The Bolts Transformation Into Island Apollo At Silverlake Lounge

By: Lucy rendler-Kaplan

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(PCM) Orange-County based indie rockers The Bolts made a bold move early last month—they changed their name to Island Apollo. Bolder still, the five-some headed north to hipster haven Silverlake  previewing work through their new material as Island Apollo, taking up residency at the gritty Silverlake Lounge for four Mondays in July.

The band—comprised of guitarists Heath Farmer and Ryan Kilpatrick, bassist Addam Farmer, keyboardist Austin Farmer, and drummer Matt Champagne—gained considerable fame as The Bolts after forming as teenagers in Orange County.  In short order, they picked up airplay on KROQ, won Orange County’s “Best Pop Artist” from the OC Music Awards, opened for Capital Cities and Third Eye Blind, appeared across local TV and, realizing every young man’s dream, had a song placed in a commercial featuring supermodel Kate Upton.

At Silverlake Lounge, the group took the stage as relative newcomers.

From the first show through the last, Island Apollo was not what you’d call tentative.  Despite the new name (coined for the artificial islands in Long Beach Bay, each named for a Apollo astronaut) and brand new material, they couldn’t shake off (nor should they) the experience of seven years playing together.  Island Apollo plays with astonishing precision and considerable verve. They’re tight but not tense, intense but not intimidating. Each member knows their job and does it well, and their experience shines through in confident assured playing, compact, well-crafted songs, and at the bottom of each, Matt Champagne: throwing himself all over his small drum kit (with one synth pad, he’s quick to point out), each bang of the drums exuberant—at times it seems he just might freak out—before bringing the beats back to their “proper” place.   In fact, each song finishes a little sooner than you think it should.  A few of the songs hint at what might be in store if they were to shake off the disciplined structure and show fans what it might feel like to be invited into one of their private jam sessions.  Watching the crowd, it was clear that each song left the audience wanting more.

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If one is to believe the set lists (show-goers eagerly snatched from under Heath’s feet at the end of each gig) during the Silverlake Lounge residencies consisted of eight-song sets of original compositions the band has been working on for inclusion into their first EP as Island Apollo. He told the audience, “We think Animal is going to be our fist single, but our manager (Dan Catullo, of Orange County production powerhouse DC3 Music/City Drive Entertainment) asked us not to confirm that.”  Regardless, our money’s on Animal—it’s a self-effacing excuse for love and lust, delivered with Ryan and Heath’s guitars over urgent, insistent, almost drill-cadence harmonies.

Heath and Ryan trade lead and rhythm guitar duties effortlessly, going back and forth between parts without looking at each other. Heath wields a well-worn Telecaster, showing years of love and long use along with that very sweet, country punk-tinged sound; he expands on its single pickup design and sound with an array of pedals and effects at his feet that makes the gear lovers in the audience crane their necks over the monitors to look at it.

Ryan, Island Apollo’s newly appointed lead vocalist, croons a fine tenor over his Stratocaster, fixing his gaze on the audience as he works through the tunes. Their intention was to have Ryan handle all the singing—thinking perhaps their four-part harmonies as the Bolts too lightweight—but they simply can’t help harmonizing, and you can tell they clearly relish singing together. Each song’s chorus is fist-to-the gut punchy. They pack a pop and a wallop.  This is especially evident on the tunes Phoenix and Animal.

Between them is Addam, alternately strumming and plucking his bass—just like the guitarists on either side of them. Twice during the residency, he sported a black t-shirt with dinosaurs on it, and the irony wasn’t lost on fans of Animal.

Habitual starts with a looser, free-form instrumental intro reminiscent of The War on Drugs—but again, tantalizingly brief.  In Meaning of Love, the guys sing, “You build me up/And break me down/That’s the meaning of love/That’s the meaning of love.” It is then that you realize: these guys are not punks; they really are a bunch of Orange County lads, tanned, fresh-faced, and very outgoing.  They want us to like them, and y’know what? We do.  The band reads the audience well and knows that they won’t win us over if they sing at us to fuck off.  It’s refreshingly…fresh.  At each week of the residency, a tanned, teeming crowd of young ladies in the audience undoubtedly seemed to agree.

Believer is as close as these guys come to down-tempo in the Silverlake sets, a minor-key anthem driven by Austin’s low-key keys, his extensive rig anchored by a Yamaha electric piano. In I Don’t Need Your Kind of Love, they build guitar energy with staccato guitar riffs around their vocal, ensemble playing holding Champagne’s drums in check, concluding with soulful, tight harmonies on Think it Over, their last number.

Heath explains their carefully constructed set after the show.  “We believe that every song should flow naturally and that every detail should serve an artistic purpose. We added tempo changes where it made sense, and explored varying chord progressions.”  As you watch his fingers fly up and down the fret board, you realize he’s taking his own advice well.

Island Apollo’s next gig is Thursday, August 14 at a new venue downtown: Downstairs at Fifty Seven, located at 712 S Santa Fe Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90021

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So with a nostalgic look back at their history as the Bolts, Island Apollo is poised to rise above the ocean floor and reach for the stars.

Island Apollo’s new social network links:

Facebook / Twitter / YouTube / Instagram

 

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Josh Turner Pulls No Punches With His Rougstock and Rambler Tour

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(PCM) Recently, country music superstar Josh Turner brought his down-home melodies to the Sands Event Center in Bethlehem, PA. Turner is in the midst of his Roughstock and Rambler Tour in support of his latest album, Punching Bag.

Josh hit the stage and pulled no punches, playing a sweet 16-song set that included big hits like “Your Man”, “Punching Bag”, “Time Is Love”, “Haywire”, and “Would You Go With Me”, as well as rare gems like “Backwoods Boy”. Turner closed out the set with the foot-stompin’ “Firecracker”. Josh Turner has one of the most distinct voices in country music today, and also has the ability to bring his big hits to life live on stage.

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Josh Turner exploded onto the country music scene in 2003. He inked a deal with MCA Records and released his first LP, Long Black Train. His sophomore effort, 2006’s Your Man, gave Turner his first two #1 singles. The album itself hit #2 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on Billboard Country Albums. Turner’s next two releases would also hit the Top 5 on the Billboard charts. His latest effort, 2012’s Punching Bag, debuted at #4 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on Billboard Country Albums.

The album’s lead single “Time Is Love” was the top country song of the year. Turner is reportedly working on new music for a follow-up, and he recently released his first book Man Stuff via HarperCollins Publishing. Throughout his career, Turner has been nominated for two Grammy Awards and seven CMA Awards.

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Dan Croll Talks Festival Life, Latest Album And More!

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(PCM) We were recently out at the Firefly Music Festival in Dover, DE and caught up with British singer/songwriter Dan Croll.

Croll’s set on the Firefly Main Stage was sweet music to our ears and we enjoyed being able to chat after the set about topics such as festival life, the music industry, and of course his latest album release “Sweet Disarray”.

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Check out the full interview below:

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Spend Some Time With Unlikely Candidates And Learn About DJ iPod!

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(PCM) One of the most buzzed about bands at Firefly Music Festival 2014 was Unlikely Candidates. Hailing from Fort Worth, Texas the band has been on a steady rise and have generated a ton of positive feedback especially from their track “Follow My Feet”.

I spent some time asking Firefly attendees who some of their top acts and performances were throughout the weekend and nearly all of the mentioned catching the set from Unlikely Candidates and just how much they enjoyed it.

I was able to catch up with the band backstage at Firefly Festival to discuss the band’s performance, upcoming festival appearances, the craziness that is DJ iPod in the campgrounds and more!

Check out our full interview below:

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Firefly 2014 Without A Doubt A Massive Success!

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All photography credit: Ken Schuler

(PCM) Bonnaroo had better watch out because without a doubt Firefly Music Festival is certainly giving them a run for their money. From Thursday, 6/19 through Sunday, 6/22 over 80,000 music fans gathered together in The Woodlands in Dover, Delaware to celebrate the spirit of music and camaraderie to create one of the most epic parties the East Coast has even seen.There were truly so many highlights from the weekend that I almost don’t even know where to begin!

Headliners for this year’s festival included Foo Fighters, Outkast, and Jack Johnson along with some stellar performances from artists such as Beck, Arctic Monkeys, The Lumineers, Imagine Dragons, Weezer, Childish Gambino and many, many more!

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This is the third consecutive year for Firefly and as an attendee for all three years I can certainly see the many changes that have taken place as the festival continues to grow and expand. A major aspect that Firefly definitely got right this year was the placement of the stages. They once again expanded the grounds of the festival, placing the stages further apart so of course there was far less sound bleed between stages, a problem the festival had dealt with in years past.

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With expansion, however, comes distance between the stages and one of my few complaints was the sheer amount of walking that you had to do in order to make the trek from one stage to the other and the amount of dust that was kicked up all around the festival grounds. I heard from several sources throughout the weekend that there are plans to plant grass in those dirt/dust-filled areas, so we can certainly hope that this issue will be remedied before next year’s festival.

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Watching bands while hiding behind the protection of bandanna covering your nose and mouth is definitely not the best way to enjoy the show. The dust problem mostly occurred by the newly expanded Firefly Main Stage area of the festival grounds, so if you were spending your time hanging out by the Backyard or Lawn Stages it was definitely not so much of a problem over there.

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The festival featured air-conditioned arcades, a coffee house featuring board games and acoustic performances by many of the artist’s, a brewery run by Dogfish Head and  campgrounds that include amenities like a farmers market, morning yoga sessions and yes, even another stage. We hear at one point on Saturday night, the set from White Panda extended out into the campground area where they played until 5am! So much for sleep!!

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One thing I have always loved about Firefly is the awesome art installations, photo-op set-ups, and little escapes such as the Thicket area and the utterly relaxing Hammock Hangout. They provide a fantastic way to recoup for a few moments before heading off to the next amazing performance of the day. These areas were set up beautifully and were definitely one of my favorite areas to visit during the festival.

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Another thing I adore about Firefly Festival is the ability to explore and learn about music from every genre imaginable. This year’s line-up featured rock, pop, hip-hop, EDM and everything in-between. It is an amazing place to discover new bands and new music and there is something for everyone’s taste throughout the weekend.

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We adored performances from both Kodaline and Amos Lee on Thursday night, Kongos, New Politics, Hunter Hunted, and Young The Giant on Friday, Bad Things, Twenty One Pilots, Unlikely Candidates, Cage The Elephant, Walk Off The Earth, Johnnyswim, The Wild Feathers and X Amabassadors on Saturday and finally, Dan Croll, The Griswolds,Kawhei, Nonono, and Ziggy Marley on Sunday. It was a true mosaic of music over the course of the weekend and we loved the opportunity to soak it all up!

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Little Big Town Provide A Sweet Start To Summer!

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(PCM) On Saturday in the middle of Memorial Day Weekend, Grammy Award-winners Little Big Town hit the House of Blues on the boardwalk in Atlantic City to kick off summer in the sweetest way. The band are still riding the wave of their last effort, 2012′s platinum Tornado, which debuted at #2 on the Billboard Top 200 and #1 on Billboard Top Country Albums. With the two year anniversary of Tornado fast-approaching (September 11), the band assured fans that their new album was complete, and that they would be debuting the first single on June 4 at the CMT Music Awards. The band is also nominated for Group Video of The Year for “Your Side of The Bed”.
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The evening in Atlantic City started with Philly folk sensations The Quixote Project. The band played a fantastic set that included a cover of the folk classic “Wagon Wheel” and their own hit “Jersey Girl” which sent the Jersey Shore crowd into a frenzy. With the crowd as warmed up as the fresh summer air, Little Big Town took to the stage and opened with their smash hit “Little White Church”. From there, the band proceeded to play an 18-song highlight reel of their career that included“Pontoon”, “Sober”, “Bring It On Home”, “Bones”, “Tornado”, “Your Side of The Bed”,“Good as Gone”, and my personal favorite, “A Little More You”. Fans were also treated to two cover songs – The Oak Ridge Boys’ “Elvira” and Fleetwood Mac’s “The Chain”. Their version of the latter was one of the best cover performances I’ve ever heard. The band ended the evening with one of their signature tracks, “Boondocks”. With their light melodies and beautiful harmonies, Little Big Town got summer started in the most perfect way.
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Little Big Town formed in 1998 and released their debut self-titled LP in 2002. After the album’s moderate success, the band broke out in 2005 with their sophomore effort, The Road to Here. The album peaked at #12 on Billboard Top Country Albums and went on to be certified platinum. The band garnered two Grammy Award nominations for Best Country Album and Best Country Performance by a Duo or Group with Vocals for the hit song “Boondocks”. With their next two albums – A Place to Land (2007) and The Reason Why (2010), the band made huge strides in their career. The single “Little White Church” off The Reason Why has become one of the band’s biggest hits, and the album debuted at #5 on the Billboard Top 200. In 2012, the band released their latest effort Tornado. The album earned the band their first Grammy Award for Best Country Duo/Group Performance for “Pontoon”. The song also became the band’s first #1 single.
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In addition to their Grammy Award, Little Big Town have won three CMA Awards, three AMC Awards, and one American Country Award throughout their career. Although they have never won, the band has been nominated for eight CMT Music Awards. This year, they are once again nominated for Group Video of The Year for “Your Side of The Bed”. Be sure to tune in on Wednesday, June 4 at 8/7c as the ceremony airs live on CMT to see if Little Big Town can take home the win this year. It is well-deserved.
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Rock On The Range Day Three Breakdown

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(PCM) With three full days of rock at this year’s completely sold out Rock On The Range which took place at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH, we have decided to break down our coverage to our highlights from each day, along with exclusive interviews!

Day three of Rock On The Range featured performances by Kid Rock, Five Finger Death Punch, Alterbridge, Mastodon,Wolfmother (interview here) , Adelitas Way (interview here), Trivium (interview here), Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, Of Mice And Men, Miss May I (interview here), We Are Harlot, Heaven’s Basement (interview here),Gemini Syndrome (interview here), Righteous Vendetta, Gojira, Kvelertak, Jim Bruer Band (interview here), Twelve Foot Ninja (interview here), Monster Truck and Sleepwave (interview here).

I have to note that day three of Rock On The Range had amazing weather. It was the perfect day full of sunshine, but not overly hot! The day three line-up featured the perfect blend of performances that were both chill and laid back and aggressive and in-your-face. It was definitely the most diverse of the three day festival!

Things We Loved Day Three Of Rock On The Range

1. I was pleasantly surprised by the early afternoon performance from Sleepwave. The band is fronted by ex-Underoath vocalist Spencer Chamberlain and their new single “Rock and Roll Is Dead And So Am I” has been generating quite a bit of positive buzz. I adore a band whose music actually says something and I have the feeling that Sleepwave have a lot to say. Be on the lookout for more from this band throughout 2014.

2. I always knew that comedian Jim Breuer could sing, however I was pleasantly surprised by just how much I enjoyed the set from the full Jim Breuer Band at Rock On The Range. Breuer takes his rock/metal fandom to a whole new level and had me cracking up throughout his entire set. I am definitely digging the trend of blending comedy and metal and hope to see more comedians on next year’s Rock On The Range bill.

3. It is always wonderful to watch a band rise up the ranks and thanks to the success of the band’s debut album “Filthy Empire”, Heaven’s Basement has done just that! I was thrilled to see the band get a higher billing placement at this year’s Rock On The Range and was able to witness first hand the sheer amount of fans in the audience who were belting out each and every word to their favorite songs. I am certainly looking forward to Heaven’s Basement doing a more extensive tour here in The States this fall.

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4.  The performance from Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience was one in which I believe I saw everyone in the crowd young and old singing along to each and every song. It just proves the mass appeal of Led Zeppelin’s extensive catalog of hits. Opening their set with “Immigrant Song” and plowing straight through the classic Led Zeppelin catalog, Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience was definitely a set  you did not want to miss. Jason Bonham is the son of the late Led Zeppelin drummer John Bonham and several times throughout the set Bonham took time to reflect upon his father’s legacy and it was truly an incredibly touching tribute for a man that contributed so much to rock music as we know it today.

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5. It is no wonder at all that Trivium had to cancel a few tour dates after their amazing Rock On The Range performance. The band was truly giving it all they had and apparently vocalist Matt Heafy gave a little too much and “blew out” his voice. His doctor called for two weeks of vocal rest after the performance. Let’s hope all is well before the band’s upcoming stint on the Rockstar Energy Mayhem Festival set to begin later this summer.

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6. I feel like Adelitas Way were missing from the festival scene for a little while, however they have made their return and are sounding better than ever. What I love is that vocalist Rick DeJesus is completely fearless when it comes to getting up close and personal with fans. Watching DeJesus leap off the stage and take part in some crowd-surfing action was delightful! Stay tuned for the band’s new album “Stuck” to be released later this summer!

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7. Having never had the chance to see Wolfmother live, I was absolutely ecstatic to learn that they were playing Rock On The Range. Several times throughout the set vocalist Andrew Stockdale graciously thanked the crowd and dedicated their hit single “Woman” to all the ladies in attendance and believe me, we loved it! The band sounded amazing and it was definitely one of my favorite performances of the afternoon.

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8. Beautiful chaos is probably the best phrase I could use to describe the intense performance from Five Finger Death Punch. There was not a single person on the floor who was not moving around in some way or another, although majority were crowd-surfing their way across the sea of fans that packed the main stage area. Vocalist Ivan Moody commented several times about putting security to work and of course explaining mosh pit etiquette, although I’m not really sure how well anyone was listening.

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9. A stellar performance from Kid Rock was the perfect way to end Rock On The Range 2014.  Kid Rock is an amazing performer and held the audience at full attention throughout his entire performance. I will never tire of rocking out to “You Never Met A Mother F**ker Quite Like Me” as well as Kid Rock’s other hits including “All Summer Long” and “Cowboy”. Kid Rock has the amazing ability to blend together the perfect balance of hard rocking hits and slower emotional ballads with perfect timing throughout the set. One of my favorite moments of the set came when he performed “Only God Knows Why”.

Rock On The Range Day Three Photo Gallery
All photos credit: Ken Schuler for PopCultureMadness.com

Check out our highlights from Rock On The Range Day One and Day Two!

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Rock On The Range Day Two Breakdown

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 (PCM) With three full days of rock at this year’s completely sold out Rock On The Range which took place at Columbus Crew Stadium in Columbus, OH, we have decided to break down our coverage to our highlights from each day, along with exclusive interviews!

Day two of Rock On The Range featured performances by Avenged Sevenfold, Slayer,Chevelle, Theory Of A Deadman (interview here), Pop Evil (interview here) , Fuel (interview here) , Rev Theory (interview here), Suicidal Tendencies (interview here), The Pretty Reckless, Nothing More (interview here), Texas Hippie Coalition (interview here), King 810, We As Human, Stars In Stereo (interview here), Exodus (interview here), Fozzy, Avatar, Crobot (interview here) and Wilson (interview here).

In our opinion day two was probably the strongest line-up of the weekend and also probably the worst weather-wise. It rained off and on for the better part of the day, but yet again the spirit of the crowd was not dampened. It was going to take more than a few rain showers to stop this crowd from rocking out!

Things We Loved Day Two Of Rock On The Range

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1. I do not think there is anything that I do not love about Crobot! They certainly won over the hearts of many Rangers during their amazing performance at Rock On The Range. It was wonderful to witness people stopping in their tracks and running over to catch the band’s performance on the Jagermeister Stage. Although the band was performing on the festival’s smallest stage, the energy that poured forth from Crobot while on stage would have been more than enough to fill the main stage arena. They are definitely a band that got people talking and without a doubt will be one to watch throughout the rest of 2014.

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2. Fozzy was a breath of fresh air to the cold and rain-soaked crowd as when they took to the stage it was to some of the first moments of sunshine that we had seen all day. Fozzy front-man Chris Jericho know just how to take command of the stage and is never one that is afraid to get up close and personal with the fans. The band’s enthusiasm is infectious.  I am highly anticipating the band’s new album “Do You Want To Start A War?” which is due out later this summer. Their new single “Light Go Out” got an absolutely amazing response from the crowd! I just have to wonder if the band will ever tire of the endless Y2J chants leading up to every show!

3. Despite having quite an early set time and having to play in fairly unfavorable weather conditions, I felt that Stars In Stereo put on a fantastic performance at Rock On The Range. The band is gearing up to release their new album this June and the new single “Leave Your Mark” has been receiving some amazing feedback. Definitely another band to keep your eye on in 2014.

4. Of course there is always one band to stir-up some controversy at any festival and at Rock On The Range that band was King 810. The band members were accompanied on stage with individuals dressed up a guards wielding rather large (fake?) machine guns. Many people I talked to throughout the day thought that the whole guards with guns presence was a little over the top, but I say it definitely garnered the band some attention and certainly had many people talking and isn’t that the point? Musically I’m on the fence with this band, but their stage show definitely peaked my curiosity.

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5. Watching Texas Hippie Coalition is just a lot of fun!  They are a band that truly knows how to get the party started and were a fantastic addition to this year’s festival line-up. Front-man Big Dad Rich is a riot and the band’s upcoming new album “Ride On” is definitely on my list of anticipated albums due out later this year.

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6. “Going To Hell” the latest album release from The Pretty Reckless is probably my favorite album release of 2014 thus far. I could not have been more excited that they were on this year’s Rock On The Range bill. The band’s performance was mind-blowing, as front-woman Taylor Momsen seduces the audience with her incredible vocal range and I felt like the band drew one of the biggest crowds to the Ernie Ball stage to check out their set. I definitely feel that The Pretty Reckless could have more than held their own on the main stage this year, but hey, there is always next year, at least I can hope.

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7. When Suicidal Tendencies hit the stage it is as if a whirlwind of pure adrenaline has been released. Front-man Mike Muir races around the stage and behaves as if he were getting ready for the boxing match of a lifetime. It is truly something you must witness at least once in your life. What I love is that the music of Suicidal Tendencies can not be boxed into one particular genre or another and they certainly added their very own unique flavor to the Rock On The Range bill.

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8. I have probably seen Pop Evil live more than any other band on this year bill and yet they always seem to bring out something new to the table with each performance. It was a truly memorable moment as the band paid tribute to our soldier by having several Marines join them on-stage to close out their set. Also, did I fail to mention that DMC, of Run DMC also joined Pop Evil on-stage to perform their remixed version of Pop Evil’s hit single “Trenches”.

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9. SLAYERRRR!!!….okay…one more time…SLAYER!!!!! I almost don’t have to write anything else!  Rock and metal fans will never tire of witnessing metal masters Slayer perform live. They are just one hell of a legendary band!  While they are a band of little words on the stage, the music more than speaks for itself. The band did pay tribute to their late rhythm guitarist Jeff Hanneman who tragically passed away last year with a large back-drop banner. Exodus band member Gary Holt has been playing with Slayer and does an incredible job, especially when trading epic solo’s back and forth with guitarist Kerry King.

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10. A performance by Avenged Sevenfold was the perfect way to close out Saturday night. The band’s use of pyrotechnics and an elaborate stage set was phenomenal and that is surely what kept the audience engrossed throughout the band’s incredible performance. One thing I can not help but note is that while technically the band’s musicianship on stage is superb and the atmosphere on stage is astounding, both guitarists Zacky Vengence and Synyster Gates never really appear truly happy to be on stage. They always seem to have this look of either boredom or indifference upon their faces. I could be wrong, but I sometimes wish they would crack a few more smiles.

Rock On The Range Day Two Photo Gallery
All photos credit: Ken Schuler for PopCultureMadness.com

Check out our coverage of Rock On The Range Day One and Day Three

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Rock On The Range 2014 Day One Breakdown

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(PCM) Despite the less than favorable weather conditions in the Columbus, OH area, it did nothing to diminish the rock n’ roll spirit that was alive and well at this year’s Rock On The Range held as Columbus Crew Stadium.

Legions of rock and metal fans gathered together to see the top artists in the genre perform at the one place where rock truly lives and that place is without a doubt, Rock on The Range.

Over the year’s Rock On The Range has grown to be a full three day festival completely dedicated to rock and metal and this year’s line-up featured a stellar array of bands. At Rock On The Range there is something for everyone whether your a fan of thrash metal, speed metal, radio rock, alternative rock or anything in-between, there are bands that will appeal to every taste.

What I also enjoy about Rock On The Range is that it is an absolutely amazing place to learn about and enjoy new bands. My advice is go check out the side stages. While the main stage acts were utterly phenomenal, there were definitely some absolutely amazing acts featured on this year’s side stages as well.

With three full days of rock, we have decided to break down our coverage to our highlights from each day, along with exclusive interviews!

Day one of Rock On The Range featured performances by Guns N’ Roses (interview here), Staind, Seether (interview here), Black Label Society, Killswitch Engage (interview here), Black Stone Cherry (interview here), Redlight King (interview here), Down, Living Colour (interview here), Reignwolf, We Came As Romans,Thousand Foot Krutch, Kyng,Devour The Day, Lacuna Coil, Butcher Babies,One Ok Rock (interview here), Truckfighters, Werm, and Kill Devil Hill (interview here).

Things We Loved At Rock On The Range Day One

1. Kill Devil Hill got Rock On The Range 2014 off to an incredible start. Talk about waking up the crowd! Also, I about lost my mind when Phil Anselmo of Down joined Kill Devil Hill on stage to perform the Pantera classic “Mouth For War”!  For those that don’t know, Kill Devil band member Rex Brown was the former bassist for Pantera. You can view a video of this amazing moment below:

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2. One Ok Rock made their U.S. festival debut at Rock On The Range and I can definitely say that this band is well on their way to creating quite a name for themselves here in the States. They are high-energy and just a lot of fun to watch!

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3. Reignwolf is incredible and his performances are absolutely hypnotizing. I first caught Reignwolf at last year’s Voodoo Experience Festival in New Orleans and I was thrilled to see that he was going to be performing at this year’s Rock On The Range. Reignwolf is a true master of his instrument and the way in which he commandeers the stage demands the attention of anyone within a close enough radius.

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4. Another one of the top performances of the day came from Living Colour. While many may have questioned the band’s placement on the bill, they more than held their own and totally blew the audience away. The band has such amazing showmanship and their raw energy was infectious. It was also quite a moment to see the members of Down jamming out on the side of the stage and then later Down having Living Colour join them on-stage for the last song of their set! I adore festival moments like these that break down genre stereotypes!

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5. Killswitch Engage blasted onto the stage with true passion and intensity. They were also perhaps one of the absolute loudest performers of the day and trust me, we were not complaining. You could literally feel the stadium vibrate with each guitar chord and bass line. With so many great tracks under their belt, I can’t even imagine trying to put together a setlist, however Killswitch delivered. I just wish they could have played a bit longer set, I have decided I will never tire of hearing “My Curse” live and of course their brilliant cover of Dio’s “Holy Diver” to close out their set.

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6. Black Label Society never disappoint in the live environment. The band effortlessly blends together incredible showmanship and stellar musicianship. Touring behind their latest album release “Catacombs of The Black Vatican”, it was awesome to see some new tunes sneak their way into the band’s set. Front man Zakk Wylde holds the audience captivated and the band is always a highlight to any festival billing, especially when they release giant black beach balls to toss around the crowd..definitely not something you see everyday!

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7. Despite hearing a few complaints from other critics regarding Guns N’ Roses performance which closed out Rock On The Range night one, I have to disagree, as I felt they did a pretty darn good job. While it did appear that a lot of the crowd had begun to exit the stadium, I blame that more on the dropping temperature than I do on the performance that was taking place on the stage. GNR’s set was chock full of hits, most of which appeared early on in the set as the second and third songs were “Welcome To The Jungle” and “Mr. Brownstone” and please give Axl Rose some credit for hitting the stage at 9:30pm on the dot. Seriously, he was not even a minute late! It also must be noted that Concert Hotels has just ranked Axl Rose as having the World’s Greatest Vocal Range!

One of the most beautiful moments of the set came when Axl took to the piano to play “November Rain” as shimmering sparks rained down around him. It was also great when he disappeared from the stage a few times to allow guitarists DJ Ashba and Bumblefoot and keyboardist Dizzy Reed their time to shine in the spotlight with solo’s as well.

Rock On The Range Day One Photo Gallery
All photos credit: Ken Schuler for PopCultureMadness.com

Check out our exclusive coverage of Rock On The Range Day Two and Day Three here!

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Carolina Rebellion Redeems Itself In 2014

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(PCM) For the first few years it seemed like Monster Energy’s Carolina Rebellion was plagued with problems, especially with last year’s Sunday rain-out/cancellation which created quite an uproar among attendees, however this year Mother Nature was in full cooperation and Carolina Rebellion finally got to shine!  The weather was the perfect, the bands were amazing, and the rock n’ roll spirit was alive and well!

In our three years of covering the festival held at the Charlotte Motor Speedway in Concord, NC , we have never seen so many people in attendance. We are told that attendance this year for the weekend was over 60,000 and festival organizers did a tremendous job of making sure that everything went off without a hitch.

Saturday, May 3rd, day one of Carolina Rebellion featured performances from Truckfighters (interview here), Trivium, Adelitas Way(interview here), Devour The Day, Black Stone Cherry (interview here), Black Label Society, Kyng(interview here), Killswitch Engage, Anthrax, Thousand Foot Krutch (interview here), Seether(interview here), Volbeat (interview here), Fozzy, Rob Zombie and Avenged Sevenfold.

Sunday, May 4th, day two of Carolina Rebellion featured performances from Gemini Syndrome (interview here), Nothing More(interview here), Hellyeah (interview here),Twelve Foot Ninja,Fuel (interview here), Theory Of A Deadman (interview here), Redlight King, Alter Bridge, A Day To Remember, Memphis May Fire,Staind, 311, Five Finger Death Punch and Kid Rock.

Stay tuned to PCM/Unskinnypop.com for our live on-site interviews with Seether, Fuel, Volbeat, Theory Of A Deadman and more coming soon!

What We Love Day One, Saturday, May 3rd:

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  • Despite being the very first band on-stage Truckfighters were just the alarm clock that everyone needed to wake-up and kick Carolina Rebellion off to an amazing start. The band, who hail from Sweden, are currently touring behind their latest album release “Universe” and if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet, I give it an incredibly high recommendation. Look for Truckfighters to continue to make a huge splash in the States throughout this summer. I can’t wait to see them again at Rock On The Range!

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  • I was ridiculously excited to see Adelita’s Way back on the summer festival circuit, as I feel like they had been missing for a year or so!  Once they took to the stage it was as if no time had passed at all. Vocalist, Rick DeJesus just oozes intensity and passion for music and without a doubt the band puts on one of the most wildly entertaining and engaging live performances. Be sure to check out the band’s new single “Dog on a Leash” and stayed tuned for a new album to be released later this summer…I can’t wait!

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  • Black Label Society are currently touring behind their recently released stellar new album “Catacombs of the Black Vatican” and tore up the stage during their performance at Carolina Rebellion. Front man Zakk Wylde and the rest of the band put together one of the loudest and most aggressive performances of the day. I was loving every moment from start to finish.

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  • Watching Kyng perform is always a breath of fresh air!  The band is just that good and it is truly time that people began to take notice, which I feel is finally happening. Throwing in a cover of “Hot For Teacher” was also a refreshing treat. Kyng are touring behind their new album “Burn The Serum” which was released in early April and are a band definitely worth checking out at the rest of the festivals that they will be appearing at throughout this summer.

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  • For me, seeing both Seether and Volbeat perform live never gets old. I was thrilled to hear a new song or two sneaking its’ way into Seether’s Carolina Rebellion set. Seether’s new album is one that I absolutely can’t wait to get my hands on when it is released later this summer. Volbeat threw me a few surprises with Trivium’s Corey Beaulieu and Matt Heafy joined them on stage to perform “Evelyn” and then guitarist Rob Caggiano’s former bandmates from Anthrax (Scott Ian, Frank Bello, and Charlie Benante) joined them for another song. The look of surprise on Caggiano’s face was adorable and it was a fantastic festival moment.

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  • I adore Rob Zombie, he and the rest of the band seemingly never run out of energy and charisma!  Their stage presence is intoxicating and Zombie’s incredible sense of humor shines throughout their performance. I need to learn to master some of his dance moves…they are fantastic!

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  • Avenged Sevenfold closed out Saturday night and did so with a literal bang. This is the band’s second appearance at Carolina Rebellion and this year they truly outdid themselves. Amid searing guitar riffs and copious amounts pyro, AX7 plowed through their catalog of hit songs including newer tracks “Shepherd of Fire” and “Hail To The King” alongside fan favorites such as “Nightmare”, “Fiction” and of course “Bat Country”.

What We Loved Day Two, Sunday, May 4th:

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  • Gemini Syndrome kicked off the show with an early set on the Jagermeister Stage! Again, they were the perfect band to wake-up the crowd who were just beginning to trudge their way into the festival. Gemini Syndrome are touring behind their amazing album “Lux” and their music is truly some of the most powerful and thought-provoking that I have heard in quite some time.

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  • Hellyeah was another band that truly got the crowd alive and moving. Never a band to disappoint live, Hellyeah delivered a set that was chock full of raw aggression and intensity and it was a true treat to watch them live. The band’s new album “Blood For Blood” captures much of the same intensity as watching them perform live, and it certainly worth checking out to show this amazing band some support.

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  • I had my doubts as to whether or not I was going to enjoy Fuel’s performance on Sunday afternoon, however the band did more than exceed my expectations. The band played several songs of their hit nineties album “Sunburn”, however new material of the band’s latest album “Puppet Strings” appeared to be going over with the crowd just as well!

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  • 311 may have been the odd band out on this year’s Carolina Rebellion line-up which features mostly hard rock and metal, but they certainly held their own and put on one of the festivals very best performances. I was immediately taken back to my carefree days of high school jamming out to songs such as “All Mixed Up” and Down”. The bands performance was high energy and the four member drum solo was absolutely incredible.

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  • Five Finger Death Punch never cease to amaze me!  The band has the ability to fill the listener with  unbridled aggression and yet also tap into a more emotional head space, at times nearly bringing people to tears. It is an all-around moving experience and one that is not easily forgotten. Five Finger Death Punch succeed on making their listeners feel the music and provide the concert attendee with a performance that showcases they band’s amazing showmanship.

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  • I was disappointed when I witnessed many people heading for the gates after Five Finger Death Punch’s performance, because they truly do not know what they were missing with a performance by Kid Rock. He is one of the most entertaining performers and along with his band, The Twisted Truckers, they always put on a memorable performance. Kid Rock flawlessly blends together rock, hip-hop, country, and soul creating one of the most diverse and genre-spanning performances on the bill. Shame on those that missed it, as Kid Rock brings a helluva good time where ever he is performing. It was the perfect way to close out an incredible weekend of rock!

 

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