Carolina Rebellion has not only some of the best headliners of the year but also one of the best undercards in the beginning of the festival season. Day 1 was filled with not only iconic bands but also some of the best up and coming bands in rock and metal. The only bad part of these festivals is that sometimes bands overlap and trying to choose between 2 of them can be one of the hardest things to do. With those schedules and overlapping sets we aren’t able to adequately cover every band but we want to provide you with a walk through of the festival. If you weren’t there you missed one epic weekend and if you was there maybe we were able to catch something you missed.
Mother Feather kicked everything off. Of course the band played their namesake track “Mother Feather”. Vocalist Ann Courtney gave the crowd a dose of her blues soaked singing style. The energy they brought to the stage certainly set the bar high for everyone else that had to follow them. Also playing “Trampoline” and “Living Breathing” the band was unstoppable on stage and fans were forced to stop and watch in a trance like state as they entered the front gates. Non-stop movement at 11:30am tells us either they are morning people or they love their jobs, and I like to think it’s the latter. Mother Feather is certainly making Metal Blade proud with the performance they put on.
Black Map was the first band to grace one of the main stages. They opened their set with “I’m Just A Driver”. The groove filled track really got the foot stomping started. Vocalist Ben Flanagan’s voice echoed throughout the festival grounds as you could see fans quickly making their way to the stage to see the San Francisco based band jam out. Their sound is often progressive and intricate and fans really appreciated the difficulty in their playing style. This was Black Maps first time playing an American music festival, but they certainly looked at home on the stage. The band will be adding 2 more festivals to their touring list including Rise Above Fest in Maine, and then also playing this year’s Chicago Open Air Festival in Bridgeview, Illinois.
Starset is certainly one of the most eye catching bands to watch, not only at Rebellion but in general. The guitarist, bassist and drummer are all dressed in futuristic astronaut like outfits. They are also the only band during the festival that has both a violinist and cello player in the band. The most memorable part of their set came when they played their hit song “My Demons”. At times vocalist Dustin Bates would hold his mic out and the fans would finish the lyrics of the song. He also took the time to jump down from the stage and run out into the middle section of the crowd belting out the vocals as the fans reached out to get closer to him. Starset not only had some dedicated fans in the crowd but they knew all the words to the songs and you could hear them singing along during almost every track.
Eagles Of Death Metal became a household name when terrorists attacked the Bataclan in Paris, France during their performance. The band however should be better known for their music. With an old school Rockabilly sound the band took the stage led by vocalist Jesse “Boots Electric” Hughes. For the very first song of their set they had a guest on stage. That guest was Mastodon guitarist Brent Hinds. Not only did he play with the song and chime in with a couple solos but he also did a little dancing on stage with the band as well. Hinds helped the band during their opening song “I Only Want You”. The band also paid tribute to the late great David Bowie with a cover of “Moonage Daydream”. Though it was only midday it was easy to see that one of the best bands of the day had just graced the stage. Jesse has immense soul that is unleashed on the crowd with every lyric he sings.
Of Mice & Men decided to carry on after the recent departure of Austin Carlisle. Though bassist Aaron Pauley was a huge part of the bands vocal style it was almost hard to imagine the band without Austin in the mix as well. Prior to Carolina Rebellion the band released the single for “Unbreakable”, the song was an incredible brutal onslaught. The single proved that Aaron Pauley could handle the task of taking on all the vocals for the band. Fans were eager to see what the band had to offer without Austin front and center. They certainly didn’t disappoint. Not only did fans get to hear the older tracks that the band has been playing for years but they were able to experience “Unbreakable” live. Dust was being kicked up everywhere as the mosh pits went crazy by the time the song made it halfway through. They closed their set with one of my favorites “The Depths” and as soon as fans recognized the song they quickly applauded. Of Mice & Men are stronger than ever with their current formation and like most other fans I’m really excited to hear their next album.
Volumes was by far the heaviest band thus far for the day. They also called out saying they wanted to see 3 different mosh pits during their set, and fans did their best to accommodate. Almost every member of the crowd had their metal horns in the air. Both vocalists Myke and Gus called out to the crowd asking where all the good weed was at. Speaking of blazing… the band fired through their set playing fan favorites like “Wormholes”, “91367” and “Edge of the Earth” to a very satisfied crowd. Myke Terry joined the band in 2016 replacing former co-vocalist Michael Barr. Myke was right at home on stage and you’d never know he is semi-new to the band. He also climbed down from the stage and got out into the crowd to create a much more personal experience for those in the front row. Myke also wore a blonde mullet wig for a moment of time, and it surprisingly suited him pretty well. Volumes tore the place up and everyone in the crowd walked away happy and drenched in sweat from the non-stop movement.
