When you hear WJRR’s Earthday Birthday your first inclination might be to think it’s a concert. While music might be the main course of this iconic event, there really is a lot more to it. I guess the best way to describe it would be to say that it’s an all-day experience. There are so many sights and sounds to indulge in that no one will leave disappointed. I really wanted to take advantage of the whole Earthday Birthday adventure, so I hit the road early to ensure I’d be there when the gates opened at 11 am. This year the event was being held at Tinker Field in downtown Orlando, which meant a short 20-minute drive and the ability to avoid I-4 altogether. As I neared my destination, I observed several parking lots already filling up and throngs of people walking through the streets toward the venue.
I picked up my pass, navigated the check-in process and made it to the A-Game Hydration Stage (Main Stage) just in time for The Click’s set. These guys have been rocking the Florida music scene since the 80’s. They belted out an array of straight forward, rockin’ covers much to the delight of the crowd. Being booked as the opening band for a 12-hour festival might seem to be a tough position to be in, but The Click lived up to the task.
Larry Misrahi: Vocals, Bass
Joe Hernandez: Vocals,Guitar
Danny Howe: Vocals, Keyboards
Allen Lynch: Vocals, Drums
As I made my way to the Even The Odd Stage, which was located at the other end of the complex, I could hear that the next performer had already started his set. The unmistakable sound of rap filled the air and I soon discovered the source. Minnesota native Will Robinson, aka Muk Boy, already had the crowd hopping. The self-described acid and emo rapper put on an energetic set that was nothing short of entertaining.
Next up was Nobody’s Fool – A Tribute To Cinderella. Having grown up in the 80’s I am a huge Cinderella fan and couldn’t wait to check these guys out. When I first heard singer Sam Bittenbender I couldn’t believe how much he sounded like Tom Keifer. They proceeded to play all of the favorites including “Gypsy Road,” “Somebody Save Me,” “Don’t Know What You Got” and “Shake Me.” The band was spot on it was really easy to forget that it was 2021 and not 1986.
NoBody’s Fool-A Tribute To Cinderella:
Oklahoma City’s Kirra was ready to go and put out a turbo-charged set including their latest single, “Crutch.” This hard rock quartet was founded in 2013 and has been rocking hard ever since. Lead vocalist Gabriel Parson has been with the band since 2018 when he was chosen to replace Jesse Williamson who was lost in an untimely auto accident. If you get a chance to check out Kirra live, don’t miss it.
Gabriel Parson: Vocals
Daxton Page: Guitar, Backing Vocals
Ryne McNeill: Bass, Backing Vocals
Zach Stafford: Drums
1:15 meant it was time for Royal Bliss. This band came roaring out of Salt Lake City Utah back in 1997 and have spent the last few decades pleasing crowds all over the country with their hard-hitting rock and roll style that the people can relate to. Lead vocalist Neal Middleton fronts this down-to-earth band and that is quite an accomplishment considering he barely survived a 2003 accident that almost left him paralyzed. The crowd was on their feet for the entire set and to say they were pleased would be an understatement. Their lyrics, “I like it hard, loud, out of control,” pretty much summed up their set.
Neal Middleton: Lead Vocals, Guitar
Taylor Richards: Guitar, Vocals
Jake Smith: Drums
Brian Hennesy: Bass, Vocals
For the next half hour the Even The Odd Stage belonged to Farewell To Fear. Even before the set started, guitarist Tommy Gibbons was playing to the crowd as he leaned toward the pit while putting up the horns while sporting a nefarious grin. Farewell To Fear is no stranger to the music scene and have been tearing it up for years. The circle pit was in full flow during the set and the band’s newly released single, “Brainwashed,” was well received. Having recently signed with Golden Robot Records the band is looking forward to a world tour and new music in the coming year.
Farewell To Fear:
Mike Craig: Vocals
Tommy Gibbons: Guitar
Bill Staley: Guitar
Jimmy Adams: Drums
Jeremy Sevens: Bass
Now it was time for Zero 9:36 to take over the main stage and that’s exactly what they had in mind. Matthew Cullen, aka Zero 9:36, hails from Philly and has made an impact on the music scene with his rapping, singing and lyric writing skills. Cullen appeared on stage and launched into several minute long rap before being joined by the rest of the band. This dynamic set really got the fans pumped up and they seemed oblivious to the near 90-degree temps. As with all music festivals, the abbreviated sets always seem to end too soon as was the case today. Be sure to keep an eye on Zero 9:36 as I’m sure that some pretty big things are in store for 2022.
