Temperatures rose into the high 80’s on the final day of Rockville 2018 in Jacksonville Florida as veteran rock bands dominated the roster. The Foo Fighters turned in the best set of the festival stretching more than two hours, past the official festival. Billy Idol and his band also turned in a set of classic rock hits.
But earlier in the day the large crowd was treated to a diverse line up of newer acts. California thrash punk band Fever 333 had the energized smaller stage early on with a sound eerily similar to Rage Against The Machine. The band whipped the small but enthusiastic crowd into a sweat-drenched frenzy, encouraging a large mosh pit to form. The lead singer preached a message of inclusion while whipping up the crowd to dance.
Now calling Portland Oregon their home, the band Red Fang, brought their brand of metal to the main stage in the early afternoon. The band has earned their moniker, stoner rock, by reinterpreting the riffs of bands like Black Sabbath and Metallica much to the delight of the Florida crowd. They were followed by a young Michigan band garnering a lot of interest by the music media lately. Greta Van Fleet from Frankenmuth, first formed in 2012 and has quickly made a name for themselves based mainly on their live performances. Vocalist Josh Kizka has been compared in style to legendary Led Zeppelin lead vocalist, Robert Plant. Even Plant, himself has expressed admiration for the band. His brothers, Jake and Sam, play guitar and bass, respectively. The group also feature drummer Danny Wagner, who is a multi-instrumentalist wizard. The band is working on their first album, but so far is working off a single EP, Black Smoke Rising. The band's heavy rock sound is influenced by the work of Led Zeppelin and many other rock and blues acts. This fact did not go unnoticed by the large crowd that formed to hear them play. Whispers of Led Zeppelin could be heard through the mazed crowd. But many of the songs sound a bit more like classic rock blues of Janis Joplin with Big Brother and The Holding Company. The group claims to have gotten their sound by listening to their parent's classic blues rock and old American black blues and soul albums. However, they developed, the group may be one of the best blues-rock acts to come along in decades. In the millennial world ruled by hip-hop and EDM, this young group may be one of the saviors of the entire Blues rock genre.
From young performers playing classic rock to Classic rock performers themselves, the MainStage had a definite nostalgic feel to it on the last day of the festival.
Billy Idol and his veteran band of punkabilly inspired rockers wowed the crowds on the main stage with their well-known sound. The band has been part of mainstream American culture since they dominated MTV beginning in 1982. The phenomenal rock band led by the dueling guitars of Billy Morrison and Steve Stevens is simply one of the best bands in rock. The group had the crowd singing their rock anthems all through their 50-minute set, including hits like White Wedding and Rebel Yell. Idol himself, is a fireball racing about the stage, snarling out his lyrics and engaging the crowd and band members regularly. As he left the stage saluting the massive crowd, everyone cried for more music, and in the end, they would not be disappointed.
Over on the other large stage, The Queens of The Stone Age brought a sweltering sunset performance of their desert rock to a big crowd. The band from Palm Desert California brought their intense guitar driven sound to the appreciative audience on the final day of Rockville.
The final set of Rockville 2018 was 23 years in the making. During their closing set, lead singer, and guitarist for The Foo Fighters, Dave Grohl asked the crowd, “Have we ever played Jacksonville before? I don’t think we ever played here before.” Sure enough, it was the first time that the mega rock act had been to a city rooted in rock history. The band made up for the lapse with an intense 2-hour set, the longest and most interesting of the entire festival. They blew through their curfew time and except, for a few instances where Grohl stopped to banter to the audience, the songs were piggybacked on top of each other like one long, intense jam session. The legendary Grohl, who formed the band shortly after the demise of Nirvana, sounded a bit hoarse through the show, but for what quality he may have lacked vocally he more than made up for in pure adrenalin infused performance. The singer screamed and shouted for two solid hours while flailing about the stage. In fact, the entire band seemed to be playing with some new-found passion, like they were a young up and coming band with something to prove.
The band tore through many of their most significant hit songs before dropping a few surprises on the crowd. The first surprise was an odd one that seemed to delight the huge audience. Apparently, actor John Travolta had been watching from backstage. Travolta had recently wrapped up filming the Fred Durst-directed film Moose. About halfway through the set, the band covered Travolta and Olivia-Newton John’s classic song from the movie Grease, “You’re the One That I Want," and Grohl called Travolta on stage to give him a bear hug.
Later there was an even better surprise when Billy Idol came out to lead the band in a rousing cover of John Lennon’s Gimmie Some Truth. The massive crowd sang along, and most everyone stayed for the entire 2-hour set, a testament to the allure of this classic American rock band, The Foo Fighters. While there was good music throughout the full three days of the festival, it seemed that the final day offered up the most crowd-pleasing complete day of music, a fitting end to the biggest Rockville yet.