Images and Words by Johnnie Crow
The 6th annual Fort Rock festival kicked off on Saturday, April 28, 2018 at Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida. After spending its first 5 years in Fort Myers, the festival moved across Alligator Alley to Fort Lauderdale and set up camp on the sprawling Markham Park. The grass field was lined with vendors of food, drink and merchandise of every kind. There were two main stages, aligned side by side, with alternating sets and 5 minutes between them. This made it easy to see every band and still have time to enjoy the full festival experience. Host Jose Mangin from SiriusXM made several band announcements when he wasn’t busy hanging with fans all over the park.
The lineup for Day 1 featured not one, but three headliners – Shinedown, Five Finger Death Punch and Godsmack. All three are about to release new albums, which brought a high level of energy and excitement to all of their performances. Godsmack is back with a vengeance, and their explosive live show left nobody disappointed. Five Finger Death Punch always delivers an intense performance, while completely engaging the crowd. Shinedown is one of the most emotional bands around. Their twilight set was magical.
The day began with Bad Wolves, the new band led by ex-DevilDriver co-founder John Boecklin and vocalist Tommy Vext. They currently own the airwaves with their powerfully touching cover of ‘Zombie’. The duo ’68 was up next, making a lot of noise for just 2 guys on a stage. Texas Hippie Coalition brought their southern party style, which the Florida crowd soaked up like sun-drenched moonshine. Power Trip pushed the genre boundaries and brought a unique energy to the hottest part of the hot and humid day.
Once the crowd was sufficiently warmed up, it was time to bring out the heavy guns. Metal veterans Trivium are aggressive, technically sound and full of huge choruses. The intensity was cranked up even higher with Jamey Jasta and Hatebreed performing at a breakneck pace. Florida’s own Underoath was up next, bringing songs from their first new album in 8 years.
The Welsh heavy metal outfit Bullet For My Valentine took the stage by storm, tearing through a well-known catalog of sing-along headbangers. Hit-makers Halestorm had a longer set, but still did not have enough time to play everything fans wanted to hear. Siblings Arejay Hale on drums and Lzzy Hale on lead vocals and guitar have the art of entertainment perfected. The day could have ended right there, but the 3 co-headliners were waiting in the wings as the sun began to set and the night heated up.
See below for a photo album of Fort Rock Festival 2018 Day 1 – Saturday: