LIVE REVIEW: WDHA ROCK THE ROCK FEST

FEATURING GODSMACK, THREE DAYS GRACE, BLACK VEIL BRIDES, WAGE WAR AND LILITH CZAR

As premier New Jersey rock station 105.5 WDHA program director Terrie Carr said, this show was three years in the making. Bumped around by pandemic restrictions, it finally came to life last Thursday. And with a total killer lineup with Godsmack as a headliner, and such bands as Three Days Grace, Black Veil Brides, Wage War and Lilith Czar preceding them. No, they were not support act. This was a legitimate five-piece mega show!

Written by Andris Jansons

Well, I never learn. New Jerseys biggest arena Prudential Center is just about twenty-minute drive for me, yet I always manage to be late. And so, I missed the chance to hear and photograph Lilith Czar performance. I can only kick my self as everyone I spoke were delighted by her show.

Photo by Andris Jansons

See Wage War full gallery here.

Next in line were American metalcore band Wage War from Ocala, Florida. While purely personally it seems to me that metalcore genre has gone a little stagnant lately, Wage War played most of their songs from their latest album which was released on October 1st last year, and it felt like a fresh air. Opening song Relapse has already gathered over one million views on Youtube, with following song Teeth approaching milestone. Both songs showed bands strength and poise delivering some premier metalcore sounds to the otherwise hard rock oriented crowd. Personally, my favorite new song from Wage War’s new album was eponymous hit single. Fresh with interesting twists both in music and singing, some new sounds and sick breakdown, it’s a proper banger. As a whole, Wage War’s set was excellent, and I can’t wait to see them again.

Photo by Andris Jansons

See full Black Veil Brides gallery here.

Next came all girl’s favorites Black Veil Brides. Though there was not much screaming this time, as when BVB are either headlining or coheadlining, as most likely Godsmack and Three Days Grace fans outnumbered everyone else this time around. And trust me, I have seen a high number of BVB live shows, I’ve seen the mayhem. While Andy Black (or Biersack, whatever is more preferable) might have not received as many “I Love You” screams as usually, their set was their usual fire. Opening with hard hitting Faithless following up with fresh one in Crimson Skies and stepping a few years back to Wake Up next. Another one from the latest album The Phantom Tomorrow called Scarlet Cross preceded the set’s closing three mega hits Knives and Pens, Fallen Angels and In The End. Energy and showmanship of BVB never disappoints, and while it hurts not seeing Ashley anymore Lonny Eagleton fills in the role nicely.

While Lilith Czar, Wage War and BVB each fill their own respective genre niche, you could say that Three Days Grace and Godsmack are more aligned in their sound. And while my music taste is as wide as this planet, and I’m all for variety, the next three hours represented the best and the loudest from the hard rock genre.

Photo by Andris Jansons

See full Three Days Grace gallery here.

Canadian rockers entered the stage after a perfect Irish-American hip-hop bands House Of Pain’s Jump Around intro. Echoing my previous paragraph about variety, I don’t think there was a single hardcore rock fan who was not jamming to this tune. Three Days Grace opened their set with So Called Life, a lead single from their upcoming album Explosions, set to be released in just a few days. From there it was a mix of nostalgy. The heavy hitters just kept on coming. Animal I Have Become was followed by Home and Pain. Painkiller, Never Too Late and I Hate Everything About You just added to a complete feeling of euphoria. The quality and energy of the bands performance was one of the kind. Matt Walst’s constant trips off the stage to the top of the speakers to be close to the fans just added to the connection the band established with the audience. And how do you prepare the fans for a Godsmack, TDG knows the best, you gotta play Riot.

Photo by Andris Jansons

See full Godsmack gallery here.

Godsmack’s intro was a bit of a surprise for me at least. On the giant white screen covering the stage, a short musical intro was displayed. It was none other than the legendary Beastie Boys Mike D remix of all the great Classic Rock songs including Queen’s We Will Rock You. And when the curtain fell and Godsmack emerged – they did rock you indeed. They opened with I Stand Alone. Standing right in front of the giant speaker and feeling the immense power of the blast going through your body, the only rational thought crossing my minds was – just bring it on. The heavy sound of guitars, blasting of drums and Sully Erna singing his heart out lit the place on fire. Well there was a literal fire show during the 1000hp, and you could feel the heat. It was Godsmack’s time to shine and they took full advantage of the spotlight. While I’m not sure if this was officially an sell out, I could see a single open space in the stands as everyone was off their feet. I’m not sure if there is any need for me to go over their setlist as all songs were familiar as they spanned through bands album timeline, though of course the most represented was Godsmack’s latest one from 2018 called When Legends Rise.

This was one hell of a show, and let’s hope WDHA will make more of these.

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