Carolina Rebellion has become one of the biggest festivals in the country and is 2nd only to Rock on the Range. This year the North Carolina based festival was bumped up to 3 days instead of the normal 2. In doing that this year became the most attended Carolina Rebellion ever. So if you were there as well you were part of the 90,000 people that helped set the record. The festival takes place in Concord, North Carolina at Rock City Campgrounds which is part of the Charlotte Motor Speedway area. The lineup was very thought out to draw fans of all ages who like music from various metal and rock genres. The festival shows its ability to have a wide range of acts that’s music is very different. Day 1 included some acts that would welcome some old school rock and metal heads. Headliners were Lynyrd Skynyrd and Scorpions for the first day. Originally Texas rock n rollers ZZ Top were also supposed to be there, but had to bow out do to an injury to bass player Dusty Hill. Festivals like these are the only place you will ever find Lynyrd Skynyrd, Cypress Hill, Anthrax, Baby Metal and August Burns Red all playing the same event. The only bad thing about their being 20+ bands per day at an event is having to miss a few bands here and there due to overlapping or the distance in the stages. The greatest things about overlapping though is the ability to choose who you want to see. Sometimes it works out in your favor and you can skip a band you don’t want to see and other times you have to pick between two amazing bands like I had to do a couple times. You can’t always see every band there.
Day 1 got started for me with one of the bands I was most looking forward to. I had been able to see them a year ago at Louder Than Life, but I was eagerly awaiting to see them again. The band I’m speaking so highly of is The Glorious Sons. I have been obsessed with the song “Sometimes on Sunday” since hearing them play it live last time I seen them. The song is emotionally driven and is so catchy you will find yourself singing it for days. These guys are not one hit wonder either. All their songs are amazing, and their recent album “The Union” is one you will find yourself loving from start to finish. The band had every eye on them as they also flawlessly played “White Noise” and “Heavy”. Don’t let a chance pass you to see this band. Next on my agenda was Sick Puppies, which is a band I had yet to see. It was still pretty early in the day but they really got the crowd going. They got the award for the first crowd surf of the day as well. By the time the band was 3 songs into their set everyone was pumped. “Stick to Your Guns” went over with the crowd well. Current singer Bryan Scott made me forget completely about the other guy that used to front the band. The focal point of the band for me however is the super talented Aussie bassist Emma Anzai. Her playing style is fun to watch and sounds incredible. The next thing the band would do would instantly make me a fan for like. They got just a few notes into the next song and the crowd was going crazy (including myself). They were covering the Rage Against the Machine classic “Guerilla Radio” and they covered it well. I’m sure Rage would approve. They ended their set with the hit song “You’re Going Down” from their debut album Tri-Polar. They had really set the bar high for the remainder of the day. Lacey Sturm would be next to bring music to our ears. I had yet to be able to see the singer that helped make Flyleaf a household name. She came straight out of the gate with her newly released single “Impossible” and she didn’t slow down. She isn’t the only talent in the family either. Her husband Joshua Sturm is an incredible guitarist and brings a whole other dimension of talent to the band. I was expecting Lacey to play some material from the Flyleaf days but there is one song in her set that I didn’t expect. “Roxanne” was made famous by The Police, but Lacey really put her own spin on the song and totally owned it. I also got lucky as well that they chose to play my favorite Flyleaf song “All Around Me”. The song has a way of connecting with everyone who hears it.
By this time we are halfway through Day 1 and while I haven’t been able to see every band I am very happy with every set I have seen thus far. Avatar is a band that really blew me away the last time I seen them. I went into the show with no expectations whatsoever and became a fan for life after just a few songs. This time around I knew what to expect and they again delivered an amazing set. “Hail The Apocalypse” once again got the crowd moving and they really gave the tired crowd a second wind. They then brought a taste of their new album to the stage by playing “The Eagle Has Landed” from their new album ‘Feathers and Flesh’ which released May 13th. The song so far for me has been a standout song on the new album. The past couple times seeing the band has left us floating on air afterwards. A big part of that send of is the way they grab your attention with their show stopping finale song “Smells Like A Freakshow”. The next band was introduced to us by a familiar face.
