Rock Allegiance Festival – BB&T Pavilion, Camden NJ

Once again it was time to convene the holy church of rock and metal that is the Rock Allegiance Festival. We have gone to ¾ of these fests, the North East’s biggest heavy music event every year. This years lineup was good, but perhaps not as stacked since the fest became a one-day affair in 2017. Still, even with the loss of Avenged Sevenfold (they canceled their entire tour due to illness), the fest was heavy on young talent, solid mid-level bands and big draws like Limp Bizkit, Papa Roach, GWAR, Insane Clown Posse, Fozzy and more. As we mentioned the early day was just packed with great young bands, maybe more than any fest Ghost Cult attended worldwide in 2018. From Blacktop Mojo’s soulful grungy metal, Badflower, Stone Broken, Bad Omens, Sylar and Knocked Loose bringing the hardcore, and even local Philly area openers Siravo are worth investigating. These bands are the bright future of music we have to look forward to.

We split the team into two so we could interview a slew of bands (check out our YouTube channel) and also see the show and take in the fest. BB&T Pavillion is a fun venue on the water with a real Naval battleship to hang out on for the VIP’s. Cool to see bands framed against the Schuylkill River, overlooking the beautiful Philadelphia skyline.

Besides seeing some of the early bands mix it up, there were impressive amounts of fans for Fozzy (in a rare American fest appearance), From Ashes To New, ICP, and the mighty GWAR who brought their “A game” and their full show to the Pavillion stage. They pulled no punches, murdered people, bled and came on fans (not really) and upstaged every other band. GWAR seemed to be playing to a brand new audience this day, which is always rad to see. ICP predictably had a ton if heads in the house, many who seemed to be there just for them. They were never my thing personally, but you have to respect what they have put down. Whoop whoop, indeed.

Expected high energy sets from Fever 333, Beartooth, Motionless In White made up that solid middle of the bill we spoke of. Bullet For My Valentine has taken a lot of flack over their new album Gravity being too far out of the box for fans. Still, they rule live and those in attendance today got the full the BFMV experience in person, and a great one at that.

Skillet is one of the hardest working bands in the world and when I ever I see them live I feel like they ought to be headlining these festivals. They have a deep catalog and frontman John Cooper is amazing!

Papa Roach had the fans amped as the crowd filled in the amphitheater for the last few bands of the day. They put on an excellent show, played some new jams, and had an amazing g light show. It was sick to hear fans sing and rap along to the band that is creeping up on 20 years I the scene. Of course, they closed with ‘Last Resort’ and of course people went apeshit.

Limp Bizkit put on their customary big show. Coming on with a tribute to Prince, complete with all purple lights and “Purple Rain” played over the speakers. Opening with ‘Full Nelson’, complete with a several minute elongated opening, so Fred Durst could pump up the crowd. And the crowd didn’t flag, they loved it, which shows the power of the band, even after all this time. Next was their short cover of Ministry classic ‘Thieves’, and this set the stage for many covers and medley breaks in the set. For the third song ‘Hot Dog’, Durst ran into the crowd and to the barricade between the pit and the seats and sang with the crowd. This was mere feet from me and it was pretty awesome how Fred touched ever hand he could, shared the microphone and seemed to make a personal connection to everyone near him. People can hate all they want, but he was awesome on this night.

The band rolled (pun intended) though some of their legit hits like ‘Rollin’. ‘Nookie’, followed by more covers like ‘Cowboys From Hell’ and ‘Creeping Death’ followed by more originals like ‘Take A look’ around’. With songs like these, the crowd was pretty hyped.

After a fast run through of their ‘Faith’ cover, the infamous “dropkick that wasn’t” happened where ICP’s Shaggy 2 Dope tried to attack Durst. It was pretty weak and dumb, although I can see why people thought it a PR stunt with all the beef between the two groups over time.

Still, LB pressed on and finished the set with even more covers like ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’, and ‘Killing In The Name Of’, and before closing with ‘Break Stuff’ and ‘Take A Look Around’. It was a pretty fitting end to a fun day. See you next year Rock Allegiance!

WORDS BY KEITH CHACHKES

PHOTOS BY OMAR CORDY & PAUL COGHLAN

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