The three-day rock music festival packed a punch, and I’m not just talking about Five Finger Death Punch. Some of rock’s biggest names made appearances at the festival, including Alice in Chains, Muse, and Breaking Benjamin. Throughout the weekend, over 60 bands performed on four stages.

The festival had the perfect mix of rock genres, ranging from post-hardcore to alternative, leaving every concert-goer with a taste of something they may not have heard before. It was truly an experience for me to listen to UnderOath, a post-hardcore band that I wouldn’t have listened to on my own. Although their style of music isn’t something I typically go for, I appreciated their stage presence and strength as a band.

Friday night started off strong with Stone Temple Pilots, a classic 90’s rock band. Jeff Gutt, their official lead singer since last November, sang some of STP’s most beloved songs, like “Plush” and “Creep.” The entire crowd sang along and there was a true sense of nostalgia floating in the air.

Stone Sour came on after and played an incredible set. During the first song, lead singer Corey Taylor seemed a little distressed – pulling on his leg every so often and grimacing through verses. By the end of the second song, he filled everyone in on what was going on. He had a possible tear in his calf muscle, but that didn’t stop him from singing the entire set. With a couple stretches here and there, Taylor pushed through the pain to provide for his fans.

Shine Down and Alice in Chains rounded up the night with two strong performances. The amount of people in the crowds was astonishing. Brent Smith of Shinedown, along with Eric Bass on piano/bass and Zach Myers on guitar, manned the stage like no one else. I could tell that they have a chemistry as band members and a real bond off the stage.

Alice in Chains, a pioneer of the grunge rock scene, ended the first night of the festival. Their sound is as strong as ever with their lead of 12 years, William DuVall. They opened up hard with “Them Bones” and ended with a favorite, “Rooster.”

Day two was chalk-full of strong performances from bands like Asking Alexandria, In This Moment, Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, and Godsmack.

Although a day late, considering it was May 5, concert-goers didn’t forget to represent Star Wars – May the fourth be with you – at the festival. People came decked out in full Chewbacca gear, light sabers, and more. It truly added to the upbeat nature of the festival.

The last day of Carolina Rebellion had a little bit of a different tone than day one and two. The music leaned alternative and less heavy. Bands like Incubus, Billy Idol and Muse showed that in their sets.
Incubus played a mix of their newer songs off of their album, “8,” with some of their older work that keeps the crowds coming every time they tour. “Wish you were here,” “Drive,” and “Stellar” are three that have become anthems for Incubus.

Muse finished off the night on the main stage with a range of songs that every fan could relate to.

Throughout the weekend, it was clear that this festival is about letting go, having fun and rocking out. With four stages going from about noon until 11 p.m., it was a chance to listen to new music, yet also reminisce on favorites from the 90’s and early 2000’s. Carolina Rebellion has made a real impression on Charlotte, and I can’t wait to see what they’ll bring to the table next year.

Photos by Leysha Caraballo and Pooja Pasupula.