Welcome to Rockville Festival 2013

By Chip Tamplin

Published on Monday, May 6, 2013

I had the opportunity to cover Welcome to Rockville for the first time this year, but this could very well be one of the best festivals I’ve ever covered. Not only were the bands amazing (save for a few exceptions) but the location made this festival. Set right on the water in Metropolitan park, it had a beautiful scenic location that allowed for palm trees in the fields for the stages as well as a great breeze right off the water that made the temperature substantially more accommodating. Read on for my impressions of each band as well as photos of each!

Pop Evil:

I’ve always enjoyed Pop Evil live. The amount of energy they carry with them on stage is pretty impressive. Vocalist Leigh Kakaty really knows how to immerse the crowd in their music. Sadly they’ve never been able to really surpass the first or second spot in the line up, but that didn’t stop them from drawing a pretty sizable crowd for as early in the day as it was. Opening with their smash hit “Hero” and throwing in “100 in a 55” midway through were the perfect ways to engage the crowd early and keep them entertained. Great set.

Vocals: 8.5
Crowd Response: 8
Overall Sound: 8
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 8

Set list:

1. Hero
2. Broken and Betrayed
3. Shinedown
4. 100 in a 55
5. Boss’ Daughter
6. Trenches
7. Last Man Standing
8. Monster You Made

 

Hell or Highwater:

Anyone that knows me that Atreyu has been one of my favorite bands over the last decade. Sadly, as much as I love vocalist Brandon Saller, Hell or Highwater just doesn’t spark anything in me. They’re good live, but their songs just feel so bland. After covering them a few years ago I decided to give them another chance to see if they’d grow on me but sadly that wasn’t the case. If anything it deterred me from wanting to see them again.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 6
Overall Sound: 8
Band Activity: 7
Overall rating: 7

Set list:

1. Crash and Burn
2. Gimme Love
3. Pretty Penny
4. The Boxer
5. Hail Mary!
6. Go Alone
7. We All Wanna Go Home

 

In This Moment:

I’m not really a fan of female singers in metal. I find the majority of them to be really awful, save for a few. In This Moment vocalist Maria Brink is definitely one of the ones I don’t enjoy. Musically – they’re good, but her vocals are a huge turn off. Her voice was incredibly raspy and even though she used a head-set mic, it was still impossible to hear her. Despite freeing up her hands with the side mic, she didn’t use them for anything but holding onto her hips as she flipped her hair from side to side. While her bandmates were playing up to the crowd, she wasn’t doing anything (besides changing her wardrobe between songs). It just made for a horribly boring performance. Definitely the worst of the day.

Vocals: 4
Crowd Response: 8
Overall Sound: 7
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 5

Set list:

1. Rise with Me
2. Adrenalize
3. Blazin’
4. Whore
5. Burn
6. Beast Within
7. Blood

 

All That Remains:

Much like Pop Evil, I’ve always loved seeing All That Remains live. Great showmanship from vocalist Phil Labonte and so much added energy from his bandmates. It’s amazing to see a band that’s toured for as many years as they have still having as much fun as they did when they started. Powering through some of the bands biggest hits, the crowd was definitely behind them and drew one of the biggest crowds of the weekend.

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

Set list:

1. Not Alone
2. Stand Up
3. Down Through the Ages
4. Forever in Your Hands
5. Asking Too Much
6. The Last Time
7. This Calling
8. Hold On
9. Two Weeks

 

Asking Alexandria:

Asking Alexandria along with Motionless in White (played Sunday) were easily two of the biggest anomalies from the weekend. While they drew big crowds, it was almost as if their fans came for them and only them. Still, their set was pretty solid. Great crowd involvement and vocalist Danny Worsnop managed to maintain his voice pretty well throughout the set. I definitely loved hearing “Closure” and “The Final Episode (Let’s Change the Channel)” – two of my favorite songs by Asking Alexandria – so that definitely helped me enjoy the set.

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

Set list:

1. Welcome
2. Closure
3. Breathless
4. Not the American Average
5. The Final Episode (Let’s Change the Channel)
6. Someone, Somewhere
7. To the Stage
8. The Death of Me
9. Run Free

 

Halestorm:

Unlike In This Moment, Halestorm is a band that’s truly improved by having a female vocalist. Lzzy Hale is easily one of the best front women in rock and roll. Phenomenal voice carries herself well on stage and just genuinely knows how to rock.

Her and her younger brother Arejay – the bands drummer – just make Halestorm so much fun to watch and listen to, especially with their on-stage antics. Thanks to smash hits “I Get Off” and “Love Bites (So Do I)” Halestorm managed to easily put on a top 5 performance of the weekend.

