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Rocklahoma 2008 RockEyez was There!!

By Dave Felix
Mark Balogh
Mark Balogh
 Brian Rademacher & Ray Button
Brian Rademacher & Ray Button our media escort
Dave Felix
Dave Felix
Day Four Photo Gallery
  • Black N Blue
  • Every Mother's Nightmare
  • Karneval
  • Kix
  • Lita Ford
  • Lynam
  • Storm
  • Tora Tora
  • Trixter
  • Warrant
  • Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
    Day 4 Day 5 Day 6

    DAY 4

    Saturday was “originally” supposed to be our busiest day yet. The main stage alone had PRETTY BOY FLOYD, EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE, TORA TORA, BLACK N’ BLUE, TRIXTER, LYNCH MOB, KIX, LITA FORD, and WARRANT all slated to perform. And that was just the main stage! Not to mention other great bands on the side stages like BIG COCK, KARNEVAL and LYNAM just to name a few. This was going to be huge and we were prepared to try and take in as much of it as possible… or so we thought.

    We all really wanted to see BIG COCK but the 10:00am start was just too early to handle after not getting to sleep till just a few short hours before so needless to say, we overslept a bit. When we finally woke up, we all quickly got ready, checked the weather report on TV and were out the door. The forecast called for a hot, sunny day with scattered thunderstorms through out the afternoon. Initially we weren’t even going to bring our umbrellas, but after hearing that there may be some more wet weather in the forecast, I shoved them into my duffle bag just the same. Then, after hearing on the radio on our drive down that the thunderstorms were more of an inevitability now than a possibility, we stopped in the Wal-Mart just outside of Pryor to see if we could pick up some rain ponchos. Of course, the place was packed with people sporting ROCKLAHOMA or artists’ T-shirts and there wasn’t a poncho to be found so we headed on over to the festival grounds very unprepared for what “Mother Nature” had in store for us later that afternoon.

    By the time we arrived, parked and checked in, EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE was already about half way through their set. This is another band I can’t honestly say I was ever a huge fan of. I had seen them several times in the past… quite by accident in their opening slots for other bands and they’ve always been “good” to me but just never warranted me running out and buying one of their CD’s. That being said, from what I saw today was no different. They were good, entertaining and the crowd seemed to get into them but since I really am not all that familiar with any of their actual song titles, that’s about all I can say.

    By this time the sun was just beating down relentlessly on the hordes of fans already gathered for the day’s entertainment. It was hot… and I mean HOT! “Tarzan couldn’t take this kind of heat!” But seriously… by the time EVERY MOTHER’S NIGHTMARE ended their set, it was pretty bad sending a majority of the crowd either back to the vendors where they could stock up on water or, if you were lucky enough, into the VIP tent to cool off. We decided to seek our refuge in the media tent.

    Do I really have to say it?

    Ok… I will. By the time we got back there, of course, the PISTOLEROS were already on hand and the “Chip Z’Nuff golf-cart taxi service was already in full swing. We had already missed the PRETTY BOY FLOYD, TORA TORA and BLACK N BLUE press conferences but they were bringing in some of the side stage artists like THE JAKALS and LYNAM at the time and the TRIXTER press conference was not too far off so we settled in to our seats in front of the giant fan, got ourselves a complimentary bottle of water and just relaxed for a little while. We got to spend a little time with Jacob Lynam who was very, very cool and I was definitely looking forward to trying to catch their set later on in the evening.

    Getting a little “too” comfortable in the media tent, we had all almost forgotten the recently reunited original TORA TORA line-up was about to take the stage. Brian and Mark both decided to just hang out under the tent due to the sweltering heat… as did I, but I stepped outside for just a bit to try and at least catch a few of their songs. From there, I witnessed songs like “Phantom Rider,” “28 Days” and a lot of others from their debut release “Surprise Attack.” Lead vocalist Anthony Corder couldn’t have sounded better and now reunited with all original members; guitarist Keith Douglas, bassist Patrick Francis and drummer John Patterson, I really hope these guys try and hold it together for a while and get some new material out there real, real soon. Of course their set ended with their popular MTV hit “Walkin’ Shoes” which, although I did not actually witness it myself, I heard was a real show-stopper and perfect ending to a highly entertaining set.

    As I just mentioned, I unfortunately had to miss the last couple of songs in the TORA TORA set because the TRIXTER press conference was just about to begin and being from Jersey, there was no way I was going to miss that! One by one they entered the tent… Steve Brown, Pete Loran, PJ Farley and finally Mark “Gus” Scott… otherwise know as New Jersey’s own TRIXTER! Obviously I have been a fan of these guys for many, many years… even before they were signed to Mechanic/ MCA Records so many years ago. I always thought that these guys got a bad rep because I don’t think (although I did like it) their first release really did them justice. While the essence of the songs remained intact, I always thought they came off as just a bit too “poppy” or “bubble-gum” sounding on the release which was never what these guys sounded like live. But with the emergence of all the “boy bands” in their time period and their overall young age, I really think their producers and record label went out of their way to try and portray these guys as the hard-rock answer to NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK! But, whatever… you all know how that “corporate machine” goes.

    It was really great to see these guys all together again, though. They hung around for a little bit after their press conference and both Mark and I enjoyed our individual conversations with the band members. They were all just as friendly and personable as we remembered from so many years ago and it was a real treat for us to take a little bit of a walk down “memory lane”… even if it was a short one.

    After TRIXTER said their good-byes and left the media area to get ready for their set, we all started to gather our things to head up for the “BLACK N BLUE set. That’s when I just happened to glance over one of the media tent host’s shoulder at the list for the upcoming press conferences and I saw… “LYNCH MOB - 3:30!” Two things immediately raced across my mind… an excited “HOLY SHIT!” and a resounding “FUCK!” Originally LYNCH MOB was not slated to attend at all, so I was really, really thrilled at the opportunity to meet one of my all time favorite guitar players George Lynch. But on the other hand, I was a little disappointed because their press conference, of course, was during one of the bands I really wanted to see… BLACK N BLUE. Oh well… it’s impossible to see and do everything you want at a festival like this so I opted to stay back and wait for George and the guys… trying to listen or peek in at the BLACK N BLUE set whenever I could.

    Sure enough, about 15 minutes after BLACK N BLUE hit the stage was when I saw the “Guitar-God” himself for the first time, Mr. George Lynch! He actually showed up a few minutes before the rest of the band and was just kinda hanging out and talking with the people who approached him. I have to admit, for the first time in a LONG time, I felt a little bit intimidated. I mean after all, how many times in your life do you actually get to meet someone who you have idolized since you were a kid? So with a deep breath, I walked over and said “hello”… at least I think that’s what I said! It’s all kind of a blur, but anyway… we actually got to talking a little bit about Jeff Pilson, Veronica Freeman and the work he had done with them and what he would be doing in the near future. Before you knew it, he was giving me his email address and the name of his PR rep to set up a private interview! All the time, the only thing I can remember flashing across my mind was, “HOLY SHIT! YOUR’RE FUCKING TALKING TO GEORGE LYNCH!” and a brief second where I just couldn’t help but think of the scene from “Wayne’s World” when Wayne and Garth dropped to their knees bowing and exclaiming “We’re not worthy! We’re not worthy!” when they met Alice Cooper! No, I didn’t actually do it although, as I said, the thought actually did cross my mind…

    But it was great! An absolute highlight of the whole trip (for me anyway) and it wasn’t long before the rest of the band showed up as well. All the guys in the band were equally as nice and courteous as George himself. I got to talking with Oni Logan a little bit as well… just an overall great guy in addition to being such an incredible vocalist. Then both Marco Mendoza and Fred Coury from CINDERELLA who were sitting in on this manifestation of LYNCH MOB were a lot of fun to meet and be around. Just a great, great bunch of guys who are not only a credit to the industry, but to humanity in general.

    As for the BLACK N BLUE set I so desperately wanted to see? Well, in between everything that was going on with LYNCH MOB in the media tent and up until they left the area and I could head outside to the field, I tried to catch as much as I could. Let me just start by saying Jaime St. James was just awesome! He sounded great and these were the songs he was meant to sing… not WARRANT as he had done right here just the year before. In WARRANT he was “ok.” A decent enough fill but he just never captured the songs the way Jani Lane could but let me tell ya, hearing him once again belt out songs like “Action,” “Nasty, Nasty” and “Stop The Lightning” proved once and for all that THESE are the songs he is meant to sing and NO ONE could capture them the way he does. And the rest of the band was just superb as well. Very tight and very entertaining… “Hold On To 18” was definitely one of the highlights as was “Wicked Bitch” but I unfortunately didn’t hear my favorite song “Miss Mystery” and honestly don’t know if they played it at all. I really wish these guys would stick together and play around a little more often because I still think this band has a lot of music left to write and a lot of songs still to play.

    By this time, the heat was absolutely unbearable. I even remember Eddie Trunk stepping out on the stage briefly to tell the crowd to “drink a lot of water” and “stay hydrated.” Good advice because if you didn’t fork out all the extra money so that you could gain access to the VIP tent, there wasn’t anywhere you could hide.

    I was originally standing up on the field, but shortly after the BLACK N BLUE set, I made my way down in front of the main stage where a lot of the other photographers were just hanging out and trying to catch some shade from the stage while waiting for the TRIXTER set to begin. But as I said, there really was no where to hide and I must have looked like I was pissing in my shorts because the sweat was just streaming down my legs and gathering in a small puddle in my boots. We were just baking but… whatever, by the time TRIXTER hit the stage, we had forgotten all about the heat and got ready for one Hell of a show.

    It was great to hear all the old songs again. “Only Young Once,” “Bad Girl,” “Line Of Fire,” “Heart Of Steel”… I had almost forgotten how good these guys were live! Pete Loran sounded just great and you could tell these guys must have put in a lot of rehearsal time preparing for this because they sounded just as tight as they did last time I saw them back in 1993! Steve Brown just shredded through the old songs… even adding a bit more of that harder, edgier sound to the music while Farley thundered away on his bass and Gus simply went absolutely nuts behind the kit. It really seemed like these guys were having a great time together and the crowd definitely reacted to all the energy flowing off the stage. I had to laugh just a little bit to myself looking around at the crowd and seeing guys sporting MEGADETH or ARMORED SAINT T-shirts banging their heads along with the music… guys you just KNOW were probably poking fun at the bands “poppy” reputation just moments before.

    It was great to see but nothing could prepare the fans or the crowd for what happened next. We had noticed some clouds gathering in the distance about half-way through the TRIXTER set so while they were still playing, we decided to start walking up top just in case of a downpour. By the time TRIXTER began playing their signature song “Give It To Me Good,” the clouds opened up and rain began to pour down in buckets on the unsuspecting crowd. We had momentarily taken refuge in the Retrospect Records merchandise tent where we actually ran into the guys from BLACK N BLUE hanging out and signing autographs for their fans but as the wind began to pick up, we decided to get back to the media area as fast as we could.

    With one last huge clap of thunder, a flash of lightning and fighting some near 40 mile per hour winds at this point, I took one last look up at the big screens only to see the cowboy hat that Pete put on just a few minutes before get ripped from his head and blow across the stage as security began to run out to rush the band to shelter and the dozens of fans who tried to stick it out scatter like papers in an explosion! This was just nuts! Mother Nature certainly was “giving it to us good!”

    By the time we actually got into the media tent, we were absolutely soaked. Security was doing their best to try and hold the tent together which was now flooding with water and we were actually wondering how the fan was still running… thinking it might be time to cut the power! But as the winds picked up, the flaps of the tent blew open despite the security guards’ best efforts to keep them closed. The support strings hammered into the ground began to pop out or snap and the wooden support beams began to shutter. At this point, a couple of us ran over to try and help hold the tent together… that’s when security simply started screaming, “RUN! RUN!” With that, we all scrambled over towards the over-hang on the wooden building next to the artists tent. PISTOLEROS were running everywhere within the mob of press and guests and for just a brief second, when I looked up in the sky I swore I saw Chip Z’Nuff being swept away on his golf cart not unlike the witch in the tornado sequence from the Wizard of Oz!

    But seriously… it was pretty bad!

    Just looking around into the crowd now gathered under the over-hang, it was pretty easy to tell just who was who. The west coasters had a rather scared expression on their faces and were the ones who tended to be a bit more emotional in their actions. Us east coasters had more of a look of bewilderment as oppose to fear… or, in other words, that dumbass “HOLY SHIT!” look and as for the mid-westerners, they were acting like it was just another day and were the ones pretty much holding everything together.

    So from our point of view, this was definitely a “HOLY SHIT!” I mean we had seen storms of this magnitude before but they never lasted more than just a few minutes. This storm kept up at this strength for close to an hour and with nowhere else to go, we all just kinda huddled together under the awning to wait it out.

    The artists’ tent right next to us was pretty flooded at this point as well. This one held together a little bit better than the media tent did, though, and as the storm continued on, people’s confidence began to build that this one was not going to get ripped apart like the media tent and a few people began to head in to take a seat on one of the rain soaked chairs still standing. We decided just to stay put for the moment, that is until we saw a very familiar face in the there... none other than Gus from TRIXTER! Feeling a bit more brave now from our ordeal, we went in to join him and let me just say that of all the artists we got to meet and spend time with over the last few days, our little visit with Mark “Gus” Scott under the artists tent during the “monsoon” will be one of the most memorable for all of us.

    The first thing we said (thinking about how he and the rest of TRIXTER had to run for their lives just a short time ago) was, “What the Hell are you doing here?” His more than appropriate response was, of course, “Free Beer!” As he motioned to the line of fresh beer taps adorning the back of the tent attached to the giant beer truck Parked behind. After a few minutes of him insisting that we all get a cup and sample the “artists brew,” we got to talking about old times in Jersey, the band and what they had all been up to over the years as well as the plans for the bands’ future. “Right now,” he said, “We are just going to be playing larger festivals and such. There really isn’t all that much in it for us to try our own tour right now and with most of us scattered all over the place, it just isn’t possible.” Yeah, it was a little disappointing to hear that as we were desperately trying to convince him that the band and himself should play Dexter’s in Jersey but I guess we’ll see where it all leads after the summer festivals. Aside from that, it was just a really great, fun conversation and before you knew it, we were all laughing and joking as if we were all kids again back in Studio One! (It’s a Jersey thing… if you don’t know you wouldn’t understand.) Even Brian who tries to maintain that stout, professional demeanor most of the time while he’s working events seemed to loosen up and was relaxing and having a good time as well. It was just a blast and as the rains poured down and the winds wailed outside, we were having one of our best times all week. Thanks Gus for all your hospitality and kindness… I know none of us will ever forget it.

    The aftermath…

    Right around 7:00pm, the winds started to die down and the rain slowed to a light drizzle. From what we had heard from people talking under the tent and awning, there were two more huge weather systems moving in to the area so if we were going to make a move, it had to be now. So as Gus headed back to his tour bus and the people who were all just about held as prisoners either under the awning or in the tent from the storm began to disperse, we quickly gathered our things together and started making our way back to the car. Mark was finally able to get our other friend Lance, who had ran into the VIP tent on the other side, on the cell phone and headed up through “gate 11” to try and hook up with him on the field. Brian and I walked around through the artists parking lot and through the vendor stands to try and get back to the car. That’s when we first saw it…

    As we came up out of the tent area and shuffled down the rain drenched road leading from the artists’ parking lot to the north stage and vendor area, we noticed the Retrospect Records stage had been completely destroyed. The once seemingly strong supports adorned with rows of speakers both on the stage and hanging over it were all but gone leaving all the equipment in virtual shambles. It looked like a giant erector set which had been pummeled… heavy supports and beams were twisted and bent, all the equipment was virtually smashed and the once large Retrospect Records banner which at one time had hung so proudly over the metal monstrosity laid there soaking in the mud. It was shocking to say the least and it only got worse as we circled around to the other side. The merchandise stand where we had met BLACK N BLUE just an hour or so before was completely demolished as well and the field itself looked more like a swamp than a field at all. This was a lot worse than we had thought.

    We stepped back to take some pictures and just then, we could see Lance and Mark coming up from the other side. Once we hooked up with them, we found out from Lance that the Tri-Label stage didn’t fair much better. Lance would go on to tell us about how all the people were screaming and scattering on that side just as the storm hit and that he had made it into the VIP tent just in time to watch the south structure buckle and fall. It was really creepy to see and experience.

    As we continued to walk out, we tried to speak with some of the perplexed security guards scrambling around or one of the law enforcement officials but none of them had any real idea of what had happened or what the extent of the damage or injuries were. Lance was telling us that there were definitely some people hurt in the VIP tent area and as we continued to walk, we tried to pay close attention to what anyone was saying. We heard rumors ranging from everything from the festival being shut down to someone actually being killed! It was all very disheartening so we decided to just get in the car and maybe go into town for a while to get some food and dry off before checking back later to see what was going on.

