ShipRocked 2020: A Daily Diary and Photo Gallery of Rock’s High Seas Adventure

Kid Fan / Lzzy Hale / Beach Wars Participant at ShipRocked 2020, photos by Amy Harris

The 2019 ShipRocked Cruise set sail on February 1st New Orleans, making stops at Key West and Cozumel, Mexico, along the way, and returning to New Orleans on February 6th. The boat trip featured performances from Halestorm, Alter Bridge, Asking Alexandria, Living Colour, Beartooth, Hellyeah, Of Mice & Men, and many more. Our writer Liz Ramanand and photographer Amy Harris documented the 11th edition of the cruise, as seen in the diary and gallery below.

Pre-Party Gras Parade

What’s New Orleans without parades, especially during Mardi Gras month? ShipRocked 2020 had a parade around the French Quarter that took place the Friday evening (January 31st) before the cruise, complete with floats and bead throwing festivities. As the parade came to an end on Decatur Street, Hyro the Hero and other musicians delivered a performance of Anthrax and Public Enemy’s “Bring the Noise”.

Day 1

Fans gathered aboard the Carnival Valor for a vacation that would rock hard as we sailed away from Port of New Orleans. But first you have to get past the loathed (but necessary) muster drill. Unfortunately, our beloved cruise director Cookie (who is sassy and wonderful and makes the best announcements on the loud speaker) was not on the ship with us this year.

According to ShipRocked founder Alan Koenig, this year’s cruise was the largest with 3,300 people on board. As we sailed away from Port of New Orleans, the first set was delivered by Halestorm, who performed to a packed deck outside. The band showcased their 2018 album Vicious songs like “Do Not Disturb”, “Uncomfortable”, and the title track.

Like her chunky leather boots, Lzzy Hale’s voice could be smooth and sleek or tough and solid. She calmed souls with “White Dress”, “Dear Daughter”, and a powerful rendition of “I Will Always Love You”. Hale also spat venom during performances of “Love Bites”, “Freak Like Me”, and the set-ending “I Miss the Misery.” Her steadfast guitar playing matched that of fellow guitarist Joe Hottinger, while Arejay Hale looked like The Muppets‘ Animal behind the kit.

DED performed on the deck later in the evening with a high energy, fast-paced set. They unleashed tracks from their debut album Mis•an•thrope, including “FMFY”, “Anti-Everything”, and the angst-driven anthem “Hate Me”.

Over in The Theater, Sevendust guitarist Clint Lowery performed a set in support of his new solo album. While fans missed the entirety of ShipRocked staples Sevendust ion the boat this year,  Lowery and guitarist John Connolly gave us a solid Sevendust fix. One of the most heartwarming tracks Lowery performed was “She’s Free”, a song filled with admiration dedicated to his daughter. He also performed a version of Sevendust’s “Xmas Day.”

Rock veterans Living Colour shined later that night in the theater. With the 30-year anniversary of Time’s Up, the band performed an energetic set that included “Elvis Is Dead” along with a little bit of “Hound Dog” by Elvis Presley. A groovy reggae rendition of “Police & Thieves” by The Clash was also performed. The screams and falsettos by Corey Glover; spiraling guitar solos by Vernon Reid; other-worldly bass lines from Doug Wimbish; and a variety of drum patterns by Will Calhoun made for an unforgettable set. Anthems such as “Middle Man”, “Desperate People”, and “Cult of Personality” were also performed.

One moving moment in Living Colour’s set was watching all of the band members onstage chanting, “The walls between us all must fall”, while performing the song “Walls”. The legacy of Living Colour was celebrated by younger up-and-coming musicians such as Hyro the Hero and members of Ra in the crowd, as well as old and new-school ShipRocked fans on the boat.

ShipRockers partied late in the night but were ready for jam-packed day at sea.

Day 2

After everyone gobbled up a delicious brunch in the fancy dining room, meet and greets with Living Colour, Ice Nine Kills, and Beartooth took place in the morning as super long lines for merch began to form Another round of meet in greets also took place in the afternoon and included Halestorm, Badflower, and Black Stone Cherry.

The music got going with Dead Posey, Aussie band Hands Like Houses, and Hyro the Hero, who all slayed the Deck Stage in the afternoon.

Also on the Deck (and all over the ship) was a Super Bowl watch party. And for fans who wanted an alternative to the Shakira-Jennifer Lopez halftime show, Ra rocked the Ivanhoe Theater during that time.

After the Super Bowl, Hellyeah made their triumphant return to ShipRocked and honored their late drummer Vinnie Paul with a heavy and intense performance. Even the workers who served guests at the Guy’s Burger Joint station were headbanging and moshing behind the counter.

Late-night revelers gathered in The Theater for Maria Brink’s Midnight Mass. The ambiance of red light, a starry background and stage filled with candles emitted spiritual and ethereal vibes. The In This Moment singer performed covers of Radiohead’s “Creep” and Chris Isaac’s “Wicked Game” during the performance of stripped-down piano-driven songs. She ended the set with the In This Moment hit “Whore.”

Despite burning the midnight oil, ShipRockers were excited to catch some sun in the next morning in Key West Florida.

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