The 25th annual Earthday Birthday kicked off Saturday, April 21st at the Central Florida Fairgrounds. Celebrating its 25th year, WJRR brought out some of the hardest names in rock for a full day of music and madness. Body painting, helicopter rides, and BMX stunt shows were just a few of the day's entertainment, music aside. Central Florida vendors lined the streets between stages showcasing prints, clothing, and jewelry all created by the locals.
The one thing I always rave about when it comes to EDBD, is how promptly the festival runs. And just on time, Nirvanna hit the Bud Light Stage treating the early fans to familiar songs they could sing along to. While the members do in fact dress to look just like Nirvana, my personal favorite touch was the blonde cheerleader meandering on stage and dancing around. Really completed the whole Nirvana touch.
Staggering acts between the two stages enabled fans to catch as much music as possible during the fest. Nashville rockers Red took to the stage after Nirvanna, with more fans streaming in through the gates and running over to join the growing crowd. The band powered through some early technical difficulties, that had no guitar coming through the speaker, but it made it easy to hear just how clean Michael Barnes vocals truly are.
Florida natives, Nonpoint, returned to EDBD and as always put on a high-energy performance including staples like “Bullet With A Name” and “What A Day.” Nonpoint also treated the Orlando fans to the live debut of a new song titled “Wheel Against Will.” Prior to their performance, Supa Dave brought two lucky "winners" on stage, which was actually a surprise proposal; after some tears we got our "yes" and they got their standing ovation. Is there a more energetic band than Nonpoint? Festival, small venue, it doesn't matter, these guys throw down hard on stage. You can always expect tons of jumping, lots of dreads swinging, and Elias screaming down the mic.
Powerman 5000 was the set I was most looking forward to. Having been a fan for more than half of my life, yet never catching them live somehow, I was absolutely stoked. Despite the only original member being vocalist Spider One, the current lineup is awesome to watch on stage. Murv3 (bass) looks like he was pulled straight from an anime and sent to cause madness in front of a crowd. The band ended the set with “Bombshell” followed by “When Worlds Collide” and every old school goth kid was either causing a ruckus in the pit, or dancing along the sidelines.
We had been fighting off the weather for most of the day, but it wasn't until Phil Labonte, vocalist of All That Remains kicked into their cover of “The Thunder Rolls” did it really seem like we were gonna get drenched. Thankfully the dark looming clouds passed without incident, just hanging around long enough to set the perfect mood for the song.
The sun peaked back out just in time for the one and only Fozzy to hit the stage. As a wrestling fan as a kid in the Attitude Era, I was totally stoked. I had been following Fozzy even after wrestling had tapered from my life, and was loving their 2017 release Judas. I may have been day dreaming just a tad (“Oh wow Chris Jericho is really right in front of me, so cool, my step-dad would be so jealous”) when I realized there was a man on stage yelling and pointing in my general direction. “Whoops,” I thought to myself “guess that was the third song, better get going.” That's when I realized everyone else was still shooting, and this man was yelling “they want you on stage!”
My reflexes kicked in pretty quickly as the first few of us headed around the back and onto the stage. I was initially anticipating getting a shot and they'd have us leave. As it turns out, guitarist Rich Ward really just wanted some people to dance with as he grabbed us jumping up and down and swinging photographers around. It was hilarious and what an experience to watch. And then he did it. He pulled me center stage to take a photo of Jericho with the crowd. Just a sea of people, posing, looking at me as I took the photo. There is video proof of how quickly I “nope'd” out of the situation.
After the song Ward exclaimed, “you guys are awesome! Shoot the rest of the set from the stage!” There were maybe twenty photographers running back and forth, grabbing photos, and the band was playing along with us every second. Their performance was absolutely incredible, they have an extremely personable presence on stage, and are a blast to watch. But in the end they gave me, and my fellow Orlando photographer family, the memory of a lifetime. I think it's safe to say that Orlando definitely did not make The List of Jericho, with all the love we showed them!
Seether took to the stage just as the sun was setting over the Central Florida Fairgrounds, kicking right into their early single “Gasoline.” The setlist consisted solely of singles, but spanned their entire discography from Disclaimer to Poison the Parish. I've seen Seether perform before, but the crowd was definitely into them this evening. You could barely hear Shaun Morgan during the acoustic performance of “Broken” as the crowd sang the words out louder, soaring above his.
WJRR has been pushing Shinedown since their start back in the early 2000's. The Orlando rock station was one of the first to start adding “Fly from the Inside” to the radio-waves when Shinedown formed in Jacksonville to the north. The station has always been a huge supporter of the band, and it meant a lot to everyone involved to have Shinedown perform for the silver anniversary of the festival.
I always forget just how much I love Shinedown until they're in front of me performing. They stormed the stage to “Sound of Madness” which was the ultimate opener for their set. The crowd instantly were screaming along and bouncing against the barricade. Prior to the third song, vocalist, Brent Smith did his normal show ritual of having everyone turn to the people near you and introduce themselves. As usual, Brent bent down high-fiving and shaking photographers hands, because at a Shinedown show, we'e all family. The night concluded with the band performing their latest single “DEVIL” and fireworks exploding overhead.
Three Days Grace