Rockfest presents 10 Years, Halestorm, Hollywood Undead, Five Finger Death Punch, and Godsmack
With its 19th annual music festival, Rockfest proved once again why it’s one of the best music festivals put on year after year in the heart of the Wisconsin Cadott. Each year, running 4 days – Thursday to Sunday – they bring out the biggest and best bands in Rock. Unlike other festivals, all the bands play full sets that can range from 1 to 2 hours; this is done by having just 5 to 6 bands play a day. Rockfest averages about 20,000 to 25,000 fans a day and offers camping grounds and RV hookup to allow fans from all over the country to come.
Opening the day of headliners was 10 Years, who are about to release their 6th album on August 7th - Minus the Machine. Coming on stage, Brian Vodinh went right to the drum set and played, leaving the guitar playing to Tater Johnson and a player I did not know but killed it on stage. Lewis Cosby on bass and the energetic singer, Jesse Hasek are the most entertaining to watch on stage. Hasek is known to jump in the crowd to work them up and he did not disappoint. He also used the catwalk stage to his advantage as he reached out to the crowd with his emotional vocals.
They played a few songs off the new album, as well as, Fix Me, Beautiful, Russian Roulette, and Fade into (The Ocean). Playing for over an hour, they were able to play over 15 songs and ended the night with an Acoustic version, Wasteland which Vodinh came out to play guitar and ended the set with Shoot it Out.
Halestorm came on next and with the success of their new release, The Strange Case Of, has seen them touring all over the world. Halestorm is one of those bands that you see once and you’re hooked for life – featuring one of the best female “Lzzy Hale” vocalists of our times in Rock to go along with band mates, Joe Hottinger on guitar, Josh Smith on Bass, and Lzzy’s brother, Arejay on drums.
Halestorm has come a long way in a very short time and looks like no plans to stop as they opened the show with Love Bites (So Do I), Mz. Hyde, Freak Like Me, all off the new album. As Lzzy walked to the front of the cat walk to look down at the fans below, she got on her knees to reach out and started to sing, Familiar Taste of Poison that was followed by Rock Show – a song that fit perfect for Rockfest. Arejay took center stage as he performed an insane drum solo complete with 4ft drum sticks, playing with his hands and just bringing back old school drum solos. This was followed by a cover song by Skid Row, Slave to the Grind, which seemed fitting with Sebastian Bach playing on Sunday’s line up. They ended the set with, I Get Off and the summer anthem of the year, Here’s to Us.
Hollywood Undead came on next. I am not sure the crowd knew much about HU with the looks on people’s faces like, “what is this?” but by the time the set was over, they had everyone jumping around and singing along and made it a rockfest moment. Opening the set with Undead as they always do, they showed everyone in one song what they were in for and they followed up with Tendencies, Been to Hell, and Lights Out. All the guys on stage seemed to be having fun as they took turns rapping/singing and coming to the front of the stage.
Danny seemed to take control of the stage as he walked up front several times to sing his parts, followed by Johnny 3 Tears. With the crowd now in fully into the show they played My Town, Comin’ In Hot, Paradise Lost and Young. They ended the set with, Everywhere I Go, in which Charlie Scene jumped on the back of Funny Man playing his guitar. By this time the crowd was going crazy and became a party atmosphere. They closed out the show with Hear Me Now and walked off the stage with a roar of approval.
Up next was a band that would take Rockfest by storm and prove that they could headline this show in the future, no doubt. MTR got a chance to interview drummer, Jeremy Spencer about the Trespass America tour, FFDP fans, and influences.
FFDP is one of those bands I can say I saw from the start and even then you knew they would shake up the rock world and music sales. FFDP is metal at its finest and featuring, hands down the best metal vocalist of this era – Ivan Moody. If you’ve never been to a show, you’re missing out on a hell of a good time; with the Trespass America tour still going till end of August, don’t miss out.
Opening with Under and Over It, off the new album, American Capitalist, Moody made sure they connect with the crowd right away as he jumped in the crowd and sang the song out there with them . I don’t think the band even knew he was going to do this as they all looking on like, “WTF is moody doing?” It was a great move and from that point the crowd was in it, while the seats did not allow for moshing or crowd surfing, it did not stop the fans in the lawn area from doing it.
Guitarist, Zoltan Bathory walked to the front of the catwalk stage and let his dreads fly as he ripped into Burn It Down, followed by American Capitalist, and Hard to See. Jason Hook’s guitar sound was blistering through the sound system as the fans played along with their air guitars; the duel guitar attack was filled in nicely with the thick Bass notes of Chris Kael on bass, who since joining FFDP has made his mark on stage. Moody walked on stage with a flag of all the armed forces and thanked all the men and women who serve this country as they played Bad Company. Moody invited all the kids to come up on stage with them as they played White Knuckles and the little kids were head banging along. Jeremy Spencer came out in a skeleton outfit to perform a drum solo, showing why he was voted the best drummer of 2011 and each time they come out on tour he is always bringing something new and fresh to a drum solo. By this time, the crowd was in the palm of FFDP’s hands and they continued the onslaught of hits with Far From Home, Never Enough and closed the set with War is the Answer.
As the lights dimmed, the crowd screamed Five Finger DEATH PUNCH!!!! And to greet these cheers, Moody and Hook came out with an acoustic guitar. Now, I have seen FFDP about a dozen times and tonight, when they preformed Remember Everything, you could not help but be transfixed and caught up in the song. It sounded amazing acoustically and Moody’s clean vocals poured out so much emotions and pain you could feel them rip inside you as they cleansed you from your own wounds in life – simply amazing.
They ended this show with No One Gets Left Behind and their smash hit, The Bleeding. After the set, Moody snuck out to the front to thank them all. While the Godsmack stage was being setup, all I could hear was talk about how this was the best set they’ve seen at Rockfest, which is a lot for the old timers to say.
As Godsmack was about to start with the trademark AC/DC song, For Those About to Rock playing, I was thinking to myself, wow what an amazing day of music and to cap it off with Godsmack, who I love to see play live. Sadly, I was disappointed as were many fans at Rockfest; not sure if it was Sully Erna’s voice still causing him some issues or just the sound guy was not doing his job right.
Godsmack is the kind of band that loves a challenge and after the FFDP set, at any other time would have came with the same energy. While not their best showing, they still did their best to play on. For me, Sully Erna is still a badass of rock and I have so much respect for his playing and vocal skills that I am looking forward to seeing them play when they hit the stage for the Uproar tour. Playing songs like Straight Out of Line, Awake, The Enemy, Cryin’ Like a Bitch, they played all the hits for the fans. The dueling drum solo was missed and would have been perfect for Rockfest but did not happen.
They ended the night with Voodoo and Whatever before coming out for an encore of the Joe Walsh cover of Rocky Mountain Way, off Godsmack’s new EP of covers.
The night ended with I Stand Alone and while tonight’s performance may not have been one to remember, fans were still happy to see their rock idols and enjoyed the night.
Review and photos by Peter Lizano