Having grown up listening to the greatest rock classics and adding heavy metal to my repertoire over the year. I’ve collected albums, band t-shirts, autographs and even started photographing concerts, yet I’m still surprised I’ve never heard of Shiprocked before last year.
I did my homework… I checked their website, emails and various Facebook pages, just to know what to expect. Even though I thought I was ready, I had no idea what was coming. For those who still wonder, Shiprocked is a 5-day cruise, featuring 26 bands of rock and heavy metal music. More than 50 performances on 4 different stages, sun, a ton of wrist band collecting, a parlor tattoo, alcohol and a family for life.
On Friday, January 25, 2019, the city of Galveston, Texas, was gradually invaded by hundreds of rock and heavy metal music fans, all dressed in black. From accessories to the effigy of skulls and for some, proudly wearing their t-shirts from previous editions of Shiprocked, it was under the theme of ”Day of the Dead’ that Shiprocked 2019 was launched by a pre-party. A pub crawl, which by any means is a tour of various bars in Galveston with the aim of collecting stamps. On the menu for tonight, was taking pictures, meeting some bands already in town, tasting different types of alcohols and in the end, locals handing over t-shirts emblazoned with the pub crawl logo. First exchanges of the famous wrist bands were made within minutes of arriving at our hotel. (This is a tradition of Shiprockers exchanging custom-made rubber bracelets in the colors of their region with various slogans for individuality.)
Despite a well-watered evening the day before, we headed for the port and started boarding procedures on Saturday morning. To be honest, the energy and excitement that emanated from this crowd sharing such a great common love of music, was indescribable. Nothing to do with the concerts I had attended before. From my first step on the boat we were given an identification card with the inscription ”Survivor” or ”Newb” depending on whether it was your first year or not. This allows others to kindly make fun of us, but above all give us a hand when we feel a little lost or overwhelmed by so many options.
After escorting us to the buffet for a few hours, we were able to access our rooms and thereafter, like any typical cruise, security and safety measures. It was after a few speeches, as well as the announcement of an 11th year for Shiprocked (this time from New Orleans) that Wilson launched the 10th edition on the main stage and that we left the port. No one was in a better position than this colorful and crazy group from Michigan to start this adventure. The evening then continued with nothing less than Them Evils, Nonpoint, Motionless In White, Badflower, Sevendust, Blacktop Mojo, Bullet For My Valentine, 10 Years and Rivals.
Sunday: Day at Sea
Sunday was rather quiet for this first day at sea. Although a few brave people attended the morning yoga and bingo session, the boat hit very strong waves which made the majority of the boat’s passengers very nauseous. It is with Dramamine, Tums and above all… passion, that the bands managed to get on stage. At noon, Them Evils started the 2nd day of concerts. Followed by Badflower, Raveneye, ’68, Monster Truck, Tremonti, Hyro The Hero, The Acoustic Stowaways, Skindred, Suicidal Tendencies, Islander, Nothing More, I Prevail and comedian Brian Posehn accompanied by Derek Sheen. We also had the first fiery appearance of Jacoby Shaddix (Papa Roach), during the performance of Nothing More’s ”Don’t stop”.
Monday: Stop in Cozumel
Due to the storm of the previous day, the equipment for the beach party that was planned for our stop in Cozumel, Mexico, was damaged. With the sun shining down and heat once again in the air, Blacktop Mojo, this year’s new favorites didn’t hesitate for a second, and delivered an incredible performance acoustically, and best of all, on the beach!
At 6 pm, back on the boat, dozens of rock legends blew up the main stage for our 3rd evening. After the Stowaways, we were then treated to incredible performances from Rivals, Islander, 10 Years, Altitudes and Attitude, Royal Thunder and Atreyu. Of course, the headlining of Papa Roach, stole the show. A still nauseous Jacoby from the day before who, showed no signs of sickness, and unleashed for more than an hour on the main deck. Revisiting their biggest hits as well as their more recent songs off their latest album that launched 10 days before sailing. During their hit single ‘Who Do You Trust?’ that Papa Roach tore the ship apart. The ceiling of one of the bars literally gave way under the weight of the energy and vibrations that ignited the audience!
