“Eat. Drink. Music.” Isn’t this what we should have hanging in our homes? It’s surely in our heart. Most festivals only focus on the latter — the music. This seems to be a widely missed opportunity by many festival organizers. The music festival clearly isn’t just about the music. It’s often an equal fraction of the overall experience. Some of the best moments inside a music festival happen away from the stage. We are here to live. Though music seems to literally keep us alive, nourishment is the most popular way to not die — Eat|Drink. Rockville has some of the best things to eat and drink I’ve ever consumed at a music festival.
Rockville’s Food & Beverage partner, Southern Hospitality (SoHo) hand selecting vendors, customizing menu selections, incorporating local cuisine, and engaging celebrity chefs. Wait, are you sure we’re talking about a Rock Music Festival?!
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The organizers of Welcome To Rockville (DW Presents) are masters of their craft. We all know, no master is made overnight (or even over-year). Danny Wimmer began in 1993 producing festivals. In 2011, he founded Danny Wimmer Presents (DWP), which is now the largest independent festival producer with 14 annual festivals in 13 US cities. We’re lucky enough to have one of their “unparalleled experiences” in Florida.
It’s always nice to arrive in another city the night before a big event. There’s an electricity in the air. We’re downtown at the Official Welcome To Rockville Pre-Party with Amigo The Devil. It’s seen Amigo The Devil in rooms that fit 35 people, he was on my “Best Albums of 2018” list, here I am seeing him in a nearly sold-out 300 person room on a Thursday night and everyone is singing along. The way Danny (Amigo The Devil) has evolved his storytelling and the way he engages people is brilliant in the most honest sense. Once you have crafted great material, from the pits of your gut, you have to learn how to deliver it so people can connect. We connect. I connect. Everyone has a dark side. Everyone can be a weenie at times. We can all be better —
The distance from the man I am, to the man I want to be … The time it takes to realize ‘time’ is the distance I need. But I was born impatient
And I was born unkind. BUT I REFUSE TO BELIEVE I HAVE TO BE THE SAME PERSON I WAS BORN WHEN I DIE.”
Friday we walk in as Amigo The Devil is finishing up on the Metropolitan Stage. We head over to the VIP bar. The first interaction I have is with Jen. She’s been working Rockville seven years in a row! Over the next three days, she becomes one of my favorite bartenders on the planet (and I have just a few). Jen understands hospitality and music festivals. There’s a level of service which is the Goldie-Locks combination to amplifying the service experience. She’s at an 11. I only went to one other person the entire time at Rockville. That’s how rad she was.
I’m only drinking Cigar City Guayabera Pale Ale Tall Boys (which may be my new favorite beer) and water. One of my best fest friends, Nina (we’ve been to Rockville 4 years in-a-row now), get Kraken Rum & Coke (only cause they don’t have Captain). We’re off to see one of her favorite bands, Wilson, who are friends from another life (Michigan), on the River Stage.
Here comes the rain! We slide under the F.Y.E. vinyl tent. We’re shaking off and eager for Tom Morello, the guitar god from Rage Against The Machine, Audioslave, and Prophets of Rage. Beartooth is yelling at us, insisting we start as many pits as possible. It’s fucking hot. Beartooth are crushing it. Another Guayabera before Morello and we’re in. Rage Against The Machine riffs run heavy through the set.
Killswitch Engage is halfway through their set and here comes more rain! We all take cover under the bridge (overpass) — tousands of sunburned fans trying to avoid getting soaked. When the rain lets up, I finally get a chance to indulge in a “Scarface Sandwich” from Gouda Boys — Hoagie roll filled with Mac n Cheese, Strips of Bacon, and piled high with Smoked Brisket. The food coma was worth it. There’s a light drizzle, but there is a bad storm on the way. Rockville pulls the proverbial trigger and announces the festival is closing . . .
When weather was trouble, Rockville was well prepared and kept safety in focus — pre-recorded messages, verbiage to remain calm, and repetition. I can honestly say, most other festivals would have cancelled the rest of the day. Rockville handled a situation out of their control with professionalism and grace and reopened right after the storm passed and gave us updated set times, extending the festival by two additional hours.
