(Pic by @jenndphotography)
When it comes to things in life that bring pure joy, music festivals without a doubt are on the far right of that bell curve. I woke up on Sunday morning and made the 3.5 hour drive solo from Charleston, SC, to Jacksonville, FL, to catch an amazing all day lineup of music. After finding making a free parking spot next to a liquor store, I chatted up some campers pre-gaming with beer pong about the best food spots in the park. And that there is one of the greatest perks of any music festival…everyone is there to be friends and enjoy each other’s company. The fact I was solo all day never crossed my mind.
From start to finish, my music lineup went: Quicksand, Greta Van Fleet, Wolf Alice, Billy Idol, Queens of the Stone Age, and lastly, Foo Fighters. That is amaze balls.
So, my typical week leading up to any music festival is to Spotify every single band on the schedule and jot down which ones grab my ear. Greta Van Fleet, who I had not really listened to before, stood out immediately. There is literally zero difference between lead singer, Josh Kiska’s voice, and Robert Plant in his prime. Yes, that sounds ridiculous but stream their mega hit Highway Tune and tell me I’m wrong. Hell, even Robert Plant said they sound like Led Zepplin I.
Greta Van Fleet
As I stood wide-eyed watching Greta tear through their first song, I couldn’t help but think someone must have saved some sperm from the late 60s and made these four killer musicians. Lead guitarist, Jake Kiszka, wearing a vintage jacket with gold tassels, rocked the show lifting his Gibson SG over and behind his head for a ripping guitar solo ala Buddy Guy. Lead singer, Josh Kiszka, who also dressed the rock star part with a headband draped with feathers, belted every note start to finish, ending with their incredible tune, Safari.
Wolf Alice was another band that had me upbeat all day. Their sound and on-stage presence make me think what would come out if the Go-Go’s and Sex Pistols had a love child. The bonus of Wolf Alice was they were playing the small stage, which allowed for some amazing up-close action like this.
Unlike other festivals I have been to, Rockville makes a lot of the bands available for autographs. While the Bullet for my Valentine line understandably stretched to infinity, I was able to purchase Wolf Alice’s new vinyl for $25 and get the whole band to sign it all in under five minutes. It was a real, unexpected treat to get chat them up about their recent show in Charleston, SC, the week before and see how bright-eyed they were to hit Miami for their next gig.
I have seen Billy Idol many times before and it disheartened me to see how far things have slipped. The first three of his four songs were tunes no one in the crowd had heard of before. That is a bad idea when you have a lot of drunks on a hot day. That ratio should be flipped…three hits for every new song. I left early to get a close spot for Queens of the Stone Age, which had a live feed of Idol’s set. Two things happened equally good and bad. The good: They showed a girl topless licking her breast and waving to Billy Idol. The bad: a later song he took his shirt off and the whole crowd gasped and laughed. His belly button looked like a frowning catfish. (But Idol would make up for this set later with a cover he did with the Foo Fighters).
Queens of the Stone Age
There’s not a whole lot to say about Queens. They bring a high energy show with precision guitar and vocals. That’s why it surprised me so much they weren’t on the big stage.
I’ve seen the Foo over fifteen times and this was up there with one of his chattiest shows, which is a good thing with this band’s sense of humor. Grohl brought Billy Idol out for an amazing, punk’d up version of John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth.
Some Grohl talking to the crowd highlights:
“Who needs Coachella when you got a rock and roll festival like this?!”
(after running around a side stage speaker and slipping) “I almost broke my fucking leg again!”
(after waving John Travolta on stage, the band kicked into “You’re the One That I Want” and Travolta immediately power-walked off stage). “This might be the most fucked up Foo Fighters show ever.”
“We make Slipnot look like Simon and Garfunkel!” (lots of boos from crowd). “All twelve of them!” (crickets from crowd). “We’re starting to out-number them.”
(Grohl pausing to watch all the crowd surfers). “Is there a crowd surfing contest going on right now? What the shit? It’s like the Caddyshack pool party scene. I’m into it. It looks like a bunch of hot dogs on a rotisserie. ”
The band intros are also a major joy of any Foo show. When introducing keyboardist, Rami Jaffee, Rami began playing Lennon’s, Imagine, which Grohl then sang the vocals to Van Halen, “Jump” over…and it worked. Pat Smear’s intro rolled into a very good version of the Ramones’ Blitzkrieg Bop.