This past weekend I drove down to Fort Myers, my home town all grown up, to indulge in a two day long rock festival called Fort Rock. Apparently this is the festival’s fifth year but this was the first time I had heard of it or attended. A good friend and fellow rock aficionado, Jen, mentioned it to me and acquired the tickets.
We met up near the venue and with her nephew, Dalton, and had a delicious lunch at Bellacino’s (which I didn’t think was a chain until I researched it for this blog post) before we embarked. When we arrived we happened to park as far away as possible from the entrance but that is just how the chips fell to start off the day.
Here we are before the heat and the music hit us.
The first band on the stage, well the left stage as there were two, was In This Moment. This is a band led by a female lead singer, Maria Brink, with a flair for the theatrical with elaborate stage presence and costumes. I wasn’t familiar with this band’s music but I may be looking into it in the future.
Switching to the right stage for the second band we had Of Mice & Men. This band was straight up hard rocking delight. They definitely got the crowd amped up. During this set the security guards at the edge of the stage pulled out some hoses and started to spray the crowd which was not only accepted but even requested on this scorcher of a day.
Alter Bridge drew us back over to the left stage although Dalton stayed at the right stage and camped out near the stage for the next band. This was the first band that I was looking forward to seeing as I had heard some of their music in the past. They put on a very good show but I really didn’t recognize any of the songs. It could be that I just don’t know their songs well enough or maybe that the studio versions are just different enough from the live versions to throw me off. I still recognized the style and enjoyed the show. On a side note, I swear the lead singer is Kevin Bacon’s doppleganger and I’m not the only one that thinks this.
The next band over on the right stage I really wanted to see was Three Days Grace. Their set was off the hook. Their stage presence was amazing and they got the crowd completely excited. I, and the crowd, knew many of their songs are were singing along. It was amazing.
Bringing us back over to the left stage was Seether. They put on a good show but for whatever reason they seemed much louder than the other bands. I had to deploy my ear plugs as it was to the point of being unbearable. I really enjoyed their set. Also took this time to get some food and drinks from the vendors. I got some buffalo chicken mac & cheese that was expensive but pretty good. Jen got some chicken tenders with fries for Dalton who was still camped out at the front of the right stage.
When we ventured over to the right stage we had about ten minutes before Papa Roach started and the crowd was packed in so tight that we couldn’t get the food to Dalton. Even before they took the stage the crowd was getting hyped up. During their entire set the whole crowd was engaged and drinking in everything flowing from the speakers. This was by far one of the best acts of the festival for me. They debuted a new song Born For Greatness just hit me just right. They also did a duet of Gravity with Maria Brink from In This Moment as well as a cover of Blur’s Song 2.
Chevelle was the next band up on the left stage and as the sun fell we rocked to their music. They came out and rocked out but they basically just came to play music. Very little stage presence but that is fine. The music was good although much like Seether the sound seemed to be a bit louder than it needed to be and therefore I had to use the earplugs again. I really enjoy their music.
The final act for the night was back on the right stage and I was surprised how many of the younger rockers in the audience stuck around for this headliner. Def Leppard took the stage as if the last 30 years didn’t come to pass. The British Rockers knocked the socks off of everyone in the audience. They pulled out the older songs that everyone knows and threw in some newer ones. They played to the crowd and seemed to be just having a blast. About halfway through the set both Jen and I felt like really old people and had to go find a place to sit for the rest of the show. It was an amazing performance. They even did two encore songs as the crowd started to file out of the park.
Exiting the festival was easy. Exiting the parking area was an exercise in patience. We were basically one of the furthest vehicles and due to the layout and what I would expect to be poor planning there was no easy way to egress the area. Anyway, we made it out and with a quick pitstop at McD’s I made my way home and walked in around 1am with a hard day of rocking in the hot sun behind me.
We began the day by having a delicious meal at the Tex/Mex restaurant Iguana Mia with my mom. We ventured to Jen and Dalton’s hotel to prepare for another day of hot rocking. We then made our way back to the JetBlue Park although technically we were in a field adjacent to the ballpark. The parking arrangement put us basically in the same place but a little farther out.
The plan was to get to the park by 4pm so that we could see The Pretty Reckless. They were good but the studio versions that I had heard of their songs I enjoyed more. I’ll have to look into that group some more.
We moved over to the right stage as Highly Suspect appeared. A really good band with high energy. At some point in the middle of their set they traded out the drummer and guitarist with members of another band and the members of the band that were substituted began crowd surfing. It was very unique. There were some technical difficulties. I think one of the guitarists was disconnected from the sound system. But overall they put on a good show that amped up the crowd a bunch.
The next up on the left stage was Mastodon. I’m completely unfamiliar with their works but they were pretty good. Jen and I decided to enjoy this portion of the concert while sitting down a bit away from the stage. The people watching was amazing although my faith in humanity dropped a couple of notches.
Then came one of the headliners on the right stage that I had been waiting for, The Offspring. OMFG! They were amazing. At first I thought the lead singer’s voice was off but then everything seemed to just click and well there was no stopping the best act of the festival. They rocked! They played all of my favorite songs by them.
The heat was getting to me a bit.
Shifting back over to the left stage I was psyched for A Perfect Circle to appear. They put on a good show playing many of the fan favorites but with their own style of stage presence. MJK stayed at the back of the stage and was typically shrouded in fog and lights. I really looked forward to this show and I’m glad I saw it.
The last band of the festival was Soundgarden. Some many great songs and they are celebrating 25 years. Another really good performance by this band and a great to end an amazing festival. The second day was hot but not as bad as the previous day.
Leaving had the same urgency/efficiency as the previous night. But we ended the night and all made it back to our respective beds for the night.
Here is the setlist for both days of the festival. http://www.setlist.fm/festival/2017/fort-rock-2017-5bd653fc.html