FESTIVAL REVIEW: ROCK ‘N DERBY 2016 – Day 3 (Sunday)
Dawn 'Mama Love' Brown
What eventually proved to be the most epic day of the entirety of this festival was this day, Day Three, Sunday, May 22nd, 2016. We made the repeat trudge to Mike’s Hot Dogs early for more breakfast sandwiches. Those things were good. This day’s festivities also started around 2:00 pm. So, we had to find some other things to do. Sunday’s pre-concert activities were quite similar to Saturday’s. We had press obligations as well, so we set out on the way to the Press Barn, which had changed locations. After confirming our scheduled time, some of us went to the grounds of the festival and to the Newport display. For anyone that is not aware, Newport is an American cigarette brand. They had a travelling display unit which was about the size of a 2-story bus with an open deck on top. Anyone who was a regular smoker 18 or older could go in, see the display, walk through a mini-museum, test out some virtual reality goggles and, upon exit, buy a pack of Newports for $1. You can’t beat that. Dollar smokes. At that point, I wished I had known about this sooner. I would have visited the display all three days we were there. While going through the van, Midnight Mob was playing on the Derby Stage, a metal/punk inspired quartet out of New York City. They officially got a vote of “pretty good” having no prior knowledge of them or their music.
Upon exiting the Newport van, we ran back to the Press Barn, which had changed locations for a third time. Once we reached that location, we were informed that our scheduled time had been cancelled by the band which was quite disappointing. We found out later that, through some colossal miscommunication, both the band and we were each told the other had cancelled. Being the consummate professionals we are, Rusty and I took it in stride and decided to just enjoy the rest of the day. Since it was close to 3:00 p.m. by this time, we decided to go back and check out the pro wrestling that was again occurring in the 4H building. The crowd was animated and had the spirit but only a few of the wrestlers were into the fan interaction this time. It’s too bad when the local boys get big heads and won’t interact with the fans. It’s not like they are WWE superstars. Interaction aside, we enjoyed some creative matches with high-flying action.
During the wrestling portion of our show, it was hard not to notice Dokken on the Rock’n Stage. Having never been exactly a fan of Dokken, it was hard to keep an open mind. One thing is for sure, fandom of this band did not start this day. Don Dokken seemed to just go through the motions, his voice sounded similar to that of years past but it appeared as though his effort was lacklustre. Luckily, our attention was turned mostly towards the wrestling. This scenario remained the same for the duration of the wrestling matches which also coincided with the set performed by Collective Soul. They’re not quite a metal band, but it was cool to wax nostalgic during songs like “Shine” and “The World I Know”.
Once the wrestling rucus was over, we made our way over to the Derby stage to catch Ghost, passing more attractions as we went. Prism Glass was on-site blowing glass figures and other items. It’s quite mesmerizing to watch. There were also several clothing kiosks selling everything from t-shirts to masks, jewellery to jerky and other assorted foodstuffs like pickled eggs and cannabis lollipops.
Upon arrival at the Derby Stage, the wind started kicking up and the sky threatened rain. Just in time for Ghost to take the stage. The wind almost took the tent over the staging area on the side of the stage which was a tense situation. A light rain started to fall just as Ghost’s intro music started playing which amounted to mostly organs and made many of us feel like we were in a Catholic mass. Finally, Papa Emeritis and his minions took the stage for a surprisingly technical 6-song set. Opening with “From the Pinnacle to the Pit” and moving into “Prime Mover” and “Cirice”, the band was subdued, active but in a sedate way. They enjoyed a good fan reaction from “Absolution”, one of their more commercially successful tracks. The band is kind of hard to read since they all conceal their identities, all but the frontman donning full-face masks. Closing with “Mummy Dust” and “Monstrance Clock”, Ghost performed masterfully. Their set was classically haunting and positively ardent. The fact that, for the entire day, the only time it rained was during their set only added to their overall mystique. It seemed completely appropriate.
After enjoying Ghost and shooting tons of great photos, we decided to go back to good old Mike’s Hot Dogs for burgers and quesadillas which were outstanding. Making our way back to Mike’s, we heard some of Sixx A.M. singing “Life Is Beautiful”. I recognized the song and they sounded pretty good, but unfortunately, we were more focused on our hungry tummies. While we waited for our delicacies from Mike’s, we were treated to Born of Osiris on the Arena Stage. Their sound was a little off but that was just because they were inside of another barn. A very spacious barn, it was, but you had to be at a certain angle within the barn to really get the best acoustic effect from the walls. With that aside, Born of Osiris pounded out a brutal set, as they always do. We’ve seen these guys at least four times now and they kill it every time. Dinner and Born of Osiris is a winning combination.
Feeling good after eating and headbanging to BOO, we made our way back to the Rock’n Stage in anticipation of thrash Godfathers, Megadeth. It was a dream come true for me to be in the photo pit for Megadeth, having been a fan since shortly after their inception in the late 1980s. The crowd was electric, waiting to see their favorite band despite knowing that former drummer, Nick Menza, had passed away earlier that morning.
The electricity in the crowd came to a head when Megadeth hit the stage. Opening with “Hanger 18”, Mustaine ripped it up with his typical blistering guitar work, accentuated by the inimitable Kiko Laureiro, also on guitar, Dave Ellefson on bass, and newly acquired touring drummer, Dirk Verbeuren (Soilwork) on the skins. Following in succession with “The Threat is Real” and “Sweating Bullets”, Megadeth tore up the stage with a massive light show and large banks of LED displays showing all sorts of interesting imagery.
Next was an experience every fan in attendance will never forget. In an emotional act of sincerity, Mustaine reflected on the untimely death of his friend, Nick Menza, and asked for a moment of silence from the fans in memory of Menza. The crowd complied and became eerily quiet, some lighting their Bic lighters (old school), some throwing the devil horns, most just showing their respect. It was a powerful expression. The moment of silence could have gone on indefinitely, but the silence was broken when they swung into “Trust”, a Menza-era classic. Kiko and Dirk seem to have acclimated well to the Megadeth sound and songs and Ellefson is the epitome of bass expertise. Together, they produce amazing, timeless music, from classics to new releases like “Dystopia” and “Fatal Illusion” which played to a sea of enthusiastic fans. The new music was met with a great crowd reaction. Rounding out their set was “Symphony of Destruction” and one of their most commercially successful tracks, “Peace Sells”. Closing the night was one of my personal favorites, “Holy Wars… The Punishment Due”. Mustaine, Ellefson, Laureiro and Verbeusen are a strong line-up for this band in its touring formation. Kiko is a virtuoso player who connects with Mustaine on a level unlike any other. Dirk is a fantastic drummer and, coming from a band like Soilwork, he’s accomplished in his own right and adds a measure of hardness to the band. It was hard to see the guys leave the stage, we wanted them to continue since they have so many great songs. But that was not to be.
Arriving back at the neighbourhood came with mixed feelings. Everyone was elated, having witnessed such an amazing array of talent over the previous three days. However, everyone was also feeling rather down knowing that the festival was over and we’d all be leaving in the morning. Some of our neighbours had already left leaving glaring holes in the neighbourhood where their cars once were. But, we were determined to stay and get the end of our partying in before having to hit the dusty trail. Nothing really indicated to us that it would be the best party night of the three. The shrinking neighbourhood brought other neighbours together and we all hung out and listened to loud music until the wee hours of the morning. I wasn’t ready for the 6-hour drive home.
Day Three Shout Out goes to members of Born of Osiris who inexplicably showed up in the camping neighbourhood, escorted by festival staff, to party with us. It was amazing meeting all the guys and hanging out with them in a social setting. They were all super nice and this act alone garnered them a nice group of new and loyal fans. My awesome hubby and press companion, Rusty, made sure Cameron got back to the tour bus safely. I hope they appreciated, and remembered, the gesture. Shout out also to Arielle Rosselli and Maria Ferrero from Adrenalin PR for being professional and talking to us through the various location changes and scheduling snafus.
We had the time of our lives. We met so many great people, saw so many great bands and had so many great times. Other than the growing pains of a festival in its infancy which can certainly be worked through, the entirety of this festival was kick-ass. Can’t wait for next year!