Monster Energy recently sponsored the Rock Allegiance two day music festival at the Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Pennsylvania. Somehow or another I was fortunate enough to be credentialed as media with pit access and a front row seat to artists both established and on the rise. In its second year of existence, the festival expanded to two days of food, music and beer.
I'm no festival aficionado, but I have been to a Vans Warped Tour show and been around my share of concerts. Going in, I expected some terrible bands to front for the mainstays and a raucous crowd of people in their twenties hitting the mosh pits and generally behaving badly.
First, for the uninitiated, the Rock Allegiance festival is completely unlike anything I've experienced. It wasn't just music, though the list of performers was impressive especially for a second year event. Outside the stadium were lines of food trucks serving everything from tacos to crab cakes and everything in between.
Of course, there was plenty of alcohol on tap as well. Craft beers were well represented with Fordham & Dominion, Troegs, Victory, and others while mainstays such as Anheuser-Busch and Corona were available from vendors inside. Topping it off, Jack Daniels was a major sponsor and was available throughout as well.
Gourmet “man food”, alcohol, three stages of continuous music and a party atmosphere right off the river in Philadelphia made for a great two days of fun. Those three stages? Two were set up adjacent each other so that fans didn't have to move to hear them. Those main stages, the River Stage and Bridge stage were inside the stadium and showcased some of the biggest names in rock.
From newer names like Avatar, Trivium and Sick Puppies to long established bands like Slayer, Anthrax, Avenged Sevenfold and Alice in Chains, just about every genre of rock was represented. The only missing element were the female vocalists. Despite being on the early list, The Pretty Reckless ended up out of the lineup. Every other band save for Sick Puppies and Ghost lacked female representation.
Speaking of Ghost, a band from Sweden, they are the rare breed of performers who understand how big a component theatrics play in a live show. While older bands like Anthrax and Slayer were all over the stage performing, some of the younger bands failed to engage the audiences. Avatar and Ghost, both from Sweden, came out in full costume and their theatrics rivaled the metal bands of old. They played a role well and paired with their music made them both crowd favorites.
The crowd was an equally big part of the show. Despite 10-12 hours of constant live shows alternating stages, they stayed enthusiastic and loud to the end. In today's society, where we are seemingly divided on every issue from race to religion, the crowd often represented the best of us.
We often think of heavy metal rock concerts as the domain of the young only, and while much of the crowd was made up of the young, there were plenty of people well into their sixties and seventies there rocking out with the best of them.
Music has the ability to bring people together, and it was a concept every artist on stage understood. Many of them made mention of music saving lives, and it was something that hit home for me as well. People all over the venue were helping others, from offering a light to smokers to flagging down medics for those struggling with the heat or who over indulged in alcohol. All over the place there were people representing the very best of us.
The Monster Energy Rock Allegiance festival may have been just a place to grab a craft beer, gorge yourself on food truck offerings and let loose in a mosh pit, but to some of us, it was something more. It was a place to close our eyes and get lost in the music or to open them and see humanity coming together in peace.
Sure, there were the drunk and disorderlies, but the police and security were just as happy to be there as the rest of us. Even one of the security personnel was offering the photographers hugs as we shuffled from stage to stage. For my part, as someone who doesn't enjoy being stuffed into a large mass of people, I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The festival wasn't just a big show. It was a showcase of humanity.