WIIL Rock Fest amazing even after a seven-year hiatus. Kudos to 95 WIIL Rock. FM Entertainment and Impact Fuel Room!
As veteran visitors to music festivals, Hammy and I, would have to call WIIL Rock Festival 2022 in Grayslake, Illinois, a major success. Apart from Falling In Reverse’s announcement of pulling out of the show (due to losing their laptops), you could not have asked for much more as far as a one-day festival goes.
Mother Nature cooperated for the most part. It chilled off a little in the evening and then some rain came at the end. But all-in-all it was a beautiful day. The only thing that topped the weather for us, was the impressive lineup that 95.1 WIIL Rock Radio, FM Entertainment and the Impact Fuel Room hooked the fans up with.
Things got started with the amazing, Lilith Czar, opening the day. It was the first time for either of us seeing the band live. I am extremely happy to say it won’t be my last. The band will be hitting the high seas in late January as part of the Shiprocked lineup.
Now that I think about it, Falling In Reverse, is slated to co-headline the week with Parkway Drive. Hopefully, they locate their laptops or can secure new ones before embarkation. After all, it will be 2023.
Anyway, I digress.
Back to Lilith Czar, the band was sharp and on point. They were having fun on stage, and they left everything on the stage. Juliet Simms is an incredible front lady while the rest of the band is talented and relentless.
Speaking of giving it everything they have, Through Fire, stepped up next. They were full of energy as they have been on every occasion in which I have seen them.
Justin McCain is as talented as any guitarist as there is on the rock scene today. He has long been doing his thing, dating back to the last WIIL Rock Fest in 2015. He was the lead guitarist for the band, Emphatic, at the time.
McCain exudes the love of music and is ultra-hyper on the stage. His chemistry with lead vocalist, Grant Joshua Kendrick, is obvious as soon as the first note is struck. Through Fire has added two new members since the last time that I saw them. Tyler and Zach Halverson are the perfect compliment to McCain and Kendrick. As a group they are a must see live.
Royal Bliss, another member of the 2015 lineup, may have been the fan favorite. It may be that this foursome has had their share of bad luck. Lead man Neal Middleton nearly lost his life when he fell thirty-five feet from a balcony. He fought back through the adversity and is back on stage ripping it out.
Despite the many curve balls that have been thrown their way, Royal Bliss continues to strive to be a better band each time out. WIIL Rock Fest was no different. RB began things on fire and kept fanning the flames throughout their performance.
Prior to taking in the headliner of the second stage, the all-mighty Saliva, I snuck over to the local stage to watch Kenosha, Wisconsin’s own, Lines of Loyalty. I have become a huge fan of this talented trio and was excited to see their name added to the list, Nubz Morrison (guitar, lead vocals), Redo Ianni (bass, vocals, keys) and Shane Madsen (drums) are a no-nonsense band who puts in right in your kisser from their opening song and keeps it there the entire set.
We’re not sure what more can be said about Saliva that hasn’t already been said. They have been around since the ‘Ice Age,’ but you’ll be hard-pressed to find any band that delivers the goods like they do.
Their set of hits is an unending well of musical genius, yet their newer stuff can hold its own as well. Any time that we (RLM) have the chance to see Saliva, we’re there. I personally had the opportunity to interview Wayne Swinny earlier this year and it was one of the most enjoyable sit-downs that I’ve had the pleasure of doing. You can check that interview out at www.rocklinesmagazine.com. (shameless plug)
With things wrapping up on the second stage it was time for the main stage acts. Jackyl, who was originally supposed to be the closer on the second stage moved to the main stage to take the spot left vacant by FIR.
One thing that was not missing was the use of a laptop. Jackyl, like Saliva, has been around for decades and they interject nothing but pure raw rock-n-roll. They are one of the hardest working bands out there and they are as entertaining as they come. Oh, did I forget to mention that they are an unbelievable talented foursome.
Jackyl leaves nothing on stage. They come off the stage drenched in rock-n-roll glisten, otherwise known as sweat!
Jelly Roll was up next. I knew a little bit of what to expect, having seen his act two weeks prior at Blue Ridge Rock Fest. However, Hammy was in for a treat.
The jovial talent who calls Nashville, Tennessee home, is an amazing entertainer. He can do it all, from rock, rap, country rap to downhome country. He leaves no stone unturned when it comes to giving his fans what they want. Hammy acknowledged the fact that he was in awe of the talent that the man possessed, stating that ‘he was an incredible entertainer’.
On several occasions, Jelly Roll, recognized the young ones in the crowd and welcomed several backstage after the performance. That is the epitome of cool. He has rapidly become one of my favorites, just like the act that followed him.
Shinedown never ceases to amaze us. They are a talented group, musically, but they have the knack of mixing things up from show-to-show. The words to their songs have meaning and you can become lost in them. They are mesmerizing on stage and stay true to themselves.
Their backdrop, no matter which one you refer to, is aesthetically beautiful. The pyrotechnics are second to none. No matter how you look at it, Shinedown was the perfect way to bring WIIL Rock 22 to a close.
We at Rock Lines Magazine would like to thank all of those involved in putting this festival together. From the music to the live interviews to the incredible food trucks, you should all give yourselves a high-five and pat one another on the back for a job well done.
We look forward to doing it again. Hopefully, we return next year for what should be an annual event (or at least we’re hoping).
Until next time, this is Big L (speaking for Hammy as well) saying, ‘keep those horns up and rock on!! \m/ \m/
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