We have one day behind us with some amazing acts that we will remember their performances for years to come. The Saturday lineup is certainly competitive in regards to both Friday and Sunday and is full of varying genes and new and veterans acts to keep our attention for the entire day. Palaye Royale and Bad Wolves are two of the biggest up and coming bands currently in rock, especially Bad Wolves with their cover of the iconic Cranberries song “Zombie” which has become the number 1 rock song in the world. Unfortunate for us they both play at the same time. Yet another band that performed early in the day that is truly making a name for themselves is Toothgrinder; If you missed their set you truly missed an amazing experience. Then we get into the more veteran acts of the day like Asking Alexandria who have reunited with vocalist Danny Worsnop, as well as Trivium the band that was labeled as “the band that would save metal” when they formed. Then we get the nostalgic performance by The Used, led by eccentric front man Bert McCracken. As the day comes to a close we are left with the headliners Five Finger Death Punch, and the fierce and fiery performance by Godsmack to end our Saturday evening. The dream would be to not miss a single band, but with interviews and overlaps we weren’t able to see every band, but the ones we were able to see impressed us and left some big shoes to fill on Sunday.
You may think of Bad Wolves as a new band but these musicians are anything but new. Though they may not call themselves a supergroup the band is certainly experienced. Led by the powerful voice of Tommy Vext (Westfield Massacre, Divine Heresy, Snot), axe slinger Doc Coyle (God Forbid, Vagus Nerve) the powerful percussion of John Boeklin (Devildriver), and rounded out with guitarist Chris Cain (Bury Your Dead), and bass master Kyle Konkiel (In This Moment, Vimic). The band took the gold stage at 12:20 which was still rather early in the day. Even though it was early the band had a massive crowd awaiting them to perform. They opened their set with the song “Officer Down”. Though their album had not yet been released at the time fans rocked out as if they had been jamming these songs for months. Due to their being billed early in the day the band only had time to play 7 songs. Tommy Vext is one of the most versatile vocalists you will find in metal. His melodic singing and his harsh screams allow him to cover a wide range of styles and their album does exactly that. They can’t truly be pigeon holed to one sound and thats what makes them so unique. Of course the band saved their most popular song to close out their set. Their cover of The Cranberries “Zombie” has propelled them to stardom very quickly. The song was released not long after the passing of Cranberries vocalist Dolores O’Riordan. Tommy talks to the crowd about the song and how the profits from the songs release was donated to Dolores’ children, you can hear the sadness in his voice as he speaks about her. When someone is that passionate about their craft it makes it even that much more appealing and allows fans to easily connect to the songs. As the song started he stated “I want you guys to sing these fucking words so loud that Dolores can hear you in heaven.” The fans didn’t disappoint either. Everyone sang to the top of their lungs and at least half the crowd was recording the performance so they could relive it over and over. Tommy ends up coming down to the rail and finishing out the song and then falling into the crowd surfing his way back on top of the fans. It was a moment where time stood still and you could feel the emotion in the air.
I remember just a few years ago From Ashes To New was playing the Gold Stage at Rebellion and today they are performing on the Rebellion stage, it just shows how much the band has grown and how much popularity they have gained in just the past year or so. When it comes to duel vocalists Danny and Matt are some of the best there is. Both of them add different elements that helps the band reach a wide variety of fans. They opened their set with “The Future” which is one of their more melodic based songs and it certainly had fans singing along. As they prepared to kick off their second song “Wake Up” they called out to everyone to get on their feet. Quickly you could see people that were sitting down quickly getting up and making their way closer to the stage. It just took one song to get the fire inside them ignited. “Wake Up” is a little more harsh in regards to the opening song and you saw a lot more headbanging from fans during this song. Danny is such an amazing singer that it’s hard to take your eyes off him. His range is incredible and he doesn’t stop moving around on stage and he sings with tremendous passion. You can see the effort and love he puts into each note and I believe it has been a big part of the bands success. One of the most incredible moments is when they played a Linkin Park mash up of the songs “Heavy” and “Papercut”. Prior to the song Matt speaks to the crowd saying “I’m getting fucking sick and tired of people saying that rock and metal music is dead….There was an artist that passed away about a year ago that was very influential to everybody in the music industry and we want to do a tribute to him here today.” The songs showcase both the beginning of Linkin Park with “Heavy” from the bands last release with Chester ‘One More Light’ and “Papercut” from the bands debut album ‘Hybrid Theory’. It’s incredible how well the song worked and what a inspirational tribute to the fallen singer Chester Bennington. That was the most inspirational moment of their set, and I believe it truly touched every fan in the crowd.
