Metal fans of all ages flocked to Met Park in Downtown Jacksonville for the annual Welcome to Rockville. A variety of different bands took the stage for not one day, but two. This year the festival was bigger and better with four stages to keep everyone entertained. Fans had the option to attend both days or just one as well as the option to buy special VIP passes. These passes allowed fans to view the performances from a special bleacher area close to the main stage that had plenty of shade. They also received a special laminate as well as free Monster energy drinks. There were plenty of vendors at the festival selling food, drinks and all sorts of clothing for people to buy. Crazy Dave’s Music was also on hand to provide fans with the chance to play a variety of different instruments. They also gave fans the chance to meet some of their favorite bands such as Papa Roach and Asking Alexandria.

The performances were all very energetic. On the East stage Lzzy Hale of Halestorm proved that girls can rock just as hard as the boys do. She got the crowd pumped opening with their hit song “Freak Like Me” and kept that momentum going throughout the entire set ending with “I Miss the Misery”. Fans then traveled over to the West stage to watch Welsh band Bullet For My Valentine. Their set consisted of songs mainly off their new album, Temper Temper, as well as some fan favorites such as “Tears Don’t Fall” and “Waking the Demon”. During “Dirty Little Secret”, Lzzy Hale joined the band on stage much to the fan’s delight. Bullet ended their set with “Scream Aim Fire” a hard hitting song that invoked a huge circle pit in the middle of the crowd. Back over to the East stage, Papa Roach’s lead singer Jacoby Shaddix did not disappoint. He spent most of the set crowd surfing and interacting with the fans. Their performance of classic hit “Last Resort” was one of the best of the afternoon.

Over on the other side of the park, two more smaller stages were set up. The Jax Live stage is where many of Jacksonville’s local bands performed. They won this opportunity by competing in a series of “Battle of the Bands” contests at local venues such as Jackrabbits and Freebird Live. Local bands, Bleeding in Stereo and Ask Me if I Care, stood out the most. Both bands had totally different sounds and aggressive performances. Manna Zen won the “Battle of the Bands” grand prize and got to perform on the “Emerging Artists” stage. They opened up for hardcore bands like, Whitechapel and Escape the Fate. The “Emerging Artist” stage was definitely the heaviest stage at the festival. If you wanted to see some awesome mosh pits this was the place to be.

The dynamic energy continued as the sun began to set. Hometown boys Limp Bizkit took the stage and silenced any haters opening their set with “Show Me What You Got”. The crowd did just that and looked as if they were jumping on the world’s largest trampoline. Limp Bizkit played every hit song from their collection including “Break Stuff” and “Nookie”. They also did an amazing cover of Rage Against the Machine’s “Killing in the Name”. Lead singer Fred Durst even brought his mother onto the stage while he sang “F*ck you. I won’t do what you tell me”, but not to worry when the song was over, he quickly informed the crowd that he always listens to his mother. Of course it wouldn’t be Limp Bizkit without some of the visual theatrics. Guitarist Wes Borland wore some sort of white mask that lit up during some of the songs.  DJ Franko Carino wore what appeared to be a silver skeletor looking mask. Their set was definitely a crowd favorite. It was Limp Bizkit’s first hometown performance in over 10 years and they did not disappoint. Fred ended the set by asking the men in the crowd to put all the “beautiful Duval women” up on their shoulders for their cover of George Michael’s “Faith”. Even when the stage lights came on the crowd stuck around hoping for just one more song.

Alice in Chains closed out day one of Welcome to Rockville with their old school Seattle grunge sound. Performing older hits such as “Rooster”, “Them Bones” and “Man in the Box” as well as their new songs “Hollow”, “Check My Brain” and “Stone”. Even with the line-up changes, Alice in Chains still managed to stick to the gritty sound that made them so popular in the 90’s. Their stage lighting was minimal making it hard to see the band members at times, but they delivered a fantastic performance which proved no fancy spotlights were needed. They ended their set with the classic “Would” leaving the crowd begging for more.

Day two of Rockville started out with heavy metal bands Red and Nonpoint. Saving Abel and Saliva also delivered solid performances. Over on the Jax Live Stage local band In Whispers treated the crowd with a vivacious performance of songs off their newly release CD “Sound the Alarm”. The crowd favorite that afternoon was the ever so popular Steel Panther. Performing hits like “Eyes of a Panther” and “Party All Night” they brought everyone back to the days of the 80’s hair bands complete with zebra print pants and big hair. Another crowd pleaser was the rap/rock group Hollywood Undead. Opening the set wearing their signature masks they blasted the hit “Undead” getting everyone in the crowd pumped. They then switched it up and had the crowd shaking it with the songs “Comin’ in Hot” and “Everywhere I Go”. They closed out their set sans masks with “We Are”.

The festival came to a close with performances by Jacksonville natives Shinedown and Lynard Skynyrd. Shinedown played songs from their 2012 album “Amaryllis” as well as their breakout song “45” and hit “Sound of Madness”. Then much to the crowd’s surprise they performed their cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Simple Man”. By the time Lynyrd Skynyrd took the stage the crowd was definitely excited. They performed a total of 16 songs, the longest set out of any of the bands at Rockville. The crowd’s energy was mellow as they sang “That Smell” and “Tuesday’s Gone” and then charged up as they performed “Gimme Three Steps” and “What’s Your Name”. Not to be outdone by Shinedown, Skynyrd also performed “Simple Man.” They closed out their set with the hit “Sweet Home Alabama” only to return to the stage for an encore performance of “Free Bird”. Skynyrd fans of all ages left Met Park feeling relaxed and satisfied.  It will be very hard to top this year’s line-up. Here’s hoping the festival continues to be a two-day event with a large variety of music and activities.

Review by Jessica Moreno

Photos by: Joey Pye

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