Every Time I Die was a band I was more than excited for. I hadn’t seen them since their 2004 performance at Ozzfest. They opened their set with “Underwater Bimbos from Outer Space’ from their 2012 release ‘Ex Lives’. Probably the most energetic band of the day, every member was constantly jumping up and down and running from one side of the stage to the other. When their breakdowns kicked in all you could see was a sea of headbanging and horns in the air. After a couple songs singer Keith Buckley made a plea to the crowd “Hey, let’s get some bodies, on top of bodies, on top of bodies over the fucking barricade. Put these men and women to work” as they kicked off the track “Decayin’ With the Boys”. This of course wouldn’t be his only request of the day. Prior to “Floater” Buckley requested the biggest mosh pit this stage has seen all day. It was shortly after this that the other Buckley brother; guitarist Jordan Buckley dove into the crowd while playing his guitar, proving stage dives are still awesome as fuck.
Mastodon never let you down, every time they hit the stage they dominate no matter the circumstances. After seeing the band more than 7 times live they still leave my jaw on the floor after every show. They opened their set with “Sultan’s Curse” from their new album ‘Emperor of Sand’ that released on March 31, 2017 via Reprise Records. This would be just the first of 6 tracks they would play from the album. My only regret was that they didn’t play “The Motherload”. I am however very happy they played “Show Yourself” which is my favorite track from the new album. The crowd seemed to really get amped up when they played “Steambreather”. Mastodon had one of the biggest crowds of the day and people was crowd surfing just to get closer to the stage. As always Mastodon is flawless on stage and no matter how many times you see them it’s always great and the set list is always changing.
Opeth are at the top of their game. Any fan knows the band has changed a lot since their debut album ‘Orchid’ in 1995. The band opened up with the title track from their new album ‘Sorceress’. Guitarist and vocalist Mikael Akerfeldt decided a few years ago he would no longer include harsh/screaming vocals on upcoming Opeth records. So really in their live set is where the old school fans can really enjoy their more classic songs. We got some of those harsh vocals with “Ghost of Perdition”. Akerfeldt explained “I’m not going to talk much, I normally talk too much, But tonight we have a limited time and we’ll play some of our songs instead.” The crowd certainly applauded to the fact they would be getting more music. It’s always great to hear some on stage banter as well though. They moved right in to “Cusp of Eternity” from 2014’s ‘Pale Communion’. The the band went on to play “Era” also from their most recent release. Akerfeldt explained that this was only the second time that had played the song live, and “we may fuck up”. It’s always good to know that a band on the top of it’s game like Opeth can admit they may screw things up occasionally. Did they screw it up? Of course not, they are Opeth.
A Perfect Circle was the band a large portion of the fans were looking forward to. There were so many people is was almost difficult just to get within 200 yards of the stage. The band led by the mysterious Maynard James Keenan led off with “The Package” as Maynard sang from the back of the stage in the shadows. He has never been the type that likes to be front and center, and he certainly made that clear on this night. He does sometimes appear more visible during their sets, but tonight wasn’t one of those nights. MJK usually always has some sort of joke or something to say during the bands set and tonight his focus was on anal sex. Hopefully the rest of the crowd has a great sense of humor and got a good laugh out of his brief banter. The one song I think everyone was hoping for didn’t make it on the set list and that is “Judith”. We did however get various other tracks from the bands debut album ‘Mer De Noms’, 6 in total. Of course you can’t really mention without talking about the other members that make up this super group. Guitarist Billy Howerdel founded the band and actually use to be a guitar technician for Tool. His other project Ashes Divide is phenomenal as well. You likely will recognize James Iha from his time with Smashing Pumpkins. Bassist Matt McJunkins has spent time with Thirty Seconds to Mars, Ashes Divide, and Puscifer. Maynard is usually the member of the band that draws the most attention, but Billy is an amazing guitar player and highly underrated for his talents. The band moved on to play “Counting Bodies Like Sheep to the Rhythm of the War Drums”, “Passive” and ended their set with the hit “The Outsider”. Maynard exclaimed as they were leaving… “Thank you…up next Soundgarden” not knowing it would be the last time the band would play along side Chris Cornell.
In hindsight there is so much that deserves to be said about Soundgarden and the legendary voice behind the band Chris Cornell. None of us enjoying the show that night knew that it would be our last time ever seeing him perform. It was one of his final shows and everything seemed perfectly fine. The band instantly gave the crowd a shot of adreneline as they opened their set with “Spoonman” and quickly ran through several tracks leading into “Black Hole Son”. The song that really sticks with me immensely now looking back is “Fell on Black Days”. The song will forever be my last memory of seeing the band live and hearing Chris Cornell’s voice blanket the crowd with one last embracing hug. The show ended with the same song that would come to be his last performed “Slaves & Bulldozers” with some of Led Zeppelin’s “In My Time of Dying” lyrics mixed in. Chris may be gone, but the memory of this show and his music will live on in our hearts forever.