The 2023 edition of Welcome to Rockville took place over four days from Thursday, May 18th to Sunday, May 21st in Daytona Beach, Florida. He led the massive rock festival Tool, Pantera, Slipknot, and Avenged Sevenfold, while also showcasing dozens of notable acts.
The festival concluded on Sunday with Tool’s first show of the year. The performance was particularly notable in that singer Maynard James Keenan donned a drag outfit just days after Gov. Ron DeSantis signed a new anti-drag bill into law. As for the music, the band played a short 10-song set that included classics like “Forty Six & 2” and “Stinkfist” along with newer tracks like “Fear Inoculum” and “Invincible”.
Elsewhere on Sunday, Incubus paused their set for a moment to help a distressed fan. The band played with a new bassist, Nicole Rowe, to accommodate Ben Kenny after he had surgery for a brain tumour. Other highlights included groups from Deftones, The Mars Volta, Coheed, Cambria, and more. Earlier in the day, the politically oriented Anti-Flag Bankers used their performance to lash out against DeSantis’ anti-LGBT policies in Florida.
Saturday proved to be the heaviest of the four, with a reunited and revamped Pantera topping the bill. Following a video tribute to the late Dimepage brothers Darrell and Vinnie Paul, a group of classic members Philip Anselmo and Rex Brown along with guitarist Zakk Wilde and drummer Charlie Benanti mixed a 14-track mix that included favorites like “A New Level” and War’s “Mouth.” and “Walk” and “Cowboys from Hell”.
Ahead of the Pantera set, Godsmack shook the crowd with songs like “Awake,” “Whatever,” and “I Stand Alone,” while Alice Cooper seemed full of energy with guitarist Nita Strauss in his band, delivering classic hits like “I’m Eighteen” and ” Out of school “. Unfortunately, Alter Bridge had to cancel because singer Miles Kennedy was suffering from respiratory problems that affected his voice. It ended up giving Sepultura a huge crowd, as fans flocked to watch the veterans’ lineup set at the same time as Alter Bridge. Saturday also featured Walls of Death during the sets of Kreator and Suicide Silence, and a massive circuit pit as Knocked Loose brought the hardcore to Rockville.
On Friday, Sevenfold got its revenge in a headline, looking a little rusty five years down the road. While the band performed a “surprise” show last week in Las Vegas, their Rockville welcome party marked their first proper concert since 2018. Singer M. admitted that the band performed three songs from their upcoming album, Life is but a dreamas well as hits like “Nightmare,” “Bat Country,” and “Hail to the King.”
Earlier in the evening, country singer Hardy gave his first rock show at Welcome to Rockville, covering Stone Temple Pilots’ Big Empty and welcoming A Day to Remember’s Jeremy McKinnon onstage at “Radio Song.” Evanescence brought out favorites like “Going Under,” “Call Me When You’re Sober,” and “Bring Me to Life” for their 14-song performance. And just before the set of I Prevail, a couple in the crowd exchanged wedding vows. Friday also saw the Metallica sons playing in the bands OTTTO (Tye Trujillo) and Bastardane (Castor Hetfield).
Slipknot had the honor of being the festival’s first headliner on Thursday, emerging from grief and play after curfew to accommodate an earlier weather delay. The masked 15-song compilation is bookmarked by openers “Disasterpiece” and “Surfacing”.
Rob Zombie whipped the crowd into a frenzy even as he had some troubles with his mural wallpaper, while storms in the area forced Trivium Collection cancellations and an abrupt end to Avatar costumes. Also on Thursday, Indian metal band Bloodywood played a high-energy set while also speaking their mind on a number of topics, including “raising” in the press. Meanwhile, Maynard James Keenan made his debut at this year’s Rockville Festival with Puscifer, this time dressed as his agent along with the band’s latest album, existential account.
Overall, the Welcome to Rockville Festival was a success, with only one weather delay in the always unpredictable Florida. A number of the same bands will be back again, along with a host of other acts, this coming weekend at the Sonic Temple Festival in Columbus, Ohio (tickets available here).
View our comprehensive gallery of photos from the 2023 Welcome to Rockville Festival below.
Photo Gallery – Welcome to Rockville 2023 (click to expand and scroll through):