The severe pop-up storm on Day 1/Thursday damaged some campsites so badly, some fans unfortunately had to go home, but thousands stayed for the festival Friday looking forward to the stacked lineup. Day 2/Friday featured Slipknot, Danzig, Motionless in White and Sleep Token. I was most looking forward to photographing Flyleaf with Lacey Sturm, which has been celebrating a reunion of sorts this year.
To start Day 2, Virginia country singer and viral sensation Oliver Anthony, who joined the lineup last minute, performed on the main stage at 12:20pm. I regret having to miss him, but his entire set is on YouTube and it is included below. I hope you’ll check it out since it’s unique to have a hometown country artist at a metal show. He said he was always hesitant to book a rock festival, but BRRF fans changed his mind on this. Rock and metal fans treated him like family.
Oliver started his set by reading Luke 12:22-32 straight from his Bible. “Then Jesus said to his disciples: ‘Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothes. Consider the ravens: They do not sow or reap, they have no storeroom or barn; yet God feeds them. And how much more valuable you are than birds! Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest? … And do not set your heart on what you will eat or drink; do not worry about it. For the pagan world runs after all such things, and your Father knows that you need them. But seek his kingdom, and these things will be given to you as well. Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.’”This was met with cheers from the crowd and a host of “Amens.”
The unsigned artist topped countless music charts overnight with “Rich Men North of Richmond.” Check out his set in the videos below. The first is courtesy of Jamie Gourley’s YouTube channel and the second is courtesy of Soundlink TV’s YouTube channel.
Anthony Oliver Setlist:
(1) I Want to Go Home
(2) Cobwebs and Cocaine
(4) Doggon It
(4) Rich Men North of Richmond
The weather on Thursday promised to be another scorcher with temperatures pushing 100 degrees again, so I avoided some of the early afternoon heat. After arriving, I dropped things off in the Media area then trekked to the main stages.
Their first show in 1,313 days, Of Mice and Men started their comeback at BRRF. This American metalcore band formed in Costa Mesa, California in 2009, had not performed since 2020, and fans couldn’t wait. The oppressive heat didn’t deter moshers or crowd-surfers, especially with security spraying water on the fans, adding a little relief. This RIAA Gold Certified quartet will tour this fall in North America and Europe in support of their new 8th studio album Tether, which will be released on October 6th. At the festival, they featured live premieres of “Warpaint” which has over 1 million streams on Spotify, “Castaway,” which hit #1 on SiriusXM Octane radio, and “Into the Sun.”
Of Mice and Men Setlist:
(1) Bones Exposed
(2) Would You Still Be There
(3) Obsolete (live premiere)
(4) Castaway (live premiere)
(5) O.G. Loko
(6) Warpaint (live premiere)
(7) Into the Sun (new song; live premiere)
(8) Bloom (live premiere)
Like Moths to Flames rocked the Smart Punk Records Stage with plenty of hard-hitting metalcore. Chris Roetter, the group’s only remaining original member, delivered with two circle pits flowing and security spraying water on the crowd. Their latest studio album is No Eternity in Gold released in 2020.
Like Moths to Flames Setlist:
(1) Habitual Decline
(2) Nowhere Left to Sink
(3) I Found The Dark Side of Heaven
(4) I Solemnly Swear
(5) The Worst in Me
(6) The Preservation of Hate
(7) Views From Halfway Down
(8) Bury Your Pain
Severe storms appeared on the radar south of the venue and were moving north, so photographers were once again asked to pack up and leave the media area. I went to the car to prepare my gear for more rain. BRRF also closed the shuttle service to commuters for an hour and a half ahead of these severe storms nearby. Thankfully, they missed the venue and people were allowed in again. However, cell service became pretty much nonexistent, so it was hard for commuters and myself to figure out what was going on. I couldn’t tell if the festival was continuing.
Flyleaf with Lacey Sturm then performed on one of the main stages, but I didn’t make it back to that area in time. You can see the entire set in the video below courtesy of Lauren Fly on YouTube. Before singing “Cassie” Lacey told the story behind the song, which was based on Cassie Bernall and Rachel Scott who were killed at Columbine High School for admitting to the shooter they were Christians and knew they were about to die for their faith.
Flyleaf is an American hard rock band whose members got together in Texas in 2000. All five members are Christians, and their faith influences their music. Lacey is not hesitant to say that finding faith in Christ saved her life. She was lead singer for the band from 2002 – 2012, then reunited in 2022 as “Flyleaf with Lacey Sturm.”
Flyleaf with Lacey Sturm Setlist:
(4) Fire Fire
(5) Something I Can Never Have (Nine Inch Nails cover)
(6) I’m So Sick
(9) Cage on the Ground
(10) Fully Alive
(11) All Around Me
Motionless in White brought the heat in the night with an abundance of pyro throughout. Lead singer, Chris Cerulli, has an incredible vocal range, and a magnetic presence on stage. For “Thoughts and Prayers,” the nearly constant flashing of strobes made is somewhat difficult to photograph, but there were plenty of amazing moments to capture in songs 1 and 3. Check them out in the gallery below. Their sixth album, Scoring the End of the World which was released in 2022, explores subjects encompassing corruption, climate change, and political turmoil.
Motionless in White Setlist:
(1) Sign of Life
(2) Thoughts & Prayers
(3) Scoring the End of the World
(4) Slaughterhouse (Call and response intro; with David Benites)
(5) Headache (extended bass intro)
(6) Werewolf (with ”Undead Ahead / Thriller” mash-up intro;
stopped and restarted due to injury in crowd)
(9) Another Life
(10) Eternally Yours (The last time they would play this song for a while.)
Till Lindemann dropped out of the lineup, so Sleep Token moved to one of the main stages, and their setlist along with that of Motionless in White, was extended.
The mysterious Sleep Token took the stage at sunset shrouded in secrecy, of course. This British alt metal band from London was covered head to toe and wanted people to focus only on their music. The lead singer is known as “Vessel,” and band members go by “II,” “III” and “IV.” Vessel delivered a haunting performance drawing the crowd into his mysterious sleep fantasy, and fans were thrilled. They kicked off their fall “Rituals” tour the next day in support of their 2023 album Take Me Back to Eden.
Sleep Token Band Members:
Vessel (lead vocals)
Sleep Token Setlist:
(2) Like That
(7) The Summoning
(9) The Offering
Closing out the only full day of the festival was the mighty Slipknot. Photography team members were re-screened by the band and a subset of us were approved. We put on Slipknot wristbands and entered the pit together led by BRRF Media Coordinator Jay Wendell. Slipknot’s team, who is usually very restrictive about who can photograph them, complimented our group on how well we were organized and conducted ourselves in the pit.
Having never seen them before, this 9-man American heavy metal band from Iowa packed a powerful punch. With every member wearing a mask, vocalist Corey Taylor stepped out to lead in the headbanging mayhem on stage. (Corey Taylor was the lead singer for Stone Sour. He has been on an indefinite hiatus from that band since 2020.) All nine members displayed incredible energy, the lights were visually stunning, and the crowd fed off Slipknot’s chaotic vibe. Corey definitely displayed his vocal versatility seamlessly transitioning from screaming vocals to clean, then rapping with ease. They definitely “liberated the madness” as the closing band for night 2.
Slipknot Band Members:
(#8) Corey Taylor (vocals)
(#6) Shawn “Clown” Crahan (percussion/backing vocals)
(#4) Jim Root (guitar)
(#7) Mick Thomson (guitar)
(#0) Sid Wilson (turntables, samples, Keyboards)
(J) Jay Weinberg (drums)
(V) Alex Venturella (bass)
Michael “Tortilla Man” Pfaff (percussionist)
(1) The Blister Exists
(2) The Dying Song (Time to Sing)
(4) Yen (stopped and restarted due to injury in crowd)
(6) The Devil in I
(7) The Heretic Anthem
(8) Wait and Bleed
(11) People = Shit
(14) Spit It Out
One of the headliners Danzig would not allow photos of their set, so I did not review the band.
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Follow Flyleaf w/ Lacey Sturm online:
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Annette Holloway is a music, promo, portrait, and event photographer. Live concert photography and band/artist photoshoots occupy much of her time. Her work has been published on numerous media outlets including Billboard, Pollstar, NBC News, Getty Images, Forbes, HM Magazine, ICON Sportswire, Loudwire, CCM Magazine, and many more. Before diving into photography full time, she was a NASA software engineer, webmaster, church youth leader, and robotics mentor. For more information about her photography, visit AnnetteHolloway.com.