Alice Cooper at Blue Ridge Rock Festival at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, VA 9-9-2022 by Annette Holloway Photography

Blue Ridge Rock Festival Day 2 with Alice Cooper, Gojira, Halestorm and More at VIRginia International Raceway in Alton, Virginia on 9/9/22


Blue Ridge Rock Festival (BRRF) is known for its fan-driven experience, and in its 5th year delivered an incredible lineup of 172 bands across 5 stages in 4 days spread across a massive new venue in southern Virginia. VIRginia International Raceway, a 1,3000-acre property with rolling hills in the town of Alton, was the new home of BRRF and garnered the largest crowd in the venue’s history. The festival broke its single-day attendance record on Friday, September 9th, and has continued to grow and improve since its inception. Starting as a gathering of various rock and metal artists in 2017 with Scott Stapp – The Voice of Creed as the headliner in the very small town near my family’s property in Concord, Virginia, Blue Ridge Rock Festival has evolved into a national force of rock.

Day 2 on Friday, September 9th, 2022 hosted a crowd eager for more headbanging hits with fans seemingly from the ages of 1 to 81 as you can see in the photos below. Even with mosh pits and copious crowd-surfing, Southern hospitality from concertgoers and artists alike was at its finest. A theme throughout the festival was “if someone falls, pick them up,” and that they did.  The few times someone seemed hurt, fans crossed their arms en masse and the bands stopped playing allowing medics to render aid. These activities are not without risk, and I was impressed with how well security caught crowd-surfers at the rails for hours on end.



It was hot and sunny when Blacktop Mojo from Palestine, Texas kicked off the twelve hours of rock on ZYN stage with their timeless, bluesy, southern rock sound with a grunge influence thrown in. Unfortunately, I could not arrive until sometime in the afternoon, but I would love to have heard their Led Zeppelin cover “Whole Lotta Love.” When asked what’s coming up, frontman Matt James replied, ” We’re finishing up a tour now, then taking some time off the rest of the year to write and get to work on what’s next!”

The entire day’s mind-blowing lineup and set times are listed below.


Blue Ridge Rock Festival Set Times for Friday 9-8-2022



Sevendust hit the stage for the first day of the third leg of their Animosity Tour celebrating the 20th anniversary hit album, Animosity. The colorful festival backdrop reflects the album cover. I have never seen a band more excited to be there, with frontman Lajon Witherspoon getting emotional with gratitude at times. His passion for the fans and rock music radiated from the Monster Energy stage during the 8-song set.


Sevendust Band Members:

Lajon Witherspoon – Lead Vocals

Vince Hornsby – Bass

John Connolly – Lead Guitar

Clint Lowery– Rhythm Guitar

Morgan Rose – Drums



Underoath delivered a whirlwind heavy metal set with the screams of lead vocalist Spencer Chamberlain. Band members completed the storm by rocking every inch of the massive stage delivering headbanging fare to the masses.


Underoath Band Members:

Aaron Gillespie – Drums, clean vocals

Christopher Dudley – Keyboards, percussion

Timothy McTague – Lead Guitar, backing vocals

Grant Brandell – Bass

Spencer Chamberlain – Lead vocals

James Smith – Rhythm guitar, percussion, backing vocals



Canadian rockers, Theory of a Deadman, delivered their naughty menu of rock from classic to heavy which, surprisingly, ended in a rousing singalong rendition of the country tune “Friends in Low Places (Dewayne Blackwell cover).” Versatile Frontman Tyler Connolly commanded the stage and performed for the camera like a pro.


Theory of a Deadman Band Members:

Tyler Connolly – Lead vocals, lead and rhythm guitar

Dave Brenner – Rhythm and lead guitar, backing vocals

Dean Back – Bass guitar, backing vocals

Joey Dandeneau – Drums, backing vocals



GRAMMY-winning rock hurricane, Halestorm, one of the most anticipated bands of the festival, pulled out all the stops for BRRF. The lighting and production were insane as Lzzy Hale’s powerhouse voice blew through the raceway with hits like “Freak Like Me,” “Back From the Dead,” and “I Miss the Misery” complete with powerful screams only she can deliver. She and guitarist Joe Hottinger had a blast performing for the cameras as well. Drummer Arejay Hale, shrouded in heavy fog, was not as visible as usual for the photographers’ first three songs. He is an expert showman delivering massive energy behind the kit.


Halestorm Band Members:

Lzzy Hale – Lead Vocals, rhythm guitar, acoustic guitar, keyboards, piano

Arejay Hale – Drums, backing vocals

Joe Hottinger – Lead Guitar, acoustic guitar, backing vocals

Josh Smith – Bass, keyboards, piano, backing vocals



French death metal titan, Gojira, founded as Godzilla in 1996, naturally invaded the Monster Energy stage with its innovative, adrenaline rush hits. With pyro filling the stage as frontman Joe Duplantier’s incredible vocals rang out. At times there were technical issues, so the musicians naturally took the lead like pros.


Gojira Band Members:

Joe Duplantier − Vocals, rhythm guitar

Mario Duplantier − Drums

Aldrick Guadagnino – Lead guitar

(Christian Andreu left tour to be with newborn child)

Jean-Michel Labadie − Bass



At this point, a choice had to be made whether to cover Alice Cooper at the smaller/farther URW stage, A Day to Remember at a main ZVN stage, or Insane Clown Posse at the remote Fan Driven stage, possibly missing Mudvayne as well. For me, the choice was not hard.

As a Christian myself, I was fascinated that Alice Cooper, the shock rock godfather of the 70’s, became a Christian in the 80’s and is still going strong drawing huge crowds at the age of 74. I thought I might never see him perform live until he showed up on the bill for BRRF, I had hoped to see female shredder, Hurricane Nita Strauss perform with them as well, however she had left the band earlier this year. Nevertheless, I was excited for the set Friday night. Anticipation was high as two rows of photographers, mixed with artists and guests with All Access Passes, packed tightly into the smaller pit ready to capture the godfather, himself.  We couldn’t move, and the set was 30 minutes late starting.

Alice Cooper‘s stage, shrouded in fog with a haunted castle backdrop, created the perfect creepy atmosphere for his performance. The man himself strutted on stage to the roar of a massive crowd starting with “Feed My Frankenstein,” as a giant monster roamed the stage. Cooper’s voice had that gravelly growl matching the show’s ghoulish ambiance. After photographing the first three songs, I hung back at the soundboard for a while to capture more. It felt surreal seeing monster hits from my teenage years performed live. Unfortunately, his macabre theatrics, complete with a guillotine, appeared towards the end of the set after I had ascended the “Hay Hill” for the night, hoping to capture some photos of Mudvayne from the crowd. With Cooper’s set starting late and Mudvayne’s set nearly over, that proved impossible. However, choices had to be made, so welcome to my nightmare.


Alice Cooper Band Members:

Alice Cooper – Vocals/Harmonica

Chuck Garric – Bass/Vocals

Ryan Roxie – Guitar/Vocals

Tommy Henriksen – Guitar/Vocals

Glen Sobel – Drums




Blue Ridge Rock Festival Day 2 had thousands headbanging their way into whiplash heaven. The crowd’s excitement was palatable and Southern hospitality abundant. Looking ahead to Day 3 with top rock artists slated for the biggest night of the festival, the weather forecast was calling for heavy rain. I wasn’t sure what Day 3 would hold.


Blue Ridge Rock Festival Day One Coverage.




Follow Alice Cooper online:

FBIG Website TW YT

Follow Halestorm online:

FBIG Website TW YT