Welcome to Rockville returned to Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville, Florida the first weekend of May this year for another three day festival of wide-ranging musical styles. 48 bands performed on three stages stretched across the festival grounds to tens of thousands of fans.
The headlining bands included Tool, Rob Zombie, Korn, Judas Priest, Evanesence, and Incubus, along with Jacksonville’s own Shinedown. These acts always put on great shows, and the two that stood out most were Judas Priest and Tool. Tool’s set closed the festival late on Sunday night after an hours-long rain delay early in the day. It ran about 90 minutes and included two songs performed live for the first time, “Descending” and “Invincible.” Despite the intense and sometimes ponderous nature of the longer songs, it was a fitting and well-received closing spectacle. The night before, Judas Priest gave a blistering hour-long performance of both new/newer songs and classics from their extensive canon. They opened with “Necromancer” off their latest release Firepower, and ended with a trilogy of crowd-pleasing favorites, “Hell Bent for Leather,” “Breaking the Law,” and “Living After Midnight.” Rob Halford’s voice sounded amazing as did the percussion and guitars. Priest’s performance was the highlight of the festival.
The undercard was strong as well, with acts like Meshuggah, Amigo the Devil, The Interruptors, Reignwolf, Flogging Molly, Black Label Society, Bring Me the Horizon, Papa Roach, Crobot, and Chevelle – too many great bands to talk about in this short review so I will just pick a couple out (almost) at random to crow about whom I haven’t crowed about before.
Amigo the Devil was a delightful surprise. A one man act who alternates between an acoustic six-string and a banjo, he introduced himself by explaining he would be singing songs about death. The genre he (Danny Kiranos) performs in is sometimes called murderfolk – self-explanatory, I think. The crowd loved him and count me in the crowd. I had never seen Crobot before – I put them in the category of new energetic bands who are great musicians and performers and will help define music in the coming years. They put on a powerful show full of precision and promise. Reignwolf gets the earnest award for being the most-in of the all-in bands. Their performance was like an episode of deeply introspective emotional eruptions. And then there were The Interrupters, an LA punk band with a what felt to me like a Boston Irish Exile Band sensibility. I experienced great joy watching them in the Florida heat. And then so many others, the always inspiring Fever 333, the indefatigable Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society, the perky Struts … it was a great festival and the perfect kick-off to a fully-loaded summer festival rampage of 2019.
This year was my first time at Welcome to Rockville and before I got there I thought to myself I’d give it a try but I probably wouldn’t go back next year. I have changed my mind. I definitely want to go back. The organization putting on the show, Danny Wimmer Presents, went all out for fans, providing a great lineup, a great venue, and memorable experiences. There were some weather issues, but there are weather issues all over the country in the Spring, and you just have to work around them. The event staff and organizers did an excellent job with some challenging situations and I give the whole event my unconditional recommendation.
The next festival for me is Sonic Temple May 17-19 in Columbus, Ohio. Right now I am making my way to Boston for the Saturday night show at the Paradise Rock Club: Overkill. See you all on the road.
©2019 Wayne Edwards.
(Below are the final schedules for the festival, from the official Instagram account)