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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 Five Photo Gallery
  • Ace Frehley
  • Keel
  • Queensryche
  • SteelHeart
  • Tesla
  • UFO
  • Zebra
  • *

    Day 1 Day 2 Day 3
    Day 4 Day 5 Day 6

    DAY 5

    In the aftermath of the storm, we awoke early on Sunday morning more refreshed than we had been the last few days and ready for the final day of ROCKLAHOMA 2008! Still not knowing the outcome from the day before, we got up and headed out for the festival grounds not quite sure as to what to expect. We assumed the main stage acts would all be fine and go on as scheduled, but what about the side stage bands? The last we had seen of the side stages they were both in shambles and piles of twisted metal adorning either side of the main stage area. But as we got out of the car, we heard something we didn’t expect… music! No, it wasn’t coming off the main stage and wasn’t echoing through the air from the gigantic speakers which once hung high over the Retrospect Records and Tri-Label stages respectively but it was music none-the-less.

    To our surprise, the crew had turned the two large bar areas at the back ends on either side of the field into makeshift stages and performance areas where the side-stage acts were still able to perform. This was very, very cool and a credit to all the workers and crew who spent all night setting them up. They really saved the day for all the side bands and the fans and kept ROCKLAHOMA 2008 going just as strongly as it had in the days prior.

    By this time, all the water that had once laid waste to the field had all but soaked in to the soil leaving a muddy mess to walk across and once again… it was hot! But nowhere near as hot as it was the day before just before the storm hit. So with no real press conferences scheduled before 4:15pm (or at least no one we really cared about), we headed on down towards the main stage area and arrived just in time to catch the first band of the day… AXE!

    Not being all that familiar with the band, I sat down in one of the aisles near the front of the stage and was actually pretty impressed. The music itself was “ok” but what really escalated this band to another level was their stage presence. These guys were really laying it on the line and weren’t taking any prisoners! Former BLACKFOOT guitarist Brad Banhagel was excellent as he swapped leads and solos with fellow guitar extraordinaire David Landes who was equally up to the challenge and while I can’t say I knew any of their songs, they were definitely a fun band to watch.

    Next on the bill was one of my favorites… our old friend Randy Jackson and his band ZEBRA! These guys were just great and wasted no time in bringing the crowd to their feet as they opened with one of their all-time classics “Tell Me What You Want.” It’s just amazing that even after all these years, Randy’s voice sounds just as good as it ever did and while it’s been a long time since I’ve had the opportunity to see him with his counterparts Felix Hanemann and Guy Gelso, ZEBRA can still kick some serious ass!

    As their set went on, the guys continued to treat the audience to other ZEBRA favorites like “Wait Until The Summer’s Gone,” “Better Not Call” and “The La La Song” with a few LED ZEPPELIN covers thrown in for good measure… something that Randy excels at. While “Tell Me What You Want” got everyone’s attention in the beginning, “Who’s Behind the Door” added to their highlights and really captured the essence of what this band has always been about. I just never understood how a band of this magnitude never really got the attention they deserved but on this afternoon, they certainly did and it was well deserved to say the least. These guys can still rock and were a more than welcomed addition to ROCKLAHOMA 2008.

    After ZEBRA, we decided to take our first walk back to the press area. When we arrived, we were all overcome by an eerie feeling… something was wrong. Something was DREADFULLY wrong but we couldn’t quite put our finger on it at first… but then it hit us! There were no PISTOLEROS to be found! No Scotty, No Lee, No Iggy… NONE OF THEM for the first time in four days! This was really, really strange but at least we were able to breath a sigh of relief when we saw Chip Z’Nuff (still on his golf cart) come skidding around the corner from between the buses, on down past the media and artists’ tents and straight on out through the parking lot. Whew… at least some things never change!

    It was only about 3:45pm at this point and there really wasn’t a whole Hell of a lot going on in the media area. They were bringing in some of the side-stage bands to meet the press on hand and such. We got to meet all the guys from TEXAS HIPPIE COALITION as well as the girls from COCKPIT whom were all very, very cool. I actually caught a little of the COCKPIT set a couple of days before and they were pretty good to say the least and turned in one of the classiest performances I can remember at the whole festival when they dedicated their rendition of “Metal Health” to the late Kevin Dubrow. We all still miss ya, Kevin and would love to have had you here rockin’ out with the rest of us!

    Around this time, Brian and Mark headed on back up to the main stage area to catch the U.F.O. set. I was never really the biggest U.F.O. fan but I still would like to have caught them. However, ZEBRA was scheduled for their press conference shortly and I just couldn’t leave without at least saying “hello” to Randy. So I stayed back and hung out for a while and a few minutes later, they arrived. Randy seemed legitimately happy to see me and was as appreciative as always that we had come out to see them… as were the rest of the guys. We hung out for a few minutes, bullshitted a little and then I was off to catch the rest of the U.F.O. set.

    By the time I got up there I was just in time to catch “This Kids” and let me tell ya, these guys were really, really good! It was nice to see such a legendary band like this perform and not to mention the fact that these guys were probably one of the inspirations to more than half the bands on the bill and were given all the respect and accolades they deserved not only from the fans but other musicians as well. Hell, even Eddie Trunk could be seen off to stage right playing some mean-ass air guitar as the band continued on with other songs like “Too Hot To Handle,” a stellar rendition of “Lights Out,” “Baby Blue” and then finally wrapping things up with “Rock Bottom.” I didn’t hear them play their biggest (or at least most well-known) hit “Doctor Doctor” so I figured I probably missed it at the beginning. I later found out that they didn’t play it at all which was very surprising but still, it was just a killer set from a legendary group of true musicians.

    Another band I really, really wanted to see was up next… STEELHEART but again I was torn between catching their whole set and the TESLA and QUEENSRYCHE press conferences which were fast approaching as well. So again I had to make a little bit of a sacrifice as I took my final walk past “gate 11” and all the way around to the media area. DOG-GAMMIT I REALLY hope they change this stupid shit next year! Anyway…

    I got back to the media tent just moments before TESLA arrived. Eddie Trunk was, of course, on hand to speak with the band and do his pre-recorded into thing and security was all over them. They were running late so the press conference was cut short a bit as the band was whisked over to the meet-and-greet tent before being split in all different directions to try and fulfill their other media obligations before their set. The media tent cleared out and I was just gathering my things together to try and get out and catch as much of the STEELHEART set as I could when just then, TESLA guitarist Frank Hannon came walking out and noticed something I was holding in my hand. I really can’t say what it was as it’s a very special gift for a friend of mine who’s off fighting in Iraq as we speak, but Frank thought it was so cool, he actually called over a couple of the other band members to take a look at it and actually sign it! This was a real thrill and I actually got to talking to their road manager as well who was equally as cool about everything and ended up giving me his email address to try and set up an interview with the band which I hope will be happening very, very soon. Thanks guys! You really made my day and I am sure will make my friend very, very happy as well.

    After that, I snuck over by the fence to catch what I could of STEELHEART. Of course, I missed lead vocalist Miljenko Matijevic’s big entrance when he road in on a motorcycle (which I was told about later), but I was able to catch him as he jumped into the crowd to sing the STEELHEART classic “I’ll Never Let You Go.” The crowd was going absolutely fucking nuts and what a voice on this guy! WOW! Matijevic sounds every bit as good now as he did when he first recorded the song OR was the voice responsible behind Mark Wahlberg’s character Chris ‘Izzy’ Cole in the movie ROCK STAR. And speaking of ROCK STAR, that’s just how the band ended their set with a song called “Blood Pollution” which was also made popular by the hit movie and left the crowd chanting “One more song!” over and over again! In the end, they didn’t come out for an encore… more than likely due to the festival time constraints but this is probably my biggest regret of the whole week… missing some of the STEELHEART set because what I actually did hear was just incredible! I really hope these guys keep it together and get out to the east coast sometime real soon.

    A short time later, I headed back over to the media tent where I hooked up with Brian and Mark for the QUEENSRYCHE press conference. As we expected, security was extremely tight and ushered the band in and out in almost a blink of an eye but while they were there, they seemed to be having a good time with Eddie and the press as they fielded their questions prior to their festival ending set later on in the evening. We then headed out to the field area for the last time to finally get to enjoy the last three bands on the bill uninterrupted.

    Now before I get started on the rest of my concert reviews, let me take a moment to vent a little bit about the next artist… Ace Frehley. Now I am just as big a KISS fan as anyone else… NOT A FUCKING KISS FREAK! Just a fan and have been a fan of Ace’s since the beginning. I loved him in KISS and was a HUGE fan of FREHLEY’S COMET back in the day which is why it saddens me so much to say how disappointed I am in Ace Frehley the person.

    First off, Ace was one of only three artists who refused to even do a press conference at all because… you know; he’s just too big a celebrity! You honestly think that at this stage of your career you’re still bigger than QUEENSRYCHE, TESLA or TRIUMPH? Yes, your name is still a staple in rock ‘n roll history but as far as popularity nowadays, you’d be taking a back seat to more than just a few artists here on the bill and it’s funny how they all took the time to do a press conference. Hell, regardless of who I was I’d take as much press as I could get! But, he didn’t so… whatever.

