Danville VA, (September 11th, 2021)
With two days of metal and the festival under everyone’s collective belts things were starting to fall into a groove. Many of the traffic and shuttle bus problems were now under control as everyone had figured everything out. As people filed into the festival grounds things were feeling good and everyone was looking forward to mare incredible performances.
Unfortunately one band would not be able to join the fray. Sadly covid had hit the All That Remains camp and out of caution for everyone they had to pull out of the festival at the last minute. But local bands such as RVNT and up and coming acts like Alyxx would help to pick up the slack. Then there was a one of the stalwarts Corrosion Of Conformity that also was able to get a crowd in for their performance. Their hit songs “Albatross” and “Clean My Wounds” were nothing short of excellent and helped to serve notice that this would be like the previous two, chock full of great performances.
With the temperature rising on the day, it was something to see Jesse Hasek lead singer of 10 Years get on stage wearing a white outfit with a black hoodie and a bird mask. If he was hot or uncomfortable, it didn’t show as he and his band delivered a great set. Their first song was “Shoot It Out” and it was an earnest and intense performance. Their brand of alt/metal was the perfect way to get the day going. For all their fans there they were treated to incredible performances of their hit songs “The Unknown”, “Wasteland” and “Novacaine”. For those that couldn’t get enough, were able to head over to the VIP for an acoustic show as well!
Now that everyone was good and warmed up, it was time to put things in overdrive and catch legendary hardcore act Hatebreed. When the PA system started pumping out the Twisted Sister hit song “You Can’t Stop Rock N Roll” the already fired up crowd went berserk. The band wasted no time and launched into “Empty Promises”. If horns weren’t flying in the crowd it was because everyone was either moshing or crowd surfing. They wouldn’t back off an inch and melted faces right up until the very end. Whether they were playing “Looking Down The Barrel Of Today” or “I Will Be Heard” there would be np let up in the sonic brutality. For all the Slayer fans in attendance, they even played a killer version of “Ghosts Of War”.
In a complete shift in metal styling Sweden’s very own Avatar was now going on stage. With the fresh new album Silence In The Age Of Apes out, you could be sure that new material would be played. As they hit the stage all dressed the same in black coveralls with red shirts and of course singer Johannes Eckerstrom had his trademark face paint. From the second they started in with “Silence In The Age Of Apes” the hair windmills started on stage. The action continued throughout their set right until the end when they played their biggest hit “Hail The Apocalypse”.
With the Metal Tour Of The Year in full swing, today at the festival was the designated stop on the tour for the area. Yes all the bands on the tour were here and all the festival goers would have their chance to see it. With Hatebreed already doing their thing, it was now time for Trivium to play. In a big surprise to their fans they released a new album In The Court Of the Dragon. So it was no surprise that their first song was the title track to the album. From the second they started it was obvious the band was on fire. The guitar interplay between lead singer/ guitarist Matt Heafy and guitarist Cory Beaulieu was spot on and of course Heafy’s vocals were brilliant. The bulk of their set was filled with songs off of their two latest albums including “What The Dead Men Say”, “Catastrophist”, and “Feast Of Fire”. They capped things off with one of their most popular songs ever “In Waves”.
While Blue Ridge Rock Festival contains bands from a wide variety of the hard rock/ metal spectrum, there is one band that you wouldn’t expect at the festival it would be Body Count. When lead singer Ice T hit the stage wearing a bullet proof vest and glares out into the crowd it was one of the most intense moments of the day. Without hesitation they launched into a cover of the classic Slayer hit “Reign In Blood”. If there was a question if they belonged on the bill, it was this performance that cemented the fact that they belonged here. Their blend of rap and metal made for an intense performance.
As the day progressed, it was now time for another alumni of the Metal Tour Of The Year. If there was one band here today that could match the intensity of Body Count it would be Lamb Of God. From the moment they broke into “Memento Mori” they upped the bar on the day. Singer Randy Blythe continually stalked the stage throughout the song. During “Walk In Hell” they turned things up several notches when the pyro kicked in. It was an incredible sight watching Blythe jump off drummer Art Cruz’s riser as flames shot up across the back of the stage. The mosh pits were in full steam and crowd surfing looked like a human conveyor belt during performances of “Walk With Me In Hell” and “Redneck”.
