Saturday, February 3, 2018

Fort Rock, Welcome to Rockville and 98 Rockfest

Unfortunately, Fort Rock abandoned southwest Florida, relocating from Fort Myers to Fort Lauderdale.  The name is remaining the same, since it’s still a Fort city that they’re playing, but Fort Myers fans are sad to see the largest rock show of the year jump coasts, especially since it was regularly sold out in Fort Myers.  Sure, it’s only a few hours away, directly across Alligator Alley, but will people want to drive???  That’s what remains to be seen.  Certainly, with a stellar lineup, the concert will be worth going to, but on the exact same weekend (and when will someone make these two shows not compete with one another???) is the only other massive rock show that comes to Florida: Welcome to Rockville.

Now, the locals of Southwest Florida have a major decision to make:  should they drive to Fort Rock, or just drive up to Jacksonville for Welcome to Rockville?  The decision may come down to time for some, as Fort Rock is rockin’ for two days this year, but Welcome to Rockville is partying for three days straight.  Accommodations may play another key role in decision making, as there is camping for Welcome to Rockville, but people may have to fight the snowbirds for hotel rooms if heading to Sunrise (yes, even though they are billing Fort Rock as Fort Lauderdale, it is technically inland in Sunrise).

At least for once Tampa has scheduled 98 Rockfest as the weekend prior to the competition, which may cause a better turnout for the 10-year anniversary show, but for those caught between choosing Fort Rock versus Welcome to Rockville, let’s compare.  The lineup is the biggest difference, as with Rockville having three days, it leaves room for a few more artists to play, but the best of the best will still be at Fort Rock.  Further south, Fort Rock will probably be a few degrees warmer than Rockville, too, and for those who have broiled in the Florida sun in prior years, and for those who haven’t, temperatures can be brutal, with days often more than 90 degrees, though it is too far in advance to say for sure yet.

Fort Rock will be April 28 and 29 at Markham Park in Sunrise.  Saturday will feature Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, Shinedown, Halestorm, Bullet For My Valentine, Underoath, Trivium, Hatebreed, Texas Hippie Coalition, Power Trip, ’68, and Bad Wolves.  Ozzy Osbourne and Zakk Wylde will headline Sunday, along with Breaking Benjamin, Stone Sour, Stone Temple Pilots, Killswitch Engage, Hollywood Undead, Sevendust, Pop Evil, Red Sun Rising, Avatar, Tyler Bryant & The Shakedown, and Toothgrinder. 

There is a whole list of things that are not allowed into Fort Rock, but more important is the list that people are allowed to bring into the all ages show.  Each person is allowed to bring one factory sealed bottle of water, 20 ounce maximum, non-aerosol sunscreen, cell phones, binoculars, earplugs, hats, sunglasses, light blankets and towels.  While they try to discourage people from bringing any kind of bags, they are allowing small purses (maximum size of 4.5” x 6.5’), small clear plastic vinyl or PVC bags (maximum size of 12” x 6” x 12”), a clear gallon size re-sealable bag, and a clear or mesh drawstring bag.

Welcome to Rockville will be April 27, 28, and 29 at the Metropolitan Park in Jacksonville, and unlike Fort Rock, there is camping available.  Ozzy and Zakk will be headlining the first day, along with Godsmack, Five Finger Death Punch, Halestorm, The Used, Underoath, Parkway Drive, Trivium, Atreyu, Power Trip, Texas Hippie Coalition, ’68, Toothgringer, Bad Wolves, Palisades, and Them Evils.  Saturday will be Avenged Sevenfold, Stone Sour, Breaking Benjamin, Stone Temple Pilots, Black Veil Brides, Asking Alexandria, Killswitch Engage, Hollywood Undead, Sevendust, Pop Evil, Avatar, Red Sun Rising, Andrew W. K., Butcher Babies, Tyler Brant & The Shakedown, Stick To Your Guns, Joyous Wolf, He Is Legend, Palaye Royale, and The Wild!; Sunday will feature Foo Fighters, Queens of the Stone Age, Billy Idol, Bullet For My Valentine, Clutch, Thrice, Baroness, Greta Van Fleet, Quicksand, Wolf Alice, The Sword, Red Fang, The Bronx, Turnstile, Fireball Ministry, The Fever 333, Black Foxxes, and Spirit Animal.

What is allowed inside is about the same as Fort Rock, including their policy on bags.  This means, do NOT plan on bringing fireworks, hula hoops, glow sticks, chairs, video cameras, glass containers, selfie sticks, drones, balloons, chain wallets, spikes, pets, backpacks, aerosol cans, umbrellas or any other crazy items.  For people who need prescriptions or medically necessary food, plan on bringing an ID to the front gate, along with a doctor’s note; there is a link on the website for people who have questions.

Of course, for those not wanting to travel quite so far from southwest Florida, there’s still 98 Rockfest, which happens on 4/20.  Shinedown, Three Days Grace, Starset, Fozzy, and Seether will headline the Big 10 at Amalie Arena.  Of course, that’s only one day and does not start until 6 p.m. (though fans are welcome as early as 2 p.m., especially for the VIP experiences offered), so it’s not the same type of experience as the whole day festivals at Fort Rock and Welcome to Rockville.  Again, at least it’s not competing with these festivals, as it had in prior years, which means you can go to two of the three.

While it’s a bummer that Fort Myers has been excluded from the celebration this year, and there’s really no replacement in sight so far for the event, at least there’s a chance to go to a couple of the events, as opposed to picking only one, as it had been in the past.  My only hope is that Fort Myers gets back into the rock festival fury with some sort of replacement event, and if that were to happen in the future, hopefully, someone will not make it compete with the timing of these rock festivals.  It was a shame to see the 99X Fest whither away, and it was super exciting to see Fort Rock replace that, but now there’s a void of a major rock festival in the Fort Myers area; hopefully, people will remember the many sold out shows that have been held at the baseball complexes and realize there’s money to be made in SWFL.

For more information on Fort Rock:  For more on Welcome to Rockville:  For 98 Rockfest: 

Marisa Williams earned her Master’s in Writing at the Johns Hopkins University.  She is a college professor in Port Charlotte, as well as a licensed Realtor.  For more by Marisa, visit 

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