For the first time since its start six years ago, Fort Rock was held in Sunrise, FL to provide a bigger and better experience for concert-goers. With the two stages placed side-by-side, the festival’s layout offered an easy viewing experience for those who wanted to see bands on both stages. Fort Rock boasted a stacked lineup on both days, creating a thick crowd early on in the day. As doors opened, fans ran to the barricade at the stage of their choice and camped out for Saturday’s headliners, Godsmack.

Bad Wolves opened up the Yellow Stage just past 1 p.m., delivering a powerful set to the fans that arrived early. While my knowledge of this band only extends so far, I recognized their song “Zombie” since it has been making its rounds on Top 40 radio. Bad Wolves sounded great, had incredible stage presence, and amplified the audience’s energy with an incredible set. They were the perfect festival and stage opener for day 1 of Fort Rock.

Next, ‘68 tore up the Black Stage, despite only being a two-man act. Vocalist/guitarist Josh Scogin and drummer Nikko Yamada ambushed the stage, putting their all and more into their set. Having seen them once before, I knew exactly what to expect. Josh is a big fan of not standing still while performing, and it makes for a great photo op. Between throwing his guitar in the air and getting on the stage floor, ‘68 gave the crowd a memorable performance.

Check out PureGrainAudio’s official “Fort Rock 2018” Spotify playlist.

After Texas Hippie Coalition and Power Trip played their respective sets, Trivium took the stage and the crowd got rowdy. By then, thousands had arrived at the festival to get their weekend dose of rock. Flashing lights, high energy, and the depth of drum beats collaborated to define Trivium’s performance as a whole. Their set packed a punch and could be felt at the festival’s gates. Shortly after, Hatebreed did not hesitate to keep the crowd rowdy. The quintet paced the stage, maintained high energy, and performed a stellar set.

The halfway point of Day 1 began with Underoath, a band that exceeds expectations with each performance. Vocalist Spencer Chamberlain is unlike anyone else on stage, packing performances full of emotion. Together, the sextet played old and new songs, and had one of the day’s best sets. UO dominated the Yellow stage, winning the crowd over and longing for more.

Heavy metal group Bullet For My Valentine curated a setlist packed with familiar staples from their extensive catalogue. Halestorm took the Yellow stage by storm, playing their hits and interacting the most out of every act thus far. The group have perfected what a performance should be, and pumped out a memorable set that kept the audience buzzing.

Shinedown brought lasers, emotion, and an extensive set of hits toward the end of the festival. Lead vocalist Brent Smith jumped down to greet photographers in the beginning, while bassist Eric Bass couldn’t stay on the ground. Barry Kerch’s hair defied gravity while he drummed beats that rattled bones. Guitarist Zach Myers paced the stage, interacted with fans, and poured emotion throughout. As their set came to a close, Myers and Smith performed “Simple Man” acoustic, with the audience singing in unison. They closed their set with their new single “Devil,” paired with fireworks, ending with a bang.

Five Finger Death Punch created a set that – dare I say – packed a punch. Their energy rattled the crowd, who ended up being soaked by vocalist Ivan Moody as he kept throwing water in their direction. Each member posed and interacted with both the media and the audience, prepping everyone for headliner Godsmack. Before 5FDP went on stage, two guys were asking photographers to get their little brother or nephew (no one really knew which) on stage with 5FDP. Needless to say, as photographers were leaving the pit, Ivan Moody pointed to two little kids in the crowd, one being the boy. Unfortunately, I was unable to make it for Godsmack as one of Moody’s water bottles hurdled right over my camera, drenching it as their set ended. The next day, I was filled in that Godsmack brought fire and a set filled with fan favorites to end day 1 of Fort Rock on a high note.