Sirius Xm and the metal ambassador himself Jose Mangin came out on the stage to give some inspiring words to the metal and rock obsessed crowd. He then introduces one of the most awaited bands of the day; Hell Yeah! Before the band even had a chance to get on stage fans started to chant “HELL YEAH”. Vinnie Paul first emerges and makes his way behind his drum kit and the crowd erupts with applause and screams. VP is like royalty in the metal world. As the music starts out comes vocalist Chad Grey and he’s covered in fake blood and was looking more like Chad Grey from the Mudvayne era. The band came out kicked ass and took names. “Blood for Blood” sounded just as amazing live as it does on the record if not better. The meanest mosh pits of the day broke out during their set. After a few songs Chad Grey took a moment to talk to the crowd about most pit etiquette. He explained “The guy that knocks you done is most likely going to be the same guy that helps you up”. Vinnie Paul’s drums sounded amazing as usual. By now they had the attention of the crowd and everyone’s heart was racing. They then played one of the slower songs in their catalog; “Moth”. This was probably to give the crowd a chance to catch their breath.
I only got a chance to catch a few songs by Filter during their set, but those that I did hear was spot on. Founding member Richard Patrick is always a joy to watch on stage and gives every song just as much heart and emotion as the next. Filter will never let you down. From Ashes To New is one of the newer bands on the lineup that everyone was anxious to see. Their style separates them from a lot of the other bands playing at Rebellion. You could refer to them as rap metal or nu-metal, but regardless what you call it their style really works and their energy on stage transferred to the crowd.
At this point in the show we are winding down to the headliners of the event. Sixx A.M. took the stage and any band that includes Nikki Sixx you can’t pass up. They opened their set with the track “Let’s Go” from their 2014 release ‘Modern Vintage’. Lead singer James Michael moved about showing attention to the crowd from every angle. Seeing Nikki Sixx and DJ Ashba on stage together is indescribable. Often you will see bands have drum battles or guitar battles back and forth, but Sixx AM brought something to the table I’ve never seen before. They had a singing battle between James Michael and one of the back-up singers during the song “Everything Went to Hell” from their newest album ‘Prayers for the Damned, Volume 1’. Of course they couldn’t end their set without playing their hit “Life is Beautiful”. The song is just this really uplifting song that is impossible to not sing along to.
One of the most legendary bands ever was about to take the stage next. The legendary southern rockers Lynyrd Skynyrd is a band everyone in the world is familiar with. Though the band only has one original member left from their early days they still sound amazing. My eyes were constantly glued to guitarist Gary Rossington. He is the last remaining original member. Vocalist Johnny Van Zant is the only person that could have ever taken the place of original singer and his brother Ronnie Van Zant. The band sounded spot on and played some of the classic Skynyrd songs as most everyone young and old throughout the crowd sang along. They unleashed hit song after hit song. It seemed as if they would never run out of songs that the whole crowd knew. “Working for MCA”, “Saturday Night Special”, “Gimmie Three Steps”, and “Sweet Home Alabama” on right after another. The whole night Johnny had a rebel flag tied to his mic stand. He stretched the flag out and spoke to the crowd. He said “Heritage not hate” as the band started into another song. They played each song flawlessly and finally ending their night with…. Yep you guessed it… “Freebird”.
The last band of the night was also iconic, but they didn’t travel from the south, they came to entertain us all the way from Germany. Scorpions is one of those bands on most peoples bucket list. You could tell that the people in the crowd was anticipating these guys more than most any other band yet. One of the greatest things for me personally was seeing one of my favorite drummers Mickey Dee from Motorhead high above the stage playing for The Scorpions. It was especially sentimental after the recent passing of the legend himself Lemmy. Anytime there was a silence between songs people in the crowd would scream Mickey’s name. Singer Klaus Meine several times throughout the night would throw drumsticks out into the crowd after whacking a cowbell a few times. “Rock ‘n’ Roll Band” and “No One Like You” went over really well with the crowd as they sang along, but the best song of the night by the German rockers was “The Zoo”. The song just has everything you want in a rock song. Just when I thought the bands set had really hit their peak they break out their all time classic hit “Rock You Like A Hurricane” during their encore. I don’t think anyone would have left without hearing that song. The song really ended the day on a high note and there would be some large shoes to fill come day 2.
Best Performance: Hell Yeah!