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

Set list:

1. Freak Life Me
2. Love Bites (So Do I)
3. It’s Not You
4. Rock Show
5. Break In
6. Familiar Taste of Poison
7. Mz. Hyde
8. I Get Off
9. Here’s to Us
10. I Miss the Misery

 

Bullet for my Valentine:

While I’ve been a big Bullet for my Valentine fan for awhile, they seemed to always have the opposite effect on me from most bands. Rather than not liking them on CD but loving them live like most bands, I’ve loved Bullet on CD but was never really wowed by them live. I’m not sure if it was the fact that I hadn’t seen them in a year or two, but this was definitely one of the best shows I’ve seen of theirs. Great energy and the crowd was eating it up.

Aside from three songs off their new album Temper Temper, the set list was primarily hits from their first three albums which definitely made me happy as I was not the biggest fan of their new CD. Songs like “4 Words (to Choke Upon)” and “Scream Aim Fire” still sound so brutal live. After so many disappointing shows it was great to finally see a show that restored my love of them live.

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

Set list:

1. Breaking Point
2. Your Betrayal
3. Waking the Demon
4. Riot
5. 4 Words (to Choke Upon)
6. Temper Temper
7. Tears Don’t Fall
8. Dirty Little Secret [featuring Lzzy Hale]
9. Scream Aim Fire

 

Papa Roach:

Papa Roach is truly a rare band. Not only do they consistently put out great music, but they “bring it” every night with no exceptions. Even if his voice is shot or he’s sick, eccentric frontman Jacoby Shaddix is easily one of the best front men in rock. It’s been too long since I’ve seen them (I believe Rock Allegiance 2011 was the last time I saw them since they were forced to drop off of Uproar last year) and man were they worth the wait.

Sadly, after seeing them for the 16th time, I have grown tired of what is more or less the same set list every show. That would really be my only complaint of their set…and I can tolerate that minor complaint.

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

Set list:

1. Still Swingin’
2. Between Angels and Insects
3. Where Did the Angels Go?
4. Forever
5. Before I Die
6. Burn
7. …To be Loved
8. Getting Away with Murder
9. Scars
10. Lifeline
11. Last Resort

 

Three Days Grace:

After the abrupt departure of vocalist Adam Gontier, the future of Three Days Grace was up in the air. They turned to My Darkest Days vocalist Matt Walst for at least temporary fill-in duties. I would definitely give Walst an A for effort…but overall it was such an unbelievably underwhelming performance that I can’t believe I chose to cover them over Escape the Fate…and that’s saying a lot.

Perhaps if they were a band that didn’t have a vocalist with such a unique voice it wouldn’t be as noticeable or bothersome, but with how great Gontier was, it’s hard to imagine anyone ever being able to take his place in the band.

Vocals: 7
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 8
Band Activity: 8
Overall rating: 7

Set list:

1. Chalk Outline
2. Just Like You
3. Pain
4. The High Road
5. Home
6. Break
7. The Good Life
8. I Hate Everything About You
9. Never Too Late
10. Animal I Have Become
11. Riot

 

Stone Sour:

I’ve always been a big fan of Corey Taylors. Whether it’s Slipknot, Stone Sour or solo work, he’s always been one of my favorite front men/lyricist. While I have always and will always prefer Slipknot to Stone Sour, I have been pleasantly surprised by their music as of late. While I don’t find myself listening to much of their music (save from their amazing self-titled debut), some of their newer material really translates well to a live atmosphere.

Stone Sour put on a phenomenal show and another top five performance of the weekend.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 8.5
Overall rating: 9.5

Set list:

1. Gone Sovereign
2. Absolute Zero
3. Mission Statement
4. Made of Scars
5. Do Me a Favor
6. Say You’ll Haunt Me
7. Bother
8. Through Glass
9. Children of the Grace [Black Sabbath cover]
10. Get Inside
11. 30/30-150

 

Limp Bizkit:

Limp Bizkit was almost exclusively the reason I wanted to cover this festival. While I’m not as big of a Bizkit fan as I was in high school, I also won’t deny that Limp Bizkit had a huge influence on my taste in music from then until now. As expected, this show featured all the “hits” spanning their careers from “Nookie” and “Take a Look Around” to “Hot Dog” and “Faith”.

That wasn’t all – it was also a hometown show for Bizkit which made the show even more special. Opening with “Show Me What You Got”, they never lost the crowd. It felt more like a resurgence for Limp Bizkit rather than a simple trip down memory lane.

Fred was crisp and on a mission, Wes was decked out in his signature crazy outfit and Sam and John looked poised behind the bass and drums, respectively. A fantastic way to end my night and the first day of a great weekend.

