Five Bands to Watch at Fort Rock 2018

Jack Black
Jack Black Wikimedia Commons
"You can't kill the metal/The metal will live on." So sings Jack Black on Tenacious D's "The Metal," which observes that heavy rock has weathered the trends of New Wave, punk, grunge, and techno over the decades and come out relatively unscathed.

Indeed, despite whatever is trending on the charts, plenty of people are still drawn to bands dressed in black. So it's fair to expect that Monster Energy Fort Rock will be huge this year. The festival spent the past five years at JetBlue Park in Fort Myers, but it's relocating to Markham Park in Sunrise this year. The move prompted some pushback from fans on social media, but the event's organizers say it will be even bigger and better.

If the headliners are any indication, Fort Rock will totally melt faces in South Florida. Here are five acts to watch this year:
click to enlarge Ozzy Osbourne - PHOTO BY MARK WEISS
Ozzy Osbourne
Photo by Mark Weiss
Ozzy Osbourne. There would be no heavy metal — and, by extension, no Fort Rock — without Ozzy. As the bat-biting frontman of Black Sabbath and through his decades-long solo career, he's influenced pretty much all of the emotionally dark, tonally heavy music this festival celebrates. At 69 years old, Ozzy is somehow not dead after leading one of the wildest lives in rock history, and he's still getting propped up in front of massive audiences (we suspect dark magic). His recession into the darkness of the crypt does not appear imminent; thus he's one of the top artists to watch at Fort Rock. Honestly, who can look away?
click to enlarge Godsmack - COURTESY OF DANNY WIMMER PRESENTS
Courtesy of Danny Wimmer Presents
Godsmack. As radio rockers who emerged in the '90s/early '00s with a heavy and edgy style, Godsmack found its early albums pulled from some store shelves due to lyrical content — a surefire way to get kids interested. The Boston-based band could be classified as nu metal, though it didn't participate in the shitty rap-rock explosion of the time. And though that genre generally hasn't aged well — Fred Durst, anyone? — a handful of Godsmack's radio hits have endured. The tribal drums and sense of impending doom on "Voodoo" are pretty rad, for example. The band is touring to promote its forthcoming album, When Legends Rise.
click to enlarge Stone Sour - PHOTO BY TRAVIS SHINN
Stone Sour
Photo by Travis Shinn
Stone Sour. These musicians could be loosely defined as alternative and grouped with rockers such as Incubus. But the long-running band from Iowa incorporates more extreme elements of punk and thrash metal as well, with frontman Corey Taylor often switching between screaming and singing. They infuse a sense of humor into their music — as on the single "Rose Red Violent Blue (This Song Is Dumb & So Am I)" — but they also have a distinctly dark streak. In January, guitarist Josh Rand checked into rehab and later admitted anxiety issues had driven him to abuse alcohol and Xanax. But now he's back on the road with the band to support Stone Sour's sixth studio album, Hydrograd, which is garnering rave reviews from both critics and metal dudes in camo shorts.
click to enlarge Halestorm - PHOTO BY JAKE GILES NETTER
Photo by Jake Giles Netter
Halestorm. If you've been to a metal festival before, you know how heavily the demographics lean toward men. The hard-rock and metal scene is, and always has been, an almost all-boys club. But Lzzy Hale, frontwoman of the Grammy-winning hard-rock outfit Halestorm, provides a kick-ass counterpoint to that stereotype. Not only does she have a seriously powerful set of pipes, but also her vocals get surprisingly raw and ragged. Plus she comes armed with heavy riffs and an awesome stage presence. Ideally, the media would focus less or her sex life and more on, you know, her musical talent. But you can't win them all.
click to enlarge Stone Temple Pilots - PHOTO BY MICHELLE SHIERS
Stone Temple Pilots
Photo by Michelle Shiers
Stone Temple Pilots. There's been quite a lot of turnover in Stone Temple Pilots over the past half-decade or so. The band fired famously troubled frontman Scott Weiland in 2013 and replaced him with the late Chester Bennington of Linkin Park, who left after a two-year stint. Shortly thereafter, Weiland was found dead from an accidental drug overdose on a tour bus with his band the Wildabouts. After the tragedy, the long-running group held online auditions for a new lead vocalist and chose Jeff Gutt, a former contestant on the reality TV series The X Factor. By all accounts, Gutt is doing justice to STP's biggest hits and Weiland's memory.

Monster Energy Fort Rock 2018. Saturday, April 28, and Sunday, April 29, at Markham Park,16001 W. State Rd. 84, Sunrise; 954-357-8868. Tickets cost $75 to $350 via
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Howard Hardee is a freelance writer based in Madison, Wisconsin. Originally from Fairbanks, Alaska, he has a BA in journalism and writes stories about music, outdoor adventures, politics, and the environment for alt-weeklies across the country. He is an aficionado of fine noises and has a theremin in his living room.