The second annual Carolina Rebellion hit Rockingham Speedway on May 5, 2012, for a long day of hard rock. Threats of rain didn't dampen what ended up being a hot, sunny day headlined by Korn and Shinedown and filled with some surprises and plenty of music.
Here are some thoughts and photos from this year's event:
* A LITTLE HELP FROM FRIENDS: The biggest story coming out of the day was the return of Korn guitarist Brian "Head" Welch. Welch left the band in 2005 after "finding Jesus," but when he was seen backstage early in the day, buzz quickly built up. He didn't appear on stage until Korn's last song when Welch reclaimed his space for "Blind" - the first single from the band's self-titled 1994 debut. "For a long time, this spotlight has been very lonely," singer Jonathan Davis told the crowd as he pointed to the right side of the stage. Welch walked out and performed like he never missed a day. With Welch currently fronting his own band, Love and Death, it remains to be seen where they go from here.
* ROCK, SCISSORS, PAPER TONGUES: Charlotte's Paper Tongues kicked things off on the Carolina Stage. While loud cheers rang out during the performance, they also got some heated feedback on the Carolina Rebellion Facebook page. Some wanted them cut out of the event feeling their pop sensibilities weren't a match for the rest of the day's heavier rock bands. All-in-all, they offered a solid warmup for the day and a local connection to the lineup.
* WEATHER THE 'STORM: It was hot early, but the throngs of fans didn't seem affected, especially with the heat-of-the-day performance by Halestorm. This was the second time I've seen the band live and it's no surprise that a strong following is building. The band released its second album, The Strange Case Of..., in April and was just added to this year's Speed Street lineup. You'll be hearing a lot more from them - a charismatic frontwoman with a strong voice quickly won over the crowd.
* WE BROUGHT YOU PRESENCE: There's been growing popularity with the band Five Finger Death Punch though the band's style of radio-friendly, aggressive rock is nothing new. Then I saw them live. You don't often see a band where all five members have intense stage presence. From the whipping dreadlocks of guitarist Zoltan Bathory to the constant motion and energy of singer Ivan Moody, it's no surprise the band's set was one of the most talked about of the day. Doesn't mean that I'd run out to buy their album, but I'd definitely see them live again. (The band will perform at Time Warner Cable Uptown Amphitheatre on Aug. 21.)
* SHHH, I THINK HE'S SLEEPING: Then there's the other end of the spectrum. Sure, Staind's songs sounded just like the album, but frontman Aaron Lewis looked completely bored to be on stage. Sadly, that's widely known about the guitarist/singer. Whether he's singing or screaming, Lewis basically stands still. You can let the emotions move you, just not physically...
* DUSTY ROADS: Rain in the distance never hit the sun-baked Speedway grounds. Massive dust clouds were kicked up by mosh pits throughout the day. Seems like all that dust never settled down. There were more complaints about the dust than the $9 beers or $4 waters.
* PLAY MIST-Y FOR ME: The biggest complaint - heat. The easiest solution - a mist tent.