The last weekend of October was the Rock N Skull festival just outside of Chicago at the Tree of Joliet in Joliet, IL. The lineup consisted of a pre-party kick off and then 3 days full of rock n roll with bands from all around the world. So I decided to hit the road and check it out for myself and see just what the hype was all about for the relatively new festival.
So how did we learn of Rock N Skull over in Illinois? Pretty simple, whilst over doing some coverage at Sweden Rock Festival this past summer one of the bands I chatted with, Eclipse, told me they were headed to the states for their first appearance at Rock N Skull. This was to be their second ever USA show. Of course hearing this, I had to check out this festival. As many readers know, there is a lot of coverage on this site of bands from around the world so they get exposure here in the states. It’s important to talk about the bands making good music from anywhere in the world that they are making it and that’s what we advocate here quite often. With that said, tickets were purchased whilst in Sweden to make sure not to miss this show.
As time passed between June and up until Rock N Skull in October there was a lot of buzz about the upcoming show and all the bands on the lineup. Something that really struck me deep to my core was the fact that this festival not only had some really well known bands on their line up, they also had bands I’d never heard of before. I really dig that this show promoter is not only promoting well known groups, but others that are either huge elsewhere in the world but not really known here in the states or are upcoming bands still working to get their names out in front of music fans. These kinds of shows are at the core of what music is about. To me, music is about experiencing them all, all career/status levels of bands. Hearing something old and familiar and then something totally new is what it’s about. Having this platform available to so many musicians that also draws in the fans and exposes them to these other bands is a great way to keep music alive.
Rock N Skull hit its fourth year in 2016 (First year it was called Skull Fest). It’s still a small festival, where festivals are concerned. It’s not huge like Rock on the Range, Wacken, Sweden Rock or other festivals that size. It’s still a bit more intimate but growing as each year rolls around and their fan base continues to grow. Festivals are especially hard to get started and running around the USA and the fact this one has survived and continued to thrive is a major accomplishment just making it this long. Growth will come as fans share their experiences and media continues to talk about it. Personally, I enjoy smaller shows when you are really wanting to connect with the show or the artists, so this smaller size was exactly what I was looking to take part in.
The lineup for this years Rock N Skull was:
Thursday night Pre-Party: Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns of L.A. Guns, Enuff Z’ Nuff, Johnny Gioeli of Hardline and Axel Rudi Pell, Keith St. John of Montrose and Burning Rain, & Drivin’ Rain.
Friday: L.A. Guns, Jetboy, Babylon A.D., Anthony Corder (unplugged, Tora, Tora), Todd Poole (unplugged, Roxy Blue), The Fifth, Johnny Lima, Ammuition, House of Shakira & American Bombshell.
Saturday: Brian Howe (Bad Company), Danger Danger, Jack Russell’s Great White, Pretty Boy Floyd, Tuff, Eclipse, Martina Edoff, LiveSay & The Radio Sun.
Sunday: Stephen Pearcy & Friends, Junkyard, P.J. Farley (Trixter), King of the Hill, Tango Down, American Bombshell (Encore performance replacing TigerTailz who had to cancel last minute due to visa issues) & Innersiege.
Whilst I wasn’t able to make the Pre-Party show, I have heard from many that it was a fantastic warm up to the full event. You can read about it from my friends over at Decibel Geek who were there for the pre-party event.
I did make the full 3 days of the actual festival itself and let me tell you, it was a great time! Friday’s show kicked off with a bang that set the vibe for the rest of the weekend to come. With this being a smaller show, the bands were out and about in the venue mingling with fans and other artists before and after their sets. Most of the artists also did signing sessions with their fans. This added an even better experience for the fans to feel like the were a part of the festival rather than just attendees of the festival.
There wasn’t a single bad show during the 3 day festival. There were a few sound issues, but what festival out there doesn’t have a few issues every year? There were those bands who stood out and those who stole the show for sure. Everyone who attended has their own favorites from this show as well as I do. But simply from the crowd response as each of the bands that performed I have to say for certain the undisputed highlights were L.A Guns, Jetboy, Eclipse (who in my opinion, stole the entire festival), Danger Danger & Stephen Pearcy and Friends. This takes nothing away from all the artists who performed. They were all fantastic performances and all of these bands should be on your radar to catch them live and listen to their music. LIVESAY and Tango Down both have new albums out too via Kivel Records, definitely worth picking up a copy! I have to say that I enjoyed all the performances and felt this was a great lineup, well done Rock N Skull!
For those of you looking for a new festival to attend, this might just be the one for you. Next years festival is set in a larger venue at Avanti’s Dome in Pekin, IL to allow more attendees, yet still keep that smaller festival feel. The dates are set for the last weekend on October 27-29, 2017 with a Thursday night pre-party Oct 26th. They’ve got all the information available in a couple of places. There’s an official Rock N Skull Facebook page and a official Facebook Event for RNS 2017 page where you can find the ticket link and lineup information as it is revealed. Head over and check them out, chat with other RNS fans and hope to see some of you out there next year at Rock N Skull 2017. In the meantime enjoy some photos below. Full galleries of the band performances are available in our gallery. (Not all are loaded just yet, but will be up shortly.)