The Crystal Method (who honored The Prodigy’s place, RIP Keith Flint), are bringing us back to life after the afternoon being dampened. This is a party! I love Florida nights and the thousands of smiles sure help. They close their set with a cover of “Firestarter” and eyes full of tears, which the rain makes easy to hide.
It’s Friday night and my friends from Face First (Erik of Andrew WK and Rick who tattoos) are hanging with Flogging Molly. We’re at the bar and Rick walks by and invites us back; says he just ran to his car to grab his tattoo gear. We’re in the Flogging Molly dressing room (which is really nice for a festival in a parking lot). We come to an elevated consensus the universal healers in the world are music and cannabis. A-fucking-men. Now begins the buzzzzz of the metal and blood.
Elvis’s infamous “Taking Care of Business in a flash” acronym atop a lightning bolt is something special many brothers and sisters wear. Now Nathen Maxwell shares this permanence with all.
We make our way back to see Jen at the bar and head to catch Evanescence. Honestly, I’m blown away by the performance. Amy Lee has an amazing voice and utilizes it to convey emotions which connect with some people on a spiritual level. The vocal performance may be unmatched all weekend.
When I was in middle school, I had a Korn shirt. I went to middle school partially at Doctors Inlet in Orange Park, FL, right outside of Jacksonville. Less Than Jake and Limp Bizkit were regulars in my walkman ripoff (with anti-skip feature). I am secretly stoked to see Korn. They kick off their set with the intro of Follow The Leader then right into”Falling Away From Me.” The place is going crazy. It’s not quite as full as before, since the rain drove some people away, but it’s still absolutely packed to close night one of Rockville!
Day Two (Saturday) starts with Gourmet Corn Dogs and more Guayabera Pale Ale. We arrive early enough the explore the Caduceus Wine Garden (owned by Maynard from Tool), where you can buy wine by the bottle of glass (bottle is better deal!). The Kraken Rum bar called Heavy Tiki takes you out of the festival for a moment with souvenir glass handcrafted Mai Tai mixes and frozen cocktails. I’m stoked to see Dan Andriano from Alkaline Trio rip it with The Damned Things next!
The Damned Things are playing their second show in over 7 years, and their first festival date. This supergroup has a rad mix — Joe Trohman (Guitar) and Andy Hurley (Drums) of Fall Out Boy, Scott Ian (Guitar) of Anthrax, Keith Buckley (Vocals) of Every Time I Die, and Dan Andriano (Bass) of Alkaline Trio. It sounds weird, and it is, but a good weird, the kind which makes you feel like you fit in, and this is the band I’m most excited about all weekend.
If you’ve ever seen Every Time I Die, you know it’s complete chaos. Dan Andriano has written some of my favorite songs. Scott Ian is in fucking Anthrax and his beard has been among metal gods since 1981. The two guys from Fall Out Boy have so much money, they’re definitely just doing this for the love of music (and to have fun). They all walk out on stage, sans Scott Ian. It’s not addressed till halfway through the set. Keith makes a joke, accented by Andy, then follows up with, “it’s a joke, he’s actually dead . . . [and the guy next to me goes “oh shit.”] nah, I’m just kidding that’s also a joke . . . there were a lot of storms and he actually couldn’t land. He apologized for not being here. We’re still going to tour with him over the summer!” Seeing Keith from ETID and Dan from ALK3 sign harmonies together just made my day. Today is going to rule.
We’re stoked to have the Respective Collective team is capturing this weekend for Shows I Go To. They are crushing it today. They capture Black Label Society, In This Moment, Skillet, The Cult, Shinedown, and Yelawolf. Check them out below — Full Gallery at the bottom of this post!
I’m in awe by this video our team just air-dropped me to my phone. It’s Yelawolf from maybe 45 mins ago. I’m sharing the footage with my friends circle and look up, Yelawolf is behind the bar, talking to a bar tender. NO WAY. I call his name. He doesn’t acknowledge it. A few mins later, he’s hanging by the backstage entrance. I walk over. This is my only shot. Don’t blow it.
