Photos: 98 Rockfest kicks off with early sets by the Pretty Reckless, Lacuna Coil, Fozzy and more
Forget Mayhem, Uproar or the Carnival of Madness. Arguably the best hard rock festival of the year came to the Tampa Bay Times Forum on Friday: 98 Rockfest, featuring a dozen bands cranking up the volume for a full 10 hours on stages both inside the arena.
Led by actress-turned-singer Taylor Momsen, the Pretty Reckless opened up the main stage just after 5 p.m., a big step up for a band that recently scored a No. 1 mainstream rock hit with Heaven Knows. All of 20, the waifish Momsen barely showed her famous face, keeping it lost behind her fluffy blond locks. But she really can sing, though her vocals could have used a boost in the mix.
Due to slightly delayed set times, Orlando's Trivium didn't hit the outdoor stage until shortly before the Pretty Reckless opened the mainstage. But beforehand, Italian Goth-metal group Lacuna Coil brought a bewitching vibe and rumbling bass that could have raised the dead, as singers Andrea Ferro and Cristina Scabbia gave it their all while wailing and hairwhipping their way through a five-song set.
After Nashville power-metal outfit We As Human laid down some serious thunder in Thunder Alley, wrestler/raconteur/writer Chris Jericho's band Fozzy drew a huge crowd around the outdoor stage. Looking like a beefed-up Bon Jovi, Jericho worked the live audience like any wrestler worth his belt should, wailing like a hair-metal maestro (is he too jacked to play Stacee Jaxx? Please say no) while venturing out onto a platform at the edge of the pit on songs from their forthcoming album Do You Wanna Start a War?, including Lights Go Out with a cameo from 98 Rock's Jesse Kage.
Singer-guitarist Clayton Sturgeon of Daytona Beach electro-grunge trio W.E.R.M. crushed the accessories game with a set of spiky sunglasses, a silver skeleton claw on his right hand and blood-red high-tops.
And outside openers Nothing More were an impressive revelation, a proto-symphonic-metal group with several slick stage tricks up their sleeve. First, singer Jonny Hawkins, guitarist Mark Vollelunga and bassist Daniel Oliver took turns slapping and tapping out a monstrous prelude on a stationary bass; later, Vollelunga and Oliver formed a human drum kit/drumline, flipping and twirling their snares as Hawkins banged away at the center.
For more photos from the early sets of 98 Rockfest, check out the slideshow above.
-- Jay Cridlin, tbt*