10 things we learned at Welcome To Rockville 2018

Ozzy Osbourne with arms outstretched
(Image credit: Ross Halfin)

Last weekend, Welcome To Rockville returned to Jacksonville, Florida, for a sweltering weekend of bands, beers and general heavy metal awesomeness. It was an awesome three days of fun in the sun packing a bill that includes headliners Ozzy Osbourne, Avenged Sevenfold and Foo Fighters, not to mention the likes of Parkway Drive, Baroness, Five Finger Death Punch, Power Trip and many more. Here are ten things we learned while we were out there.

Heavy Music Is Big News In Florida

We kinda suspected this may be the case, but heading to the home of Limp Bizkit (and yes, we did get to roll over the Mathews Bridge) is a hell of an eye-opener into just how big a deal metal is in one of the United States’ biggest cities. Thousands upon thousands of fans descended onto Jacksonville’s Metropolitan Park across the weekend, and you could barely move for black t-shirts emblazoned with metal logos, band tattoos and denim and leather (even in the mad heat) around the festival, and even in the city itself. Jacksonville is a metal town. No doubt about it.

Ozzy's Still Got It

If you’ve been umming and erring about catching The Prince Of Fucking Darkness live on this so-called ‘farewell’ tour, hear this: The Ozzman’s voice is in the finest fettle it’s been for years, with not so much as a single bum note to be heard across his hugely entertaining 90 minute set. Our only complaint? Zakk Wylde teasing us with segments from classic, rarely played tracks like Perry Mason, Desire and Miracle Man without giving us the whole thing. The cheek.

Avenged Sevenfold Are Troopers

It took only one song – lengthy opening number The Stage – before Avenged Sevenfold revealed that they almost had to pull their set because of M Shadows battling an illness that had royally screwed his voice, and that it might have been a little touch and go as the show went on. Thank goodness, then, that the guys were able to rally and put on a fine showing – that is, until the show had to be stopped for a while after someone was badly injured in the crowd. Luckily, the fan was able to be safely transported out of the arena, and Avenged were able to continue a solid set filled with huge songs and more than a few flickers of pyro. Phew.

Avenged Sevenfold performing live

(Image credit: Steve Thrasher)

Foo Fighters Are Kings Of The Weird Cameos

As if rolling out Rick Astley recently wasn’t enough, The Foos decided to bring some more unexpected mates out with them at Rockville. First up was punk rock legend Billy Idol, who arrived onstage for a surprising and very cool cover of John Lennon’s Gimme Some Truth. That’s a little out of the box, perhaps, but it’s nothing compared to having actual John Travolta come out onto the stage, before busting straight into a brief cover of Grease banger You’re The One That I Want. No, we’re not shitting you. Call Foo Fighters whatever you want, but never claim they’re predictable. 

Five Finger Death Punch Are Going To Headline Festivals

This isn’t hyperbole. It’s a fact. While their Rockville set is a bit of a mixed back – sound issues seem to throw Ivan off his game and it takes around half the set for him to properly hit his stride – the sheer number of Knuckleheads out in full force is bewildering to behold. Trust us on this: if it doesn’t happen in the UK imminently, Five Finger Death Punch will be headlining a US festival within the next five years.

Five Finger Death Punch performing live

(Image credit: Steve Thrasher)

Americans Really Love Godsmack

We can’t quite explain this one. Perhaps it’s simply because they’ve never made it to the UK regularly enough to have the same impact, but the crowd for Godsmack’s set on Friday is fucking massive. Like, tens upon tens upon tens of thousands of people massive. They are a big-ass deal out here, ladies and gentlemen, make no doubt about it.

Americans Really Should Love Trivium More

It seems like Trivium are finally making some much needed extra headway in the States. They draw a decent crowd at Rockville, and last year’s co-headline tour with Arch Enemy took them to their biggest venues yet across the pond (and with good reason – The Sin And The Sentence is a beast of an album). That said, it’s a little surreal to see the guys playing a seven-song set on the second stage halfway up the bill, barely a week after you’ve watched them level Brixton Academy in front of 5,000 people. Us Brits have always been proud to claim Trivium as our own, but seriously America, sort your shit out. 

Trivium performing live

(Image credit: Steve Thrasher)

Parkway Drive Don't Do Bad Shows

Honestly, feel free to test us on this. “We’ve come all the way from fucking Australia!” bellows Winston. “Now move!” And move the Florida faithful do. Parkway’s set is a bona fide highlight of the weekend, as one of the most reliably brilliant live bands in metal smash the second stage to bits with a devastating set. Here’s hoping they conquer America like they already have the UK and their homeland.

It's Time To Believe The Hype For Power Trip

On last month’s cover we labelled Power Trip the best thrash band of the 21st century, and it’s a statement we stand by. The Texans are pure, white hot fire and fury when they arrive onstage at Rockville, absolutely decimating everything in their site. It’s a relief to find that they look and sound as crushing on an open air festival stage as they do indoors, and given the rapturous response they receive in the US, it’s time to get ready for their inevitable ascension to the next level. We’re excited. You should be too.

Halestorm Have Officially Gone Big Time

They’ve always put on a great show, but for years it seemed like Halestorm were (perhaps unfairly) seen as ‘that decent rock ‘n’ roll band with the great singer’. No more. The four-piece have become of the finest rock bands in the game today, and own the Metropolitan stage with ease. They bring in one of Friday’s biggest crowds and look painfully at ease in front of such a large audience, and with a new album almost ready to drop, it looks like their career is only going in one direction. Oh, and to be fair, Lzzy’s voice is still fucking ridiculous. 

Halestorm performing live

(Image credit: Jazmin)

Keep an eye on the official Rockville website for info on next year’s event and read more about the festival in next month’s issue of Metal Hammer!

Merlin Alderslade
Executive Editor, Louder

Merlin moved into his role as Executive Editor of Louder in early 2022, following over ten years working at Metal Hammer. While there, he served as Online Editor and Deputy Editor, before being promoted to Editor in 2016. Before joining Metal Hammer, Merlin worked as Associate Editor at Terrorizer Magazine and has previously written for the likes of Classic Rock, Rock Sound, eFestivals and others. Across his career he has interviewed legends including Ozzy Osbourne, Lemmy, Metallica, Iron Maiden (including getting a trip on Ed Force One courtesy of Bruce Dickinson), Guns N' Roses, KISS, Slipknot, System Of A Down and Meat Loaf. He has also presented and produced the Metal Hammer Podcast, presented the Metal Hammer Radio Show and is probably responsible for 90% of all nu metal-related content making it onto the site.