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Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

Modern grooves and visual showmanship take over the second day.


Following a day dominated by old school metallic fire and punishingly hot conditions, the thousands upon thousands of determined attendees prepared to brave the elements for a second day of sonic celebration in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Barring a brief weather advisory that would ultimately prove to be little more than a passing shower, the next installment of the Welcome To Rockville 2024 festival would proceed with no incidents, and would actually enjoy a slightly less intense degree of input from the sun. The massive foray of auditory aggression that typified the previous day still seemed to hang in the air, as the opening bands made their way to their respective stages, with the upcoming performances culminating in a more modernized and measured assortment of styles.

Among the early entries to kick off this second round of riff happy rock would be the newly minted project of ex-Five Finger Death Punch guitarist Jason Hook dubbed Flat Black. With their upcoming debut studio album still yet to hit stores and streaming sites, their streamlined set functioned as an ongoing series of previews for a coming attraction, and the level of hype they would manage to generate was immediately palpable.

Lead vocalist Wes Horton was an untamed beast at the microphone, roaring and howling each verse line and chorus at full force while sporting a jet black dyed mane, a stark departure from the natural color featured in the band's promotional videos. The rhythm section provided by drummer Rob Pierce and bassist Nicholas Diltz was as thunderous of an affair as it was an exercise in precision, providing a rock solid foundation upon which Jason's often busy riffing and flashy solos could shine. The crowd instantly identified with the similarly thick and gritty character their offerings bore to Hook's prior work with 5FDP, and highlight entries like the modern thrashing cruiser "It's Your Lack Of Respect" and the chunky grooves with a slight industrial edge of "Halo" garnered the loudest responses.

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

Fort Lauderdale natives and veteran alternative metal outfit Nonpoint would be one of the next acts to brave the mid-day sun, and they brought an extra dosage of raw energy to go with their signature blend of heavy-ended groove riffing and hip hop trappings.

Helmsman and highly kinetic impresario Elias Soriano led the foray with a fervor that few could hope to rival, jumping and head-banging his massive dreadlocks about the stage like a berserker set on single-handedly conquering the entire Florida peninsula. The rest of the fold, sans drummer Robb Rivera who was busy punishing the airwaves from a stationary point, were also far from shy about exploring the space allotted to them with reckless abandon and doing their part to keep the show as off the hook as possible.

Among the highlight moments that likely stuck the most in everyone's memory were the colossal renditions of "Bullet With A Name", "What A Day", and especially the opening explosion of sound with an infectious edge "Breaking Skin", but from a standpoint of overall enthusiasm, the entire set was a consistent flow of unbridled enthusiasm set to music.

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

The now flavorful blend of sonic elements permeating the air would be amped up into the stratosphere with the arrival of New York funk metal pioneers and certified icons Living Colour. To all with eyes capable of sight, the apparel of the quartet manning the stage was the only thing louder than the anthems they had brought, as the blaring barrage of color in question could not have been more pronounced if it were literally projecting rainbows to the four winds.

Between the wild virtuosic shredding of guitarist Vernon Reid, the highly animated stage presence and soaring vocal work of Corey Glover, and the busy rhythm work buttressing the bottom of the arrangement via Will Calhoun's kit work and Doug Wimbish's bass lines, the highly distinctive synchronicity that was established would have blown the roof of the venue were the one present. "Kick Out The Jams" and "Leave It Alone" rocked the proverbial house with the best of them, though naturally it all came to a head with a boisterous final hurrah showing of their smash hit "Cult Of Personality".

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

The visual presentation would prove no less unique with the arrival of Swedish metalcore trustees Imminence, as their generally by the numbers blend of post-hardcore and Gothenburg melodeath influences was accompanied by an unusual assortment of stage personas.

Between drummer Peter Hanstrom's and guitarist Alex Arnoldsson's flowing long hair and stage getups reminiscing upon the heyday of early 90s death metal, and the traditional East Asian clothing sported by lead guitarist Harald Barrett alone; the mixture of visual presentations had an artsy, cabaret-like quality.

Throwing in the eccentric character of lead vocalist Eddie Berg and his formal attire is where things become otherworldly, as his highly competent blend of screams and soaring clean singing is accompanied by a rather auspicious command of the violin. The resulting interspersing of serene, classically-charged violin passages amid moments of ambient reprieve from the blistering metallic fervor of the rest of the arrangement would prove an uncommon but welcome contrast, with entries like "Paralyzed", "Beyond The Pale" and "Infectious" providing the zenith points of a highly intricate presentation.

