WDHA'S "ROCK THE ROCKFEST"

Godsmack, Three Days Grace, Black Veil Brides, Wage War, and Lilith Czar Ignite the Prudential Center Stage

Words & Photos by Diane DiMemmo

May 3, 2022

WDHA sure does know how to put on a party! On April 28th, the North Jersey mainstream rock radio station hosted “Rock The Rockfest” at Prudential Center to a huge crowd who have been waiting for the show since 2020. Popular radio personality Terrie Carr excitedly welcomed rock fans to the event and expressed pure joy about the live music industry finally getting back to some sense of normal. Fans were in total agreement and couldn't wait for the night to begin!

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LILITH CZAR

Without delay, the show was jumpstarted by passionate hard rocker Lilith Czar who mesmerized the crowd with her ultra-sultry vocals – rich, powerful and utterly mesmerizing. Her debut album – Created From Filth and Dust - is chock full of anthemic, inspirational masterpieces that implore all to pursue their dreams no matter what. She belted out her biggest hits that have amassed 7 million + Spotify streams along with a beautiful cover of Stevie Nicks’ “Edge Of Seventeen.” Says Czar, “When you find yourself beaten down by the world, in those times you can either let it destroy you or let it create you.” The rising superstar has most definitely chosen the creative route and is proving to all that she’s in it to win it. A stellar set!!!

WAGE WAR

Not to be outdone, Florida metalcore band – Wage War – took no prisoners as they cloaked themselves in darkness to pound out their most popular tunes from all five of their studio albums. Their most recent gem being Manic which has received rave reviews and makes this group a sought-after tour addition and very popular draw with fans. Briton Bond [lead vocals], Cody Quistad [rhythm guitar, clean vocals], Seth Blake [lead guitar], Chris Gaylord [bass], and Stephen Kluesener [drums] were relentless with their energy and emotion, pumping the crowd into a frenzy. They’ve already toured alongside I Prevail, Of Mice & Men, Parkway Drive and A Day To Remember. Make sure to catch them in a city near you as they tour all across North America and Europe in 2022. 

BLACK VEIL BRIDES

Next up were Black Veil Brides who are a feast for the eyes as well as the ears. Inspired by the makeup and stage presence of iconic bands KISS and Motley Crue, the California-based band continues the tradition of theatrical rock characterized by engaging, powerful vocals; searing, melodic guitar licks; all on top of a freight-train percussion and bass foundation. The crowd couldn’t take their eyes off of lead vocalist Andy Biersack, rhythm guitarist and violinist Jinxx, lead guitarist Jake Pitts, drummer Christian "CC" Coma and bassist Lonny Eagleton who all were extremely endearing with their utter joy of performing and interaction with their fans. They have an impressive catalog of six full-length albums … the most recent being The Phantom Tomorrow - an unstoppable rock opera complete with a new comic series. When Black Veil Brides comes back to our area, I’ll be first in line to see them perform live again. And if you haven’t, make sure to visit their website to request a show! 

THREE DAYS GRACE

I absolutely cannot say enough about the next performance by Three Days Grace. The Canadian rock stars consisting of lead vocalist Matt Walst, drummer/backing vocalist Neil Sanderson, bassist Brad Walst, and lead guitarist Barry Stock were in top form as they performed every fan’s dream setlist ... chock full of their blockbuster hits including (but not limited to) “Animal I Have Become,” “I Hate Everything About You,” “Riot,” “So Called Life,” and “Never Too Late.” This set stood out for its perfection, plain and simple. Their exemplary musicianship, intensity, spiritedness and wholehearted joy of being on stage was infectious and made this a show I’ll forever remember as being one of the best live performances I’ve ever seen.


