Splice Magazine

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Welcome To Rockville 2022 Day 1 Review

Photo Credit: Steve Thrasher
Daytona, Fl. (May 19, 2022)

It’s hot, steamy, loud, raucous, and a devilishly good time, but most of all it’s back in its usual spot on the calendar. Yes, Welcome To Rockville, the premier hard rock music festival, has taken back its’ spot as the multi day event that kicks off festival season in the United States, if not the whole world. As always, the gang at DWP has managed to get some of the best hard rock musical talent to converge on the famed Daytona International Speedway. Whether it’s an up and coming indie act, a mainstream band, or a stadium ready heavy hitter, there would be plenty of chances to catch any or all of the above. With the lineup on tap for the next four days, indeed this would be a busy event for fans and bands alike.

It’s the first day, and there would be no dipping a toe in the water to ease into things. With four stages in total, the Octane and the Space Zebra would be anointed the main stages, while the Rockvillian and the DWPresents would be the two side stages. Needless to say, music would be going strong just about every minute of the festival. With the Space Zebra stage coming alive in the early afternoon, the first band to take that stage was Plush. This young band is made up of four women that absolutely rock. Riding the wave of groups that are embracing straight up rock n roll, these ladies don’t fool around. Singer Moriah Formica’s voice is incredibly powerful, and the rest of the band are as equally talented. With their early position on the schedule, they only had enough time for seven songs. But they made perfect use of their time. One of the highlights was their cover of the Heart mega hit song “Barracuda”. Formica showed everyone just how strong her voice is when she absolutely nailed this song.

At the other end of the festival grounds at the Octane stage, things were getting ready to really heat up. The early part of the schedule is usually dedicated to the new, up and coming bands, so you get a chance to see the future of music. If there is one band that has a promising future it is Tetrarch. From the moment they launched into their first song “Stitch Me Up” their energy level was through the roof. While singer Josh Fore cautioned everyone that this was only the first day, he also said that if we are going to give everything they had, you had better give everything too. With a crowd itching for a high energy outlet, this was exactly what they needed to hear. Mosh pits opened up and crowd surfing soon followed. While the crowd had tons of energy to burn, if anything the band had even more. While the band only played five songs, Fore also proved that he is more than just a talented singer, he showed that he is also a great front man. His heartfelt story of how the band came together and how they stayed true to who they are had everyone roped in and listening intently. Lead guitarist Diamond Rowe was on fire the whole set and looks to be a force for years to come. While this may be a young band among some heavyweights at the festival, their performance may very well have stolen the show.

Photo Credit: Steve Thrasher

While the main stages have been home to the major acts, the bands gracing the side stages would be no slouches either. One of the bigger acts to grace the Rockvillian stage was L.A.’s very own Gemini Syndrome. Their mix of metal and industrial music makes for an entertaining listen. Their live performance is equally entertaining. Under Florida’s notorious heat and humidity, lead singer Aaron Nordstrom continually prowled the stage all while dressed in a suit. Even the rest of the band wore some type of costume to add a cool visual element to the performance. Meanwhile back at the Space Zebra stage Mammoth WVH was getting ready to take over. As everyone knows Mammoth WVH is Wolfgang Van Halen’s band. If the Van Halen name sounds familiar yes, he is the son of Eddie Van Halen. While the uber talented Wolfgang Van Halen wrote and performed all the material on their debut album, he has surrounded himself with a top notch musicians in his band. With all the radio play they are getting; the crowd knew the songs and were singing along word for word. For many this was a highlight part of the day.

Photo Credit: Steve Carlos

With the day dwindling into night, and the steamy temperatures starting to abate, the music about to take hold would heat things up mightily. Next up was a true guitar god. Yes, Zakk Wylde and his band Black Label Society would be making a festival appearance. Seemingly everyone at the festival had packed in to see Zakk do his thing. With his long hair flying while wearing a kilt Zakk was definitely on fire. No matter what song they played, Zakk displayed his six string prowess with fingers deftly flying across the fretboard at breakneck speed. In a fun twist, Zakk’s crew tossed out multiple black beach balls emblazoned with BLS logos out into the crowd.

Photo Credit: Steve Thrasher

In what could have been a show closing performance, alt-metal stalwarts Papa Roach damn near stole the day. They kicked off their performance with “Kill The Noise” one of the first singles off of their latest album Ego Trip. With a career spanning over twenty years, you would think that lead singer Jacoby Shaddix would slow down if anything tonight’s performance he took things to a whole other level. At the beginning of “Blood Brothers” Jacoby asked the crowd to set a record for crowd surfing. Sure enough there was a constant sea of people surfing their way up front. After the song was over Jacoby let everyone know how impressed he was with what he saw. Throughout their performance every song was chock full of fist pumping sing a long moments that make their concerts a blast to see

With the night winding down, it was time for the second to last band. This year the folks at DWP booked one of the best, Five Finger Death Punch. When the curtain dropped on the Octane stage, the band was standing still and with the heavy back lighting all you could see was their silhouette. When Ivan Moody said let’s have fun, on cue the concert lights kicked on as the launched into “Inside Out”. The band pulled out all the stops. From pyro to confetti canons, they gave the fans one hell of a show. One of the highlights of their set was when Ivan Moody spotted a veteran in the crowd and asked him if he would swap a sign he had for a flag signed by the whole band. They promptly stopped the show got a marker from backstage and the deal was done.

Photo Credit: Steve Thrasher

Closing out the first night of the festival was a band that are the true masters of theatrics and live shows, and that is none other than Kiss. Between their iconic costumes, world renown stage shows and their massive catalog of hit songs this was the perfect choice to close out the first night of the festival. When the curtain dropped gene, Paul, and Tommy were playing “Detroit Rock City” as they stood on platforms being lowered from the upper reaches of the stage all while pyro was going off. This might be a festival, but Kiss treated it like it was their very own full on show. Over the course of some ninety minutes, they pulled out all the stops. Tommy Thayer, Gene Simmons, and Eric Singer all had solos, confetti canons, pyro and fireworks were part of nearly every one of the hit songs that they played.

With the first day of Welcome To Rockville in the books, there was no denying that it was a resounding success. There was great weather, tons of tired, but happy fans and of course a great day of music. With everyone streaming out of the speedway, it was now time to get back to their hotels to rest up. After all there are three more days to rock out.

Photo Credit: Steve Carlos

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