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First Annual Welcome to Rockville Festival Sizzles in Jacksonville

  05/13/11 23:09, by , Categories: Music News, Festivals and Events, BFMN Exclusive, Jim Messer, Review , Tags: festival, godsmack, halestorm, jim messer, metropolitan park, puddle of mudd, rev theory, seether, stone sour, welcome to rockville

Photos and Review by Jim Messer

Jim Messer

Sunday, May 8, was a little more than Mother’s Day. It brought the very first “Welcome to Rockville” festival to Metropolitan Park in downtown Jacksonville, Florida. It was hot… in several ways. First, you must understand that summer in Florida starts in late January. It gets hot. Like Africa hot. Add to that, ash from a giant forest fire was falling like a winter’s snow through most of the show. Not to mention the bands, who absolutely lit it up.

Click through for the Review and links to the Photosets!

Metro Park is located on 27 acres on the St. Johns River in downtown Jacksonville. The highlight of the park is the huge amphitheater, which hosts annual events including Fourth of July concerts and the Jacksonville Jazz Fest. Seating for most shows is on the lawn and Rockville was no different.

Welcome to Rockville took parts of the Avalanche Tour and paired them with some big-name local acts. The promoters did a wonderful job of adding groups that are well-liked and talented enough to win over fans. Everything about Rockville was as a concert should be - extremely organized, free-flowing and fan-friendly. Their team went out of their way to makes this inaugural fest successful. They could have stopped with ‘good’ but they made it great. The lineup features over 20 bands across three stages: the Monster Energy main stage, the Budweiser stage and the Jagermeister stage.

Lzzy Hale of Halestorm by Jim Messer

The day started with gates opening up at 11am with the first band, Bleeding in Stereo, hitting the Budweiser stage at 11:10. Unfortunately, I was unable to get to the venue until a little later. Local Jacksonville band Son of a Bad Man kicked off the main stage at 11:30. They have consistently delivered a wonderful live show and the fans I spoke with say they absolutely nailed it. Down Theory played at 12 on the Budweiser Stage.

Art of Dying by Jim Messer

After I spent time with my Mom I was able to get to Metro Park just in time to see Halestorm. Brother and sister Arejay and Lzzy Hale have been performing together since 1998 and it shows in how tight their sets are. Whether it’s Arejay standing up and pounding the drums or Lzzy launching into a solo, they make every show worth it. They asked for and received quite a lot of audience participation, which helped guide them through their set. Lzzy’s snarling lyrics ripped through the park.


We walked over to the Budweiser stage next to catch Art of Dying. I’d heard a few songs but wasn’t completely familiar with their sound. Jonny Hetherington’s job on vocals is pretty incredible. As a heavier band, you’d expect screaming. Don’t get me wrong, he did his fair share, but when he smooths it out to hit melodies it goes beyond what you’d expect. Hetherington is very talented out front and his band brings a heavy sound to perfectly match his energy.

Rev Theory by Jim Messer

Skillet played the main stage next. They are a Christian rock band and have been well-known to the local music scene for years. Their ability to rock has won fans from all over. They were extremely popular with Jacksonville crowd, who sang as loudly as the band. Next, Rev Theory kicked up Budweiser stage. Lead guitarist Rikki Lixx completely killed their set with his wonderful guitar playing.

Puddle of Mudd

Jacksonville native Paul Phillips and the band Puddle of Mudd were up next. As Wes Scantlin belted out their song Control, they had many members of the crowd screaming along. Wes jumped down into the crowd and got them even more wild. Cavo took the stage next and kept the jumping right along. They brought a little more thrash metal to the mix.

The Jagermeister stage was on the other side of the park from the two main stages. It was possible to hit all three stages and catch all the bands, though I wasn’t able to do this as much as I liked. By the time we were able to get over, we had to get back to be able to take pictures. In Whispers, Efen Manna Zen, Broken Trust and Viktr played this stage. Later on in the day, Mindslip, Six Shot Revival, Fit for Rivals and Revis played. To close it out, Red Jumpsuit Apparatus played to their hometown fans.

We did take some time to grab a quick bite to eat. It was pretty standard prices for a venue of this type. I spoke with a few people who weren’t very happy with the food and drink prices and most agreed it was an expectation and not a surprise. The most frustrating part for most folks was the fact they weren’t able to bring in chairs. While I understand their frustration, I completely understand why the decision was made to forbid them. They would have easily gotten in the way as the crowd crushed to the front.

Theory of a Deadman

One disappointing area over which neither the venue nor promoters had any control was the ridiculous way the fans treated the bathrooms. They were a mess, but the blame goes only to the fans. There were plenty of facilities and lines were rare but, like a lot of music fests like these, some jackasses decide to trash bathrooms for no reason.

My Darkest Days

Theory of a Deadman got the music started again. Before they came on stage, South Park’s Blame Canada played to usher on the northern rockers. The lead singer, Tyler Connolly, has great hair. No, wait - take that back, he has a wonderful coiffed head. I almost ran on the stage just to touch it. Alas, I restrained myself and listened to their music. If you haven’t heard of them, it is certainly a band to look up. They’ll only get more popular.

Cold by Jim Messer

My Darkest Days picked up on the Budweiser Stage. For stage presence, these fellows rocked it. All of them got the crowd engaged in their show. Their song Porn Star Dancing had the crowd doing just that. They also kicked up a Duran Duran cover, Come Undone.

Seether brought power with their first song, Gasoline. That continued later in their set when they brought out a Nirvana cover. Their sound was extremely crisp and powerful.

Local boys Cold closed out the Budweiser stage with a well-controlled sound that shows their touring is only making them better musicians. I was very impressed by Stupid Girl; their sound was studio quality and awesome.

Stone Sour

Stone Sour is very heavy band that is growing their fan base with every concert. While they are heavy they were able to pull it down on their current hit Through Glass.

Godsmack by Jim Messer

Godsmack took the stage to thunderous applause. The four well-seasoned rockers know how to command a stage. As a photographer, you have to work very quickly and get your shots. Sometimes you just step back and say ‘damn these guys are good.’ I was mesmerized at how well Tony Rombola plays guitar. Sully Erna is such a huge voice and compliments Tony with rhythm guitar. Robbie Merrill and Shannon Larkin tied it all together. I was impressed with their sound; I was able to see they played with minimum effects and just brought music out of their instruments.

Welcome to Rockville is pegged to be an annual event. With what the producers were able to do, this won’t be a problem. It was everything a rock festival should be - well managed, stocked with talent and loud. We aren’t talking a little loud. I have a friend who lives miles away and his house was rocking harder than it ever has. He let me know that even the yearly Monster Trucks sound like Yugos compared to this. Most valuable lesson I learned? Next year, bring earplugs.

Don’t miss the Photos of the Bands in the BareFoot FotoBlog!

Click the Band Name to go to their Photos by Jim Messer

Art of Dying
My Darkest Days
Puddle of Mudd
Rev Theory
Stone Sour
Theory of a Deadman

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