Sunday, October 13th was the final day of the EXIT 111 festival at Great Stage Park in Manchester, TN. After a late-night on Day 2, I was a little behind getting to the festival for Day 3. The weather was brisk but warmer than Saturday evening. The crowd wasn’t rushing anywhere and I think a lot of them were worn out from a very long Saturday. I made my way over to the Rise Above Stage to catch my first artist of the day From Ashes To New. Hailing from Lancaster, PA, the band is always good for high energy output and getting the crowd pumped up. I’ve photographed them at least four times prior to this show and they are always a pleasure to watch. The band is still promoting their last album The Future which was released in 2018. Vocalist Matt Brandyberry came out first with his rapping before vocalist Danny Case came out with his clean singing style. Guitarist Lance Dowdle is a man possessed playing on stage and did not disappoint. Drummer Mat Madiro ripped away on the drums during their set. Their setlist included songs “The Future”, “My Fight”, and “Crazy”. It was a great set and the fans were definitely pleased with their performance.
The next artist I covered was also back at the Rise Above Stage which was Dirty Honey. The straight-up rock n’ roll band from Los Angeles has been a huge buzz in the music scene. Their self-titled EP has received rave reviews and has over 5 million+ streams and they are the only unsigned band to have a single hit #1 on the Rock Radio Charts with their debut single “When I’m Gone”. The band is currently on tour with Skillet and Alter Bridge and will open two shows for Guns N’ Roses before going out on their own headlining tour. And their performance at the festival showed why they’re so popular. Dirty Honey captures their audience with solid rock n’ roll music, amazing vocals, and a stage presence that has you grooving along with them. I was thoroughly impressed with the band and their setlist included songs “Scars”, “Heartbreaker”, “When I’m Gone”, and their recent single “Rolling 7s”. Dirty Honey is a force that will keep rock n’ roll alive and I look forward to seeing what they do in the future.
From here it was over to the Heaven stage for one of my favorite artists, Alter Bridge. The band primarily from my current residence of Orlando, FL has rocked the radio airwaves since 2004. With great music and live performances, the band quickly elevated into fan favorites. The band is now on tour supporting the release of their sixth studio album, Walk The Sky, which comes out on October 18, 2019. The moment Myles Kennedy (vocals, guitar), Mark Tremonti (guitar), Brian Marshall (bass), and Scott Phillips (drums) walked out on stage, the EXIT 111 crowd went nuts. They sounded amazing, as always, and played new music “Wouldn’t You Rather” and “Pay No Mind” from Walk The Sky. With Myles primarily standing behind the microphone and playing while Mark ripped out guitar notes in technically sound fashion. It was an amazing set that also included “Isolation” (one of my favorite songs), “Rise Today” (another favorite), “Blackbird”, and “Metalingus”. Alter Bridge is on tour with both Skillet and Dirty Honey and I’m looking forward to seeing them again at the end of October in Orlando.
Next up over at the Hell stage was one of the bands I was looking forward to most at the festival, Lamb of God. Originally formed in 1994 out of Richmond, VA under the name Burn The Priest, the heavy metal band immediately started building their fan base with their music and energy on stage. They changed their name of Lamb of God right after the release of their first album in 1999 produced a total of nine studio albums and will be working on their tenth studio album. The legion of Lamb of God fans at the festival was packed in tight to get as close to the stage as possible. Security was heavy in the pit expecting a large number of crowd surfers. When Lamb of God came on stage, the fans erupted in cheers. It may have been one of the loudest crowds this festival long. And when vocalist Randy Blythe started to sing, the crowd was bouncing, horns high, moshing, and doing whatever to absorb the emotion and energy Lamb of God pours out of their music. Randy was jumping and belting out lyrics, Willie Adler (rhythm guitar) was smiling and having fun, Mark Morton (lead guitar) looked intensely over the crowd as he played, and John Campbell (bass) was giving evil looks to the fans before smiling at them. Lamb of God was tearing it up on stage and their fans were behind them 110%. I hadn’t seen anything like it during the festival. Some of Lamb of God‘s setlist included “Walk With Me in Hell”, “512”, “Descending”, and “Redneck”.
The next band I caught that night was one I’ve never seen before live, Coheed and Cambria. The band from Nyack, NY formed in 1995 and released three EPs before releasing their first studio album in 2002. The majority of their albums, with the exception of the eighth studio album, focus on a science fiction story known as The Armory Wars. The two main characters are Coheed Kilgannon and Cambria Kilgannon in their struggle against the Archmage. Having never seen the band I wasn’t sure what to expect and I was pleasantly surprised. Besides the music being truly amazing, their backdrop and lights during their performance were truly vivid. By far the most colorful light shows I saw at the festival. And their crowd was not only massive they were dedicated Coheed and Cambria fans. They knew every lyric to the songs sung and when Claudio Sanchez (vocals, guitar) stopped singing and pointed at the crowd, the crowd would finish the lyrics loudly. I was blown away with their set that night. Their setlist included “The Dark Sentencer”, “A Favor House Atlantic”, and “Welcome Home”.
The festival wrapped up Day 3 on the Heaven stage with the legendary Guns N’ Roses. The band who started in 1985 was the main headliner and closing out the EXIT 111 festival. The fans waited with anticipation to see Axl Rose (vocals), Slash (guitar), and Duff McKagan (bass) back together again on stage. They were given a full three hour set time and they took full advantage of it playing 22 songs that night. Some of the setlist included well-known “Sweet Child O’ Mine”, “Welcome to the Jungle”, “It’s So Easy”, “Mr. Brownstone”, “Rocket Queen”, and “November Rain”. They also performed cover songs including “Slither” by Velvet Revolver, “Black Hole Sun” by Soundgarden, and “Knocking on Heaven’s Door” by Bob Dylan. Guns N’ Roses left the crowd wanting more and was a solid close to the festival.
EXIT 111 was three glorious days of amazing bands from classic rock, hard rock, and heavy metal. It was a spectacular lineup for an inaugural festival. The weather was good, except for Saturday evening’s freezing cold, and the fans looked happy throughout the weekend. I’m looking forward to hopefully another EXIT 111 festival because it can only get better from here.