Three Days Grace have six award-winning studio albums to their credit: Three Days Grace, One-X, Life Starts Now, Transit of Venus, Human, and Outsider. The first three albums have been RIAA certified 2× platinum, 3× platinum, and platinum, respectively, in the United States. In Canada, they have been certified by Music Canada as platinum, triple platinum, and double platinum, respectively. The band has had 16 No. 1 songs on the Billboard Hot Mainstream Rock Tracks chart, and 3 No. 1 hits on Alternative Songs. Their seventh album - titled Explosions - is due to be released on May 6, 2022 and has been preceded by the the single “Lifetime” as well as its official video

The heartfelt song was written about (and filmed in) the town of Mayfield, KY, the home area of TDG guitarist Barry Stock. The town was devastated last December, as a violent tornado ripped through it. The video was designed to raise awareness and funds to help it rebuild. Three Days Grace has partnered with PLUS1 so that $1 of every tour ticket will go to support tornado recovery efforts. In a press release, the band said, “Lifetime is about loss. It also speaks to the human condition to push forward and put one foot in front of the other even when you wake up and your world is turned upside down. The Mayfield community has shown hope and resilience in the face of unimaginable devastation. When we discussed how we wanted to visually portray this song the story of Mayfield immediately came up. We travelled down to Kentucky from Toronto in March. To see it all with our own eyes and to meet some of the families while overwhelming at times, was also a reminder to us and hopefully to all of you that while there is suffering there is also hope, resilience and strength around every corner all over the world.”


Three Days Grace has an ambitious tour mapped out until the end of 2022 and fans would be crazy to miss it if the band hits a town close by. Unfortunately, the closest they’ll be to this area again is in Reading, PA on August 3th which is 3 hours away. But I’m already planning a road trip because I want to experience that live show all over again. Anyone want to join me?!

GODSMACK

The end of the "Rock The Rockfest" evening was signed, sealed, and emphatically delivered by the Massachusetts legendary rock band Godsmack. Although I am biased because this group is one of my all-time favorites … I know I’m not alone in stating that these musicians just keep getting better and better. Vocalist/songwriter Sully Erna, guitarist Tony Rombola, bassist Robbie Merrill and drummer Shannon Larkin formed and have played together as a group since 1995, shaping themselves into a force to be reckoned with. The “joie de vivre” they exude throughout their set can only be explained by these guys being born to do this.


Sully is as entertaining a front man as they come, constantly joking with the audience, laughing with his bandmates, and sharing backstories about songs. Although he hammered home every song in the setlist with precision and passion, his most poignant moment came when performing behind the piano for his hit single “Under Your Scars.” In conjunction with that song, Erna and Godsmack established The Scars Foundation to help raise awareness of the mental health issues that so many face such as suicide, bullying, addiction, abuse and so many other challenges. Sully implored audience members to reach out others who may be struggling and to learn more about The Scars Foundation.

Robbie Merrill and Tony Rombola are truly masters of their craft and no finer bass and lead guitar players will you find anywhere! You feel Merrill’s bass lines shaking you to the core and his expressions of elation while he plays are shared each time he makes eye contact with his fans. Rombola has set the standard for the impeccable quality lead guitar solos should have, and never fails to disappoint with his technical proclivity. And you could watch and listen to percussionist Shannon Larkin play for hours. His monster-size drum kit is equally matched by his sick chops as he covers the entire set with the most precise and artistic drumming techniques around.


Godsmack has released seven studio albums, one EP (The Other Side), four DVDs, one compilation album (Good Times, Bad Times... Ten Years of Godsmack), and one live album (Live & Inspired). The band has released three consecutive number-one albums (Faceless, IV and The Oracle) on the Billboard 200. They also have 25 top ten rock radio hits, including 18 songs in the top five.

The band's seventh album, When Legends Rise (released on April 27, 2018) earned career milestones for the group: four #1 rock tracks (an accomplishment that makes Godsmack one of only four rock acts to achieve this), and a record 11th #1 singles in the band's career with the album's fourth single "Unforgettable.""Unforgettable" follows three previous #1 singles "Under Your Scars," and "When Legends Rise" plus "Bulletproof." WHEN LEGENDS RISE entered the Billboard Top 200 album chart in the top ten (#8), with four #1 placements on other charts: Top Rock Albums, Top Hard Music Albums, Top Independent Albums and Top Alternative Albums.


Godsmack is teasing that an eighth studio album is close to finished and may be released in the summer of this year. Follow the group as they continue travel the world on tour and stay connected through their site.

All in all, a bang-up job done by host radio station WDHA!!! Here's hoping that another "Rock The Rockfest" is already in the planning stages for next year! Will we be seeing YOU there???

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Diane DiMemmo is the founder and editor of Asbury Park Vibes. In addition to hosting the APV Podcast and Artist Spotlight series, she specializes in portrait, promo, and tour photography.

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