One of the best up and coming bands that was going to grace the stage this weekend would have to be Toothgrinder, I found myself excited and giddy as a little school girl awaiting their arrival on stage. Lead vocalist Justin comes straight out on the first song and jumps into the crowd dressed in slacks, white button down, tie and sport coat. I felt very under dressed at this moment. He dives into the crowd and then stands on peoples hands and starts to belt out the vocals to “The Shadow”. Upon interviewing the band after wards I mentioned how he may want to get a clip on tie so he isn’t choked to death. What a way to start a performance? I was already a fan of the band but i’m sure those who aren’t familiar with the band and witnessed this were thoroughly impressed. Prior to playing “Vagabond” Justin took the time to dedicate the song to the guys in the crowd who are in a band or have been in a band and went on to say “Song is one of those songs ya know when you write it means something and year later it means something else.” The song is one of those slow creeping songs that starts out kinda hushed and low but then it kicks in. It’s also where Matt Arensdorf got to show off his bass playing skills as the song incorporates a lot of groove. The most energetic of the band though is by far guitarist Johnuel Hasney. He is a huge ball of energy and is moving non-stop holding his guitar at every angle possible and spinning in circles at times. It’s great to see someone moving around so much and still able to hit every note with precision. This song has to be one of my favorites because it showcases the more gravely side of Justin’s vocals along with his more delicate hushed tone that the song starts with. These guys need to make more festival appearances to be in front of big crowds, both the band and the fans deserve it. Probably one of the best performances of the day, they are one of those bands that as soon as they leave the stage you say to yourself, “I can’t wait to see Toothgrinder again.” [You can check out our interview with the band here]
It was my first time seeing Asking Alexandria since Danny rejoined the band. I think Denis was a decent replacement but nothing compares to having the original singer back in the band, there is just a chemistry there that can’t really be duplicated. I think everyone could see the difference in the band and they seemed much more comfortable than the last time I seen them and Denis was on vocals. I think that was also at Carolina Rebellion in 2016. They opened their set with one of their new songs “Into The Fire” which was produced in part with Jonathan Davis of Korn. The band came out to an incredible intro with smoke rolling out all over the stage as Ben Bruce riffed out. Danny’s vocal style has changed a bit, but he still sounded amazing on stage, and the huge crowd that had piled in to see the band was very happy to see the original singer back at the helm of the band. During that first song there was also a male blow up doll crowd surfing around which I believe the Carolina Rebellion has affectionately named him “Degenerate Bruce”. You never know who or what you will see crowd surfing by at festivals. The jumped right into playing “Killing You” which has always been a favorite of mine. The band sounded off with more songs playing a total of 11 tracks from various albums in their discography. Some songs included “Not the American Average”, “The Final Episode”, “Eve”, “Where Did It Go?”, “A Prophecy” and they ended their set with “The Death Of Me”. I love how the band closed their set on such a high octane song. Leaving the crowd pumped up. There was a sea of horns in the air and people jumping up and down, it was great to see people really getting into the music.
Trivium has been almost like rock royalty since they came onto the scene in the early 2000’s. They were labeled as the band that would save metal. That would be a hard thing for anyone to live up to but the band hasn’t let it go to their heads and they have been impressing crowds day in and day out. Trivium kicked things off with the title track from their 2017 album ‘The Sin and the Sentence’. After warming up the crowd things got tremendously heavy as they went straight into “Throes of Perdition”. At the beginning of the song Heafy was looking out into the crowd and telling them to spread apart, and I thought a Wall of death was going to form. As the riff kicked off Heafy pulled his signature move taking a page out of Micheal Jordan’s book and is shredding away with his tongue out. What I really enjoyed about their stage set up is how there was a mic set up on each side of the stage so Heafy could move sing from either one and give both sides of the crowd some face time. He also talks to the crowd in hand motions while he’s singing telling them to move and jump up and down. Did they listen? You damn right they did! Another thing that was amazing about their performance was seeing the killer drumming by Alex Bent. The drummer formerly of Battlecross joined the band last year right before the new album was recorded and I believe he has added something special to the band and his hard hitting percussion fits right in with Trivium. One thing I was stoked about was Trivium playing not one but two of my favorite songs which is “The Heart From Your Hate” and “Until the World Goes Cold”. Between the songs Matt Heafy tells us that so far this year the crowd in Paris was the best crowd they had been in front of, and the Rebels wasn’t about to let anyone take that the title away from them for best crowd and by the time the set ended Heafy let them know that now Carolina Rebellion was the best crowd the band had seen yet. American Festivals goers are often seen as the underdog when it comes to Euro festival crowds and its good to get a win for good ole Murica.
Joyous Wolf has been one of the best up and coming bands of the past year. After playing Louder Than Life last year the band has truly caught fire and gathered a big fan base and then got signed to Roadrunner Records, and the band is now working on recording their debut album after only having the single “Mountain Man” released for the past year. Vocalist Nick Reese is a mad man on stage, with dance moves like James Brown and the voice of a baritone angel. Of course you can’t forget the incredible riffs by Blake Allard that drives the sound of the band. Backed up by the incredible beats by Robert on drums and Greg on bass they are a hard band to beat in a live show. Often Nick is seen climbing anything on stage but on this day at Carolina Rebellion he didn’t have much to climb on and instead parted the crowd and danced through the middle of them doing the splits and cartwheels. For those that hadn’t seen the band before their eyes lit up and they were the talk of the day among tons of festival goers.
There has been plenty of bands in the past that has had wardrobe changes during their performance but when it comes to the metal genre no one really does it better than In This Moment’s Maria Brink. Not only does the band bring an amazing sound to stage but they have everything on stage well thought out from attire, extra stage hands just to help the theatrics, and much more. The intro is usually always one of the most dramatic things a band does and In This Moment has several. We do sacrifice a few extra songs for the on stage experience but in my opinion it’s well worth it. The band played a total of 6 songs and put everything they had into each note starting with “Blood”, then “Rivers Of Fire” and then “Adrenalize” which Maria sings and performs in this very seductive manner. Though In This Moment played the festival last year as well their show is so theatrical that you truly have to catch their set every time you are given the chance. There always seems to be something you missed. Seeing guitarist Randy Weitzel with his clerical collar on is just that extra touch that really shows how much thought the band puts into their image. Closing out their set with “Big Bad Wolf” and finally “Whore” In This Moment is a band that just keeps propelling and we can’t wait to see what they do next.
Butcher Babies are always well known for having a lot of crowd surfers, and they actually welcome it and Heidi and Carla usually try to be at the edge of the show and high five the surfers as they come over the rail. In some aspects this day was slightly different. Kicking things off with a new song “Lilith” the band had a huge crowd with all eyes on the stage. During their performance the wanted to break the record for the most crowd surfers. According to all the talk afterwards they broke that records as well although I didn’t hear an official number or anything of that sort. Butcher Babies always has a way of getting the crowd involved, no matter how huge, or how small usually every person in attendance is active to their music. The band has added a lot more melodic vocals in their music with the new album and after hearing the band screaming in their harsh vocal style for years it was good to hear those melodic moments mixed in. They also sounded really good live as well and the new album is well worth picking up. If you get the opportunity to see them live I highly suggest you check them out, especially if its on a festival stage. Anytime they are in front of a massive crowd it’s just amazing to see how they get the entire crowd involved and moving along to their music.
Breaking Benjamin is no stranger to Carolina Rebellion and they opened the set with their brand new song “Red Cold River” from their new album ‘Ember’. It is probably one of the heavier songs the band has released in quite sometime. It might start out a little mellow but damn does it get heavy. Seeing lead guitarist Jasen Rauch is always great. He is one of the most underrated guitarists in rock and metal. They followed that up with “I Will Not Bow”, “Never Again”, “Failure”, and “Breath” before getting to one of my favorite moments of their performance. I’ve seen bands play medleys of songs and sometimes it fits well and sometimes it’s a little forced. However, when Breaking Benjamin plays a medley it is nearly flawless and I’m sure I speak for everyone in attendance when I say it kicked a tremendous amount of ass. The medley started off with the Star Wars “Imperial March”, which Ben is a huge Star Wars fan and considering the previous day was May 4th (May The 4th/Force Be With You) which is National Star Wars day, that wasn’t a big surprise. The song saw Ben playing a drum front and center on stage, not that they needed more drumming with the super accomplished drummer Shaun Foist behind the kit. Once “Imperial March” winds down Ben ditches the drums, picks up a guitar and goes directly into “Smells Like Teen Spirit” by Nirvana, marking the second time that day it had been covered, the first by The Used. I do feel Breaking Benjamin covered the song a little better and they played a larger portion of the track as well. Then to crank things up a little on the heavy meter the medley transitioned into a cover of Pantera’s “Walk”. We didn’t get to hear Ben’s take on some Phil Anselmo style vocals though. They wasn’t finished just yet either as the song transitioned yet again into Metallica’s “Sad But True” and this time Ben did deliver vocals for the song and he sounds spot on like James Hetfield in the song as well. It was hard to match up to that medley but the band went on to play “So Cold”, “Angel’s Fall” and closing things out with “The Diary Of Jane”. Incredible performance that gave us a little bit of everything including lots of pyro which I don’t believe we have ever seen with Breaking Benjamin before.
If you think The Used hit their prime in the early 2000’s right after they formed you are dead wrong. I didn’t really know what to expect when seeing them perform, but they blew me away. Bert McCracken sounded amazing and is a true showman. Their intro stated “You are about to see and hear one of the most significant messages given to us” and it couldn’t have been anymore correct. The Used opened their set with “Take It Away” from their 2004 album ‘In Love and Death’. The fans quickly started singing along with parts of the chorus, “Take take take take take take it away”. Bert just put his mic on its stand at one point and let the crowd finish the chorus. They also had some killer lighting on stage too that added an extra element to the show even though it wasn’t completely dark yet. After their first song Bert greets the crowd and says “I’ve heard a lot of talk today about metal gods, I’m here to just comfort everyone and let you know there’s no such thing as God.” The statement got a pretty good round of applause. You can’t expect Bert to play a show and not make some sort of outspoken statement. They went on to play “Listening”, “Blood on My Hands”, “Cry” and “I Caught Fire” along with various others. The big hit was when they closed out the show with “A Box Full of Sharp Objects” but also included covering a portion of Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” at the end of the song mixed in. The fans went wild for it and it sounded great.
Five Finger Death Punch have been headlining festivals for years now, and they still seem to impress us with their show each and every time. They always seem to do something sentimental on stage that touches you and makes you respect what they are doing even if you aren’t a fan of their music. Whether it’s turning young fans onto music and getting them up on stage, or paying tribute to our nations heroes in the military they are always raising the bar. On this faithful night they brought a special guest on stage that everyone seemed to immediately connect with. Right after performing “Wrong Side Of Heaven” Ivan brought on stage a young girl that was battling cancer. Her name was Allison. Though Ivan may look tough at times and puts on a macho persona on stage as he called out to her his voice was gentle and welcoming. Ivan let her know he remembered the last time he saw her and let her know she looked amazing. Then the band kicked into the song “Remember Everything”. Ivan sang almost the entire song while embracing the girl in a hug. You could hear the emotion in his voice and you could certainly see it on her face. The crowd hung on every word and sang any portion of the song when Ivan turned the mic toward them. As the song came to and end he looked Allison in the eye and said “I love you” as she wiped tears from her face. Their set was filled with great moments like Bad Wolves vocalist joining in for the track “Ain’t My Last Dance” or In This Moment’s Maria Brink joining for “The Bleeding”. All amazing things that were special for the Rebellion crowd but nothing lives up to the sentimental moment the Allison the Cancer Warrior had on stage with the band. I believe we have all had cancer some way affect our family in some way or another and because of that moments like these truly connect with us. Hopefully all of us metal heads sent plenty of healing vibes to Allison on stage so she can truly kick cancer’s ass.
As the day was winding down to a close and the sun was replaced with the moon things were starting to cool down. That was until Godsmack took the stage and brought an almost infinite amount of pyro with them. Like most of the other bands that have played the festival this weekend Godsmack opened their set with a brand new track. “When Legends Rise” still has that iconic Godsmack sound, it may be one of the more melodic songs in their set list though. However, the band followed up that song with another new track titled “Eye Of The Storm”. All together the band would play 4 songs from ‘When Legends Rise’ the album that released in April of this year. However, the band wouldn’t leave us hanging on those iconic songs we have all come to know and love. When the band kicked into the track “1000 HP” it really ignited the crowd along with a tremendous amount of flames at the back of the stage. The up beat song really got people moving and the crowd surfers took it as an invitation as well and I seen many of them making their away across the top of the crowd and singing every word to the song as they made their way across a sea of people. If you have ever seen vocalist Sully Erna perform before you know very well he was a drummer way before he was a singer and guitar player. He was actually a drummer in a couple bands and got kicked out of them and decided he’d start his own band and sing so no one could kick him out. Great idea Sully. So if you’ve seen the band before you know Sully likes to get back to his roots and play some drums during the show and sometimes has a drum off with current Godsmack drummer Shannon Larkin who is an amazing drummer as well. He starts out on the hand drums then ends up on a full kit that spins around so he is facing Larkin. It’s really cool to see them both slaying their kits in a friendly competition. The band rang out hits like “Whatever”, “Voo Doo” and “Crying Like A Bitch” before leaving the stage and coming back for their encore. The 2 song encore gave us the single “Bullet Proof” and finishing the night with “I Stand Alone”. Always a full throttle performance by the legendary rockers, they have a wide variety of styles that keep their show entertaining with melodies, hard hitting riffs, drum offs and who can forget the fire power. Godsmack are the quintessential headliner.
Saturday was incredibly hard to pick out the best of the day. You have veteran acts that always give you everything they got and then the new bands you’ve never seen before that blow your mind. On this day we had the veteran acts like Five Finger Death Punch, Godsmack and Shinedown all showing that their performances will never let you down. Then you have heat seeking up and coming bands like Bad Wolves and Toothgrinder, both of which was my first time seeing their performances and was completely in awe of both of them. Bad Wolves sounded flawless and really captured the crowd. However, I think I have to give my favorite performance of the day to Toothgrinder, simply because not only did they sound amazing but they had a unforgettable stage show with Justin jumping out into the crowd and really showing his showmanship. I also don’t think I can say enough about The Used and the performance they put on as well. No rust has formed on that band what so ever. They have just as much vibrancy today as they did when they came on the scene many moons ago. All together it was an amazing day where records were broken, hearts was filled with love for a girl fighting cancer, moshers moshed and everyone had a great time except that one drunk guy that passed out 2 hours after the gates opened and woke up during Shinedown and doesn’t remember anything. Don’t be that guy. Pace yourself noobs.