This three-day festival kicks off the summer touring circuit with bands such as Tool, Papa Roach, Evanescence, and more.
The ground at Metropolitan Park shook with every bass drum double-kick from May 3 through May 5 just off the St. John’s River in Jacksonville, Florida. While Florida is usually known for sun, this Welcome to Rockville weekend was a wet, muddy one – but that didn’t stop over 60,000 fans from moshing and headbanging for three days straight.
Veteran acts such as Tool, Judas Priest, Korn, and Rob Zombie ruled the weekend with commanding sets, while up-and-coming acts like Reignwolf, Hyro the Hero, Crobot, Fever 333, and The Interrupters brought new energy to the scene.
Day 1 Highlights – Korn Reign on Day One
Cleopatrick, a Canadian indie duo, opened the festival with quick riffs and an upbeat tempo to get the crowd amped up for a weekend of rocking.
Amigo the Devil brought a one-man folk-metal act who, armed with only an acoustic guitar or a banjo, had the crowd in the palm of his hand with such lyrical content about marriage struggles, general life struggles, and self-deprecating humor.
Hyro the Hero echoed the uncanny sound of Rage Against the Machine and the fans were more than ready to satisfy their rage when Tom Morello followed on the same stage. Morello played all the RATM favorites while the slogans of “Know your rights” and “White Anxiety” flashed on the screens behind him.
Killswitch Engage showed their festival chops while jumping around onstage and screaming their hearts out while Flogging Molly shuffled and shook along with the crowd, who embraced their accordion and violin.
Due to the tragic loss of Keith Flint, the Prodigy had to withdraw from the festival, but The Crystal Method paid tribute with countless Prodigy songs mixed into their set.
Evanescence came to rock with a sprinkling of older songs on top of power ballads from their self-titled release. Former guitarist Terry Balsamo (a Jacksonville native) joined the band again for the first time since 2012 for “Sweet Sacrifice” and Evanescence debuted “Imperfection” for the first time live with a full rock band instead of an orchestra.
Korn and Jonathan Davis fed off the tangible energy of the fans while delivering hard-hitting performances of their older material from Follow the Leader and Issues with a five-song encore to end day one.
Day 2 Highlights – Rob Zombie, Judas Priest and more …
Crobot kicked off day two of the festival with showmanship onstage to a growing crowd of fans ready to start the day rocking. Badflower singer Josh Katz wasn’t shy about discussing his personal struggles in his lyrics or between his songs and the crowd rewarded him for it, “I guess we’re popular in Florida, guys!” he quipped to his bandmates early in the set.
As expected, Zakk Wylde and Black Label Society shredded and melted faces far beyond the splash zone of the first few rows. His rapidly climbing and falling riffs and constant fist-pumping and thrashing gave the fans what they were hoping for.
Skillet‘s return to Rockville was a welcomed one. While singer John Cooper and guitarist Korey Cooper had noticeably more work on their tattoo sleeves, the band also had more strong, heavy-hitting material to give fans something to jump up and down along to. But John took to a somber moment with the crowd and mentioned how he was sick of his heroes in rock music taking their lives and told fans not to give up before leading into “Whispers in the Dark”. A few songs into the set, John slipped on some smoke machines and became the rock band superhero incarnate from their graphic novel, Eden.
In This Moment‘s Maria Brink was in total command of the festival crowd during their set, as always. Background dancers helped to create choreographed, symmetrical imagery and an onstage presence for Maria likened to a queen and her subjects – and the crowd ate up every costume change.
Fans roared for Yelawolf as the duo bounced around and partied like rockstars onstage and Michael Wayne Atha even mentioned his friendship with Eminem before playing their new single “Best Friend”.
The guys in Shinedown are no strangers to the festival touring scene and it was evident in their larger-than-life set. Their use of the whole stage with risers and pyrotechnics captivated the crowd and got the whole lot head-banging and jumping along to the music. Frontman Brent Smith also took time out of his set to talk about mental struggles to make sure listeners knew it gets better and people do care. They played a mixture of their albums including “I’ll Follow You”, “Bully”, and finished the set with “Devil”.
Judas Priest took the stage next and crowd members of all ages threw up their horns to “Heading Out to the Highway”, “Breaking the Law”, and “Living After Midnight”. Rob Halford showed his chops with record-like vocals while moving around the stage and showing how a decades-old metal band plays a rock show.
Another heavy-metal god, Rob Zombie, took the stage to close the second night by dancing along to “Living Deal Girl” and “More Human Than Human” while jumping between risers onstage. The band played their version of “Blitzkrieg Bop” while crowd members moshed and ska’d. The night ended with an encore of “Dragula” with no lack of showmanship from the musician and filmmaker.
Day 3 Highlights – Tool Round Out A High Octane Weekend
The final day of Welcome to Rockville got off to a rocky start with severe weather delays lasting until mid-afternoon. Gates opened over four hours later than expected, but the festival staff managed to move around and deploy the new music schedule to fans quickly after doors opened and the rocking commenced.
Grandson was the first band to play on day three and listeners immediately gravitated to the stage. By the time they played their new single “Apologize”, the lawn was full for their last song and breakthrough hit and final song, “Blood // Water”.
Reignwolf took the stage to a light drizzle, but that didn’t stop Jordan Cook and Stacey-James Kardash from taking their guitar and bass guitar out into the rain and onto the speakers in front of the stage. The way the two guitarists interacted with each other, their instruments, and the crowd was mesmerizing. It was apparent they were feeding off the energy of the crowd and the combination continued to grow throughout their performance.
New trio Fever 333 brought with them endless energy and an exploding performance onstage. Singer Jason Aalon Butler grabbed one of the large, black tarp from over the speakers, ran to one side of the stage, then started to run across the stage before jumping into the tarp, effectively creating a slip-and-slide onstage. Guitarist Stephen Harrison jumped off the stacks and drummer Aric Improta stood on and jumped from his stool multiple times throughout the show and the crowd reacted in kind, sending crowd surfers to the front almost non-stop.
The Interrupters brought a ska punk vibe to the final day that had listeners dancing and skanking along to Aimee Allen and her band of brothers single “She’s Kerosene”.
By the time Meshuggah took the stage, it was nearly impossible to navigate through the crowded field in front of their stage. This extreme metal band from Sweden was clearly a crowd favorite – as soon as the first kick of bass drum began, fans were moshing and crowd surfing their way through the crowd and to the front of the stage.
Jacoby Shaddix walked onto the stage and the crowd exploded for Papa Roach; when they opened with “Last Resort”, fans screamed so loud it was hard to hear Jacoby. With every song, the crowd’s excitement grew and when the band nailed their cover of Prodigy’s “Firestarter” before their finale, fans went wild.
The high octane proceedings continued when Bring Me The Horizon took the stage. The theatrics and set composition of the stage added staircases and depth to a set accompanied by pyrotechnics and costumed dancers surrounding band members. It was clear why this English metalcore band has such a strong following. Frontman Oliver Sykes commanded the show in a red suit and by traveling the length of the stage during the performance while belting out “MANTRA”, “Happy Song”, and “Throne”, amongst others.
Incubus‘ set brought fans a mix of songs from almost every one of their albums and Brandon Boyd showcasing his melodic sound over the nighttime crowd. When the band played their finale, a surprising cover of Ginuwine’s “Pony”, the crowd surged over to the main stage for the final act of the festival.
Maynard James Keenan, his new Mohawk, and the members of Tool debuted “Descending” and “Invincible” from their upcoming album to be released on August 30, 2019. Classics such as “Schism”, “The Pot”, and “Forty Six & 2” were sprinkled into the set, much to fans’ delight. Tool closed out Welcome to Rockville with long-time favorite “Stinkfist” as fans made their way back to their vehicles after another face-melting year of a rock festival that is continuously cementing itself as a north Florida staple.
Day 1 Line-Up: Korn, Evanescence, Chevelle, The Crystal Method, Flogging Molly, Circa Survive, Killswitch Engage, Mark Lanegan Band, Tom Morello, Beartooth, Hyro the Hero, Black Pistol Fire, Light The Torch, Wilson, Hands Like Houses, Amigo The Devil, Demob Happy, Dirty Honey, Cleopatrick
Day 2 Line-Up: Rob Zombie, Judas Priest, Shinedown, Yelawolf, The Cult, Skillet, Black Label Society, Wage War, Tremonti, Movements, The Damned Things, Badflower, Dead Girls Academy, Boston Manor, Crobot, Zeal & Ardor
Day 3 Line-Up: Tool, Incubus, Bring Me The Horizon, Papa Roach, Meshuggah, The Interrupters, The Struts, Fever 333, Architects, Reignwolf, Yungblud, Grandson, Dorothy, While She Sleeps, The Glorious Sons, The Dirty Nil, Shvpes, Hyde
Event Date: 03-05-May-2019