Danville VA, (September 10th, 2021)
The sun is shining, the temperature is in the eighties, and you couldn’t ask for a better to the start of the day. The next question is would the second day of the Blue Ridge Rock Festival be an improvement over the first. Indeed the music on the first day was spectacular, but by now everyone knows of the traffic situation. One thing that was noticeable on day two was while there was a lot of traffic, it was an improvement over the previous day. This was to be expected as everyone was beginning to get used to the lay of the land and was starting to plan accordingly.
With the festival goers out in full force and on site early, there was definitely more opportunities to catch the early bands, and todays lineup had some gems. With the hard rock and metal music scene fully embracing female fronted bands, one band that is making waves was hitting the stage early today and that is Stitched Up Heart. With Alecia ‘Mixi’ Demner at the helm, their reputation for a great live show earned them a solid crowd for their performance. Those that got there early were rewarded well. With a sound that can range from melodic to absolute heaviness, this was an exciting band to start things off for most.
Without question with the lineup of bands on tap for the day, the excitement would definitely be building. If there is one band that knows a thing or two about delivering a performance it is Fozzy. Front man Chris Jericho as many know is also a professional wrestler, and with his years doing that he knows how to whip up a crowd. Make no mistake, the man can sing as well. Of course they played their hit songs “Judas” and “Nowhere To Run”. In a totally pleasant surprise, they closed their time on stage with the AC/DC hit song “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap”. Indeed the bar was raised and the next band up would have a challenge following that up.
If there was one band that could follow up a great performance and top it with their own is Sevendust. With some twenty plus years of performing and countless hits under their collective belts as well as a reputation for putting on performances that are an all-out assault this was for many a must see band. Opening things up with “Dying To Live” from their latest album Blood And Stone they were clearly fired up and looking to add another show to claim as their own. While they might not have had the time to play a full set, they gave their fans some of their biggest hits. Some of the songs they delivered were “Home”, “Black”, “Driven” and “Denial”. But they saved the best for last with a knockout performance of “Face To Face”.
With barely enough time to recover from the full frontal assault that is Sevendust, it was a mad dash to many a stage as there was a sea of incredible performances by many bands such as Tallah, Gemini Syndrome, and Clutch. If you were hungry, that would have to wait as there was a can’t miss concert by British rockers Asking Alexandria. Riding high on their current album Like A House On Fire this metalcore outfit was set to show the crowd just how good their latest material is live. They opened up their part of the festival with live debuts of the first three songs. Yes, everyone there got to see and hear “Alone Again”, “They Don’t Want What We Want (And They Don’t Care)”, and “The Antisocialist” live. If you weren’t there to see that go down, you should be jealous of those there as they were all brilliant performances.
Indeed this was a day that you needed to have your track shoes laced up tight as the legendary Anthrax was getting ready to light up the stage and no matter where you were on the festival grounds, this was a yet another can’t miss show. With the Blues Brothers version of “Can’t turn You Loose” blaring the band took the stage and immediately Scott Ian was churning out the rapid fire riffs of “Fight ‘Em Til’ You Can’t”. They followed things up with absolutely bone crushing versions of “Madhouse”, “Caught In A Mosh” and “Got The Time”. There was no denying that Anthrax wasn’t messing around. To get to see one of the big four of thrash in this setting was surreal.
In what had to be the most incendiary performances of the weekend belonged to Fever 333. Singer Jason Aalon Butler made his way on stage with a black hood on and he stood at attention behind his mic stand. When they ripped into “Bite Back” all hell broke loose on stage. Butler was all over the stage and nothing was safe with him even trying to tear down their backdrop. During their set Butler and guitarist Stephen Harrison climbed all the way to the top of the stage. They ended their set just as powerfully as it began with a high energy performance of their hit song “Burn It”.
If you were looking for another high octane performance to keep up the energy that Fever 333 laid down, you were best served by catching I Prevail. With guitarists Steve Menoian Dylan Bowman running out on stage and onto the risers on stage the crowd started cheering wildly. But when singer Eric Vanlerberghe walked out and screamed into his mic “Get On Your Knees And Bow Down” the opening words to “Bow Down” the crowd exploded. When Brian Burkheiser comes in and provides the clean vocals it really sends things over the top. They would keep their foot on the throttle the rest of the way through playing some of their biggest hits like “Breaking Down”, “Come And Get It”, and “Gasoline”.
As the day was coming towards an end things were down to the final two bands. The penultimate act of the day was none other than Motionless In White. Under a sea of moody red lights the stylized letters MIW were all anyone could see. When lead singer came out he asked everyone if they were ready to get this party started, and of course everyone was more than up to the task. When they broke into “Reincarnate” multiple pinpoint spotlights were swirling around on stage as the band did their thing. During their performance of “Voices” they even got the pyro going full tilt. While the band has tons of incredible material, they decided to throw in a cover of the Killers hit song “Somebody Told Me” which may very have been the highlight of their set. From front to back the entire crowd was singing along with the band.
To cap off the second day of the festival Purpose Driven Events brought out a big gun for sure in Rob Zombie. With the entire crowd of the festival all at one stage it was truly a sight to behold. When the stage lights were brought up all eyes were on the lit up ten pointed star dead center on the stage mounted to a mic stand. On the video screens behind the stage started spelling out Zombie while the crowd was chanting his name. Finally John 5 started playing and Zombie appeared as the band launched into “The Triumph Of A King Freak”. Dressed in a fringe lined jacket, fringe lined bell bottom pants and a cowboy hat not only was he a sight to behold, but when he was dancing across the stage that was a show in itself. He followed things up with the hit song “Superbeast”. Indeed Zombie was a super beast during the song. He never stopped moving. Whether he was head banging or sprinting across the stage all he did was just further energize the crowd.
Over the course of the next our and a half Rob Zombie and his band put on a proper rock show which was something everyone there was starving for. Numbers like “More Human Than Human” featured what had to have been a ten foot tall dancing robot on stage. The video screens that were all over the set were playing images from silhouettes of dancing women to sixties and sixties horror movie clips. While this was great entertainment, the music was still king. The song that launched it all “Thunder kiss 65” featured an incredible solo by guitarist John 5. He even squeezed in a couple cover songs such as “Helter Skelter” by The Beatles and the Ramones hit song “Blitzkrieg Bop”. The final song of the night was another big hit of his “Dragula”
With the second day officially over, all you could do was reflect on all the great music that had been played today. As with the first day it was chock full of incredible performances, and thankfully it was yet another day of picture perfect weather to enjoy all of this. Now it was back to Hotels and campsites for everyone to grab some rest. After all there was two more days of head banging to do!
Blue Ridge Rock Festival: