Keeping with the growing trend of camp out festivals this year’s Welcome to Rockville added an additional day of music, camping, and changed the site layout to accommodate it. Many people were excited to see the lineup which included Ozzy Osborne and Avenged Sevenfold. The site redesign was a little much to handle for many people. The third stage, nestled close to the area where the now condemned Metro Park Pavillion was, a bit of a hike from stage one, but artists such as Bad Wolves and Butcher Babies were worth it. Stage two was moved to the area of the Main stage from years past and main was moved to the parking lot. In theory, and based on the shorter walk, it was a great move. Unfortunately, fans who braved to ignore the warning signs and crowd surf to the front risked far worse injuries than bumps and bruises. In fact, Avenged Sevenfold had to stop their set after a male fan apparently suffered a broken neck in a fall from his surfing perch. He is recovering at last check, but it will be a long process. Fingers were pointed on either side, some claiming another fan slammed him down, while others say it was simply landing in the position on the hard surface and it could have happened anywhere. I’m not going to judge it. I’m just going to tell everyone to be careful and also be kind to people who engage in this.
Many fans were displeased with the move because they felt it added to the heat at the event, but other festivals are held on pavement and when it rained in the past, people complained about the mud. You can’t please everyone, and you can’t move the stage on the fly just because it was hotter than normal for the season. My complaint was simply the orientation of the stage. For a stage to be aimed directly into the afternoon sun is just potentially harmful to the performers. Most of them closed their eyes or wore sunglasses for their whole sets. The temperature was probably five to ten degrees hotter on stage and with fans passing out I can only imagine how miserable it was for the artists.
Now I’ve gotten the bad part out of the system. Let’s talk about what worked. As always I love how Danny Wimmer is not only on site but comes to the front gate at opening. He has boots on the ground for the entire festival, and can be seen riding his bicycle around the property quite frequently. He doesn’t even mind having a conversation. In fact he and I had a nice chat walking toward the back of the property opening day. He is an all around nice guy, but all business to be sure, and it shows. He has built an empire based on a business model that frankly didn’t exist in the capacity he has created. He is constantly growing and I don’t anticipate an end anytime soon. He seems to really love the environment. If he didn’t he would most certainly be able to delegate at this point and hide out in an office somewhere.
The lineup made it very difficult for me to choose which artists I wanted to review and photograph. Not being able to be in the same place at the same time limits my ability to cover every stage for every set, so typically I try to make different acts at other festivals. Joyous Wolf turned in a stellar as always performance and I hope to hear more as they embark on their journey as part of the Road Runner Records family. Butcher Babies turned in one of their best, most energetic performances they have had and the crowd responded with hundreds of surfers. We in the pit got the boot around the time Heidi told everyone “We are the Butcher Babies and we are here to fuck shit up”. It was like opening a flood gate. Stone Temple Pilots sounded great. I didn’t make it all the way back due to another commitment, but I stopped to listen. Ozzy, accompanied by Zakk Wylde, started off a bit bumpy on the first song, almost a little off-key, but a quick change on the next song and everything else was great. There was speculation going around that Ozzy took a break in the middle during Zakk’s solo, but having seen the show a number of times this past year, it has always gone that way and why wouldn’t it? Zakk Wylde has certainly earned that spotlight. Other performances of note were legend Billy Idol who toughed it out in all black. We could only hope to look and do as well at his age. Hollywood Undead are back strong, and making a good run at some hits. Black Veil Brides turned in a solid performance and had a massive crowd of fans. As always Avenged Sevenfold is full of their pyro set, but I would love to see more action from them than pyro. Godsmack suffers from the same problem. They use so much pyro the show suffers to an extent. Although, of late Sully has taken to more crowd interaction which is certainly making strides in the right direction. Stone Sour had a great set and a great number of fans at their set. Corey Taylor has so much personality it leaptoff the stage and grabed everyone. His stage presence was massive and vocally he is on top of his game. Avatar never fails to entertain with their show. With the appearance of his Royal Highness of Avatar Country, came much fanfare and shredding. Up and coming artists Them Evils wowed the larger than normal early Friday crowd proving why they belonged on the major festival circut.
As always, food while plentiful, is expensive and it is difficult to find anything healthy. That would be my biggest complaint of any festival. Those of us on the road for a month at a time just can’t eat this type of food regularly. Not to mention the heat doesn’t mix well with the heavy carb and fat loaded fare. I wanted a salad every day.
On the whole, Welcome to Rockville was a great value fo the money. It’s a marathon , not a sprint, but if you can hang in there and pace yourself it is a festival worth attending. I look forward to next year.