The true fans of Rock N' Roll and metal at an 11-hour festival that encompasses three stages over a holiday weekend can be found at the long line waiting to enter through the gates well before noon. Those diehards proudly separate themselves from the casual walk-ups, curious onlookers, those who simply want to "hang out" and those who don't feel like showing up until the final couple of bands. So while the "more than 25,700" official attendance of Sunday's third annual River City Rockfest outside the AT&T Center may not have all been on hand from the get-go, make no mistake: there were still a few thousand standing in front of the main stage when Starset kicked things off at 12:25 p.m., followed by The Pretty Reckless and Drowning Pool.
They saw three performances that set the tone for the remainder of the Memorial Day weekend extravaganza headlined by Linkin Park several hours later.
Dallas natives Drowning Pool played from 2:20-3 p.m. to a crowd that had filled in nicely by then. The band has always been intriguing from the standpoint that guitarist C.J. Pierce, bassist Stevie Benton and drummer Mike Luce are original members employing their fourth singer -- Jasen Moreno. Ever since the death of original vocalist Dave Williams in 2002, Drowning Pool has persevered through a revolving door of frontmen, which can prove to be a taxing experience when trying to establish a fan base. But no matter who's been behind the mic, the fans, particularly in Texas, have come out in droves, as they did Sunday with Moreno at the helm.
Most popular tune "Bodies" from the debut album Sinner will always be a mosh pit-inducing crowd favorite. But it's easy to see why the group's 2013 and latest CD is called Resilience, and Sunday, they showed why it's worth checking out too, especially "One Finger and a Fist." Drowning Pool could leave the AT&T Center grounds fully appreciative of the fact that many turned out for their early afternoon set and knowing that those fans, in turn, appreciate the band for continuing to help fly the flag for metal from the Lone Star State.
Preceding Drowning Pool was The Pretty Reckless. Scheduled for a 1:10 p.m. start, sound and monitor issues pushed the band's entrance back 25 minutes, and it wasn't until the evening that the main-stage schedule caught up to the original plan. But better 25 minutes late than never when it comes to Taylor Momsen and Co. The vocalist strolled out to the stage coolly and confidently, sporting a pair of large shades and a black dress top decorated by an oversized cross bottomed out by a downward arrow.
Momsen, guitarist Ben Phillips, bassist Mark Damon and drummer Jamie Perkins let loose with songs from latest CD Going to Hell plus the band's first single, 2010's "Make Me Wanna Die." Given that they're only on their second album, having a main-stage slot on the River City Rockfest will undoubtedly be another notch on The Pretty Reckless' pedestal as their career marches onward.
Starset, those blue spacesuit and helmeted synth rockers from Columbus, Ohio, got things cooking intergalactic style shortly after noon. Playing latest single "Halo" and other tracks from 2014 debut CD Transmissions, helmet-less vocalist/keyboardist Dustin Bates and his costumed bandmates have developed a fondness for San Antonio. Sunday's visit marked their fourth on the album's tour cycle, which included an October performance during the two-day Fall Ball and opening for fellow Rockfest comrades In This Moment, last December -- both of which were at 210 Kapone's.
Stay tuned for much more coverage of the River City Rockfest. In the meantime, get the lowdown on San Antonio rockers The Taking's set that kicked off Stage 2 here and watch an exclusive interview with drummer Charlie Benante before he and Anthrax headlined the second stage here.