Words & Photos by Maggie Friedman
The “City Of Ocala” was filled with thousands of fans, as A Day To Remember took the stage at a sold out hometown show on Saturday March 18th, joined by Wage War as support. Fans traveled from far and wide to witness ADTR receive the keys to the city, presented by the mayor himself, Kent Guinn. As they took the stage, they were greeted by the cheers of excitement from just over 7,000 people, along with tons of family and friends, who have supported them since the beginning. Lead Singer, Jeremy McKinnon, made a nod to the fact that their first show actually in Ocala was their 3rd ever as a band, and was right in the same place, Tuscawilla Park, at a VFW hall. Each band member received a key, customized with their name, and the flag for Ocala.
It was clear that the band was in awe of the situation, and each member was extremely thankful. The band has been awarded with putting Ocala on the map, especially in the punk/hardcore scene. McKinnon, in his speech, also pointed out how the Ocala police used to shut down their shows, and they were somewhere in the crowd that night, supporting them. After a heartfelt speech, the band left to prepare for the show of a lifetime. The anticipation was very evident in the room, and fans had been waiting for this since 2am at the earliest day of. It was about to begin. Wage War started the night out with a bang. From amazing vocals to a lively crowd, they proved that they were the next wave of representation for Ocala hardcore. They were a perfect precursor to A Day to Remember.
ADTR performed a spectacular 19-song set, with the perfect mix of new songs off their 2016 album “Bad Vibrations,” and hits such as “The Downfall of Us All” and “All Signs Point to Lauderdale.” Rightfully so, the band brought back the song “City of Ocala” which had been dormant for a while, to dedicate to their hometown. There was something special hearing the entire crowd chant, “This is where I came from” at a sold out show, literally where they grew up. There was even a point where two simultaneous mosh pits were happening on both sides of the crowd. Speaking to the fans there, it is clear that ADTR has had a huge impact on this scene. It was one of the greatest shows I have been able to witness myself, and I don’t know if I’ll experience anything like it ever again. I am honored to have been there to document such a monumental occasion. Ocala came alive with the voices of ADTR and their fans, and I’ll tell you, it meant a lot to all of us.