Rock USA returned to Ford Festival Park bringing an unforgettable experience to the massive showing of festival-goers.
Not without it’s ups and downs due to the weather, the weekend was still a major success.
Day 1. Thursday (btw…starting a festival on a Thursday….brilliant! We get a day to recover from all the weekend activities before heading back to work on Monday) I arrived around 5:30 and was happy to catch Bad Wolves set. They really pleased the crowd with their cover of The Cranberry’s ‘Zombie.’ I was walking through the crowd as they played and every single person in the audience was singing right along. I made my way over to the main stage to get prepped for Three Days Grace. They played a tight set and, again, it is so fun to watch the crowd when everyone knows and is lost in the song. It really shows that Three Days Grace has a great fan following in the Oshkosh area. Asking Alexandria lit up the side stage kicking their set off with a live debut of ‘The Violence.’ The loudness of the music could be felt in your chest! The bass coming off of the subs was intense to say the least. They finished their set with ‘Alone In A Room’ off of their 2017 Self Titled EP. Breaking Benjamin kicked off with their quickly building ‘Red Cold River.’ Their live show is quite memorable. The backdrop is an intensely staring eye from the album art for ‘Ember’, The band engages the crowd and they have an endless supply of flames bursting 10 feet high over the stage. After I snapped my photos from the first three songs I found a spot to watch the rest of the set. BB is one of those bands that sound great on media, but sound even better in person. I finished the night off with Five Finger Death Punch. I had never seen them before, and did my best to not spoil their show by looking it up prior. In the weeks leading up to Rock USA I talked to many people about this band and every one of them said “YOU NEED TO SEE THEM LIVE!” They were not wrong. FFDP are the definition of live performers. Photographing them was an absolute blast. They are super photogenic and they pose perfectly and it just feels natural. In addition to the cameras loving them, they have a great live sound. I really enjoyed the moment, the set and the music. Great night!.
Day 2. I got out of work and rushed to the festival. I was able to hear Varials while walking in and I am sad that I missed it. Volumes graced the Militia stage next and I really enjoyed their sound. They had an awesome stage presence and I’ve enjoyed listening to their albums. Next up was Blacktop Mojo. Covering previous festivals I usually find that I have one band that really catches me off guard. Blacktop Mojo was that experience for me at Rock USA. The guys have a great sound and I loved their cover of ‘Dream On.’ That song always gets me right in the feels and they delivered.. They are touring pretty heavy right now, go catch them in the smallish venues while you still can! (The day was heating up quite literally. Festivals in July are hot, I am stubborn and my wife is much smarter than I am. As I was leaving and she told me to bring water and sunblock I should have listened…but I didn’t. I needed to get cooled down, went home got a cold shower and some fluids…and then ready to head back out!) I made my way back to the festival to catch The Twins of Evil – Manson and Zombie. I had not seen either of these two legends live, and was even more excited to photograph them. Everyone in the crowd had been monitoring a storm that was coming in that brought back bad memories of cancellations the year prior. Manson kicked off his set with ‘Angel With The Scabbed Wings’. It was a euphoric experience being that close. The whole show is visually stunning and I definitely found myself gravitating towards Manson with my camera. It really brought be back to listening to this album for the first time in middle school. I remember having the whole cd on repeat on the bus rides to and from school. I finished watching most of the set from my usual spot. Every song was a hit, until the set was shortened due to the impending storms. I escaped quickly back to my car and got out in time, but they evacuated the grounds shortly after and they made the decision to cancel Rob Zombie. While my heart was upset that I would not get my chance to see him, it was for the best of everyone’s safety and they made the right call.
Day 3. The storms got bigger, the clouds started swirling and day three was delayed. A tornado touched down within a mile and a half of our new house. No damage to the home, but a few trees didn’t make it. Sadly I spent day three of the festival being a homeowner learning about backup generators and chainsaws…
It was an absolutely wild weekend and I loved every minute of it. See you next year Rock USA!