Carolina Rebellion Festival 2014

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Saturday, May 10, 2014

Despite most of my festival experiences coming at the hands of Rock on the Range, this was my third year covering Carolina Rebellion and easily my favorite of the three. The first two years were marred by problems, but 2014 went off without any issues. 2012 featured a different venue and fans suffered from the self-proclaimed “dust bowl” which saw us coughing and sneezing up dust for days after the show. After a change of venue (from Rockingham Speedway to Charlotte Motor Speedway), the dust stopped, but we were faced with another, and much more severe, issue – rain; more specifically, lack of weatherproofing for the stages. Due to the lack of preparation, much of Sunday’s installment from 2013 was cancelled, including sets from openers Nonpoint as well as the festivals final three acts: Bush, Rise Against and Soundgarden. Needless to say, this was a major pitfall for the festival, leaving its future in doubt. As a show of good faith, the organizers gave fans the opportunity to gain a refund for Sunday or choose to buy tickets for Sunday at a discounted rate (I believe it was set at $10). This show of good faith turned into a major positive for Carolina Rebellion, as the festival saw record-shattering numbers in 2014. Early estimates were 60,000 attendees on Saturday and upwards of 100,000 on Sunday. For a list of our interview from Carolina Rebellion 2014, click HERE. Now, onto the bands.

Trivium:

While Truckfighters were the true opening band, I wasn’t able to catch their set. So the first band of my Carolina Rebellion experience would be Trivium. While they played a higher billing at Welcome to Rockville, they were were stuck with a main stage opening slot. Some bands might feel slighted, but Trivium and vocalist Matt Heafy made the best of it and put on a fantastic performance behind songs like “Built to Fall” and “In Waves”. If you’ve ever been to a Trivium show, you know how rowdy they can get. Their set may have been short, but they made the most of their time – as usual.

It’s also worth noting that this was the final show Trivium played with drummer Nick Augusto, as he was relieved of his duties as drummer shortly after the show.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall rating: 9

Set list:

1. Brave This Storm
2. Built to Fall
3. Strife
4. Black
5. Dying in Your Arms
6. Down From the Sky
7. In Waves

 

Adelitas Way:

I’ve seen Adelitas Way many times over the years and every time they’ve been fantastic. As vocalist Rick DeJesus told us in an interview “we normally hear fans tell us that they weren’t really that into our music until they saw our live show”. That describes my feelings towards them perfectly. While I’ve never found myself listening to them much outside the occasional song or two, I definitely love seeing their name on the bill of a show I want to cover. Bands always say that they give 110% while on stage, but for most, those are just empty words; for Adelitas Way, that’s fact.

With their new album, Stuck, set to come out next month, the band is hard at work to promote it. Based off the songs they played at Carolina Rebellion, we know you won’t be disappointed.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 8.5
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 9

Set list:

1. The Collapse
2. Dog On a Leash
3. Show ’em Why We Came
4. Criticize
5. Sick
6. Stuck
7. Invincible

 

Devour the Day:

As Egypt Central went down in flames, Joey Walser and Blake Allison formed a new band called Devour the Day. Walser, was Egypt Centrals bassist and now plays guitar and does background vocals. Blake Allison was drummer, turned lead guitarist and vocalist. While Egypt Central had some great songs, Devour the Day feels like a great evolution of what they were trying to achieve musically. Some bands choose to cut their losses and throw their old band away, but Walser and Allison embrace Egypt Central and showed this by covering the song “White Rabbit”. Bassist Joey Walser is an absolute maniac on stage and the crowd ate it up. Watch out for Devour the Day, they’re on a warpath and with how good they are live, chances are they could be moving up the billing sooner rather than later.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 8.5
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall rating: 9

 

Black Label Society:

Few front men rock harder than Black Label Society front man and guitarist Zakk Wylde. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past twenty years (my sympathies if you have been), Zakk Wylde is a guitar master who’s headed up Black Label Society for roughly sixteen years and was Ozzy Osbourne’s main guitiarst for almost twenty years as well.

Zakk Wylde also has a very distinctive style of playing, which you’ll notice right away as he starts shredding. As usual, Black Label Society was fantastic live. Songs like “Stillborn”, “Overlord and “My Dying Time” were face melting. They may not have the same energy level as, say, Killswitch Engage, but BLS doesn’t really need that to be great live. They just go up there and melt your faces and that’s all that they really need to do and they do it effectively.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9.5
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 7
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. My Dying Time
2. Godspeed Hell Bound
3. Destruction Overdrive
4. The Rose Petalled Garden
5. Heart of Darkness
6. Concrete Jungle
7. Stillborn
8. Overlord
9. Suicide Messiah

 

Killswitch Engage:

Killswitch Engage has been a force to be reckoned with in the metal world for fifteen years and after the return of original vocalist Jesse Leach, the bands showing no signs of slowing down. After a decade-long abscenece, Leach found his way back to the band after long-time vocalist Howard Jones decided to leave. For long-time fans like myself, it was amazing to see the band reformed into their original line up. While I’d seen them perform once before with Leach, this show was on a completely new level.

While Killswitch Engage is always great live, they truly shine at festival shows. Despite playing halfway through the day, their energy transferred over big time to the crowd. While the entire band is energetic, guitarist Adam Dutkiewicz raises the bar drastically. He’d toned it down substantially while performing with Leach in their side band Times of Grace, but he was back to his hilariously childish antics here and that made for some very entertaining moments. Despite running around with a bandana on his head with the word “CUNT” written in huge letters, he proclaimed, before their third “Rose of Sharyn”, that if the girls on guys’ shoulders were going to stay there that they were obligated to show their breasts. Many female attendees gladly obliged.

Despite his voice failing a bit the last time I saw them, Leach was fantastic here. I’m sure it’s weird performing songs you didn’t write, but Leach did a great job of blending their old stuff with the Jones-era. A great set list paired with the return of Leach and the energy from the crowd easily made for one of the best festival performances I’ve seen in awhile.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 10

Set list:

1. A Bid Farewell
2. The New Awakening
3. Rose of Sharyn
4. This Fire Burns
5. Life to Lifeless
6. Always
7. My Last Serenade
8. In Due Time
9. The End of Heartache
10. My Curse
11. Holy Diver [Dio cover]

 

Anthrax:

Early last year we learned that long time guitarist Rob Caggiano had decided to leave the band (eventually joining Volbeat) and would be replaced by Jonathan Donais of Shadows Fall.

Every time you see Anthrax, chances are you’re going to get the same show. It won’t be bad by any stretch, but if you’ve seen them a bunch, it can get a bit tiresome. Thankfully they had a great mix of songs for their set list, including a fantastic cover of AC/DC’s “TNT” that got the entire crowd into a frenzy. Joey Belladonna is always fantastic and you can never go wrong with the energy of guitarist Scott Ian and bassist Frank Bello. I think if the set list hadn’t been changed up a bit, I don’t think I could’ve enjoyed their set as much but for those who love Anthrax and those who had never seen them before I have a hard time believing they didn’t have a blast.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. Caught in a Mosh
2. Efilnikufesin (N.F.L.)
3. Got the Time [Joe Jackson cover]
4. T.N.T. [AC/DC cover]
5. Indians
6. Fight ‘Em ‘Til You Can’t
7. I Am the Law

 

Thousand Foot Krutch:

I wasn’t sure what to expect from Thousand Foot Krutch going into their set. Aside from hearing a random song here and there at a sporting event or on the radio, I wasn’t too familiar with them. I was pleasantly surprised. Given the small size of the Jagermeister stage, the band tried to be as energetic as possible. Vocalist Trevor McNevan sounded great and had a decent amount of energy. They had a sizeable crowd too given their time slot.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 8
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall rating: 8

Set list:

1. Let the Sparks Fly
2. I Get Wicked
3. Courtesy Call
4. The End Is Where We Begin
5. War of Change
6. Move
7. Light Up the Sky

 

Seether:

As I’ll say for Staind in their portion of my review of day two, Seether is a great live band but very boring. If you just want a band that will sound great but not bring much else to the live atmosphere, Seether is for you. While I don’t need every band to hang from rafters who shoot off $100,000 worth of pyrotechnics, I don’t also want to sit there for forty five minutes and just hear something that sounds good. If I wanted that, I’d stay at home in the air conditioning and listen to your album on my ipod rather than bake in the hot sun to watch you just stand there.

