Day two of Carolina Rebellion, or “The Dust Bowl of 2014” as one “A Day to Remember” bandmember dubbed it, was the kind of redemption that fans have sought since last year’s abrupt ending due to weather.
There was hardly a cloud in the sky as people walked around with large paper umbrellas and make-shift head covers to shield themselves from the sun. Mother Nature even kicked up dust whirlwinds later in the afternoon to really emphasize how dry it was, giving everyone a fresh coat of dirt to take home with them.
No one really seemed to mind though, as people playfully engaged strangers with water guns and many people opted for a part clothes, part bathing suit look, giving the festival a distinctive beach party vibe.
Gemini Syndrome kicked things off at 1 p.m., followed by Nothing More, Hellyeah and Twelve Foot Ninja.
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Fuel made its Carolina Rebellion debut at 3 p.m. with such crowd-pleasers as “Hemorrhage” and “Shimmer.”
Lead singer Brett Scallions, decked in a black bandana and sun glasses, also took the opportunity to plug their new album, Puppet Strings.
Theory of a Dead Man had great energy but the sound was a little off, with the acoustics drowning out the lyrics. Luckily the crowd singing along during songs like “Hate My Life” and “Bad Girlfriend” helped mask the problem.
“Music is the best drug on the planet,” said lead singer Tyler Connolly, who later plugged their new single, “Drown.”
Redlight King performed next with a lively set filled with rousing crowd anthems.
About halfway through, lead singer Mark Kasprzyk took a somber turn by sharing with the crowd that his dad, Tom, was battling pancreatic cancer. He dedicated the next song, “Times Are Hard,” to him with a soulful performance.
Alterbridge delivered an enthusiastic performance with songs like “Isolation” and “Rise Today” by late afternoon.
A Day to Remember, which bookended its set with bursts of confetti over the crowd, earned the award for the biggest riot instigators. After all, lead singer Jeremy McKinnon repeatedly encouraged fans to bang their heads, to make the biggest mosh pit he’s ever seen and to crowd surf.
Memphis May Fire performed during the early evening, with songs like “Prove Me Right” and “Legacy.” Lead singer Matty Mullins gave a guttural performance, despite his relatively high-pitched talking voice.
Staind, who debuted at Carolina Rebellion in 2012, delivered another solid vocal performance, albeit with buzz-killing pauses between a couple of songs that made the set feel a little jerky.
Right before performing “For You,” lead singer Aaron Lewis chastised men in the crowd for making inappropriate advances to women there. He also discouraged women from acting too trashy.
“I’m not sure where your parents failed you miserably,”: he said. “Your moms should be ashamed of you and so should you.”
Festival newcomers 311 gave an energetic performance as well, including songs like their signature “Down.” The highlight was a four-part drum performance by its band members, with the members even tossing drum sticks back and forth.
By this time, it was dark enough for the next band, Five Finger Death Punch, to use strobe lights on the Rebellion Stage. And they certainly used them liberally.
The band delivered a spirited performance with such adrenaline-infused anthems as “Bad Company,” “Hard to See” and “Under and Over It”
“You have the one and only master of mayhem, Kid Rock, but you have to go through us first,” said lead singer Ivan Moody.
There seemed to be a mass exodus after Five Finger Death Punch finished its set, with hundreds of people opting not to stay for Kid Rock. The musician fuses country, rock and rap more than any of the other performers on the bill.
But those who stayed enjoyed a spirited and uplifting performance by Kid Rock, who took the stage after a recording of crowd favorite, Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing,” stopped on the lyric “Just a city boy, born and raised in South Detroit.”
Kid Rock, whose birth name is Robert James Ritchie, is from the Detroit area
Now that Mother Nature has redeemed the festival from last year’s weather debacle, perhaps organizers can turn their attention to parking and trash.
Parking was a nightmare on Saturday, although it seemed to improve by Sunday night with traffic directors suggesting everyone face their car one way to cut down on line cutting.
And by 10 p.m., the festival site resembled a dump. Perhaps the increased popularity of the festival will allow organizers to afford more trashcans next year?