Carolina Rebellion went bigger and better – and even a bit nostalgic – to celebrate its seventh year with showstoppers Soundgarden, Korn and Def Leppard. The former celebrated their second and third time on the Concord, N.C. music festival’s bill, respectively, while Def Leppard ended a long hiatus, returning to Charlotte for the first time in a while.
Avenged Sevenfold, whose thrilling pyrotechnics stood out, close out the weekend and elicited the most noteworthy performance of the weekend. The trio has performed at Rebellion, not once, but twice before, therefore such excitement should’ve been expected. M Shadows mimicked a spiritual leader, preaching to what looked like 30,000-plus fans. Every word that flowed front frontman’s mouth sounded groundbreaking. Between the excessive fire that lined the legendary band and superstar quality that rung from Synyster Gates’s guitar, most notably during his “Hail to the King” riff, Avenged Sevenfold didn’t struggle to produce a mind-blowing set.
Year in, year out, Carolina Rebellion produces a star-studded weekend. Both in terms of performers and the overall vibe. However, what was different this year was the weather. While rain dumped from the sky the night before gates opened, the mud pit that usually forms at the Rock City Campgrounds at Charlotte Motor Speedway didn’t deter from the experience. The temperature remained mild for the majority of the weekend, so much so that Joe Elliot of Def Leppard called the Saturday night one of the coldest of the band’s 40-year career. If the rock star’s comments on the unusual weather isn’t enough, it took Machine Gun Kelly three songs longer than usually to remove his shirt.
While most fans, especially photographers were disappointed by this, MGK still delivered with his eccentric rap/rock and garnered a deep crowd despite not performing on a main stage. His wild boy antics created a very memorable show, but few performers matched In This Moment’s appeal and showing.
Maria Brink, often described as metal’s Lady Gaga, attracted one of the biggest crowd’s of the weekend at her band’s 2 p.m. main stage slot. Fans swarmed the Rebellion stage to witness the live spectacle. Filled with costume changes, backup dancers and award-winning makeup, In This Moment stole the show and attention midday Sunday afternoon. Veteran Rebellion-goes murmured amongst themselves, comparing the fanfare to Breaking Benjamin’s 2015 Carolina Rebellion set – a turnout that most likely set the record for the largest midday crowd at a main stage.
While the bands involved in the festival certainly give festival-goers their money’s worth, the costumes that roll through the turnstiles add to the festival’s uniqueness. While Bonnaroo and Coachella boast a sparkly and bedazzled appearance, Carolina Rebellion flaunts gas-masks, full-fledged Power Ranger costumes (the entire team, from yellow to red) and Beetlejuice impersonators.
While the crowd is diverse in its dress and age makeup, the respect for each other is at an all-time high. Each rebel is there for the same reason: to keep rock and roll alive. Along with the security guards, dedicated to keeping photographers safe while bodies crowd-surf over the barricades, everyone’s committed to enjoying a drama-free weekend of supposedly “rebellious” music.