ShipRocked 2017 is in the books and as a media partner via The Chop Shop, I’m saddled with the arduous task of describing what it’s like to experience 4 full nights of pure rock & roll heaven in the format of a quick blog post.
The 44 concerts, spread out across 5 on-board venues on the Carnival’s Victory while cruising the Atlantic under sun-filled and/or star-filled skies is billed as The Greatest Vacation on Earth, and if such a thing is possible, that may be an understatement.
Let me start with the obvious. It’s a giant ship with all the amenities, the weather was between 77 and 83 degrees, the beverages are never-ending and the settings are all picturesque. The headliners were Alter Bridge, Breaking Benjamin, Papa Roach and Pop Evil. But you can find bands, drinks and sunshine on any ocean cruise. Here, however, are 5 things you won’t find anywhere else.
1. Great bands, both big and small who all want to be on the ship and interacting with the fans. In truth I have an unfair advantage here as I know most of the bands from my 26 years on the radio, and am even friends with several of them. But you find yourself with strage interactions like chatting with Josh Todd of Buckcherry while waiting for our omelets to be cooked or hugs in hallways while working my way from one venue to the bar to the next venue with Oli Herbert of All That Remains or my Detroit brothers in Wilson, the bands are often as excited to see us, as well as each other as we are to see them.
2. Once in a lifetime performances. The Stowaways are a ShipRocked exclusive all-star band with a rotating cast that, for this sailing included members of Buckcherry, Hoobstank, King’s X, Type O-Negative, All That Remains, Aranda, The Cult, P.O.D plus Bummlefoot and Geoff Tate. But why stop there? The Stowaways also invite members of the other bands on the ship up to jam. This year’s two biggest highlights for me were seeing Sonny from P.O.D., Jacoby from Papa Roach and Josh Todd of Buckcherry all work together on a cover of The Beastie Boys “Sabotage” and a very special version of “Black Number 1” featuring Kenny and Johnny from Type O-Negative playing with Matt DiRito of Pop Evil on bass and Johannes Eckerstrom of Avatar as the front man!
3. Once in a lifetime performances (Part 2). Queensryche, and even variations of the band these days appear numerous times on my concert resume, but now I can add a true Geoff Tate acoustic performance to that list. Geoff did a wonderful set of QR songs that featured his unique and powerful vocals supported only by the acoustic guitar work of Bummlefoot, and those of singing along in the crowd 5 decks high.
4. Unusual interactions. You can see your favorite bands at a local venue anytime, but when was the last time you saw members of Sevendust play members of Papa Roach in a game of Family Feud? Not only did it happen, but each team called up unsuspecting members of the audience to play on their teams as well. You also had the guys in Wilson as judges for the belly flop contest, and while swimming in the ocean on Grand Turk, and walking her beaches, I saw numerous band members. My talk on the beach with Ben Burnley was longer than my actual Chop Shop interview with him.
5. Family? – Or maybe some kind of strange cult. We call ourselves ShipRockers, and most of us treat the ship like it is our own. Most of us treat the staff and security teams like they work for us. Most of us take pride in this unlikely community of rock & roll. Many of us stay in touch the other 51 weeks of the year and even offer help to each other when another ShipRocker has a sick animal or simply needs a ride while in, oh let’s say Texas. It’s a weird family, but it really is a family vibe, one that extends to the bands, their crews, the crew of the ship, stagehands, engineers and all of those who bust their buts to pull of The Greatest Vacation on Earth. - Steve Black