Mitch: “Hey man, sorry to bother you, just wanted to show you this video of you we got today if it’s cool?”
Yela: “What’s up man, come on back.”
I’m in. Video starts. He sips his drink. His manager/DJ/friend is engaged.
Y: “Oh shit. Wait … That’s from today?”
Y: “This is dope! How’d you do this, what app are you using?”
M: “We have a media team onsite. One sits in the media area on their macbook and edits video and photos. The other runs between stages, capturing content and brings it to the editor. They edit then air-drop to my phone and I publish to social media channels.”
Y: “Wow. That’s Dope. Thank you.”
I walk away holding back a little smile. Knowing he has mutual friends, I meet up with Jason from Standard Moto. I show him the video. He says, “you should send it to him!” I say, “I just showed him, he’s right there,” and point. Jason pauses what he’s doing, packs up, and walk right up to Yelawolf. Five minutes go by. He comes back with his phone number and verbal plans to meet. Magic.
Rob Zombie was first introduced to me as White Zombie when I was in the third or fourth grade by my skateboard buddy, Andrew Edge, who was in 8th grade. I had no idea what I was watching, I’d never seen anything like, nor did my feeble mind understand. It was “Thunder Kiss ’65.” Seeing this live, along with “More Human than Human” from Astro-Creep: 2000 – Songs of Love, Destruction and Other Synthetic Delusions of the Electric Head, is literally the most throwback song moment I can experience. This shit was insane. Check out the full setlist here. Have a short clip from his set —
Florida is hungover on Sunday. The Festival doesn’t open the gates until 3:30pm as they’re most concerned about safety. I’m worried because being a Sunday night, there is a hard curfew of 10pm. Luckily the city of Jacksonville approves Rockville to go to Midnight for TOOL! On the downside, this forces cancellations of SIX bands on the bill — Hyde, SHVPES, The Dirty Nil, The Glorious Suns, and While She Sleeps.
We make it inside for Day 3 with Architects on The River Stage. The backdrop of the stage is missing (or folded up?). The old green bridge and the rain in the distance make for a really cool scene while being introduced to Architects.
A lot of my friends have joined the party today! Day 3 was nearly sold out, with TOOL and Incubus closing out the festival. Today is the “take it easy” day. I did not follow this rule and hung out near the VIP bar too much (if there is a such thing). Josh arrived and caught some photos of Bring Me The Horizon before we all headed to Incubus.
The anticipation is over. Incubus sends the opening riff of “Privilege,” the first track off Make Yourself. This is great place to start. I’ve seen Incubus several times but never seen them at a festival. I grew up with this band, learning their songs on drums and dissecting lyrics. “Circles” into “Pardon Me” and I’m dead. They hit all the hits — “Sick Sad Little World,” “Stellar,” “Wish You Were Here,” “DRIVE,” and “A Crow Left Of The Murder.” For an hour I’m lost in the crowd and more at home than I’ve been all weekend. The next day Incubus announce they’ll be back in Florida, brilliantly performing at intimate theaters (for them).
TOOL is EPIC. The debut of their first two new songs in over a decade makes worldwide news. The new album will finally be released August 30 later this year.
Huge thanks to everyone who helped put Welcome To Rockville 2019 together! We hope to see you next year!
Did you lose anything at Welcome To Rockville?
Just out this link ► https://welcometorockvillefestival.com/lost-and-found/
If you rocked out so hard that you forgot items in your lockers, or need to check Lost & Found, please claim your items here: https://t.co/iJ2NeCmXg1
?: Nathan Zucker pic.twitter.com/jF0oYkwghd
— WelcomeToRockville (@RockvilleFest) May 7, 2019
ROCKVILLE 2019 PHOTOS
Rockville 2019 Live Review by Mitch.
Rockville 2019 Live Photos by Simon Wade & Josh Jauz.
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