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Who would have thought I'd have an extra ticket? I had not one, but two assistants on standby for three months in advance, but at the last minute, neither of them were able to make it. I didn't want the ticket to go to waste, so I did a last minute Facebook contest and gave the ticket away to a girl that I had never met before, though she seemed grateful and it was as if she really needed the break.
She was the mother of two, one of which was autistic, and her fiance had done fundraisers to promote autism awareness. As it turned out, they were friends of one of my friends, and they had actually also helped to organize a fundraiser when a girl I used to tutor was in a car accident. I think karma had a full circle force on that one, so I'm glad the ticket went to a good home for the Fort Rock Festival.
The sold out Fort Rock Festival was Southwest Florida’s biggest rock show of the year. There were so many good bands, it was hard to pick a favorite. Performers included Slipknot, Godsmack, Papa Roach, The Pretty Reckless, Motionless in White, In This Moment, Starset, Lola Black, Young Guns, The Vamps, Breaking Benjamin, Butcher Babies, We Are Harlot, ’68 and more.
Hope you brought your sunscreen, because The Sunshine State roasted at more than 90 degrees. Security guards were handing out water bottles and soaking audience members down with hoses.
One gal said it best, “if you don’t have to pee, then you know that you’re not drinking enough water.”
Lola Black’s voice filled the air. The band features a husband and wife team, amongst others. The dark haired girl looks innocent with glasses, but she belts out quite the note as bandmates tear up the stage.
There were antics during ’68. The duo was actually impressive. Not only was the drummer drumming on the guitar, but then the guitar player was on top of the drum kit balancing like a cat on a wire.
The Vamps from Japan was exciting. Their drumset art was wicked sick, as was their sound. There’s a gothic darkness with a glimmer of sparkling light, that twist of something different that you like.
Butcher Babies started the sex appeal, with their two lead singers, who were voted as the sexiest women in rock by a magazine. Each of them took turns storming off the stage to go out to the audience. Of course, the guys backing them have just as much appeal to female audience members, with that enthusiastic hardcore that appeals to everyone, seducing you into the moshing atmosphere.
In This Moment poured on the sexiness with dancers clad in multiple bras and torn fishnet stockings. There were wolf heads, various masks, bat wings and a variety of things that added probably the most drama of all the bands at the festival. As far as a stage show that sucks you in, they actually probably stole the show, as it changed up each song, had foggy effects, a multitude of stage props and outfits.
The Pretty Reckless went on after, and it was so tame in comparison. It’s a different style of music, a different style of stage performance, as the lead singer, even though she is gorgeous, did not try to play up her sex appeal as much as some of the other women who had taken the stage before her. She was almost hippie in nature, sporting bomber glasses and a simple hairstyle, but she didn’t need to have all the flash and trash, as The Pretty Reckless put on a phenomenal show that everyone sang along with.
Papa Roach sped the show up a notch. It’s like watching a ping bong bouncing around, head zipping back and forth trying to follow the action. They were way better than I had expected actually.
Breaking Benjamin probably had some of the most people singing along with their songs. Compared to the energy of the band before, this was another change of pace, as it was like the calm before the storm. It would all be leading up to the moshpits of Slipknot, but Breaking Benjamin was the relax phase.
Immediately after the set, I went up to do an interview with the band in the upstairs back lounge areas of the baseball stadium, what they were calling the dressing room. It was nice to kick back in a cozy seat after all the heat and running around, but I couldn’t relax long, as there were more bands to play still. As it was, I took longer than expected, missed the first part of Godsmack’s set, but it was okay, as joking around with the guys from Breaking Benjamin, making each other laugh, that was definitely a highlight.
Getting turned around, trying to find my way back to the stage from the upper part of the baseball stadium, I finally found my way back to the crowd in time to hear a few of my favorite Godsmack songs. Apparently, other people liked the same song, as the crowd definitely was singing along, many people with cell phones held high in the sky, trying to catch a glimpse of the stage. Godsmack definitely warmed people up, got them pushing each other around a little bit, but it was still nothing like Slipknot.
People had to get rescued from the pit. They lost their shoes and other articles of clothing. Slipknot created a vicious pit and also brought on the theatrics with scary masks, spinning drum kits and marching drummers that looked as if they had taken a wrong turn from some military branch.
There’s so many musicians on the stage, it’s hard to decide where to look. They are always moving, appearing from out of nowhere, with a different scary mask. Of course, their music is so hardcore, it commands the audience to erupt with pockets of mosh pits that become one massive mosh pit.
It’s just starting to get cool from that oppressive heat all day. People are pissed off from being out in the sun. They know it’s their last chance to get out all that aggression before they go home that night.
Fists are flying. Feet are up instead of down. Blood and dirt cake clothing.
There were so many cool merchant booths and things to see around the festival. There were Jägermeister girls looking cute, radio stations giving prizes away, all kinds of fun stuff. At the end of the day though, it all gets packed up, the audience members collect what they can of themselves and shuffle off, and the baseball field grows dark, just as it does at the end of a game; the magic disperses.