Words & Photos by Amber James
One of the first bands to play on the Budweiser main stage was punk old hats Anti Flag. However, despite their longevity in the scene, they possess just as much energy as any other band playing. From the first chords of ‘Turncoat’, off of 2011’s full-length Complete Control Sessions, the mosh pit started up and never stopped. With a giant upside down American flag hanging as a banner, bassist Chris #2 kept getting air like the punk rock version of Michael Jordan. Ever more important with the state of United States politics currently, Anti Flag, by far, boasted one of the most political sets of the day.
August Burns Red
If Anti Flag was one of the most energetic bands to start off the final morning of the festival, then August Burns Red was one of the most intense. Front man Jake Luhrs constantly delivers as one of the fiercest and powerful vocalists in the metal scene. From his power stances to his precise control of his mic swinging techniques, Luhrs performed like he’d been doing it his whole life. Rockfest was included as a date on the band’s ten year tour to celebrate the release of their quintessential full length, Messengers. As a result, the first five songs of their set consisted of the first five songs off of the album. They followed up the second half of their set with a variety of songs off of Found in Far Away Places, Leveler and closing it out with a track from Constellations, ‘White Washed’.
Growing up, POD was one of the soundtracks of my childhood so seeing them now over ten years later was a privilege. Not only that, but for the band to still have the lineup from back then made the experience even better. Playing such classics as ‘Boom’ and ‘Youth of the Nation’, watching this set was a treat for fans. Not to mention it wasn’t long before front man Sonny Sandoval had leaped off stage and climbed into the crowd. Standing on the barricade, supported by security, Sandoval got right in fans’ faces and allowed them to sing right back.
Now it was time for the ultimate throwback of the entire weekend, Good Charlotte was one of the first ‘alternative’ bands I started listening to growing up in ninth grade. Their set was full of throwbacks, starting off with what else but ‘The Anthem’. From there on out, it was like we were back in 2007 as the entire set was comprised of old songs such as ‘Girls and Boys’, ‘The Young and the Hopeless’ and ‘Lifestyles of the Rich and the Famous’. Even front man Joel Madden addressed the fact that it was like a throwback to yesteryear, saying it was like everyone had grown up together and we were attending a high school reunion.
Another one of the stand out sets for the weekend was hardcore band out of Boston, Converge. It had been years since I’d had the opportunity to see Converge live and they were another band where this was my first chance to get to shoot them as well. If ever a band was a master of controlled chaos and intensity on stage throughout their set, it’s Converge. Every movement from front man, Jacob Bannon, seemed disciplined and executed to the perfect extent. To those unfamiliar with their music, it may seem aggressive and disjointed but in reality it’s really all just managed madness and a work of art.
At The Drive In
Already it was time for one of the four headliners of the weekend, Queen of the Stone Age. Their live set was quite different from that of Rammstein the previous night. Where Rammstein capitalized on theatrics and immense production, QOTSA had a very minimal and straight forward performance. Their set started off with one of their most well known hits, ‘Feel Good Hit of the Summer’, off of their 1999 release, R, followed up with ‘No One Knows’ off of Songs For the Deaf. QOTSA was a band that wasn’t there to put on a flashy show but simply just to share their music with us.
Queens of the Stone Age