    When we got to the police stop just before the main road which led into town, all the cops were just waving on the oncoming cars with their flashlights and saying stuff like, “Let’s go! Let’s go! Get out of here! It’s over!” With that, we decided that maybe it would be better if we simply went back to the hotel… so we did.

    We walked in the lobby just around 9:00pm… soaked, muddy and still in a little shock after hearing and seeing everything that had gone on. Some other folks who had been attending the festivities as well arrived just about the same time and were telling us a little bit about their ordeal. They said that the authorities had shut down a portion of the road for a short time so that they could get the injured out as quickly as possible. Then they started trying to force everyone else out of the area saying things like, “The festival is over for tonight. Go home!” So that’s why they were there with us about the same time.

    After a few minutes of talking, we headed back to our room. The rain had picked up again and it was pouring outside but we were hungry and wanted to go and grab something to eat. We freshened up a bit and Brian downloaded both his and Mark’s pictures on to his lap top computer. We wanted to try and get the story up as quickly as we could so as Brian worked on the photos, I grabbed my lap top out and began typing my initial short summary based on the information I had gathered. Of course, it took me a little longer to write than I thought so I stayed back in the hotel room to finish the article and get it to Steph while they went out for some food. That was fine with me… I got to finish up my article and relax for a bit while trying to find out any further information I could on the whole ordeal either on TV or online… but there was nothing until a brief short on CNN a couple of hours later.

    Over the next few hours and into early the next day, all the facts began to finally emerge into a real story which is nothing short than an absolute miracle.

    Despite all the mayhem, destruction and chaos, NO ONE was seriously hurt which alone was an absolute blessing to hear. There were numerous scrapes, scratches and bruises but the most serious injury reported was a broken arm. What a relief in itself and an absolute credit to the staff and authorities who acted so quickly to try and keep everyone safe. Thank you all… you all deserve a serious round of applause from everyone attending the event… artists, press and fans included for being able to maintain and control a situation to the best of your ability which otherwise could have had a lot more catastrophic consequences.

    Then came an additional shocker!

    I hate to sound cliché but, you’ve all heard the old expression “The Show Must Go On!” Well… that’s exactly what it did.

    All the artists scheduled on the main stage got to perform. From LYNCH MOB to KIX and from LITA FORD to WARRANT, all played their somewhat abbreviated sets which wrapped up about 1:40am. All the while, the event staff rushed diligently to salvage as much equipment as they could to transform the two huge bar areas in the back on either side of the field and another tent towards the center rear into 3 make-shift stages where even all the bands scheduled for the side stages got to perform. They worked all through the night in the pouring rain and straight through Sunday morning but they accomplished yet another marvel in getting these three areas up and running to keep the event going. Again I say… thanks to all the event staff for all your hard work and efforts to keep ROCKLAHOMA 2008 going!

    Now knowing that everyone was safe, there were no major catastrophes or injuries and that the show would indeed continue, my thoughts turned quickly to “SON-OF-A-BITCH! I missed LYNCH MOB, KIX, the return of Lita Ford and WARRANT!” But, what could you do under the circumstances? I know we weren’t the only ones as we heard only a few thousand fans actually made it back and stuck it out in the pouring rain all night so, chalk it up to inexperience. Maybe next time we’ll be a little more prepared for something like this but it really was disappointing. I really wanted to see all of the artists on the bill and Brian was feeling especially down since he missed his friend Michael Ross (ANGEL and countless others) who was playing keyboards for Lita Ford. Just the day before, we had actually run into Michael during one of our visits to the media area and he was just an awesome, awesome human being. He even had plans of trying to drag Brian up on stage for the Lita Ford set as his personal photographer! But alas, it wasn’t meant to be and to tell you the truth, after meeting Michael in person, we were all starting to feel bad about having to miss him perform.

    Since our return to Jersey, I have seen a lot of clips on You-Tube from what actually went on that night. I am not going to give any sort of review of the bands because I know that watching a You-Tube video is nothing like being there in the flesh, but from what I have seen and heard, we apparently missed one incredible performance after another. I am sure you can find a more accurate description of those artists on or elsewhere from someone who witnessed it all first hand.

    As for me, yeah I am still disappointed that I missed all of the artists and what went on that evening but more importantly, I am disappointed that I am not able to give you a more accurate description of the evening’s festivities. So for that I do sincerely apologize but I promise that what I have in store for Sunday should more than make up for it…

    DAY 1
    DAY 2
    DAY 3
    DAY 4
    DAY 5

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