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

The modern metal pendulum would swing in a somewhat less eccentric direction when Canadian metal veterans Kittie took over. It's been a whirlwind of a resurrection story since they reformed for the 2022 Blue Ridge Rock Festival for what was thought to be a one-off reunion show, as what would follow would be a series of highly engaging festival appearances over the next year and a half, and now a brand new studio album that was just announced this week.

Suffice it to say, they looked about as striking as their sound would be massive, and their stage presentation would be spearheaded by the frequent movement and engagement of bassist Ivana Jenkins and guitarist Tara McLeod, while guitarist/vocalist Morgan Landers played it a bit closer to the hip, favoring a focused performance close to the microphone from which her numerous vocal characters took shape and conquered the audience; taking occasional moments between sections to join the others in thrashing out around the stage.

The audience participation was no less frenetic, as the space before the stage was replete with crowd surfers and waves of movement, egged on by classic renditions of "Spit" and "Brackish", as well as a blistering performance of new album entry "Vultures".

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

The hour favoring regular mainstays of the festival circuit would continue with the onslaught provided by Los Angeles-born melodic rock mainstays In This Moment. Bringing the same presentation that has accompanied their ongoing tour for their most recent album Godmode, the flavor of their approach has drastically upped the theatricality factor something fierce.

The level of pyrotechnics employed was off the charts, comparable to what one might witness from the likes of Beartooth or Parkway Drive. At the heart of it all was the same, familiar blend of industrial, gothic and pop trappings wrapped in a metallic gloss and served to the masses in the form of one highly accessible and infectious ode after the next, but the heightened visual element served them extremely well as front woman Maria Brink worked the stage in an uneding galore of flamboyant attires while the rest of the band leaned into each anthem in dark apparel befitting a modern black metal outfit. Newly minted bangers like "The Purge" and "Sanctify Me" rocked the masses with the best of them, though it still seemed as though the crowd favored the familiar like "The In-Between", "Big Bad Wolf" and "Blood".

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

The artistic mode of darkness would taper off in favor of a full on, barbaric brand of brutality when Russian deathcore purveyors Slaughter To Prevail stomped their ironclad boot upon the stage. The degree of Slavic savagery was nothing short of insane, with lead vocalist Alex Terrible barking with the ferocity of a mighty bear, taking only a few brief moment to assume a more human demeanor in between songs to rev up the audience and joking noting their lead guitarist Jack Simmons (Acrania) being the token Briton of the fold.

Crowd participation rose to new heights between the level of movement and the sheer volume of onlookers wearing the same signature golden masks as the band, with Alex ditching his after the opening performance of their favored live crusher "Bonebreaker", revealing a forbidding face and his left eye covered in a pale color contact lens to assumedly synthesize a battle injury. Those with only a mild familiarity with this quintet were treated to a series of skull-ringing riffage and breakdowns that rivaled the low frequency loudness of a typical Suicide Silence performance, and alongside pummeling classics like "Demolisher" and "Viking" were a couple of new entries in "K.O.D." and "Behelit" that hit with equal force while teasing an upcoming studio attraction.

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

A drastic shift towards a more accessible yet still highly energetic tone would transpire with the set of veteran punk rock revivalists and California natives The Offspring. Though not rocking the main stage, the massive crowd that they managed to attract was well into the thousands, and the atmosphere was already steeped in utter pandemonium as the opening chords of their 90s smash hit (pun intended) "Come Out And Play" rang out.

It's a testament to the infectious nature of a classic with staying power when even the security team is observed singing along with the chorus, and for their part, this quintet from Garden Grove did well to stay animated and match the hectic on-stage delivery of the metal outfits that had preceded them. As Dexter Holland's high and gritty voice rang out above a succession of consistent bangers and the avid throngs below sang along in the setting sun, it was clear that older dogs don't necessarily need fancy tricks to rock the proverbial house.

Obligatory hard-hitting fodder like "All I Want", "Gotta Get Away" and "The Kids Aren't Alright" were greeted with heavy elation, to speak nothing for the roar that greeted their closing rendition of "Self Esteem", but this generally straightforward act also threw in a few interesting twists like a cover of Edvard Grieg's "In The Hall Of The Mountain King" and an impressive drum solo by newest addition to the fold Brandon Pertzborn.

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap
Photo by Steve Thrasher (DWP Team)

The catchy would give way to the quirky courtesy of Germany's synthesizer-happy sonic aggressors Electric Callboy. Bringing a rather unusual blend of metalcore and EDM influences that is often referred to electronicore, the fall of evening favored their techno-charged brand of heavy-ended pop anthems, to speak nothing for the impressive visual display courtesy of a massive rectangular LED screen just across the stage and at an elevated point behind drummer David-Karl Friedrich.

With risers flanking each side of the drum kit and four more right at the ends of the stage, the other five members of the fold were given the perfect setup to move and bounce about the stage, frequently exchanging positions and having a total blast while cycling through their upbeat set. Crowd response took on an almost cult-like character, as the sea of onlookers appeared extrapolated from their bodies and in a total trance as they enthusiastically sang along to every word. Individual points of interest would include their avid performances of "Spaceman", "Pump It" and show closer "We Got The Moves", though the absolute apex point of crowd elation would accompany their cover of Cascada's "Everytime We Touch".

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

Now with night fully gripping the sky above, the bangers would drift gloriously into the metallic camp courtesy of Gothenburg melodic death metal icons In Flames. Already riding high off the success of their 2023 album Foregone and the undoubtedly towering presence of virtuoso shredder and ex-Megadeth and ex-Jag Panzer guitarist Chris Broderick to trade riffs with Bjorn Gelotte, they proceeded to raise the stakes on all fronts with a succession of well-crafted anthems and a mad stage presentation.

Recently recruited touring bassist Liam Wilson gelled seamlessly with the rest of the band, head-banging and stomping about the stage in a somewhat comical fashion that fit in perfectly with the stage antics and dynamism of the fold. Signature anthems like "Cloud Connected" and "Bullet Ride" stole much of the show as Anders Friden matched gut-wretching screams with smooth clean chorus fodder while rocking his signature ball cap and beard, though the most deafening cheers to come from the crowd were reserved for their rendition of early melodic death metal classic entry "Behind Space".

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

The metal side of the coin wasn't done this evening, though it would see fit to mix in a fair amount of experimental quirkiness courtesy of Eureka, California's own Mr. Bungle.

The great minds of the world remain baffled as to what exactly Mike Patton and the rest of his band mates were on when they first rolled out this cabaret of seemingly clashing styles, though for those who were in attendance, the thrash bona fides were pretty blatant between the song selections and the presence of ex-Slayer's Dave Lombardo behind the kit and Scott Ian manning the rhythm guitar for the second time at this festival.

Patton was his usual over-the-top self between his appearance and his man-of-a-thousand voices approach to delivering satirically charged lyrics that bordered on utter incongruity. Original entries with whacky titles like "Anarchy Up Your Anus", "Bungle Grind" and "My Ass Is On Fire" experimentally thrashed their way into everyone's hearts as they frolicked about in the pit below, with an odd assortment of pop covers like 10cc's "It's Not Love" and John Farrar's "Hopelessly Devoted To You" trading blows with a ferocious instrumental rendition of Slayer's "Hell Awaits" to further convolute a set of comedic carnage.

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

With the night sky now at its full and optimal level of darkness, the headlining showcase brought by nu-metal icons Limp Bizkit would bring the culmination of zany stage high-jinks, outlandish stage getups and seemingly disparate musical elements coming together that had been building throughout the day.

They would enter the stage to the odd selection of Journey's "Don't Stop Believing" ringing out through the PA system, which would give way to a raucous performance of the band's mega hit and crowd pleaser "Break Stuff" and the big reveal of just how quirky this fold's visual presentation can get. Words can't really do justice to what the camera would capture, but suffice it to say, entire books could be written to ponder just what vocalist Fred Durst and guitarist Wes Borland were wearing as they frolicked like circus performers about the stage.

Fred would strike an instant tone of camaraderie with the Florida crowd, noting that "Many wouldn't know this, but Limp Bizkit was born in Jacksonville, not far from here", and making a point of continually working the crowd at every opportunity. The sonic menu they would serve up included obligatory original fair like "Rollin'" and "Nookie" alongside their signature cover of George Michael's "Faith" and auspicious renditions of The Who's "Behind Blue Eyes" and Nirvana's "Heart-Shaped Box", each modified to fit their upbeat, groovy style. It was pretty much all fun in games, yet took itself seriously enough to top off a day of highly ambitious performances.

Welcome To Rockville 2024: Day Two Recap

In relation to opening day, this chapter in the Welcome To Rockville festivities was marked by a turn from the kinetic and the virtuosic to a succession of acts more geared towards the visual. The showmanship factor could not have been any more blatant had each act come with its own troupe of backup dancers or Cirque du Soleil performers, and the accompanying music brought an impressive enough roar to hold a torch to the metallic intrigue that had typified day one.

Though not quite as intense, the Florida heat was still a significant factor and the festival's staff was on hand to keep the celebration safe; and the spirit of determination to enjoy every moment remained paramount among the thousands of attendees, as the second half of this 4-day slough was coming into view.

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