Day two of Fort Rock kicked off shortly before noon as a swarm of people were already at the stage barricade waiting for another day of music. Day two felt more diverse in the scope of genre as we started off with southern blues rock, and saw heavy metal, punk rock, and alternative tunes. Sunday also welcomed back a few alum's of the festival including Starset (2015), The Pretty Reckless (2014 & 2015), and The Offspring (2013). The fans on day two felt more energetic and active as the crowd surfers were numbers higher than they had been on Saturday.
1. The up-amd-comers – We caught Goodbye June and Dinosaur Pile-Up the weekend before at Earthday Birthday 24 and it was great to see these bands again. While Goodbye June has been a band for over a decade, they are just releasing their first LP Magic Valley in early May. This band is catchy with their hard-driven blues sounds and the trio are a blast to watch on stage.
Dinosaur Pile-Up, the alt-rock band from across the pond, gave us another fun performance to watch as well. While the sets between both of these bands did not alter much between the two weekends – Fort Rock gave them a bigger crowd to perform in front of and another chance for us to be impressed by them.
I Prevail hit the stage and these guys were one of the highlights of the day. With two vocalists, Brian Burkheiser (clean vocals) and Eric Vanlerberghe (screamer), there was never a dull moment as they pulled out high jumps, and bounced around the stage continuously. They were the perfect band to amp the crowd up as the heat began to set in. I Prevail played a shorter set but made sure to hit many popular songs such as opening with “Come and Get It,” “Stuck In Your Head,” and closing with “Scars.”
Though Starset had made an appearance at the festival two years prior, this was our first time catching them live. Starset is known for their concept albums and let their music tell an epic-story set to a blend of metal, rock, electronic, and ambient sounds. Vocalist, Dustin Bates, has a device set up on the stage that is a large screen facing him that he uses to create sounds within the songs. Ron DeChant (bass) and Brock Richards (guitar) put on some heavy duty space suits while performing on stage that include light displays in the helmet. Unfortunately for them we were in upper 90 degree weather but the two performed flawlessly and kept the audience entertained. Unfortunately for us, though, the light show was lost in the bright Florida sun, and I can't wait to see how their show looks in an actual club setting.
2. Popular veterans – All That Remains consistently put on a killer performance, and Fort Rock was no exception. The heavy metal band out of Springfield, Massachusetts knocked out a six song set that hit all their popular songs throughout the years. Opening with “The Last Time” the band came out strong and the moshpits started up quickly. These guys are not only talented muscians and talented entertainers while on stage, but they are also just generally great guys. We caught up with Phil Labonte (vocals) and Oli Herbert (guitar) backstage and they were two of the nicest guys we spoke with all weekend.
Eagles of Death Metal were one of the bands I was looking most forward to seeing. While most people may have expected leather jackets and shredding guitars. EoDM is a misnomer as the band is much more rockbilly grooves than death metal. Mastadon's Brent Hinds covered guitar for the band and Jennie Vee took over bass duties. The upbeat set included a cover of David Bowie's “Moonage Daydream.”
The Pretty Reckless have soared in popularity since frontwoman Taylor Momsen shed her Gossip Girl days and hit the music scene. With this being their third Fort Rock appearance, the crowd already had high expectation for the band. Momsen and her band definitely delivered kicking off with “Follow Me Down.” The setlist highlighted most of the more popular songs including “Make Me Wanna Die” “Heaven Knows” and their most recent single “Oh My God.” Momsen is a pure entertainer and knows how to work the crowd with her every move. While the band may not move around a lot on stage, every move Momsen does make is calculated and precise. She delivers a sultry performance that captivates her crowd that includes fans of all ages, including younger kids perched on their parents shoulder screaming out to the band.
3. The headliners – The Offspring headlined Fort Rock back in 2013, and this year was one of the top tier billed bands, to no ones surprise. Dexter, Noodles, Greg K., and Pete stormed onto the stage amping the crowd up with “You're Gonna Go Far, Kid” as the opener. The fans were sent into a frenzy with crowd surfers kicking up and not letting down until the end of the set. The Offspring put together a punk rock sixteen song setlist that was filled with radio hits, and fan favorites from start to finish. Some of the basics covered included “Pretty Fly (For A White Guy),” “Bad Habit,” “Why Don't You Get A Job?” and “The Kids Aren't Alright.” The band closed out with one of their earliest hits “Self Esteem.” This was the perfect band to lead into the night as the last two bands were much more mellow.
A Perfect Circle took the stage next as the sun was beginning to set on the final day of Fort Rock. I was thrilled when APC was announced on the bill, as they are one of my favorite bands, and any opportunity to see Maynard is welcome in my mind. Unsurprisingly, reports from their set the night before at Rockville were that Maynard stayed shrouded in the dark for the set, rendering him unseeable for the majority of the night. We all expected it, that's just how he is, but he makes up for it with his incredible music. As Billy Howerdel (guitar), James Iha (guitar), Matt McJunkins (bass), and Jeff Friedl (drums) took the stage, “The Package” began to play and Maynard stepped onto a platform at the back of the stage, fully visible. Maynard is the epitome of entertainer, in my mind, as he uses his music to truly speak for himself. Maynard is not the shock rocker of our days, he is the voice that will be remembered for many generations. As the sun finally set (and Maynard got his darkness) a brilliant lightshow was displayed over a thirteen song set including “The Noose,” “Weak and Powerless,” “3 Libras,” and finishing off with “The Outsider.” It was strange to have an A Perfect Circle set without “Judith” but it was a breath taking performance regardless. While there is little movement from Maynard besides his dance moves (and shake weight shaking), the rest of the band, especially Howerdel, used the stage to their advantage.
Soundgarden closed out the final night of Fort Rock and I can't imagine a better possible ending to the weekend. Chris Cornell (vocals/gutiar), Ben Shepherd (bass), Kim Thayll (guitar), and Matt Cameron (drums) came to the stage and began the set with the popular hit “Spoonman.” The thirteen song set included rarieties of the Soundgarden library such as “Kyle Petty, Son of Richard” and “Incessant Mace.” Their album Superunknown was represented the most with five songs such as “Fell On Black Days,” “My Wave,” and, of course, “Black Hole Sun.” The bands performance was incredibly tight and Cornell's voice was flawless as he performed through the night. With a beautiful light display that fit to the tracks, these grunge gods were the perfect end to the weekend.
Fort Rock proves again to be one of the best festivals in Florida, and one of the fastest growing with new and bigger acts beign added to the lineup every year.