Florida’s longest running music festival, WJRR’s Earthday Birthday, returned to the Central Florida Fairgrounds on April 23rd! EDBD 28 goes down as one of my favorite days ever! So many good memories were made this day and it was the perfect way to kick off our festival season! This year’s lineup included Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Motionless In White, Ice Nine Kills, Thrice, Black Veil Brides, Wage War, Ayron Jones, Fame On Fire, Jelly Roll, Black Stone Cherries, Lilith Czar and more.
Lilith Czar was the first artist we saw.
She came out and played “Feed My Chaos”: all was well until the chorus and then part of the sound cut out! They stopped the song and Lilith said, “It wouldn’t be a rock-and-roll show without some technical difficulties.” They tried again and, once again, at the same exact part, the sound cut off. It took longer to fix the problem than anticipated, so to pass the time, she got the audience to tell bad dad jokes! She also mentioned that it was a day of “birthdays”. Earthday Birthday, the first anniversary of her debut album Create From Filth and Dust, and “that guy’s” birthday! She had “that guy” come up and signed his shirt. And, three time’s a charm! This time, the sound didn’t cut off and the whole crowd cheered when they finally made it past that point where it cut off before. Unfortunately, because of the technical difficulties, her set got cut short two songs although we still got to hear “100 Little Deaths”, “King” and “Anarchy”.
This was our first time seeing Black Stone Cherry. I was told to keep my eye on the drummer because he has crazy energy. The whole band is high-energy, actually! They are currently on tour, so go check them out! Jelly Roll came out next and started with “The Hate Goes On”. During “Creature,” he stopped mid-song for security to help someone. He would not start until he got the thumbs up that everyone was okay. He then started the song over again! I saw this kid in the front row at the beginning of his set, playing air drums and singing every word; Jelly Roll saw the kid, too, and brought him up onstage! He let the kid announce the next song, “Dead Man Walking” and he even got to sing with him!
Fame on Fire is on literal fire! We first saw them on tour with Zero 9:36 at a small venue in San Diego… we knew they were bursting at the seams to let out their energy, but didn’t have the stage to be fully themselves. It was so good to see them on a big stage! With their energy, they definitely deserve to be playing on even bigger stages soon! Ice Nine Kills will probably always be one of my favorite bands to see live. With their energy and the way they bring horror movies to life onstage will never fail to amaze me! During their first song, “Welcome to Horrorwood”, Spencer Charnas jumped off the stage to catch a crowd-surfer. Can you imagine being that girl just crowd-surfing and then realize that you’re literally being cradled by Spencer?! When he got back onstage, he gestured towards the security guard and said, “What the fuck?!” They definitely needed more security on there, because Ice Nine always has an insane amount of crowd-surfers. I’ve apparently made it a tradition where every time I’m in the pit for an Ice Nine show, I get kicked in the back of the head from a crowd-surfer between songs before they play “Stabbing in the Dark”. I don’t know why it’s that specific, but it’s funny to me. They then closed out their set with “American Nightmare”.
I saw somewhere that bassist Joe Occhiuti’s favorite snack is Nutter Butters and that’s mine, too! When we stopped at the store before heading to the fairgrounds to get my daily Nutter Butters, I grabbed another just in case I ran into him. My mom ran into him while I was in the crowd, waiting for Motionless in White and told him about the Nutter Butters. Joe actually came over to where I was standing and we got a “Nutter Buddy” photo!
I made it pretty close to the rail after Ice Nine, so I wasn’t going to lose that spot for Motionless.
Unfortunately, that meant missing Wage War, but I could still see their stage screens from where I was standing. Earthday Birthday did a really good job with scheduling and making sure no bands were overlapping. That meant that there was an hour set difference between Ice Nine and Motionless, though. I was standing next to some really cool people that made the time go by quickly. Making new friends in the pit is one of my favorite things! It’s a ritual of getting hyped for the next band, talking about when you’ve seen them, what they mean to you and what band tattoo you’re gonna get!
It was finally time for Motionless in White, who came out to “Reincarnate”. It was so great to see Justin Morrow back onstage! He had to drop out of the Trinity of Terror Tour a little early, because he just had a baby. But, since he and his wife live in Orlando, he was able to come back for this show! During “Voices”, Chris Motionless jumped off the stage and walked all the way down the catwalk to the soundboard, greeting as many fans as he could reach and even singing with them. Motionless in White closed out with “Another Life” and Chris said that they were closing with it because WJRR plays it more than any other radio station!
There were quite a few young fans for Ice Nine Kills and Motionless in White. Young, like six-years young! They were up on their parents’ shoulders, singing every word and some were even crowd-surfing! I love that metalheads take care of the kids and let them have fun safely!
What’s a festival without some side craziness? While waiting in line for porta-potties, you could be entertained with wrestling shenanigans! There was even an area to test your ax throwing skills at the Axe Hole. The merch tent was like standing in line for a ride at Disney World: over an hour to get my Motionless shirt, but so worth it!
Three Days Grace opened with “So Called Life”, which is off their new album Explosions. I’ve only known Three Days Grace with their current lead singer, Matt Walst; I know there are still a lot of ‘Team 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 and this was honestly the TDG setlist of my dreams! They played some oldies like “Break”, “Good Life” and “Home”. 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 Beastie Boys. He was spinning songs like “We Will Rock You”, “So What’cha Want?”, “Tom Sawyer” and “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”. Some of lead singer Sully Erna’s best quotes of the night were “I’ve been staring at a pink dick all night!” and “Oh shit, here comes Santa Claus”… (if you’ve been to any east coast festivals, you know Crowd-Surfing Santa).
The piano rolled out and we knew “Under Your Scars” was coming next.
Before Sully started, there was a group in the crowd yelling for medics. Sully called for security and medics to get to them. He waited until he knew she was okay to hit some keys just to have fun. He shared about the Scars Foundation. “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.” Hearing that song live was a beautiful way to end such a perfect day! We had two amazing nights in Florida and were fortunate enough to see five of these bands two nights in a row. We can’t wait to see what Earthday Birthday has in store for next year!
Photography by Heather Vandemark; Recap by Kaiya Vandemark