After selling out in each of its first-three years, Monster Energy Fort Rock was expanded to two days for its fourth year. This past weekend, over 23,000 people came to JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, Florida, the spring training home of the Boston Red Sox, to participate in South Florida’s Biggest Rock Festival. Produced by Danny Wimmer Presents and AEG Live, Fort Rock is part of the World’s Loudest Month festival series that features the biggest names in rock music performing in eight distinct concert atmospheres across the country in April and May. Clay Busch, VP of Marketing and Brand Partnerships for Danny Wimmer Presents says, “From day one, Fort Rock was designed to create a one of a kind rock and roll getaway! Thanks to all the 20,000+ fans who braved the heat and all the artists who performed, Fort Rock has claimed its position as one of the country’s premiere destination festivals. We can’t wait till next year”.
Festival goers enjoyed a hot and sunny weekend chock full of performances from rock icon/filmmaker Rob Zombie, Disturbed, Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch, A Day To Remember, Bring Me The Horizon, Megadeth, 3 Doors Down, Sixx:A.M., Lamb Of God, Ghost and more. Festival experiences included free sampling in the Monster Energy viewing deck, ice-cold beer courtesy of Bud Light, a VIP viewing deck courtesy of Jack Daniel’s, an f.y.e. tent full of music for sale as well as multiple artist meet and greets and autograph signings, and the brand new interactive Jägermeister Chill Zone keeping festival fans cool, comfortable and shaded all weekend.
Saturday kicked off with Sowflo, a homegrown reggae/rock band. Their name is an acronym for Southwest Florida. What a honor for them, to kick off a day that included Sevendust, who never disappoints, Ghost, a Swedish death metal band whose lyrics consisted mainly of Lucifer! that my daughter for some reason fell in love with (I just stopped asking), the classic sounds of Anthrax and Megadeth- Dave Mustaine is still one tight guitarist, and he looked great. The last acts of the night were Five Finger Death Punch, a band that has flexed its musical muscle to great success in the past couple of years, and Rob Zombie, another daughter favorite – I get the look known as “you are just so out of it.”
If that is true, I redeemed myself on Sunday, as this was the day I had waited for. Kicking off with relative newcomers Red Sun Rising, the sound and the heat was cranked up way past 11. Pop Evil, another band finally getting the recognition they deserve, did a mix of classics and songs from their new CD “Up.” The sound was great, but I kept trying to get a picture of the hair. Pop Evil has some mighty hair. Bullet for My Valentine pulled out their old emo sound, as well as some new material. They are talented musicians, capable of growing over time. Then – the three bands I was waiting for: Sixx A.M. because, well, it’s Nikki Sixx, and he’s like this guitar god and they could have played forever. But I’m glad they didn’t, because I wouldn’t have seen my all time favorite band, Shinedown. I used to have a trope – never attempt to shoot the bands you love the best, because your hands are shaking and you’re singing along to every song. Brent Smith’s unique voice owned me that night. With a blend of early songs, tracks from Sound of Madness and Amaryllis, and of course some of the best from Threat to Survival. Smith likes to interact with the audience, and at one point had us all shaking hands with those around us. It was surreal. He also dedicated “Simple Man” to the memory of Prince. The festival ended with Disturbed, and they metaphorically and literally knocked it out of the ballpark. Again doing a combination of old favorites and new songs from “Immortalized”, David Draiman’s gut punching vocals and lyrics was the perfect way to end the weekend.