After the torrential downpour and lightning we dealt with on Day 1 of Welcome To Rockville at Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville, FL, Day 2 was the complete opposite for most of the day. It started off sunny and hot and helped immensely drying off the grounds that were saturated with water. I had some fun stuff set up early in the day for The Photo Pit and was very excited to see that lineup of artists.
The day started off with an interview with John Cooper, vocalist and bassist of Skillet. This was an interview I was super excited to get and it was absolutely worth taking the time to do it. For those who don’t know, John is a huge fan of fantasy, sci-fi, and comic books. So we had some great discussions around Star Wars, Game of Thrones, and Avengers: Endgame. We talked about the teaser to the new Skillet album, their current tour, and a follow-up tour that will have a stop in Orlando, FL, where I live. Look for that interview to be posted soon to The Photo Pit YouTube channel and on the website.
Afterward, I took a run over to the Zippo Sessions Stage for another interview. This one, I never thought would happen, so thank you to Alex from Zippo for getting this set up for me. As I waited by the stage, Jose Mangin walks in. He is the host of SiriusXM Octane and one of the hosts of SiriusXM Liquid Metal. Jose and I have met a few times and he remembered me. We talked a bit about the Zippo Sessions, our love for the festivals, and Jose teased about an upcoming project as well. It sounds like a new festival to me! Look for that interview to be posted soon to The Photo Pit YouTube channel and on the website.
And then it was on to photographing some of the bands playing that day. My first of the day ended up being Black Label Society at the Monster Energy Stage. The band is currently on their 20 Years of Sonic Brewtality Tour and will be releasing on May 17th their next album Sonic Brew – 20th Anniversary Blend 5.99 – 5.19. The album is a remaster of their first album Sonic Brew. As expected, Zak Wylde was a wild man on the guitar, shredding as no one else can, while singing. The huge crowd appreciated their performance, which was not surprising. Black Label Society is a fun band to watch.
On the Metropolitan Stage we had Skillet ready to rock our faces off. The band is known for getting the crowd moving with their anthem rock music and also known for being extremely energetic during their live performances. Today was no exception as John Cooper and his wife Korey Cooper were seriously rocking on stage. Jen Ledger, who I think is one of the best drummers today, played with such passion and you think she’s going to knock off her cymbals with every hit. Seth Morrison provided his own energy on stage getting the crowd engaged and getting very creative with his guitar playing. Skillet had a tremendous crowd and they were moshing, crowd surfing, and bouncing on their feet for the whole set.
It was then back to the Monster Energy Stage to see In This Moment perform. Their sets are always unique and the most fun for their hard rock/metal theatrical performances. With an entire church like background on the stage and the Blood Dolls performing in unison with Maria Brink, the band delivered a stellar performance. My personal favorite is always watching Travis Johnson performing with his piercing gaze and thunderous bass notes. In This Moment is still touring in support of their most recent album Ritual.
After a much-needed break from the heat and for some water, it was back to the Monster Energy Stage for a very special performance. Last year on May 4th at the former Carolina Rebellion, Shinedown released their latest album Attention Attention. The album was a tremendous success and today was the one year anniversary of the album’s release. Besides that, Jacksonville, FL is Shinedown‘s hometown. So this was a very special performance for them to play today. And when they hit the stage, you could feel the excitement from the crowd and the love and support they had for this band. There were so many people there to see them that you could clearly hear the fans singing back the songs from halfway across the venue. Shinedown must have fed off the fan’s energy because it was one the best sets I’ve seen them perform. And I was happy to see Brent Smith perform his normal ritual of having the crowd shake hands with their neighbors while he shakes hands with the photographers in the pit.
Back at the Metropolitan Stage after Shinedown was done, the legendary Judas Priest took the stage. The legendary British rockers were recently in Jacksonville, FL at Daily’s Place back in September 2018. The band is still touring in support of their most recent album Firepower. Judas Priest had some killer firepower going that night with some excellent mix of older and newer music in their catalog. Rob Halford came out on stage wearing a top hat with skulls and a long cane and changed outfits throughout the night and even rode out on a motorcycle when they performed “Hell Bent For Leather”. The crowd went berzerk for Judas Priest with moshing and crowd surfing. It was a great performance and personally was pleased they were on the lineup. Seeing Judas Priest is a performance you’ll never forget.
Last, and certainly not least, Rob Zombie played the Monster Energy Stage. The band is no stranger to the Danny Wimmer Presents festivals as they have played them numerous times in their career. Rob Zombie always puts on a performance that makes you feel alive. It’s entertaining, engaging, and honestly, you never know what to expect from them. And that night, they didn’t disappoint anyone. Rob Zombie, John 5, Piggie D., and Ginger Fish rocked the crowd with some favorites “Well, Everybody’s Fucking in a U.F.O., complete with a giant robot on stage, “Living Dead Girl”, and wrapping up the night with “Dragula”.
Welcome To Rockville Day 2 was a huge improvement to the craziness that occurred on Day 1. With great weather and a solid lineup, the fans absolutely appreciated the hard work all the bands put in on the stage.