FESTIVAL REVIEW: ROCK ‘N DERBY 2016 – Day 2 (Saturday)
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
After another night of almost no sleep, Day Two of Rock’n Derby broke bright and early on Saturday, May 21st. Everyone in the camping neighborhood was already worn out from the massive party that was Day One. Luckily, we found the one and only actual food truck on premises, Mike’s Hot Dogs, which was cranking out amazingly yummy breakfast sandwiches. I sincerely hope Mike’s is in attendance next year. Once again, it was a total blast hanging out with our neighbors until the festival started back up. The first band didn’t play until almost 2pm, so we had several hours to kill until then. So, we spent it jamming, drinking, smoking, playing football and Frisbee and misplacing a shopping cart. Good times.
Due to our press obligations on this day, we ended up going straight to the Press Barn upon entering the festival. The Press Barn was still in its initial location at this point and, luckily, the artists we spoke to didn’t seem to mind the barn atmosphere. While we were waiting for the press ops to take place, we got to hear Moriah Formica, a local girl from Albany, New York. We didn’t hear much of her set, but we did hear a dynamite version of Heart’s “Barracuda”. While her timing was slightly off on her cover of Evanescence’s “Bring Me To Life”, she still gave a strong performance. Looking forward to hearing more from her.
After fulfilling previously mentioned press obligations, we were able to catch All That Remains on the Rock’n Stage. They had a good showing of fans who were quite active during songs like “What If I Was Nothing” and “This Calling”. We only caught a small bit of this set as well, as we meandered across the event grounds to the demolition derby. It was important that we see at least some of the derby since the festival was partially named after it. As it had rained in the area for several days before the event, the derby field was mostly mud. So, when the derby cars started crashing into each other, the mud started flying and much of it ended up in the stands. This aspect was almost as entertaining as the actual cars getting smashed up. Avoiding giant mud pies became a game.
Because of hunger setting in, and to remove ourselves from the mud pit, we set out on a quest for food. We decided on Hebros Kitchen, who had the best smelling food in the entire festival. We had lamb gyros and rosemary chicken mac & cheese that was surprisingly scrumptious for a festival atmosphere. Very eclectic and quite tasty.
Once the comestibles were consumed, we headed over to the Derby Stage to see Hollywood Undead. We were interested to see their set just too basically see what they were about. We were familiar with their music but with a label like rap metal, a live performance would reveal a lot. Hollywood Undead was impressive. They were tight, professional and they sounded great. They also had a good crowd gathered which added to the overall good feel of their set. ”Been to Hell”, one of their staple tracks, was flawless. The guys were in-time and connected with the music and the fans. We were really glad to have caught these guys and will be following their future endeavors.
Walking back to the mid-point of the festival grounds, we were pleased to come upon Sebastian Bach at the Rock’n Stage. Bach is the quintessential frontman with the long, flowing hair and the shrieking voice for which he is known. Commanding the stage like a captain, Bach belted out Skid Row classics “Slave to the Grind”, “18 and Life”, “Monkey Business”, and closing out with “I Remember You” and “Youth Gone Wild”. Bach proved to be professional as well. His voice was piercing and strong and he, at least, appeared to be enjoying himself. The fan reaction was great. I think Sebastian Bach will always have fans regardless of his occasional diva-ness.
Thinking of heading back to the neighborhood, we started the trek that way when we happened upon some professional wrestling going down in one of the 4-H buildings. The wrestlers were all from a local federation and seemed fairly well-trained. The crowd was pretty lethargic until my press companion, Rusty (Grandpa, and also a former wrestling referee) got the heckling started calling the heels “Jobbers” (they hate that). But, it got those in attendance a little more into the matches and gave us all some amusement. During a “falls count anywhere” bout, the match spilled outside during Extreme’s set.Many of the crowd followed and we had a veritable summer slam in the grass outside under the stars.
While Rusty spent some more time with the wrestlers, I elected to stay for Extreme. I loved these guys in the 90’s and, before this event, had no idea that Gary Cherone and Nuno Bettencourt were back and actively playing with the band. Again, a pleasant surprise in that they jammed. Nuno killed it on guitar, Gary’s vocals were clear and crisp. I took a trip in the way-back machine during “Kid Ego” and “Get the Funk Out”, and then again during “Hole-Hearted”. The whole scenario was almost magical.
Next in line on the Rock’n Stage was New York’s own, Anthrax, hailing from Queens, New York City. Rolling through classics like “Got the Time”, “Caught in a Mosh” and “Antisocial”, Anthrax delivered a hell of a show. Joey Belladonna was in top form, very active on stage and full of energy. Scott Ian, Frankie Bello and Charlie Benante were enjoying their onstage antics and Jonathan Donais seems to be acclimating well to the band. Finishing their set with “Fight ‘Em‘Til You Can’t” and “Indians” was a treat for the fans who appeared to be forming a sea of flying hair and bumping fists. So, being old, my companion and I decided to go back to the neighborhood rather than sleep back across the fairgrounds to see the last half of A Day to Remember. Sorry, guys. Well get you next time.
Day Two shout out goes to Esperanto of Saratoga Springs, NY, one of the food vendor’s onsite. Around 1am after all the food vendors had shut down for the night (when the festival advertised 24-hour food options), Esperanto had some of their signature items left over and sold them to us for pennies on the dollar. We got chicken doughboys and beef chimichangas, a good $50+ worth of food for $13 which made a bunch of drunk neighbors very happy.
Have I mentioned yet that this festival had the most amazing sound system? Each of the two outdoor stages had banks of cabinets suspended from scaffolding on both sides. The sound was dynamic and rich and sounded great from all angles. As with Day One, all performances and sets, including the wrestlers, were stellar from a fan’s perspective. Every band was prepared and had it together. The only drawback I can speak of is the lack of food and drink options after midnight. Campers were restricted from bringing in things like grills and coolers, so those of us who followed those restrictions were kind of hungry and thirsty late at night. Something to keep in mind for next year.
Stay tuned for our Day Three coverage! Also check out our Photo Gallery of the show here.