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

Set list:

1. Show Me What You Got
2. My Generation
3. Livin’ it Up
4. Hot Dog
5. My Way
6. Re-Arranged
7. Killing in the Name [Rage Against the Machine cover]
8. Behind Blue Eyes [The Who cover]
9. Break Stuff
10. Nookie
11. Eat You Alive
12. Take a Look Around
13. Faith [George Michael cover]

 

 

[DAY 2]

 

 

Red:

Red is a great band; great energy, great music and great crowd interactions. Though a crossover band, they don’t preach too much which is an unnecessary hindrance for some. No matter the show, they’re able to bring it every night and that’s one thing I love about this band.

Front man Michael Barnes really knew how to get the crowd into it and keep them energized thanks to hits like “Release the Panic”, “Breathe into Me” and “Let Go”. Fantastic set. Can’t wait to see them again at Carolina Rebellion.

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

Set list: 

1. Damage
2. Death of Me
3. Let it Go
4. Release the Panic
5. Perfect Life
6. Breathe into Me

 

Nonpoint:

I can’t even remember the last time I saw Nonpoint. I want to say Rock on the Range 2010, but regardless it’s been substantially longer than it should be. I was blown away by Nonpoints performance. Great sound, great energy and great response from the crowd despite how early in the day it was.

Vocals: 8.5
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 9.5
Overall rating: 9

 

Saving Abel:

I enjoy Saving Abel musically, but I’ve just never enjoyed them live. I don’t know why but they’re just boring. This set was no different. Great to just chill and get drunk to, but past that not much excitement to speak of. Band sounded pretty solid though. Vocalist Jared Weeks has a great voice and was definitely on-point during their set, but wasn’t overly animated. Great for fans, disappointing for press.

Vocals: 9
Crowd Response: 8
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 7
Overall rating: 7

 

Steel Panther:

I’d heard stories about how great Steel Panther was live, but I had no idea what I was truly in for until they came on stage. Like an 80s hair metal band had traveled to the future, Steel Panther is 80s hair metal at its best…in 2013. While everyone in the band is clearly talented, I think what I enjoyed most about their set was how little they took themselves seriously. They were just out there to play some great rock and metal tunes and have a blast while doing so. Songs like “Asian Hooker”, “Just Like Tiger Woods” and “Tomorrow Night” were fantastically vulgar and hilarious.

Band members took plenty of time between songs to ask to see boobs, make fun of one another and basically just make the crowd laugh. The set definitely wasn’t for everyone, but it was definitely for me and they were definitely the diamond in the rough of Welcome to Rockville. If you’re ever given the opportunity to check them out do NOT miss it.

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

Set list:

1. Eyes of a Panther
2. Tomorrow Night
3. Party All Day (Fuck All Night)
4. Asian Hooker
5. Just Like Tiger Woods
6. 17 Girls in a Row
7. Community Property
8. Death to All but Metal

 

Filter:

The first and only time I saw Filter was way back in 2008 at the first show I ever covered. They were on a side stage relatively late in the day and were not as well received as they were here. Vocalist Richard Patrick was on point all set. Sadly their set was pretty short but songs like “Jurassitol” and “Hey Man Nice Shot” definitely made the set a memorable one.

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

Set list:

1. The Take
2. Jurassitol
3. We Hate it When You Get What You Want
4. (Can’t You) Trip Like I Do
5. Take a Picture
6. The Best Things
7. Hey Man Nice Shot

 

Saliva:

Oddly enough, I’d never seen Saliva before Rockville. Unfortunately I was unable to see them with vocalist Josey Scott, but I was pleasantly surprised by Bobby Amaru has his replacement. Unlike Matt Walst with Three Days Grace, Amaru’s voice actually fit relatively well with Saliva’s sound and so a fresh take on old songs didn’t seem like such an odd fit.

Their set list was pretty solid too. You can’t go wrong with opening with “Ladies and Gentleman” and closing with “Click Click Boom”.

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

 

Hollywood Undead:

I used to classify Hollywood Undead as a guilty pleasure, but after the departure of founding member Deuce back in 2013 their quality of music improved dramatically. The majority of the immaturity that plagued their debut album has since dissipated and allowed the band to reach their full potential.

They were always great live, but now they can be taken seriously live. All members have great chemistry and it’s amazing how well they’ve been received at these rock and metal festivals and tours over the years. I wasn’t blown away by their set list, but their set in general was phenomenal.

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

Set list:

1. Undead
2. Tendencies
3. Dead Bite
4. Comin’ in Hot
5. Another Way Out
6. Young
7. Hear Me Now
8. Everywhere I Go
9. We Are

 

Motionless in White:

I really can’t stand Motionless in White. Their music just grates on my ears but damn are they fun to photograph. Frontman Chris Cerulli has fantastic poise on stage. I love how much energy the rest of the members of the band have to. Their fans were rabid from the second the fourth stage ended until Motionless in White’s intro started. As the intro ended and members started walking on stage their fans were going berserk and didn’t let up until the set ended. While I may not be a fan of their music myself, I love how diehard their fan base is.

