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  • Writer's pictureCharles I. Guarria

Welcome to Rockville: The Good The Bad For Better For Worse

Updated: May 30, 2023

Welcome to Rockville is a four-day rock n roll festival-extravaganza that takes place on the infield of the Daytona International Speedway in Daytona Beach, Florida. Its third year at the speedway kicked off on May 18 and ran, or should I say rocked, until May 21. Well, those were kind of the dates; campers got a little bit more.


Do read on.


The infield of the speedway is transformed into a rock paradise outfitted with four stages, tons of food, beverages, amusement rides, merch and other merriment to keep you coming back for more each and every day. If you are a camper, that sentence will read, each and every day and a half, as campers received a special evening of live performances on May 17, the night before gates were opened for all, headlined by Hatebreed.


One of the odd things I found is that when you pass through the tunnel (tunnel 4 ), no one is there on the other side, offering directions as to where the festival grounds entrance gate is located.


A lot of people just kind of meander around following each other, passing campers, eventually going in one direction that does, in fact, take you to the gate entrance where you swipe in and hit the festival grounds. By the time you get there, you feel as if you have walked forever.

From that point onward, there actually are people who work or volunteer for the event. They are eager to help but don't always know the answer or, innocently, I am sure, misdirect you.


Some Of The Cool Sights On The Festival Grounds

A woman on stilts selling shots on the festival grounds of Welcome to Rockville

I also saw an elderly gentleman wearing an Openly Gray t-shirt. :)

About The Food And Drink

Plenty of mixed drink choices. Did you have a fav, mention it in the comments

Some of it was less than decent. Some of it was spot-on edible.

- The vegan choices are not healthy as each one is loaded with carbs.

- The strawberry/banana smoothie was chalky.

- I ordered a serving of teriyaki chicken. The chicken itself was good. The vegetables and noodles were intolerable. I did not finish it.

- The shrimp with fried noodles was outstanding.

- I did not see a single vendor offering truly healthy food.

- My adult beverage of choice is wine. It was good and available in more places than last year.





Miscellany

- Dan Wimmer Presents, the promoter of Welcome to Rockville, does a fantastic job with syncing your charge/debit card to your wristband. The event is cashless, and the single-swipe payment system they use is a breeze. Some machines had power issues that were quickly resolved.

-Not sure they hit the 170K in attendance the promoter expected. I went on day one and day three, the crowd seemed a little light.

-The crowd was mostly in the 20-30-year-old range. That is an indication rock isn't dead as so many; that means you Gene Simmons, like to say it is.

- The bathrooms are porta-potties, and you know how that can get. If you don't, consider yourself lucky. I can't speak to their cleanliness because...

- I was in VIP both days. Those bathrooms are clean and air-conditioned. Between the bathrooms and the quick food/drink service VIP is worth the money.

- The vendors are super friendly, the crowd as well. I meet so many great people from places near, such as Tampa, sorta near/far like Texas, and far, as in London.

-Amongst the great people I met was a group of family and friends, the son of which is in a Miami- based rock outfit called Don't Panic! who will be playing Orlando soon. Def check them out.

- It was great to see first aid and free water available everywhere.

- The lighting when leaving the speedway could be better. It was a little too dark.

About The Music

- Alice Cooper, Black Stone Cherry, Jason Bonham's Led Zeppelin Experience and Rival Sons are the acts I saw. Each one left it all on the stage.

- The lead guitarist for Bonham's band, Jimmy Sakurai, did a little Chuck Berry move that was cool. They didn't play Stairway to Heaven thought it was a good setlist. Either The Wanton Song or Misty Mountain Hop could have been dropped in favor of Stairway to Heaven. That would have made the good setlist great.

- Alice Cooper, what can I say that hasn't already been said about this legend? He has been doing performance art before anyone knew the term. His band's sound was heavier than what I had heard before. I liked that. How does he sing with a snake wrapped around him? Incredible!

- Slipknot was given rave reviews across social media.

- I did not hear a single complaint about any of the performances.

- Trivium didn't play and Avatar had their setlist cut short because of bad weather during the early evening of day one.

- Alter Bridge had to cancel their show. Here is their social media post explaining why: "Due to the recent onset of a respiratory infection that is limiting the vocal abilities of Myles Kennedy, ALTER BRIDGE regretfully have to cancel their performance at Welcome To Rockville today. We were all really looking forward to playing for you, but there is no way that we can give you the show that you all deserve in his current condition. We thank everyone for their understanding and can't wait to perform for you in the future."


Quotable Fans

Jason Stutts, a camper from South Carolina, on the special Wednesday evening performance, "It was a good time." Regarding Daytona Beach, he said he'd love to come back and visit.

A fan from Connecticut, Eric Katz, has been to Rockville three times. He goes because "the music's good, community is great, it's just fun." He also mentioned the good weather.

Jesse Kautz, his wife/girlfriend, and teen daughter are from South Florida. They are three-time Welcome to Rockville concertgoers and have been to many other rock festivals. He said coming to Rockville is "Always up there; this is one of our top ones to go to. I would give it a 10. I mean, overall, it is a great experience out here. "


Summary

I am not a festival goer by nature. My preference is smaller venues where I can get in, toss a few back, kibbitz with the crowd, enjoy the talent on stage, and get home quickly. I do think it is phenomenal to have Welcome to Rockville approximately 15 minutes from where I live and will continue to attend it.


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See ya soon!


Cover photo: Nathan Zucker ~30~


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