Live Festival Review and Photos: David Locklear
The campground was tittering with more sound and activity this morning.
Many of the Carolina Rebellion patrons were having to pack up and begin the arduous journey back to their homes. Some further than others: our camping neighbors diagonal to us had their jeep fully packed and pulling away at 9 am.
“How far do you have to drive?” I asked as they pulled away.
“Nine hour drive back to Jersey,” the husband said.
“Damn! That puts my 90 minute drive in perspective.”
“90 minutes?! You lucky fucker!” he said with a smile.
He was right. Because we got to stay for the last day were really excited about the first band we were covering today: the legendary Quicksand.
Since John and I had a few hours before they took to the stage and about five hours until my interview with Dave from Red Fang, we “pre-gamed” for a little while with Josh. He told us about his training in the Marines, skydiving experiences and his hopes to become a dad one day. After a few beverages were had and everything was packed up, it was time for the obligatory group selfie.
(Left to Right: John Richardson, Josh R, David Locklear)
Quicksand took the stage at 1 pm under a perfectly cloudless Carolina sky and very little humidity. Drummer Alan Cage beat the shit out of his drums as they opened with “Turn The Screw” from 2017’s ‘Interiors’ and roared through their thunder driven, but very brief, set. All of the signature riffs and post hardcore breakdowns that they are famous for shone brightly on the Carolina Stage. Bassist Sergio Vega, his head adorned with sky blue locks, casually and confidently strummed his bass with the fluidity of a mountain stream, and singer/guitarist, Walter Schreifels, kept a tight perimeter around the mic stand as he sang passionately to the crowd.
Their concert was fun and tight, and consisted mainly of songs from ‘Ineriors’. Don’t get me wrong, that is a great album, and considering it’s their first in 20+ years, that makes it even more amazing. I wish they could’ve played longer; I would’ve had such a musical boner if they played “Landmine Spring” from their classic ‘Manic Compresssion’ album. My wishes aside, I still got “Omission” from their debut, ‘Slip’ and they still put on a helluva show. Frankly, my complaints aren’t really complaints-they are the rumblings of a fat kid wanting more candy.
Back at the Gold Stage, Mutoid Man bounced their way around their aggressively upbeat and punky set with energetic aplomb. Wearing fancy tuxedo t-shirts, they squeezed quite a few songs from their catalogue into their performance, opening with “Melt Your Mind” followed by “Micro Agression”. The slowest moment was when they stopped to inform the audience that by attending, they have unknowingly entered into a pact with them to “go on a date with devil!!!!” and they roared back into the music by playing (obviously) “Date with the Devil”. Mutoid Man are definitely a fun band to watch play-certainly one of those bands that make you appreciate their songs more after seeing them play live. They also did a few covers-King Crimson’s “21st Century Schizoid Man” and Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”, but I was surprised that they didn’t play their most recent hit, “Kiss of Death”. However, I am glad they didn’t, considering how slow that song is when compared to the majority of their tunes. Their tuxedoed mania and steady stream of punkish playing was contagious and “Kiss of Death” would’ve frankly brought the crazy train to a halt. Once it was all done, the fans looked pleasantly satisfied. Mutoid Man’s work at the Carolina Rebellion was complete.
We trekked back to the media tent to interview the one and only prehistoric dog himself, Dave Sullivan of Red Fang. I have to admit, sometimes I get starstruck when interviewing certain bands, and that wave of stomach knots hit me when he took a seat at the table across from me. I did my best to play it cool.
Yes! The technology maintained for the ENTIRETY of the interview. And I managed to form coherent sentences when talking to the man. And with that, our interviews were done for this year’s Rebellion.
As we went for beer and nourishment and rest, we could hear Clutch pounding out one of their new live staples, “A Quick Death in Texas” through the air beneath the slowly fading daylight in the sky. It was bittersweet, knowing that in just a few short hours, we would be heading home and this year’s Rebellion will be done. But, what a stellar few hours they were going to be.
Cruising by the Black Stage, we watched The Sword for a few minutes:
then continued to the Rebellion Stage to see yet another artist that I never had a chance to see perform live-the legendary Billy Idol.
