I arrived at the festival when the gates opened and I figured I would be right in time to get the see the whole set of the festival opener “Glam Nation.” Getting into the festival was very easy, I.D. check was quick, and all the other lines moved super-fast for whatever accommodations one may need. I always think that when a festivals crowd arrives early, that’s a great sign of things to come. As I arrived at the stage to catch Glam Nation, they had a very descent crowd for the opening hour of the festival. They were playing some classic cover tunes from bands like GNR, BULLET BOYS, and pretty much whatever hair band you can think of. The band was on point and a great crowd pleaser.
Second band: WICKED LOVE
From South Carolina, this band had the stage presence fitting to somewhat of an arena rock atmosphere. At first I caught myself thinking “ Great! It’s going to be a hair band Sunday!” but I was totally wrong. As the set went on it increased into more grinding crunching basslines, massive heavy guitar riffs, and fantastic drumming. The lead vocalist’s appearance reminded me of Total Chaos’s, Rob Chaos. The music was super heavy, and brought a brutal pulse to the crowd with their momentary old school Pantara feel. These guys can deliver a power set and you can tell they really enjoy what they do.
Third band: Sleepwave
“We are a brand new band”, the lead vocalist announced to the crowd before blasting into the fourth song of their set off of their first big release on Epitaph Records. All I have to say is “WELL DONE!” These guys brought the shit out of it! They got off to a great start that was thick and tuff as big balls running through a field of razor blades and explosions. From start to finish these guys were fantastic. Very melodic vocals which twisted from a strange dark feel, to an angry almost cryptic metal blast that filled the crowd with an intensity that brought on a impacting sense of embrace from the audience.
Fourth band: NONPOINT
Well for starters…The guys have what it takes to truly verbally stimulate a crowd. Vocals are strong, and the guitars crunch heavily. ‘Fucked up World’ is by far the best tune I heard them play out of the entirety of their set. I tend to like fast/chaotic music, and this tune could make my playlist. The rest of their set wasn’t as fast, yet, the band is very entertaining to watch, and if you are new to them for the first time they refer to you as “a NONPOINT virgin.” They stayed positive throughout their set with humor, to which they also presented a pretty positive message throughout their music. However, most of their breakdowns sounded the same for just abouut every song, and the only way they could only seem to hype up the crowd was by telling them to “stick their fucking hands up.” As for me, I don’t really dig this kind of music too often, but I was entertained. Everyone digs what they dig and if you like heavy rock like Korn or POD with redundant breakdowns, this band is for you. As for me, I’m wishing I was still a NONPOINT virgin.
Fifth Band: HELLYEAH
This is who I was excited about seeing! I’ve caught these guys before at the Fillmore in Charlotte, NC opening for LAMB OF GOD, and by no means whatsoever are these guys weak. In fact, I consider HELLYEAH a true pillar in the metal community. Everyone knows that Pantera’s Vinnie Paul rips on drums for this band, which I’m damn sure had a great magnetic draw to pull Pantera fans from all over the globe. Lead vocalist Chad Grey has an ability to bring forth an ear shattering scream which is serves as an invitation to imitate in a live setting. They deliver such a great live show that is packed with power and engaged aggression towards the crowd for the entire performance. Their new album ‘Blood for Blood’ is just as great as their release before the titled ‘Band of Brothers.’ I love seeing a live show from this band as much as I enjoy listening to their records because they are equally fantastic both live and in the studio.
Sixth Band: 5 FINGER DEATH PUNCH
Clearly this is the band everyone came to see. Right as they took the stage fights broke out, people started talking shit to the singer, and the singer gave shit right back. Lead vocalist Ivan Moody didn’t seem to be thrilled about seeing the mayhem at this stop on the road. There apparently was an injury in the audience and the crowd wouldn’t let up. So, about halfway through the set the show stopped for about 10 minutes. When the band returned to the stage the crowd had settled, but still rocked as the show went from idiotic behavior to a great time. Moody continued contributing to enlightening the evening when he invited a father and his young son up to the stage to watch the show and the crowd went nuts. Followed by another father and his little girl. The songs continued on, everyone knew the words and the whole crowd was engulfed from that point on. The pits then started back up and it seemed as though the volume did as well. People were picking up their fallen brother or sister in the pit and that’s when I noticed time started to fly by because I was enjoying everything around me. The set died down just a bit for a short acoustic tune and quickly took off again after Moody described their slow moment as “kind of depressing.” 5FDP worked their way quickly into an “everybody jump” kind of feel. I honestly could do without that, but if that’s what makes a crowd move to rip its way into the ending of a great day at 98rockfest, then so be it.
In the long run I personally may not be the biggest supporter of mainstream rock festivals. All skepticism aside…98ROCKFEST had their biggest year yet! It’s an energetic atmosphere, loud as hell, 98% of the day people were pretty stoked, and it’s in a great location (Exchange Park Fairgrounds, Near Charleston, SC). I would totally go again, and I’m very much looking forward to next year!