Day 4 of Rocklahoma…
Day four and the last day of Rocklahoma and I am so lucky Mark brought that sunscreen or we would be toast with this weather! We got off to a good start this time as there was no traffic to deal with!
As normal, we got our credentials and went right to the media tent to see a new band that has a bright future; some of these guys are still in their teens so watch out for them. They’re named REVENGEANCE and they did a very short question and answer session because NELSON were waiting in the wings for their conference. Not many of the side stage acts had press conferences but really no need for that when you can meet basically all the side stage acts personally and ask what you wanted as they were all very approachable. Next up to the press stage was NELSON. They fielded questions and were even asked by my partner in crime, Mark Balogh, as to what’s going on with Scrap Metal, which is their all-star side project. Mathew answered that the project just seems to get bigger and bigger with different vocalists constantly being added to the lineup. The NELSON brothers came to the press conference by themselves but it would have great to see drummer Bobby Rock and ask him about his participation in the long-lost CARNIVAL OF SOULS project, but that’s the breaks I guess. NELSON took about 20 minutes of questions and off they were to do some further press and radio interviews. Only one person got a picture and an autograph before they rushed off and that one person was me! Lucky me huh?
At about 1:45pm the first side stage act was about to get rocking at The Fun House Stage; REVENGEANCE and the talk was echoing in the crowd these boys are really good especially vocalist Taylor Dennis, what a prodigy. The band played about 40 minutes and to a fairly big crowd whom they made a great impression on.
Onto GREAT WHITE’s press conference where media were warned ahead of time questions that couldn’t be asked. You know someone would ask those stupid questions so I totally agree with emcee Rick Vyper’s reasoning. Jack Russell was carried on and off the stage because of an old injury that re-occurred; he was walking with a cane but was very responsive to questions with smiles and laughs. The band took about 30 minutes worth of questions and off they went to do some further radio press.
Next up was a band we came to Rocklahoma for on a high-interest level and that was the German legends BONFIRE. First off I want mention something and I am not sure if its ego or attitude but BONFIRE were scheduled to play a side stage as well as the main stage over the course of the weekend but cancelled the side stage appearance which totally disappointed fans. I have no shame in saying this festival is suppose to be for fun with no ego or attitude; I didn’t see bands like L.A. GUNS, FASTER PUSSYCAT, BANG TANGO or any other band have an issue with playing the side stages. Actually the side stage is where everything was popping. In fact it was so happening you couldn’t get near those DIRTY PENNY boys stage and that’s why you don’t see any live photos in our review. The only shot you will see is an off-stage shot because Johnny remembered us from last year and our previous coverage of the band. It looks like DIRTY PENNY is about to exploded so jump on their bandwagon now!!! Oh shit, I forgot all about BONFIRE! They hit the stage at 2:35pm and played some of their classics like “Sweet Obession”, Don’t Touch The Light”, “Sword And The Stone” as well as some newer tunes like “Under Blue Skies”. Claus’s vocals have not missed a beat after all these years and the band was tight and played flawlessly. BONFIRE haven’t been to the USA in so many years it was a bitter pill not seeing them on a side stage up close and personal but fans seemed to make the best of their appearance on the main stage even if the crowd was a little bit small at the somewhat early hour in the day.
Next up at 4:25 was NELSON who were excellent but never really came to the front of the stage. They played their 60 minute set to a mostly female audience, no wonder, having two “Ken dolls” on stage! I’m sure the women were happy! Regardless, these guys are genuine and not one of those molded bands that lip-sync. They play and they play hard and with that they get great respect. Everyone remembers the long blonde hair and flashy stage clothes from back in the day but you can’t deny they have some great tunes in their catalog. Original drummer Bobby Rock bashed the skins and new guitarist Neil Zaza ripped it up on the six string. I didn’t catch the keyboardist’s name but the band was solid all-around and I hope we get some more live NELSON dates in the future here in the US.
Next up was VOUGAN at the Fun House Stage. I knew the works of VOUGAN through vocalist Carlos Zema‘s work with the band OUTWORLD. If you want to check out how powerful Zema is then go watch OUTWORLD’s “War Cry” video on YouTube. He’s the real deal! I heard about his attitude and ego but to tell you the truth I talked with him for about 15 minutes before his set and I did not see anything like that. The man was appreciative and humble during the bands set thanking the people of America for letting the Brazilian band into their hearts. VOUGAN played their 30 minute set to a fairly packed tent and ended their set with my favorite VOUGAN tune “Unspeakable”. Look for these guys to make an impact in metal music in the near future.
Next up where the “Mistabone”’s themselves GREAT WHITE and these guys kicked ass even with Jack Russell hobbling around on stage. They’ve always been an exceptionally tight live band and even though Russell looked pretty uncomfortable on stage they ran through the usual hits. But it was tough at times to watch Russell up there. Hopefully he recovers fully soon.
Mark & I took a short break and got some cold drinks to try and stave off the heat and then it was onto SKID ROW. You didn’t think these boys would give up after the loss of Sebastian Bach did you? Johnny Solinger has brought the band to a total resurgence for the past 10 years now. And he worked the crowd from side to side just as well as Bach did back in the day with his non-stop energy and masterful vocals. Solinger is the perfect fit for the SKIDS. I really loved the old days of SKID ROW and seeing them in Jersey clubs. And last year Bach played Rocklahoma with his solo band and was outstanding but this year there was no backseat taken by SKID ROW as they kicked into high gear blowing others away on this day. A solid performance by a solid live band.
Mark suggested we should check out BATON ROUGE next, so we jumped over to the Retrospect Stage and caught these boys with the great Kelly Keeling on vocals sounding as good as ever. You could hardly move in that Retrospect tent as it was wall to wall people. I only stayed for a part of the show while Mark was enjoying the set. The boys had to cut their set short because of time limits but they did play fan favorites like opening number “Walks Like A Woman”. Keeling, Bullen and company certainly raised the bar for side stage bands on this evening. It was great to see them back on stage after 17 years and good job by Retrospect for making it happen.
Well Rocklahoma was about to come to a close this year with the final main stage of the evening. TWISTED SISTER took the stage and what a spectacle it was to see with all the costumes and make-up (besides having a great light show too). You know the tunes… “We're Not Gonna Take It”, “You Can't Stop Rock And Roll”, “I Wanna Rock”, “The Price” and my personal favorite, “Under The Blade” and just so many more. TWISTED put on a fully annihilating show that blew the doors off the backstage area. Streams of fire mixed in with all that hot pink color on stage… these guys still bring the house down after all these years… What an ending to a brutally hot four days in Oklahoma but it was totally enjoyable meeting so many artists and even some friends we made at last years event. If nothing else Rocklahoma is a giant 4-day PARTY that celebrates a great genre of music and it’s always well worth the trip!
Next up will be our final wrap-up of the entire event with many candid band and fan photos.