He’s another musician that I have enjoyed since I was a child, and the fact that he was showing up in my backyard to crack the sky with his rebel yell was cause to bow my head and give thanks. Add to that, original guitarist Steve Stevens (whose solo gig, Atomic Playboys, was a staple of my middle school mix tapes. And I literally mean cassettes.) was still playing with him, backed by the talented guitarist, Billy Morrison, drummer Erik Eldinius, keyboardist Paul Trudeau, and my new favorite bassist, Stephen McGrath. McGrath at one point playfully tried to jam his bass head into the lense of my camera while I took pics of the set. Either that or he was trying to give me a concussion. I would’ve been happy with both outcomes.
Idol gleefully bounced through a healthy mixture of his known hits (“Flesh for Fantasy”, “Eyes Without a Face”) and lesser known tunes (“Scream”, “King Rocker”) all while smiling and seeming to really enjoy his job. Steve Stevens played it cool as he plucked away at his guitar with black fingernails; and although he was walled off behind plexi glass, drummer Eldinius looked as if he were having a ball.
When they finally played “Rebel Yell” the place went crazy (of course) and, like me, most seemed to assume that was the end of their show. But they gave us all a nice final surprise with a cool and awesome rendition of “White Wedding” going from an acoustic calm at the intro to the rip roaring final notes of “Start Again!!!!” as half the audience attempted crowd surf while simultaneously singing right along.
Baroness is a band that I have grown to love over the years. They were unfortunately playing on one end of the Carolina Rebellion at the same time as Red Fang were playing on the opposite end. This happens a lot at these festivals, where you are forced to choose between some of your favorite bands. But considering that Dave was such a cool guy (even later in the evening being awesome enough to Facetime with my daughter), my loyalties lay firmly with the guys in Red Fang.
I hope Baroness can forgive me. But I doubt they would care.
Enough of my nonsense, here is Red Fang bringing the Carolina Rebellion into the crunchy cave that is their sound.
Queens of the Stone Age suffered a bit of a black eye recently in the press when vocalist Josh Homme was filmed kicking a photographer in the face during one of their concerts, so I would be lying if I didn’t say that this was logged in the back of my mind somewhere as I was admitted to the photo pit near the front of the stage. But the band wisely set things up so that media could only take photos from one side of the stage and you couldn’t get within striking distance of their performance. With the stage adorned with posts that pulsated with red and purple lights, they kicked off their show with “Feel Good Hit of the Summer” from their classic album, ‘Rated R’ under the purple canvas of twilight. As they played, they seemed to stay in place but somehow gave off the energy of a rock tribe that were praying to their ancient rock gods. They seemed to bounce and run while playing “You Think I Ain’t Worth a Dollar, But I Feel Like a Millionaire” and “The Way You Used To Do” and yet remained in a specific orbit on the stage.
As Queens closed out with “A Song For the Dead”, the fatigue of the weekend was settling like a cloud on many of the attendees of the Carolina Rebellion. There were more sleeping bodies to navigate around, but I feel like that is only more proof that the Rebellion has done it’s job well. Regardless of how tired Rebellion fans felt on the last day of a very sunny, friendly and enjoyable rock weekend, the reserve tanks of joy were tapped for the energetic and fantastic set put together by Muse.
The Carolina Stage seemed to have mutated into something alien compared to what looked like the previous two days. It seemed wider, taller and definitely more sparkly and opulent than before. Voluminous television screens stood confidently at the back of the stage, providing everyone with access to a strong view of the band as they played tunes such as the well-known “Thought Contagion” and “Map of the Problematique”. They also seamlessly incorporated well know riffs several times into their set, such as Nirvana’s “Lithium” bass slink, AC/DC’s “Back in Black” and (to my surprise) the Deftones’ “Shove It”.
They confidently played a healthy set, performing almost 15 tunes and the energy of the crowd was harmonious. It was the vibe of many people knowing that, come Monday, life would be back to normal. But for these last fleeting moments, we were here and alive and surrounded by the sounds of rock n roll, and none of us could ever die.
That’s what the connection of rock n roll is: knowing that the ride will eventually end, but refusing to acknowledge that reality and happily riding the wave into the dark night. We may be going down, but we’re going down with style and good fucking music to see us out.
The lights darkened once Muse finished their encore, ending with “Knights of Cydonia”, which contain the lyrics:
“When fools can be kings, don’t waste your time.”
This sentiment echoed in my mind as we pulled away from Rock City Campgrounds and headed north, back home. My exhaustion got the best of me as John did the driving and I went to sleep before we made the highway. Until next year, Rebellion. Good night.