Matthew Cullen: Vocals
Tyler Riley: Guitar
Emmanuel Andre Mendives: Keyboard,Guitar
Jake Smelley: Drums
In between sets I really tried to walk around and catch a lot of the other events going on. There were a lot of very cool vendors and even a tarot card reader. I was able to check out some wrestling courtesy of Atomic Revolutionary Wrestling and also admire the grace of a stilt walker. KTS Action Sports had their high-flying BMX riders and even former World Series Champ Johnny Damon made an appearance.
3:15 was Fozzy time and I must confess that this was one of the bands that I’ve been dying to see. I have heard so many great things about the band and I knew it was going to be a great show. From the second they took the stage it was as if one big, never-ending explosion had gone off. There was so much going on it was hard to stay focused. Lead singer Chris Jericho hit the stage clad in a black, red, and gold jacket with skulls and black pants that bore the names of several Fozzy songs. This was the most fired up that the crowd had been up to this point. Fozzy pounded out hit after hit including “Sane,” “Painless” and “Enemy.” Guitarist Rich Ward was like a blur of perpetual motion and rhythm guitarist Billy Grey couldn’t keep the smile off his face. These guys were a well-oiled machine, and it was plainly obvious that they love what they do. Before ending their set Fozzy performed their hit “Judas” and if that wasn’t enough they knocked out a spirited cover of AC/DC’s “Dirty Deeds.” After the set ended, I knew exactly what I had to do. I made a beeline for the merch table as I realized that a Fozzy shirt was a must-have.
Chris Jericho: Lead Vocals
Rich Ward: Lead Guitar,Keyboards,Backing Vocals
Frank “Bud” Fontsere: Drums,Backing Vocals
Billy Grey: Rhythm Guitar,Backing Vocals
P.J. Farley: Bass,Backing Vocals
After making my way through the merch table I was able to get to the Even The Odd Stage just as Seven Past Sunset got started. This band originated out west and has been together for almost 5 years. Singer Dustin Hites came out wearing a superman tank top and wasted no time in scaling the support beams. From his perch high above, he continued to serenade the crowd below. This performance was high-powered and really had the crowd involved. Just as things were progressing, I had to cut out as I noticed my batteries starting to wane. Be sure to check out Seven Past Sunset if you have the opportunity.
Seven Past Sunset (Line up obtained from band website):
Dustin Hites: Lead Vocals
Johnny Krill: Guitar
Jeremy Rober: Bass
Scottie Vining: Drums
Straight out of Los Angeles, Dirty Honey was another band that I was anxious to see. Their self-titled 1st studio album was released earlier this year and the band had played recent shows in Florida including Opening for the Black Crowes a few weeks ago. Singer Marc LaBelle came on stage wearing his trademark Nick Fouquet hat and the show was underway. The set started off with drummer Corey Coverstone laying down the beats as the band performed “Gypsy.” Sporting sunglasses and Slash-like hair, bassist Justin Smolian provided the thunder while guitarist John Notto’s appearance reminded me of a youthful Malcolm Young from AC/DC. As the band played “The Wire” Labelle hopped down into the pit and onto the railing in order to give fans an up close and personal experience. The last song of the set was “Rolling 7s” and the crowd was sorry to see it come to an end. I’m fairly sure that the next time I see them they will be headlining their own tour. Yes, they’re that good.
Marc Labelle: Vocals
John Notto: Guitar
Justin Smolian: Bass
Corey Coverstone: Drums
Dirty Honey Setlist:
2. California Dreamin’
3. The Wire
4. Another Last Time
5. When I’m Gone
6. Rolling 7s
At this point my feet were feeling it as I hurried over to the Even The Odd Stage to catch The Other La. This 4-piece alternative rock band is from Louisiana but currently calls Nashville Tennessee home. This female-fronted quartet ignited the crowd with songs such as “Speak Soft” which is the band’s newest release. The infectious “Waiting On The Rain” was also a hit with the audience. Lead vocalist Aria Fowler’s lyrics rely heavily on her experience with Asperger Syndrome and her ability to rise above adversity.
The Other LA:
Aria Fowler: Vocals
McKenzie Lee: Bass
As 5:15 rolled around it was finally time for 10 Years. I was supposed to cover one of their shows earlier in the year but they were forced to cancel due to Covid. Another product of the great state of Tennessee, 10 years has been making music for more than 20 years. Front man Jesse Hasek came out and his all-black outfit was complimented by a white jacket and a white plague doctor’s mask. As the crowd responded the band blasted into “Shoot It Out” from their Feeding The Wolves album. The band seem impervious to the Florida heat as they went to perform a blistering 45-minute set. The band included several songs from last year’s album, Violent Allies, including “The Shift,” “Deja VU” and “The Unknown.” In what seemed like a blink of an eye it was time to bring things to a close and the guys did it in style with the hits “Wasteland” and “Novacaine.”
