekend in Jacksonville. The heavy-hitting lineup brought people from as far away as London, but it was truly a treat for locals. The event showed how unique of a place the Floridian rock scene can be – a community so inclusive, yet so strange. For those two days, fans could be anything they wanted with no fear of judgment. You could be any size, shape, race, or creed, but if you loved good music, this place felt like home.  


More Pictures from Rockville From Will Ogburn:

Memphis 5

Memphis May Fire (Photo Will Ogburn)

Memphis May Fire 1

Memphis May Fire (Photo Will Ogburn)

Sick Puppies 1

Sick Puppies (Photo Will Ogburn)

Issues 6

Issues (Photo Will Ogburn)

Issues 5

Issues (Photo Will Ogburn)

Ghost 4

Ghost (Photo Will Ogburn)

Escape 5

Escape The Fate (Photo Will Ogburn)

Bullet 3

Bullet For My Valentine ( Photo Will Ogburn )

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