With the sun completely set It was now time for the final band of the Metal Tour Of The Year to do their thing. Yes, the mighty Megadeth was in town and ready to ply their wares. The stage was pitch dark then the video screens came alive with images of Vic Rattlehead as you heard Dave Mustaine’s voice on the “Prince Of Darkness” pumped through the PA system. Then at the appointed time the stage lights came alive, and the band hit the stage and launched into a blistering version of “Hanger 18”. In a taste of what would come throughout their set Dave Mustaine and fellow guitarist Kiko Loureiro tore things up trading solo’s back and forth. While much has been said about the ouster of former bassist Dave Ellefson, James LoMenzo was quickly able to come back into the fold with this being his second time in the band. As the band tore through “Dystopia”, “Trust” and “Sweating Bullets” which every had fans foaming at the mouth. All of this was really just the warmup for the juggernaut of songs that they had lined up for the end of their show. Things started off with one of their all-time great songs “Symphony Of Destruction” which brought the crowd up to a fever pitch. Then They launched into one of their most Iconic songs “Peace Sells But Who’s Buying”. Afterwards, the band headed off stage to leave the crowd chanting “Megadeth, Megadeth, Megadeth”. The band came out and absolutely blew the crowd away with a blistering version of “Holy Wars…The Punishment Due”.
With the audience absolutely floored by what they witnessed, there were but scant seconds to hightail it to the Monster Energy Stage for the last band of the day. With everyone piled into the part of the grounds the held the Monster Energy stage, the excitement reached a fever pitch when drummer Charlie Engen got behind his kit. As the rest of the band took to the stage lead singer Ivan Moody was dead center wearing a white hoodie and a white beanie. With the intro to “Inside Out” off of their latest album F8 playing it seemed as though a fuse had been lit. When it was time for the band to kick in the powder keg exploded. Their larger than life sound was full of punch. Speaking of punch, Ivan looked like he was ready to throw down with his arms flailing to the beat. When it was his turn to sing he delivered the lyrics with tons of attitude that made things sound oh so good.
The band was at their absolute brutal best as they ripped through fan favorites like “Jekyll & Hyde”, “Sham Pain”, and “Trouble”. If their killer performance wasn’t enough, during “Wash It All Away” they even had pyro going. At one point during the show Ivan Moody appeared on stage with an American flag that he had the full band autograph. He went to the edge of the stage and flagged down two police officers and he handed them the flag and said this is for your department and we thanked them for all that they do. He then had the entire audience salute them. The band then launched into an amazing performance of “Bad Company”. As they were getting ready to play “Nobody Gets Left Behind” Ivan spotted a father with two young daughters and in a super classy move he offered to get them out of harms way and watch from the side stage. They really didn’t want anyone getting left behind!
In a stylistic turn, they decided to slow things down halfway through the show. With just new guitarist Andy James and Ivan on stage, they performed “Battle Born”, “Remember Everything”, “The Wrong Side Of Heaven”, and “Darkness Settles In” acoustically. At one point during this run of songs the entire audience was singing along note for note. Its amazing how the band created an intimate moment with forty thousand people. In a complete opposite moment Ivan told the crowd that Lamb Of God was watching the show and he wanted to pick things up and started chanting “Burn Mother F*cker” and the band promptly ripped through a high octane version of the song with pyro and all. They ended their hour and a half performance with an emotional version of “The Bleeding”
In many ways day three found the festival really hitting its stride. Most of the traffic and parking problems were much much better. While Covid did strike one of the bands at the last second, unfortunately during these times you have to expect the unexpected, and the folks at Purpose Driven Events managed this situation as well as can be expected. But through it all the music, and the selection of bands have been nothing short of a home run. Now the question remains, how would day four stack up against the great day that today was.
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Blue Ridge Rock Festival: