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KNAC.COM Recaps The Inaugural Warlando Festival 2021

By Travis Failey, Planet Earth Contributor
Friday, September 24, 2021 @ 7:14 AM

September 11th In Orlando, FL

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All Photos By Travis Failey

Warlando...What is it good for?JUDAS PRIEST, that's what. Not only did JUDAS PRIEST headline the Inaugural Warlando festival in Orlando but they were also joined by SABATON, SOULFLY, IL NINO and many more heavy metal bands on Saturday September 11th.

JUDAS PRIEST is out on tour celebrating their 50th anniversary and the Warlando tour stop was their fourth show since the shutdown and prior to the date, there was a huge buzz for the band. For many concert goers and metal heads specifically, this would be their first concert in over 18 months.

As with most festivals and concerts that take place during March through September in Florida, the first thing you do the week before and all the way up until game day is check the weather forecast and prepare accordingly. Well of course, massive heat and rain was to be expected and a journey up the I-4 corridor aka "disastercore" was in play. All of these played a role in getting to the fest later than expected but when we arrived, we were treated to a surprise in the performance by the band, UNCURED.

UNCURED is the reason you get to shows early or see bands that you don’t know or never heard of. They are led by brothers in guitar Rex and Zak Cox who were both teen guitar prodigies. Mixing a blend of heavy and crunchy guitars mixed with technical layering and melodic tones, UNCURED doesn't belong in any single basket or label especially with what they are also doing vocally. I was impressed with Rex Cox's vocal range and ability to harmonize with his brother Zak while Zak also contributed with brutal backup vocals while Liam Manley on drums and Micah Smith on bass handled the back line. While their set was limited, they made new fans not only in myself but many in the crowd as UNCURED is the future of metal not only because of their age but what they are producing in the studio and on stage.

Headlining the "Front Line" stage was Tommy Vext, formally of BAD WOLVES. To be completely transparent, I was never impressed by BAD WOLVES as a whole, especially their cover of THE CRANBERRIES' "Zombie". This song broke the band and put them on solid rotation on terrestrial radio and SiriusXM.

Fast forward 3 years and BAD WOLVES and its lead singer Tommy Vext have had a contentious breakup to say the least. Each party has accused the other of stealing songs and writing credits and this was brought to the stage by Vext during his set. What’s always interesting though when a band splits with their singer is that the singer brings the voice that the fans recognize, and most fans go with that voice.

Putting this aside though, I was impressed by Vext's performance along with his band. He played the hits that he helped create with BAD WOLVES including “Sober” and the fans sang along en masse. He addressed the crowd throughout including saying the one thing about girls from Florida are that they choke back.

It will be interesting to see how his career plays out as he is controversial in his views and doesn’t mind stating them. He is a polarizing figure in a lower-level band and most times in the music industry this will not bode well long term. Love him or hate him, the man has a great voice.

Back on the Monster Energy Main Stage was another band I’ve never seen live and was super happy we were there to check them out was IL NINO. The energy this band has was worth the price of admission. At one point they had five guys, yes five, playing drums with three always onstage including bongos.

Founded by David "Dave" Chavarri in May 1998 out of Union City New Jersey, IL NINO started their set with “If You Still Hate Me” and then “This Is War” and never took their foot of the gas when they finished their set with “How Can I Live”. During their set, I noticed the first large mosh pit of the day and a few women in the crowd. I loved their set and how they mixed some funk and metal together and how vocally efficient and dominating their lead singer Marcos Leal was. After their set we talked to Marcus for a minute, and he was super appreciative that we were out there covering the band and of the compliments that we gave him about their set.

Next up for the Warlando crowd was a band I haven’t seen in 20 years since Ozzfest 2000 in SOULFLY. Led by founder Max Cavalera, SOULFLY had the biggest pits of the day and their set was a true example of musical brutality. They were joined on stage for this tour by FEAR FACTORY’s Dino Cazares and the band didn’t miss a beat. SOULFLY played 7 songs including “Eye For An Eye” and “Bleed” from their catalogue along with “Refuse/Resist” from SEPULTURA and “Replica” from FEAR FACTORY. Needless to say, some fans needed to get their necks checked by their chiropractors on Monday.

SABATON was another band on the schedule that I’ve never seen before Saturday. I usually do my preshow video watching etc. for photography purposes but with them I wanted to go in blind and with an open mind. One thing was for certain, SABATON brought a lot of loyal fans and supporters with them. Some of those were geared up wearing their armor/battle type shirts, vests and SABATON sweat bands.

