The last time Rewind It Magazine made it out to Daytona Beach for the annual rock fest Welcome to Rockville in 2021, the event was held at the end of the year, and the weather was nearly perfect. Thankfully we skipped last year completely, which by all accounts reached near disastrous levels with torrential downpours that caused delays throughout the festivities.
Thankfully things did not go as terribly wrong by the time we decided to make an appearance on Saturday, May 20 (the first two nights just didn’t have enough to offer of interest in all honesty), although by the time we did finally make it, we had just missed Kreator’s (one of the main selling points of the day for myself personally) set, arriving just in time to see their crew breaking down their gear.
So we waited for Sepultura’s set on the very same stage instead. Having already seen them once back in 2011, I already knew what to expect more or less, and only stayed to hear a handful of tracks from them in the form of “Isolation,” “Territory,” and “Means to an End” before making our way onto better things.
One of the other main selling points for me personally this year was actually Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Evening, which is what we promptly left said Sepultura set early for in order to catch their full set. It was a blast hearing the likes of “Immigrant Song,” “Good Times Bad Times,” “Over the Hills and Far Away,” “The Wanton Song,” “Ramble On,” “Misty Mountain Hop,” “The Ocean Song,” “Black Dog,” “Whole Lotta Love,” and “Rock and Roll,” even if many of these by now are beyond overplayed radio standards.
Chevelle were the next act to catch, and although I’ve never had too much of an issue with their music (this would be my third time seeing them live, too), it was a perfect chance to take a breather and catch a bite to eat while listening to the likes of “Face to the Floor,” “The Clincher,” “Send the Pain Below,” and “The Red” in the background.
Then there’s good old Alice Cooper, who at this stage in the game feels timeless. And speaking of time, this marked my fourth time actually catching him in concert (and two of those instances I had actually worked security for him). “Lock Me Up,” “No More Mr. Nice Guy,” “I’m Eighteen,” “Under My Wheels,” “Billion Dollar Babies,” “Fallen in Love,” “Snakebite,” “Feed My Frankenstein,” and “Poison” were all thrown out there before fans were given a guitar solo by the lovely Nita Strauss that ended in a jam of “Black Widow.”
“The Ballad of Dwight Fry” found Cooper singing in his signature straight jacket before his daughter Cheryl Cooper came on stage and decapitated him with a guillotine under the tune of “I Love the Dead.” The classic ’70s anthem “School’s Out” (complete with a few bars of Pink Fylod’s “The Wall” thrown in there for good measure) seemed to end the set before Cooper emerged behind a podium for an encore of “Elected.” Although far from my first time seeing him, it was surreal finally watching him with my two favorite people by my side, making it an especially fond memory for me.
For the life of me I’ve never really gotten the appeal of Godsmack, even though I have caught them live before as well (just once, back at Earthday Birthday in 2012). And how they were even remotely above Alice Cooper on the roster makes zero sense, but either way they opened with “When Legends Rise,” before going into the likes of “Cryin’ Like a Bitch!!,” “1000hp,” “You and I,” “Something Different,” “What About Me,” “Bulletproof,” and “Awake.”
By this time, frontman Sully Erna pulled back to have a “drum off” with drummer Shannon Larkin (who some may recall was the drummer for Ugly Kid Joe for many years). This lead to brief medlies of rock staples such as “Back in Black,” “Walk This Way, and “Enter Sandman” thrown in, and seemed like the perfect time to start heading over to the next stage.
And said stage contained what everyone had really came to see, the reunited Pantera. I was beyond lucky enough to see the band back at Ozzfest in ’97 when both guitarist Dimebag Darrell and drummer Vinnie Paul were both still alive, so it really didn’t bother me to see singer Phil Anselmo and bassist Rex Brown now joined by Black Label Society’s Zakk Wylde and Anthrax’s Charlie Benante filling in for the departed brothers in tribute to them (it also gave my wife and teenaged son a chance to finally see them for the first time as well).
While my memory is somewhat fuzzy as far as what the band played way back over twenty years ago, there’s no mistaking the band ripped through “A New Level,” “Mouth For War,” “Strength Beyond Strength,” “Becoming,” and the recently added “Suicide Note Pt. II.”
“5 Minutes Alone,” “Yesterday Don’t Mean Shit,” and “Fucking Hostile” continued the non-stop aggression before the band slowed things down a bit, showing video footage of the Abbott brothers with “Cemetery Gates” draped over top of it before segueing into their trippy cover of Black Sabbath’s “Planet Cavravan.” More hard-hitting classics in the form of “Walk” and”Domination/Hollow” followed before they closed things out with “Cowboys From Hell,” effectively leaving even the biggest of naysayers with their jaws to the floor.
The following day, Sunday, May 21, paled in comparison after what was beheld previously. By the time we had made it, Senses Fail were already on stage and wrapping it up, so after catching a couple of tracks like “Buried Alive, “Chop Suey/Break Stuff,” and “Can’t Be Saved,” we proceeded to the one that post-grunge ’90s rockers Filter was appearing on. They wasted no time with their five-song set as they plowed through “Welcome to the Fold,” “Face Down,” “(Can’t You) Trip Like I Do,” “Take a Picture,” and of course, “Hey Man Nice Shot.”
More ’90s rock followed as legendary skate punks Pennywise then took over the Octane stage. It was my third time seeing them since the very first Warped Tour I ever attended back in 2001, and I was still genuinely excited to hear tracks like “Peaceful Day,” “The World,” “Straight Ahead,” “My Own Country,” “Same Old Story,” “Fuck Authority,” a cover of Nirvana’s “Territorial Pissings,” “Pennywise,” “Society,” and “Bro Hymn.”
Sets from the likes of mediocre acts such as The Mars Volta and Coheed & Cambria were again perfect opportunities to grab a bite to eat and check out the merch tents before watching the likes of trap rapper Ghostemane. For perhaps the first time ever, I fully understood what it felt like to be that fish out of water parent just there for their kid, as I endured songs with titles like “Nihil,” “Bonesaw,” and “Trench Coat” that made little to no sense to me.
Another band I can’t say I’ve ever had much interest in at all, Incubus, were somehow after all this. And while I still can’t say I’m a fan by any means, I never realized what a jam band they really are in concert (nor how easy-on-the-eyes their current bass player Nicole Row, who’s also served some time with Panic! At the Disco, actually is). All of their staple songs were present of course, including “Nice to Know You,” “Come Together” (Aerosmith cover), “Pardon Me,” and “Wish You Were Here.”
Another act I was there mainly for my kid were Deftones (it’s not that I have anything against them, they’ve just never been my style). But I was surprised to see their live set was actually quite entertaining, despite some of their songs still landing on the tedious side for me. But they managed to pack in sixteen tracks with non-stop energy that included “Genesis,” “Needles and Pins,” “Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away),” “My Own Summer (Shove It),” “Diamond Eyes,” “Digital Bath,” “Tempest,” “Swerve City,” “Rosemary,” “Ohms,” “Minerva,” “Bloody Cape,” “Change (In the House of Flies),” “Rocket Skates,” “Nosebleed,” and “Engine No. 9.”
And finally, Tool. Sure, I was semi-into them when Undertow first came out back in the day like most sixth graders at the time. But I have long since disliked them ever since the first time I saw them live back in 2002, and frontman Maynard James Keenan performed with his back facing the crowd the entire time (exciting). I’ve seen them one more time since, in 2016 with Primus, where I promptly left soon after they hit the stage. On Sunday night, I did the same thing once again, making my way out of Rockville as they were performing “Forty Six & Two” (just their second track of the night).
I’ve since seen the images from the show and have heard others that stuck around for it express their disappointment as well. And Keenan’s drag outfit was far from some deep political statement about Florida or some meaningful artistic expression as some might try to spin it to be, but rather just another gimmick from an overrated, obnoxious hack. Hopefully this will be the final time I ever have to witness such a joke in person, and if anyone deserved to close out such a festival, it was definitely not them.