Having the opportunity to represent The Skeptics’ Review online music site at this year’s River City Rockfest in San Antonio proved to be successful on all cylinders. I have been asked to share my experience on the day-long festival. It should be known that performances were held on four different stages and at times simultaneously so unfortunately, not every band would be mentioned.
Beginning at noon to kick off the festivities was Swedish metal band, Avatar fronted by the eccentric Johannes Eckerstrom taking on the persona of a dark circus clown. Dressed in familiar attire recognizable in the music video “The Eagle Has Landed” the band successfully woke the crowd up and delivered a full performance. From the audience to the band, all felt Avatar’s set to be a bit short due to time constraints. Nevertheless, the band engraved their music into the hearts of many in attendance, myself included. Later in the evening as I returned to my hotel room, I searched for Avatar online and learned that another familiar performance from the festival knows them a bit more than expected. More to follow.
Between meeting vendors and indulging in some of San Antonio’s award winning food services I found myself at the Fan Duel Stage with a familiar and local favorite. Already becoming synonymous with the festival itself, Lynnwood King showcased not one but two performances. The first featuring The Revival (which I had the opportunity to meet a few of the band members) and the second with The Heroine. With a name like Lynnwood Presley King one can assume he was destined for music greatness. Indeed he was. This will make it the second time I get the chance to watch his performance and let me be the first to say, he makes heads turn, and attracts many. His passion for music is felt and vividly seen in his on stage presence. Covering famous rock songs of legends, to his Christian uplifting songs, and of course a few of his own rock music as well, Lynnwood offers something to everyone and with an assortment of talented musicians by his side it’s no wonder why he’s remained on the bill for the River City Rockfest these few years.
At around 3 pm the band Sixx: A.M. took to the main stage. Created by Nikki Sixx and mostly based on the life and struggles of the famed musician, the crowd was feeling the music in more ways than one. Its positive message in song through hard rock gave inspiration to the new listener and strength to the faithful. Amazing how far Nikki has come along in his career and life to become so accomplished despite his scares along the way. For, “Life is Beautiful” a hit that tackled on the issue of drug addiction and overcoming it, the band welcomed Disturbed’s Mike Wengren to the drummer’s throne.
Between stage changes I found myself at a circus sideshow. Something straight out of a creepy movie of years ago I encountered sword swallowing, a fire breathing burlesque dancer, and a half man. Yes, a half man. Hosted by Bryce Graves who goes by, The Govna I must admit, I thought I was looking at Dr Caligari from the 1920’s himself! The half man who goes by Short E. Dangerously proved to be an amazing talent. Too many questions to ask, instead the crowd just soaked it all in. Then there came Sally Marvel, and what a marvel indeed. Her skill resume is chalked with many traits most of us wouldn’t dare to think of. Stunts which include sword swallowing (crawling around with a sword down her throat), fire breathing, laying on a bed of nails. To ease the knots in our stomachs there was the comedy of Hermee. Quite hilarious what he can do with balloons, (just use your imagination on this one). As previously mentioned the band Avatar had a connection with another performer of the show, and yes, it is with Hellzapoppin Circus Sideshow. The Govna is seen performing oddities on himself and then with a female broken glass walker on the music video, “Black Waltz”.
As the afternoon pressed, I found myself almost near front of the main stage for Bullet for my Valentine. It wasn’t long before I ended up off to the side due to the insanity of the mosh pits. Especially when lead singer, Mathew Tuck says, “open up the pit” you either join or move aside. Learning from the greats, BFMV has proven why they are a heavy metal favorite here in the United States.
Megadeth, what can be said about the intensity this band has performed throughout the decades? A crazy moment for me was standing by the dividing fence between the tour buses and fans when Dave Mustaine approached the fans. He couldn’t linger since his band was fixing to take the stage but it was an honor to say the least. The performance was as if they were playing for the very first time. The foundations of heavy metal that Megadeth has contributed has remained the same. Any new generation of musician standing out in the crowd has much to absorb in this band if choose to ever pick up an instrument. I proudly raise my horns to this band.
P.O.D. took over the AA Best Bail Bonds stage and I heard they did an incredible job. Playing some recognizable tracks everyone remembers and some of the latest music on their repertoire. This Grammy nominated group has remained true to their influences and made new fans along the way. Some of the favorites are the classics, “Youth of the Nation” and “Alive”.
For 50 years, the Scorpions have compiled hits and fans like nothing one can imagine. I was a child when I first discovered “Rock You Like a Hurricane”. After that, I learned the deep tracks, memorized lots of their material, so to be able to finally sing back to them their songs, with them was a dream come true. Standing close to center stage I caught photographs of Rudolf Schenker hammering away on his prized Gibson Flying V guitars. From a Mercedes Benz themed guitar, to a Ferrari Flying V, his performance was perfection. Klaus Meine, vocalist of the stars! Truly an honor watching him sing the classics of Scorpions all while unloading dozens upon dozens of drumsticks to fans. He truly aimed to please the crowd, and he did. Watching Scorpions play at River City Rockfest before having to return to Europe was like watching them perform for the very first time, flawless.
Between the final set changes, once again on the AA Best Bail Bonds stage was the great Sevendust. I asked around to see what they thought of the performance and I heard all great reviews. I have caught Sevendust at a previous show and they are powerful and energetic in their shows. When it comes to musicianship, drummer Morgan Rose has his own chapter in rock star drumming. His style cannot be compared to anyone else and yet many try. I have been a fan for years and have watch them evolve as a true metal rock band. It was amazing to know their track Thank You was nominated for a 2016 Grammy Award.
Lastly, the band many have waited years to see reunite. Rumors of a permanent breakup were finally put to rest mid to late 2015 when Disturbed re-awakened to release Immortalized. Not only did the band invigorate itself, it cast away the doubters. Beginning of the set was a video montage of Disturbed throughout the years. The video includes scenes of loyal Disturbed Ones, moshing, singing, wearing their rock armor and some, their Disturbed tattoos. As the band made their way to the stage it was no mistake, the hiatus gave them a sense of rebirth. Changing the usual set list of former tours, Disturbed played more of their deeper tracks such as Voices, The Game from The Sickness album. They took on latest release, The Vengeful One and the very meteoric rise that was The Sound of Silence. The crowd to the left of me, and to the right knew and sang every single song. There were few who refused to let their horns down. Disturbed has remained loyal to its fan base, as its fan base has remained loyal to them all these years.
The day-long festival, River City Rockfest continues to grow in popularity and in entertainment bringing in some of the best talents around the world and locally to San Antonio. The experience, the people, food, entertainment is nostalgic beyond recognition. I have had an amazing time hanging out with the people of San Antonio, Texas and listening to some of the greatest music it offered. My greatest gratitude also to the sponsors of the show, Bud Light, AA Best Bail Bonds, FanDuel and much more. Finally, I personally would like to thank Ratsel & The Scientist from The Skeptics Review for giving me the opportunity to be their eyes and ears for this day as they continue to grow on their music blog site.
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