Many of them were on the rail all day and I never witnessed them leave for a drink or bathroom break so they wouldn’t lose their cherished spot. Chants of SABATON came from the crowd as their intro "In Flanders Field" played through the P.A.

SABATON and their charismatic crew of metal warriors bounded to their positions as their fearless leader and singer Joakim Brodén started their set with "Ghost Division" and then "The Attack of The Dead Men". Following these, Broden then addressed the crowd and welcomed them to Warlando which got a huge pop. Early during the set the band all donned gas masks and performed with them on which had to be hot as hell with the humidity at peak levels all day but they pulled it off with flying Swedish colors.

A big highlight of their set was when Broden asked a 9-year-old girl in the front row named Serena if she had ever seen them before and she responded with a resounding "yes" and that she was on stage with them when she was five. Broden then asked if she wanted his aviator glasses and she said she already had a pair from him and he gave her his sweaty wrist bands. He then went and gave his glasses to another happy fan in the front row. As far as the band and their playing was concerned, SABATON is a well-oiled machine that incorporates the crowd into their playing and is very animated with them and with each other.

As their set wound down with "Swedish Pagans" and "To Hell And Back" it was evident why they have attained the fan base they have. With anthemic songs that focus on historic battles etc, the crowd is always with them to assist in singing and chanting the lyrics. It’s very reminiscent of going to an IRON MAIDEN show but SABATON has a style all their own and have it down to a T. I know it may seem cliche' to say but I can’t wait to see this band headline in this area with a full set and stage production as it’s supposedly immense and impressive.

After a 30-minute stage changeover, BLACK SABBATH's "War Pigs" hit the crowd at the Central Florida Fairgrounds as JUDAS PRIEST then cranked up "Battle Hymn" as their Valhalla Cross symbol rose from the stage emblazoned in fire red and took to the skies to hang above the band and the fans.

The seven-minute opus "One Shot of Glory" gave the fans an idea that their 50th Anniversary set wouldn’t be a standard cookie cutter festival set. You would think JUDAS PRIEST would have started with something of a warmup for Rob Halford but the band and Rob came out all guns blazing as this song is extremely difficult to sing and Rob crushed it.

JUDAS PRIEST then played "Lightning Strikes" off their most recent and well acclaimed Firepower release and then played the fan favorite and usual encore song in "You Got Another Thing Comin'".

Three strong songs to start an 18 song set that was full of diversity in style and highlighted most of their albums and their 50 years of making and playing music. The set was full of highlights especially for the longtime fan as JUDAS PRIEST played some deep tracks that I for one have never seen live including “Rocka Rolla”, the title track from their 1974 release. This song has only been played live 12 times prior to this tour and none since 1976. Even rarer was the song “Invader” released in 1978 which has never been played live before this anniversary tour.

Other standout and semi-rare tracks were “Hell Patrol” and “Desert Plains” and a personal favorite in “Blood Red Skies” from Ram It Down. JUDAS PRIEST played a tribute to the 9/11 tragedy on the huge video screens behind them during this song.

As far as the band’s performance, Ritchie Faulkner is a magician on guitar and really engages with the fans more now than he did on past tours and this can also be said for Andy Sneap. Sneap has taken over for Glenn Tipton while he has been battling with Parkinson’s and looks much more comfortable now than during the Firepower Tour. We were hoping Glenn would come out for the encore but to no avail.

As the main part of the set was winding down, drummer Scott Travis asked the crowd what song they wanted to hear, and a resounding chant of “Painkiller” rang out through the festival.

Well PRIEST usually gives the fans what they want, and the thunderous bass drums commenced, and Rob Halford showed once again as he had throughout the night that his reign as the Metal God continues after all these years. It's truly amazing what he can do with his voice and the range he still can bring live. He is in a class of only a few and you know who they are.

Without taking a break, the band resumed with their “encore” by playing “Electric Eye” and “Hell Bent For Leather” with Rob on the trademark Harley, “Breaking The Law” and of course “Living After Midnight”.

If this is the last full tour that JUDAS PRIEST ever does, let it be known that they have gone out on top of their game. This 50th Anniversary Tour provided memorable songs and moments and left an indelible impression on everyone in the crowd.

We should all be thankful for what this band has provided to us, the fans, for all these years. Even though they have had their ups and downs, they have always been staunch in their conviction for the love of heavy metal and this community and have truly been the Defenders of the Faith.

For tour dates near you: https://judaspriest.com/tour/

Check out the photos from the festival!
All Photos By Travis Failey

Warlando 2021 Photo Gallery

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