Vocals: 7
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 5

 

Skillet:

Skillet was easily one of the bands I anticipated the most at Rockville. Not only are they incredibly energetic live but they sound even better live than they do on CD and that seems to be a rare quality in rock nowadays. John Cooper is a fantastic frontman and brings a lot of energy to the band…especially from a bassist.

Their set list was pretty standard and featured a lot of hits which definitely appeased the crowd. “Whispers in the Dark” was a fantastic opener and songs like “Hero”, “Comatose” and “Rebirthing” made the set definitely top five of the weekend.

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

Set list:

1. Whispers in the Dark
2. Hero
3. Comatose
4. Awake and Alive
5. Sick of It
6. It’s Not Me, It’s You
7. The Last Night
8. Circus for a Psycho
9. Monster
10. Rebirthing

 

Buckcherry:

Every time I hear Buckcherry on the radio I cringe. Great music, but vocalist Josh Todd – though a great front man – has the most grating voice I’ve ever heard. Still, damn can that band bring it live. Songs like “Lit Up”, “Rescue Me” and “Crazy Bitch” definitely made for a crazy set. Sadly they were plagued with microphone trouble early on and it caused the band to walk off stage during their 3rd song after vocals cut out for the second song in a row. After a short delay they were back on stage to finish their set.

Vocals: 8.5
Crowd Response: 9.5
Overall Sound: 10
Band Activity: 10
Overall rating: 10

 

Device:

After putting Disturbed on the backburner, front man David Draiman announced that he would be partnering with former Filter guitarist Geno Lenardo to form Device. I’d only heard their debut single “Vilify”, which was surprisingly catchy despite not really sounding any different from newer Disturbed.

Much like Disturbed’s final shows before their hiatus in 2011, Draiman’s voice was beyond shot. He couldn’t hit anything and when he tried to his voice completely cut out rather than just cracking. Not sure how the guy hasn’t learned to maintain his voice but it’s kind of sad. Device are nothing special, but Draiman’s attempt to make them more will never happen if he can’t sing.

Vocals: 3
Crowd Response: 9
Overall Sound: 9
Band Activity: 5
Overall rating: 4

Set list: 

1. Penance
2. You Know You Know
3. Out of Line
4. Opinion
5. Haze
6. A Part of Me
7. Vilify

 

Shinedown:

Shinedown, without fail, brings it every show with no exceptions. Vocalist Brent Smith is very good about finding the right balance between crowd interaction and taking charge. Plowing through a decent-length setlist of hits, the band easily drew the biggest crowd of the weekend (save for Skynyrd). The crowd was so loud during “Bully” that they almost completely drowned out Smith.

Some of their normal theatrics were toned down for this show but it was definitely one of the better performances of theirs that I’ve seen; perhaps, in part, because of that fact.

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

Set list:

1. Enemies
2. Devour
3. Unity
4. I’ll Follow You
5. Diamond Eyes (Boom-Lay Boom-Lay Boom)
6. If You Only Knew
7. 45
8. Sound of Madness
9. Second Chances
10. Simple Man [Lynyrd Skynyrd cover]
11. Bully

 

Lynyrd Skynyrd:

I never thought in a million years I’d ever see Lynyrd Skynyrd. Sure, it’s not *the* Lynyrd Skynyrd, but that’s not really possible considering their tragic past. Still, even if the band’s only a shell of its former self, they were still phenomenal. Singer Johnny Van Zant (younger brother of founding member and original singer Ronnie Van Zant) did a phenomenal job and is a worthy replacement.

Even though there was a ton of people on stage, they all meshed together so well. Shockingly, the crowd was incredibly responsive to them. I was a little worried the normal crowd wouldn’t care for Skynyrd but they loved them and people were singing along all night. It also didn’t hurt that it was a hometown show for them too.

What a fantastic finish to the weekend.

Vocals: 9.5
Crowd Response: 10
Overall Sound: 10
Band Activity: 7
Overall rating: 10

Set list:

1. Last of a Dyin’ Breed
2. What’s Your Name
3. Down South Jukin’
4. That Smell
5. Saturday Night Special
6. I Know a Little
7. Simple Man
8. Gimme Back My Bullets
9. Whiskey Rock-a-Roller
10. The Needle and the Spoon
11. Tuesday’s Gone
12. Good Teacher
13. Gimme Three Steps
14. Call Me the Breeze [J.J. Cale cover]
15. Sweet Home Alabama

Encore:

16. Free Bird

Photos (Bands Listed in Alphabetical Order):

Verdict9.5

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