ShipRocked welcomed music lovers from 49 states and 20 countries for four days and nights of music, on a ship loaded with the biggest and best hard rock groups around today.
This was ShipRocked's fourth voyage, and 2012 set the bar high for future cruises. The lineup of bands was huge, with headliners KoRn, Godsmack and Five Finger Death Punch joining P.O.D., Sevendust, Filter, 10 Years, In This Moment, Fuel, Pop Evil, Lit, Helmet, Queensryche's Geoff Tate, Gilby Clarke and many others. They rocked the ship on from bow to stern on four different stages for four days and nights, an experience next to impossible to describe in only a few words.
On November 27, the MSC Poescia embarked from Port Everglades in Ft. Lauderdale and traveled to Key West, then to Nassau, Bahamas, before returning to Florida on December 1. Celebrities hosting the event included MTV's Matt Pinfield, Sirius/XM Radio's Kayla Riley and Shannon Gunz, and Melissa Krahnke & Ralph Sutton from the Tour Bus Radio show. Many other big names in the music industry were also on the ship doing their best to mix relaxation with work, and everything in between.
At 6 p.m., the Poescia set sail from Ft. Lauderdale en route to Key West. The first concert of our voyage was by some ShipRocked newcomers, the Boston boys known as Godsmack. Anxious fans even got to watch the band members do their own sound check, a rare occurrence. (Few roadies at sea.)
An hour later, the weather was warm and very windy as the seated Godsmack began an energetic acoustic set on the Monster Energy Deck Stage, on the ship's thirteenth level. Singer Sully Erna told the crowd that this was his first cruise, and he was no fan of boats, but he seemed to be having a good time so far as the band belted out songs new and old. Both fans and other musicians mingled in the crowd watching Godsmack, as members of Sevendust, Lit and KoRn shook hands and took pictures.
Around 9:15 p.m., 10 Years took the stage for a very energetic show, with singer Jesse Hasek climbing on a set of speakers in an attempt to energize the crowd even more than it already was. The Monster Energy Deck Stage was the largest and definite favorite of all the stages, with loud and crisp sound whether fans were standing in the front row or lounging in one of the jacuzzis near the back.
Later that night in the plush indoor Carlo Felice Theater, which seated a little more than 1,000 people, heavy hitters Five Finger Death Punch played to a packed audience. The lack of space for a mosh pit didn't slow the band down at all, and they put on such an intense show the floors probably shook seven levels above them.
The concerts were scheduled like a regular large music festival would be, with some shows and times overlapping. Every ShipRocked band performed twice, giving fans a chance to see bands they may have missed play again a few days later.
As fans finished watching 5FDP, they exited into the smaller Zebra Lounge - with just enough room by the stage to not hit your head on the ceiling - just in time to catch part of In This Moment's performance. Singer Maria Brink was just as theatrical as she normally is on a larger stage, with the entire band in costumes and makeup. They played all their hits, strongly focusing on new album Blood, which already seems to be a favorite among their fans.
Before ITM's set was even over, Sevendust put on an energetic performance around midnight on the Deck Stage, eight floors above the Zebra Lounge. Singer Lajon Witherspoon didn't let the windy conditions slow him down one bit and kept the crowd fired up as the Atlanta band, on its third ShipRocked, played older, heavier tunes like "Black" and "Bitch."
Other bands that performed the first night were The Letter Black in the Zebra Lounge and Pop Evil, who played in the intimate Pigalle Lounge, where fans could stand by the stage or enjoy the music on one of the many plush couches. Also that night, a VIP Cocktail Party allowed the cruise's VIPs to mingle with many of the musicians while sampling different cocktails and enjoying tasty hors d'oeuvres.
If all this weren't enough, at 1 a.m. Lit's Jay Popoff DJed a late-night deck party that went on into the wee hours of the morning. Many of the bars stayed open late, and even after all the concerts were over, many shiprockers continued partying until they couldn't any longer.
There was not much time for rest, but seeing as the ship was due to dock in Key West early the next morning, everyone needed at least a few hours of sleep. The second day had ten more concerts in store, plus a meet-and-greet that no fan would want to miss.
Come back tomorrow for Day 2.
Keep the Houston Press Free... Since we started the Houston Press, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Houston, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Houston with no paywalls.