Perhaps I’m unfairly harsh, but I expect a bit of enthusiasm from bands. That said, if that’s not something that bothers you, then you’ll be content by Seether just sounding great live. Vocalist and guitarist Shaun Morgan sounded great, even though he stood motionless at his microphone for the majority of the set. They had a decent set list that ranged from older crowd favorites to newer material. My complaints with their energy aside, Seether always sounds fantastic live, so if you’re planning on seeing them in the future and that won’t bother you, you’ll definitely still enjoy them.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9.5
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 5
Overall rating: 7.5

Set list:

1. Gasoline
2. Fine Again
3. Broken
4. Words As Weapons
5. Rise Above This
6. Tonight
7. Country Song
8. Fake It
9. Remedy

 

Volbeat:

Volbeat has always been one of those bands that I love to hate. Despite the fact that vocalist Michael Poulsen sounds like the Swedish Chef from the Muppets, I try really hard to like their music. They’ve got a very unique blend of genres and the addition of former-Anthrax guitarist Rob Caggiano can only strength their writing, but I still find it impossible to listen to them without laughing.

That said, the band has gotten much better live than the first time I saw them; much more energy and I think Caggiano brings a lot of that to the table. Poulsen sounded great and the crowd was going absolutely nuts during their set. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to see them without laughing, but I loved the energy they brought to the table and their quick rise to the top of the billing has certainly been astounding.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 8
Overall rating: 9

Set list:

1. Doc Holliday
2. Lola Montez
3. Ring of Fire [Johnny Cash cover]
4. Sad Man’s Tongue
5. 16 Dollars
6. Dead but Rising
7. Evelyn [featuring Matt Heafy and Corey Beaulieu of Trivium]
8. Still Counting
9. The Hangman’s Body Count
10. Heaven nor Hell
11. A Warrior’s Call
12. Pool of Booze, Booze, Booza [With Scott Ian Frank Bello and Charlie Benante of Anthrax]
13. Breaking the Law [Judas Priest cover]
14. The Mirror and the Ripper

 

Rob Zombie:

I’ve seen Rob Zombie so many times over the last few years that it’s hard to get excited for him anymore. He may be fantastic live, but carbon copy set lists and identical stage shows regardless of tour has certainly made his live shows more stale for those of us who have frequented his shows.

Don’t get me wrong, few artists perform as hard as Rob Zombie and his band. Guitarist John 5 and bassist Piggy D are crazy on stage, constantly running back and forth from side to side and screwing with each other while they play. It’s always great to see a band having fun on stage and there’s no shortage of fun during a Rob Zombie show.

Unfortunately their lighting was back to its normal level of suckage (especially in comparison to the great lighting he had the previous week at Welcome to Rockville), but I was surprised they didn’t add anything special to their live show since they weren’t able to use pyro, but c’est la vie, I suppose.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. We’re An American Band [Grand Funk Railroad cover]
2. Superbeast
3. American Witch
4. Living Dead Girl
5. Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown
6. More Human Than Human [White Zombie cover]
7. Sick Bubble-Gum
8. Pussy Liquor
9. Never Gonna Stop (The Red, Red Kroovy)
10. School’s Out [Alice Cooper cover]
11. Thunder Kiss ‘65
12. Dragula

 

Avenged Sevenfold:

Like many of the bands on this bill, if you’ve seen them once you know exactly what they’re going to do the next show, too. Avenged Sevenfold is no exception. The set lists may change, but they’ll have lots of fire and guitarists Synyster Gates and Zacky Vengeance will, on multiple occasions, both make their way to the middle of the stage and play simultaneous guitar solos.

But aside from the lack of ingenuity, you can never be too disappointed by an Avenged Sevenfold show. There’s always a lot going on and they usually manage to diversify their set lists enough to keep things interesting. For me, one of the biggest complaints I’ve had over the years has been vocalist M. Shadows’ voice. Some shows, like this one, he sounds fantastic, while others he can barely sing by the end of the show. Thankfully, as I said, this wasn’t one of those shows.

While I’m sick of seeing Avenged Sevenfold headlining every festival and tour, there’s not much I can do about it. They’re a worthy headliner, but I hope the headliner spot gets shaken up a lot more next year.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 9
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. Shepherd of Fire
2. Critical Acclaim
3. Bat Country
4. Hail to the King
5. Doing Time
6. Buried Alive
7. Fiction
8. Nightmare
9. Afterlife
10. This Means War
11. Unholy Confessions

 

[DAY 2]

Gemini Syndrome:

I had the opportunity to catch Gemini Syndrome last weekend at Welcome to Rockville and I was immediately sold. I love the energy of their music. It was certainly a challenge to photograph a band whose singer is fully albino and playing in the daytime, but man what a great live band. They’ve only been around for a short time, but they’re already making major waves and with how good their debut album LUX is, you’ll probably be seeing a lot of them going forward.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 8.5
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall rating: 9

Set list [Partial]:

1. Pleasure and Pain
2. Resurrection
3. Basement
4. Stardust

 

Nothing More:

Nothing More was certainly one of the more interesting bands at Carolina Rebellion. They had a very interesting sound, one that I still can’t decide if I like. Leading up to their set, I listened to a few of their songs on Spotify and while “This is the Time (Ballast)” was solid; the rest of their sound was hard to pinpoint.

