98 Rock Fest returned to Amalie Arena, home of the Tampa Bay Lightning, on April 22nd! This year’s lineup included Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Black Veil Brides, Motionless in White, Ice Nine Kills, Wage War, Jelly Roll and Lilith Czar. We’re from California and as soon as I saw this lineup, I knew we had to buy plane tickets and go! To basically see Trinity of Terror Tour again, only this time with Three Days Grace and Godsmack on the same day, was a can’t-miss opportunity!
The fest started off with a free pre-party in The Plaza that included Lilith Czar and Jelly Roll.
Along with music, you could also get a psychic reading done by professional astro analyst, Janet Sciales. Lilith Czar kicked off the day! She explained how she grew up in Tampa, listening to 98 Rock and how honored she was to be playing at this year’s fest. She played “Feed my Chaos”, “King” and closed out with “Anarchy”. Jelly Roll came out next and played “Hate Goes On”, “Only” and “Save Me”. Jelly Roll is such a standup guy; he spent a considerable amount of time hanging out and talking to fans after his set! Even though his security team was trying to get him out of there, he kept stopping, making sure almost every fan was noticed. After his set, everybody lined up at the stadium doors, waiting to finally go in!
Wage War kicked off the indoor part of the fest; I recently just got into them and I think what really made them stand out to me was their breakdowns. They’re all so heavy and unique from each other! They opened their set with my personal favorite,“Relapse”, and then went on to play their other hits “Manic” and “Circle The Drain”, before closing out with “Stitch”.
Ice Nine Kills is one of my favorite bands — this was my fifth time seeing them in just six months!
Every time I see them, I’m even more amazed by them! Not only are all Ice Nine Kills songs about horror movies, they bring those movies to life onstage with their performance! They put on the type of show that if you look away for a second, you’ll miss something. One of guitarist Ricky Armellino’s latest ‘bits’ is teaching the crowd how to clap. During songs “Welcome to Horrorwood” and “Ex-Mortis”, you can see him very aggressively clapping at certain people (who are not clapping or clapping off beat) and it’s one of the funniest things. During “Shower Scene”, INK brings out an actual shower curtain and reenact that infamous scene from Psycho with a horrifying silhouette. It’s probably one of the coolest things I’ve seen on a stage! They then closed out their set with “American Nightmare”.
Motionless in White is another one of my favorite bands (I’ve got four!). Unfortunately, they didn’t get their walk-out song (“Edge” by Rezz) this time. If you’ve read any of my other Motionless articles, you know how much I love that song. It started to play it and I got so excited although it got cut short after a couple seconds. MIW opened with “Reincarnate” with Chris Motionless in a Tampa Bay Lightning jersey! It was so cool to see him in ‘normal clothes’ for once. It was so different not seeing bassist Justin Morrow onstage with them: he had to drop out of the tour a little early, because he just had a baby! I had a little moment with Chris Motionless during “Cyberhex”, where he came up right in front of me and we were both looking at each other while singing the second verse. That was such a dream moment, because “Cyberhex” is my favorite Motionless song at the moment.
Motionless closed out with “Another Life” and the whole stadium lit up with phone flashlights!
If you’ve been following my articles, you know I’m such a sucker for walk-out songs, especially when they’re songs we all know and love! Three Day Grace’s song was “Jump Around” by House of Pain — the whole crowd was singing and ‘jumping around’! Three Days Grace opened with “So Called Life”, which is off their (at the time) upcoming album Explosions. I’ve only known Three Days Grace with their current lead singer, Matt Walst; I know there are still a lot of Tem Adam people out there, but I personally think Matt does an amazing job! I love that he also gets to share the stage with his brother, Brad (on bass). Three Days Grace is such a nostalgic band for me; this was honestly the TDG setlist of my dreams! They played some oldies like “Home”, “Good Life” and “Painkiller”. Matt had amazing onstage energy and kept climbing up on the drum kit platform and jumping off. They then closed out their set with “Riot”.
Godsmack had probably one of the coolest curtain drops I’ve seen in a while. They had not one, but two curtains! The first curtain had a projection of Mix Master Mike from the Beastie Boys. He was spinning songs like “We Will Rock You”, “So What’cha Want?”, “Tom Sawyer”, “Dream On” to get us all hyped up and unified! That first curtain dropped to reveal a black one that had the Godsmack logo on it. That curtain dropped shortly after, with a literal bang and then the band came out and opened with “I Stand Alone”. My mom raised me right on music, so I’ve been listening to Godsmack since I was a toddler. One of my favorite songs of theirs growing up was “Speak”: I would always get so excited at the end of the song to just yell “SPEAK”!
It was such a nostalgic moment finally being able to hear that song live!
The funniest thing to me was when lead singer Sully Erna saw a couple of fans leaving towards the end of the set and he was like, “Hey, where you going? You think you’re gonna beat traffic by leaving a couple songs early?” He convinced them to stay and then went straight into their song “Whatever”, which had lines “now go away”. They left the stage after that song, but came out again a few moments later with a piano. We all knew what song they were going to play next because of that — “Under Your Scars”. Before the song, Sully took the time to explain his Scars Foundation; I love when big bands like this use their platform for good and help people who are in need. They see you and care! “The Scars Foundation has been established to help raise awareness of the mental health issues that so many are faced with today. The Scars Foundation is dedicated to providing resources and tools to educate and empower people on a global level that struggle with these burdens.” “Under Your Scars” is a song I’ve always wanted to hear live, because it’s so powerful and I needed to feel that energy in person! At the end of the set, Sully was like “I just wanna have some fun!”… I think they went through their set pretty fast and had some time to play another! They played a cover of “Come Together” by The Beatles and it was a pretty fun, lighthearted way to end the night.
I had never heard of 98 Rock Fest before this trip, but this show has made me a fan! We had such an amazing time and we’ll (hopefully) see you again next year, 98 Rock!!
Photography by Heather Vandemark; Recap by Kaiya Vandemark