Following the last performances of the evening, we headed to the casino where a live band was leading the karaoke party. We had a few surprises, including Joey Belladonna of Anthrax who took the microphone, to sing a song.
Tuesday: Stop in Yucatan
Tuesday was a moment of rest and relaxation for all. The majority of Shiprockers took advantage of the 2nd stop in Yucatan to partake in local expeditions or simply enjoy the sun and good Mexican dishes on the beach. Once our batteries were recharged, we boarded just before 6 pm to attend the 3rd Stowaways performance, Artists Q and A and as well as for a 2nd time, Monster Truck, I Prevail, Nonpoint, Raveneye, Davey Suicide, Bullet For My Valentine, Nothing More and Brian Posehn.
On Shiprocked, each evening has its own costume theme. Tuesday night was without a doubt the most popular with its theme ”Dynamic Duos”. We were treated to Mario and Luigi, Soap and Luffa, characters from Beetlejuice and, special mention, to Donald Trump and his wall, which in my opinion was very original!
Wednesday: Day at Sea
The last day was non-stop, the boat was full of activities in addition to the last performances. Morning yoga was followed by Beers and Bingo, Belly Flop in the pool, games, 2 meet and greets, an auction for Cancer Sucks and so on. The afternoon was also filled with Hyro The Hero, Atreyu, as well as the screening of Brian Head Welch’s film ‘Loud Krazy Love’.
In an amphitheater filled by the Shiprockers as well as several bands who came to show their support for Brian, Loud Krazy Love deals with Welch’s family life which was greatly affected by his popularity, and his way of life, mostly out of the ordinary and often unhealthy. Following the screening, we were treated to a Q and A with Brian himself. It’s no surprise that at the end of the session, we saw Jacoby from Papa Roach take the microphone, his voice broken, to congratulate Brian on his work and to emphasize that it was high time that someone brought this problem that many of them suffer from to the forefront.
The rest of the last night was followed by Royal Thunder, Motionless in White, Joey Belladonna of Anthrax came to do covers of Journey, Suicidal Tendencies,’68, Tremonti, Brave The Royals, Papa Roach, Sevendust, and Skindred. Without question the total destruction of the boat from the inside, came from Shiprocked 2019’s last performance… Wilson. Due to the damage to the equipment for the outdoor concert, Wilson had not yet had the chance to offer us a 2nd show. The technical team went out of their way, and decided to set Wilson on the smallest stage on the ship, in front of the Amphitheatre. In what is usually a bar area, the crowd could see from balconies on the upper floors all the way to 11. Papa Roach vigorously encouraged people to attend Wilson’s performance at the end of their performance on the top deck. Wilson paralyzed the boat for THE last performance of 2019. The room packed to the brim, people gathering in the stairs, balconies and corridors to have the chance to hear and see this last gigantic party.
The bravest of souls, still having a few drops of energy, grouped in the casino to drink some, (by which I mean a lot) more alcohol, during one last night of karaoke with the band.
Thursday: Return to Galveston
Thursday morning, with barely a few hours of sleep under my belt, and so many incredible memories, I packed my luggage and put on my Shiprocked hoody. Lining up to exit with the thousands of other passengers, still exchanging their last bracelets, phone numbers or Facebook friendships, it was with a pinch at the heart that I left the boat.
I survived, I’m not a ‘NEWB’ anymore.
In less than 5 days I attended the most incredible performances and had the chance to chat with artists I had worshiped for years. I also met some fantastic people, who are now part of a second family. When I was informed of the price 6 months ago, I found it ridiculously expensive but now that I’ve experienced Shiprocked, every dollar is worth it and I’d even be willing to pay more for the chance to rub shoulders with some bands for a few days.
For more information on the 11th edition, visit www.shiprocked.com and who knows… Perhaps we will have the chance to exchange our bracelets next year?
Review by Marie-Christine Quirion
Photos by Sean Matthews