One thing I’m sure of, they certainly sounded good live. Vocalist Jonny Hawkins had a lot of energy, though the rest of the band didn’t share his level of energy. I wasn’t blown away by their set, but I’m certainly intrigued enough to check them out in the future.

Vocals: 8
Crowd Response: 6
Overall Sound: 7
Band Activity: 7
Overall rating: 7

 

HellYeah:

Members of Mudvayne, Nothingface and Pantera formed HellYeah. So, with pedigrees like those, you’d think the band would be amazing, but sadly HellYeah has never materialized in my eyes. Despite their efforts, HellYeah doesn’t hold a candle to any of their individual bands and that’s a damn shame.

While Mudvayne front man Chad Gray does a decent job, his voice still seems flat and worn out. He makes up for it with his energy on stage, but I couldn’t help feeling disappointed. The rest of the band lacked a lot of energy too and unfortunately they didn’t sound good enough to make up for their lack of energy.

Vocals: 8
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9
Overall rating: 7.5

Set list:

1. Cowboy Way
2. Matter of Time
3. Sangre por Sangre (Blood for Blood)
4. Drink Drank Drunk
5. You Wouldn’t Know
6. Hellyeah!

 

Fuel:

It’s hard for me to really enjoy seeing Fuel because of how much I can’t stand their genre of music. The alternative, post-grunge style of music was never for me. I can appreciate them for what they are, but you’ll never see me front row screaming along. I though Fuel did a much better job here than they did last year headlining the Big Night Out Tour.

“Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” was certainly a crowd pleaser, but for the most part the crowd didn’t seem too into them.

Vocals: 8
Crowd Response: 6
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 6
Overall rating: 6.5

 

Theory of a Deadman:

I have never been a big fan of Theory of a Deadman’s music. They’re great live but their music always bored me. Songs like “Bitch Came Back” and “Hate My Life” helped me enjoy their set more, but that’s not saying much. I didn’t mind listening to the rest of their set from the press tent (position about 50 yards behind the stage they were playing on), but I probably would’ve headed over to the next stage had I just been a fan in the crowd.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9.5
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall rating: 9

Set list:

1. So Happy
2. Lowlife
3. Bitch Came Back
4. Drown
5. Savages
6. Hate My Life
7. Bad Girlfriend

 

Alter Bridge:

I’m very much in the minority here, but I’ve never been that big of a fan of Alter Bridge. I love Mark Tremonti’s guitar work, but past that they don’t do anything for me. Myles Kennedy is great live, but sadly they’re one of the bands that has never really clicked to me. The crowd was loving them though. Songs like “Metalingus” and “Isolation” had the crowd going nuts.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall rating: 8

Set list:

1. Addicted to Pain
2. Come to Life
3. Cry of Achilles
4. Metalingus
5. Blackbird
6. Rise Today
7. Isolation

 

A Day to Remember:

Despite being my favorite band and the main reason I wanted to cover Carolina Rebellion and Welcome to Rockville, A Day to Remember’s management barred all but a very select few from photographing their set. So, due to this policy we will not be reviewing their set.

 

Memphis May Fire:

I’ve never been a big fan of Memphis May Fire’s music, but man are they great live. Vocalist Matty Mullins has a great vocal range singing soaring melodies while switching to screaming his lungs out. It’s too bad they were shackled to a tiny side stage, but they made due and their crowd was quite raucous. With this type of music slowly rising in prominence, chances are you’ll be seeing a lot more of Memphis May Fire in the future.

Vocals: 8.5
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 8
Band Activity: 9
Overall rating: 8

 

Staind:

Like Seether, Staind is a band that sounds great but is mind-numbingly boring live. Aside from guitarist Mike Mushok, a normal person might walk up to the other band members and check their pulse to make sure they’re still alive. I suppose with how (arguably) mellow Staind’s music is, there’s no need for energy, but I’ve always found singer Aaron Lewis’ lack of enthusiasm disappointing.

