ShipRocked 2014: Five Finger Death Punch, In This Moment, Three Days Grace + More – Day 1 Recap
With all new digs aboard their new home on the glorious Norwegian Pearl, the 2014 ShipRocked cruise set sail on Jan. 25 for a four-day, nonstop rock 'n' roll extravaganza. Offering up six on-board stages and a private Bahamas island beach stage, the excursion lived up to all expectations of rocking the high seas.
Before the ship even set sail, Five Finger Death Punch hit the outdoor Monster Deck Stage, giving the rock fans on board a taste of what was in store. As if on cue, the ship started to move during Five Finger’s face-melting set, and the crowd unleashed a roar of applause as the motion of the ocean could be felt underfoot - or was that just the mighty force of 5FDP? You decide!
Playing their first of two sets on the cruise, ShipRocked veterans 5FDP delivered a punishing show, setting the bar high for the rest of the bands on board and laying down the gauntlet. Ivan Moody, Jason Hook, Chris Kael, Zoltan Bathory and Jeremy Spencer rocked it out in the hot Miami sun even inciting a mosh pit – a big no-no on the ship, but main man Moody didn’t care. He summoned his troops to let loose, even if it meant breaking a few rules along the way. Hey, that’s rock 'n' roll, right? Speaking of troops, bassist Kael quietly raised his own legion of followers aptly dubbed the 'Kael Army,' who showed up sporting their t-shirts en masse proving what an asset Kael has become to the band.
Although Sunday only featured half a day of action, the show schedule was jam packed making it almost impossible to catch every band. Shortly after Five Finger Death Punch’s kickoff set, ShipRocked virgins Aranda and Brit rockers Young Guns offered up impressive performances proving that newbies showed up with guns blazing too.
Maria Brink and In This Moment were the first band to christen the beautiful Stardust Theater. Shrouding it in smoke, In This Moment delivered a theatrical performance that lived up to the hype. Although dancers and rock don’t always go hand in hand, In This Moment are known for pushing the boundaries of all things conventional. Brink was flanked all night by the masked Blood Girl dancers who definitely added to the dynamic of the show. As always, Brink’s backbone and partner in crime Chris Howorth slayed on guitar with the help of the rest of the band – Travis Johnson, Tom Hane and Randy Weitzel.
ShipRockers who skipped out on In This Moment were probably holding out for the Southern rock charm of Black Stone Cherry, who killed it in the smaller Headbanger Lounge. The band served up a rare and intimate performance of their signature brand of down-home, gritty, rock.
Next up, fans had to choose between Nonpoint on the Monster Deck Stage, Three Days Grace in the Stardust Theater or catching the tail end of American Fangs' set on the Meliti Stage. These kinds of hard decisions would be one of the only minor downfalls of the whole cruise -- missing out on one great band to catch another, in other words -- an embarrassment of riches. However, the amazing crew that assembles ShipRocked thought of that far in advance, giving each band two sets throughout the four days and the fans aboard the ship two opportunities to check out each and every act.
Three Days Grace rocked the Stardust Theater like it was their business. Frontman Matt Walst now has over 80 shows under his belt with the band since stepping in after the untimely departure of former frontman Adam Gontier – and it shows. The growth from just the last time I caught the band was tenfold. He seems to really be feeling at home at the helm and rightfully so. Set to the backdrop of a post-apocalyptic cityscape of Las Vegas framing their set, Three Days Grace powered through an hour of hit after hit, drawing from each of their four studio albums, covering all of the bases from melodic ballads to bouncing off the wall rockers.
Butcher Babies kicked off their set in the Headbanger Lounge and we’re still trying to figure out how they fit all of their energy onto that small stage. Could it be magic? Again, one of the big advantages to ShipRocked is allowing fans these up close and personal performances (we’re talking literally face to face and eye-level with the band), the kind of performances you won’t catch anywhere else. It’s this energy that lends itself to the overwhelming positive vibe aboard the rock boat.
The night would close out with a Monster Deck Stage set from The Halo Method, featuring Ben Moody on guitar and Lukas Rossi on vocals. Joining ShipRocked for the second time, the Halo Method are planning to release their first full-length disc this year.
With day one in the books, a few observations: the ShipRocked family is a warm and welcoming and the community they have fostered throughout the years is a strong and passionate one. The positive vibes were palpable, just a genuine feeling of being among people that love music as much as you do is a special one.It's easy to see why music fans find themselves coming back year after year for this overwhelming experience.
Check out some of our photos from ShipRocked Day 1 below and stay tuned for coverage from the rest of the trip.
ShipRocked Day 1 Photos:
Five Finger Death Punch:
In This Moment:
Three Days Grace:
The Halo Method: