Fort Rock
April 29th & 30th, 2017
Jet Blue Park
Fort Myers, FL
Review: Matthew Pashalian
Photos: Scott Nathanson


In its fifth year now, West Florida (Please stop calling this South Florida) welcomes Fort Rock Festival as part of the kick-off point shared with Welcome to Rockville in Jacksonville for what is referred to as ‘The Loudest Month in Rock.’ This year’s fest welcomed back alums such as Motionless in White, Nothing More, In This Moment, Papa Roach, Seether, The Pretty Reckless, Starset, and the Offspring, while bringing in legendary acts Soundgarden and Def Leppard to headline each night respectfully.
Motionless In White and Nothing More proved once again that for them, the live performance is where they truly shine, putting on a show that definitely sticks with you. Of Mice and Men, with their bassist taking on vocal duties full time, now gave faith to fans who worried about the transition, and showed a new beginning for the act. Meanwhile Alter Bridge brought their melodic hard rock, displaying some of their finest tunes, including “Blackbird,” which has replaced “Stairway to Heaven,” as having the best solo of all time.
I have to say though, Three Days Grace turned out to be very disappointing as their vocalist for the past 4 years treated some of the bands classic material, originally penned by vocalist Adam Gontier, as if it were his own words. After seeing Gontier at this festival, on this same stage last year perform two of these songs, and in the right vocal tone and emotion, this performance seemed like a slap in the face to long-time fans.


With a new album out in a few weeks, Seether put on quite possibly the best performance I have seen them put on in years as they welcomed touring guitarist Clint Lowery of Sevendust to the fold with this slot as their first with him. Other firsts included the live debut of two new tracks, “Stoke the Fire,” and current single, “Let You Down.” Despite a few first show hiccups such as guitar malfunctions and a lighting rig almost falling on Clint, still a memorable set that only reinforces why this band has endured musical climate shifts.
Never a band to put on a bad show, Papa Roach did what they always do, delivering a set full of energy and hits. They also welcomed In This Moment vocalist Maria Brink to the stage for their single together, 2014’s “Gravity;” a definite highlight to the show.
Chevelle were a band I hate to admit let me down the most as a longtime fan, as their set only had three non-radio staple tracks. Much of the crowd didn’t seem too happy with it either. Despite this, as well as drummer Sam Loeffler playing with the flu, Chevelle still managed to put on a set that was both moody, and fun.

Day 2 of the festival saw Starset returning to the stage with their now signature live show. You have to wonder how they don’t pass out in the heat with these getups! Meanwhile the Eagles of Death Metal turned out a break-out performance surprising to anyone who had either only heard the name by way of news of their tragic France show, or took the name at face value of what the music may be like. In either case, stellar show.
Taylor Momsen and her band The Pretty Reckless again showed why they are a continued fan favorite of this festival with a 45 minute set that included their singles, as well as much crowd participation.
Many brought the horns up for Mastadon who made their first area appearance with Fort Rock. I have to say, with all the hype behind the band, I just could not get into their live show, which seemed to be more about the doom sludge jam than actual songs; but I digress.
Another interesting band who, musically seem to be everywhere, Highly Suspect turned out a show that seemed to start out great but, after technical difficulties started to pander as both the drummer and bassist lent their instruments to the techs so they could attempt to stage dive. Singles such as “Lydia” and current modern rock staple, “My Name Is Human,” were of course present in the set, but more surprisingly was how punk rock the band really was.
The Offspring churned out a set full of pretty much every song that you know by them before A Perfect Circle hit the smaller stage to a set full of smoke. Guitarist and mastermind Billy Howerdel ended up being the most energetic of the band, prowling the stage and enjoying every second of it while vocalist Maynard James Keenan didn’t seem to want to be there.
Once Soundgarden hit the stage for their hour and ten min performance things were real.

You can use the words ‘showmanship’ and ‘professionalism’ until you are blue in the face; this band is the true epitome of that. The band didn’t stick to their laurels and put on a greatest hits set, they brought out rarities like “Kyle Petty, Son of Richard,” and “Incessant Mace,” along with a story about not wanting to be like a familiar figure but turning out to have some of those exact traits. Soundgarden was the perfect way to end the festival as there was no following an act like that.

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