Jesse Hasek: Lead Vocals
Brian Vodinh: Lead Guitar
Matt Wantland: Rhythm Guitar
Luke Narey: Drums
Chad Grennor: Bass
10 Years Setlist:
1. Shoot It Out
2.The Wicked Ones
4.Cut The Cord
5. The Shift
6. Now Is The Time
The next band up, Vampires Everywhere, seemed to be right up my alley. I saw these guys hanging out earlier and as someone that celebrates Halloween all year long, I really dig the whole dark and evil thing. This gothic quintet is full of so much energy they really should have been on the main stage however they were determined to give the fans a fiery performance despite the constraints of a small stage. Prior to the band taking the stage, drummer Jesse James Smith stood stoically atop his kit with his horns displaying hand raised high. The rest of the band took their places, and it was on. Lead singer Michael Orlando, aka Michael Vampire, was front and center, flanked by all 3 of his guitar playing vampire bandmates. The band, or coven if you prefer, took full advantage of their 25 minute set and gave the crowd what they wanted. There was no shortage of tattoos and flying hair which is exactly what you’d expect. The guys have just released their latest EP The Awakening and it includes a cover of The Weeknd’s “The Hills.” Vampires Everywhere are heading out on tour so be sure to check these blood suckers out when they fly into your town.
Michael “Vampire” Orlando: Lead Vocals
Louis De Pointe Du Lac “Beautiful One”: Guitar
Tyler Strattin: Bass
Craig “Nello” Pirtle: Guitar
Jesse James Smith: Drums
Candlebox has been a staple in the music industry for more than 30 years and was here today in Orlando in support of their recently released album Wolves. Founding member and lead vocalist Kevin Martin greeted the crowd wearing a simple white shirt with the word “nobody” inscribed on the front. The band kicked things off with their new single “All Down Hill From Here” and from there the party was on. The guys really seemed to be enjoying themselves and the fans reciprocated the feeling. Songs like “You” and “Cover Me” were performed with an obvious passion that really seemed to move the crowd. As the sunset started to fall from the sky the band brought their set to an end with their monster hit “Far Behind.” A perfect song to end a perfect performance.
Kevin Martin: Lead Vocals
Brian Quinn: Lead Guitar
Island Styles: Rhythm Guitar
Adam Kury: Bass, Backing Vocals
BJ Kerwin: Drums
As night fell the entire area surrounding the main stage began to really swell. Due to a last minute, and somewhat confusing, Covid protocol I wasn’t permitted to shoot Shinedown from the pit area. After failing to find an elevated spot I was resigned to attempt to do the best I could from the crowd. At 5’7″ this wasn’t a successful venture but hey it was still a great show. As the lights went out Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band could be heard from the house speakers. The band then took the stage and started things off with “Cut The Cord” and then went right into “Unity.” I’ve got to say that the lighting used throughout the set was nothing less than spectacular. Before performing “45” lead vocalist Brent Smith took the time to personally thank WJRR and its staff for always supporting the band. He also expressed thanks to all of the fans in attendance. During the performance of “Enemies” bursts of fire shot up from the stage as the hyped-up crowd went nuts. When guitarist Zach Myers grabbed the acoustic guitar and the lights dimmed, everyone knew it was time for the performance of the Lynyrd Skynyrd classic ballad “Simple Man” and what an emotional performance it was. The entire 2-hour set was done in typical Shinedown fashion concluding with an amazing display of pyrotechnics and fireworks. I can safely say that this was the exclamation point on another epic Earthday Birthday event courtesy of WJRR.
Brent Smith: Lead Vocals
Barry Kerch: Drums
Zach Myers: Lead Guitar, Rhythm Guitar,Backing Vocals
Eric Bass: Bass,Piano,Backing Vocals
1.Cut The Cord
3.Fly From The Inside
4.State Of My Head
5.If You Only Knew
9.I’ll Follow You
12.How Did You Love
19.Sound Of Madness
Follow The Click Online:
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Follow Dirty Honey Online:
Follow The Other La Online:
Follow 10 Years Online:
Follow Vampires Everywhere Online:
Follow Candlebox Online:
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I’ve had a love for photography since I was young. Whether it was a Polaroid or a Kodak 110, I was always the kid with the camera. My love of music goes back even further. Nothing beats being at a show when those lights go down and the crowd goes nuts.