Despite my qualms with their visible enthusiasm, Staind remains one of the best sounding live bands around. Playing a great mix of songs, this was one of the better sounding Staind sets I’ve caught in awhile.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 5
Overall rating: 8

Set list:

1. Eyes Wide Open
2. Falling
3. Fade
4. Right Here
5. Outside
6. Not Again
7. Mudshovel
8. It’s Been Awhile
9. Something to Remind You
10. Now
11. Paper Wings
12. For You

 

311:

It’s been quite awhile since I’ve seen or photographed 311. In fact, the last time I covered them was way back in 2010 when they headlined a tour with The Offspring. They were fantastic back then and they haven’t lost a beat since. With their unique blend of rock, ska and reggae, vocalists Nick Hexum and Doug Martinez are a great vocal duo. They’re not overly flashy on stage, but Martinez was constantly making his way from side to side as he was singing and Hexum followed suit.

They may have been one of the “softer” bands this weekend, but that didn’t stop a capacity crowd from singing along to every song. I mean, if you hear “Beautiful Disaster” and “Down” playing, you’re going to sing along. If you get the chance to see 311, don’t miss out.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 9.5
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 8
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. Homebrew
2. Freeze Time
3. T & P Combo
4. Beautiful Disaster
5. What Was I Thinking
6. You Wouldn’t Believe
7. Applied Science
8. Five of Everything
9. Creatures (For A While)
10. Hydroponic
11. Down

 

Five Finger Death Punch:

Five Finger Death Punch, like Volbeat, has always been a band that I love to hate. Ever since I saw them open up the main stage at Rock on the Range 2008, their rise to stardom seemed almost instantaneous. One second they were a lowly festival opener, the next they’re a co-headliner. While I might find their shtick a bit gimmicky, they are easily one of the best live bands around. Vocalist Ivan Moody is one of the more energetic front men and managed to not only sound great but has a ton of energy.

The set seemed pretty par for the course for them, but their crowds are always extra rowdy. Security certainly got their workouts in during Five Finger Death Punch. I wouldn’t be surprised if FFDP was a festival headliner in the next few years.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 10

Set list:

1. Under and Over It
2. Burn It Down
3. Hard to See
4. Lift Me Up
5. Bad Company [Bad Company cover]
6. Burn MF
7. Remember Everything
8. Coming Down
9. Never Enough
10. Mama Said Knock You Out [LL Cool J cover]
11. The Bleeding

 

Kid Rock:

Kid Rock was far and away the odd artist out this weekend. Despite the fact he catered his set list to the festival (i.e. playing more older stuff than new), there were many that trashed the organizers for choosing him as a headliner. I am not one of those people.

When I was growing up, nu-metal was the it genre for most kids. Kid Rock’s first full length album, Devil Without a Cause, was fantastic and behind songs like “Bawitdaba” and “Cowboy”, it was one of the most-played albums of the late 90’s. While I only really listen to Kid Rock for nostalgia, which I’m assuming was one of the reasons he was chosen as a headliner, it was great to not only get a chance to see him again, but photograph him for the first time. At Rock on the Range 2008, the first show I ever covered, he was the only artist I couldn’t cover, so it was really cool for me to get to complete that, even if it was six years later.

Kid Rock may be over forty now, but that’s not slowing him down. He’s still unbelievably energetic and was constantly running from side to side and jumping off the risers in the front. There may have been a mass exodus of fans leaving following Five Finger Death Punches set, but there were still a ton of people left for Kid Rock and he did not disappoint.

“Devil Without A Cause” was always my favorite Kid Rock song, so opening with that was fantastic. I was amazed by how good he still is live. If you’re able to see Kid Rock live, I definitely recommend it. Even if you’re not a huge fan of his, he makes his shows accessible for new and old fans alike.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9.5
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 10

Set list:

1. Devil Without a Cause
2. You Never Met a Motherfucker Quite Like Me
3. American Bad Ass
4. Forever
5. Cocky
6. Somebody’s Gotta Feel This / Fist of Rage
7. Cowboy/Good Ol Boys
8. Only God Knows Why
9. Born Free
10. All Summer Long
11. Bawitdaba

The file sizes for our photos apparently exceeds our host sites thumbnail requirements, so despite the fact they look broken ALL photos are viewable once they’re clicked on!

 

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