    Now the next thing that happened, which is something that Brian, Mark and myself had been discussing between us since we heard Ace was on the bill, had us all a bit curious. It’s MORE than well known and documented that Ace and pretty much ALL the senior members (or ex-members) of KISS have this bug up their ass about people taking pictures, taping their shows or whatever… as if there’s this HUGE underground cult of people who can’t get enough Ace Frehley photos! (Actually, the sad thing is there probably is with all the KISS extremists out there.) But… whatever, God knows they haven’t got their hands dug deep enough into the pockets of all these morons who worship them like Gods and haven’t made enough money on all their merchandise being shoved down your throats every where you look that they are actually losing sleep over the possibility that someone may make $1.00 by selling an 8x10 glossy of one of them on Ebay! And Ace is no different. I remember Brian even telling me that during his recent appearance in New York, he was actually pointing out people in the crowd with cameras or cell-cams so that security would throw them out! And I don’t blame him. I mean after all… you know all those high-rez images people get from cell phones! Especially with no flash! LOSER!

    All that being said, at a festival of this magnitude where people are allowed and even actually encouraged to bring cameras, how or why would Ace think he could stop it or even want to be involved? The answer was just seconds away…

    As the lights dimmed before Ace’s intro and all of the photographers settled in to their spots along the front of the stage where they had been all week, all of a sudden security came running out of the back stage area screaming “No pictures! No pictures! Get them outta here!” With that, the security guards who had been setting up a barrier between the photographers and the crowd hurried to get anyone with a photo pass out of the pit. Now this made a lot of sense… So, bottom line… all the professional photographers whom had every right to be there covering the show for their respective media outlets were rushed out and off to the side while anyone else with a camera was allowed to shoot away! Good call Ace! So instead of having a lot of professionally shot photos of yourself out there, you’d rather have a ton of amateur ones floating around. Arrogance equals stupidity… remember that folks!

    Now despite the fact that I think Ace is an arrogant, self-centered idiot and nothing would please me more than to just be able to absolutely SLAM him in my review, I just can’t. His set was actually very, very good and while the set list itself was a bit strange and included KISS songs that Ace himself didn’t even sing on, Ace definitely delivered a stand-up performance which had all the KISS fanatics begging for more. While his backing band was a far cry from the glory days when he had the likes of Ritchie Scarlett, John Regan and Anton Fig backing him up, they definitely got the job done and supported Ace’s screaming guitar licks through songs like “Rip It Out,” “Rock Soldiers,” “New York Groove,” “Rocket Ride,” and, of course, “Cold Gin.” Another track I really liked was called “Into The Void” written by Ace and Karl Cochran for the 1998 KISS release “PSYCHO CIRCUS.” This was a real surprise as I never expected that one to turn up in his set list at all! So I guess as far as musically, all I can say is Ace really is a great, gifted and talented artist well deserving of all the respect he gets as a musician… but unfortunately, as a person he fails miserably.

    Towards the end of Ace’s set, I decided to start walking up to the benches near the bar area on the left side of the field where I had watched EXTREME and TRIUMPH from just a few days before. Yeah, it was kind of distant but the sound was still great up there, it was a good place to sit down, relax and hang out and besides… I wasn’t going to be taking any more photographs anyway so there was no reason for me to be battling the crowds all the way up front.

    A short time later, it was time for TESLA!

    I actually don’t know what to say or where to start. These guys came out and hit the stage with a vengeance and provided a set that was nothing short of mind-blowing. Even from where I was you could almost feel the electricity and energy flowing off the stage and of all the bands I had the privilege of seeing over the past few days, none of them got the crowd going like this.

    They opened their set with one of my favorite TESLA tracks “Comin’ Attcha Live”… and they certainly were! Jeff Keith was definitely on and got the crowd pumping like never before. His vocals were crisp, clear and dead on every note as he continued to astonish taking on other TESLA greats like “Into The Now,” “Getting’ Better,” and “Hang Tough” with ease. All the while, Brian Wheat slammed away on his bass keeping pace with Troy Luccketta pounding away on the skins as Frank Hannon and Dave Rude dueled solos, riffs and chords back and forth all night long. And while this was… without a doubt… the best TESLA performance I had ever witnessed, I just couldn’t help thinking to myself for just a brief second that while Dave Rude has been the perfect compliment to this talented group of musicians for some time now… what a tragedy it is that original guitarist Tommy Skeoch couldn’t be part of the magic.

    Continuing on, this magnificent spectacle included tracks like “Mama’s Fool,” the crowd pleasing “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out),” a touching version of “Love Song,” an ass-kicking rendition of “Little Suzi” and their cover of “Signs” first made popular by their “Five Man Acoustical Jam” release back in 1990. By the time they reached their last two hits “Edison’s Medicine” and their first ever single “Modern Day Cowboy,” there wasn’t a person left seated and if there was a roof to have been blown off, the thundering screams and echoes for “MORE!” bellowing out of the crowd would certainly have blown it off once and for all. Not for nothing and certainly meaning no disrespect to any of the other headliners but after a performance like that, I don’t think there was any doubt in anyone’s mind that these guys should have closed the festival… period! TESLA raised the bar, not just a notch but all the way to the top and although QUEENSRYCHE is an elite band in their own right; they would have a tough time topping this.

    But QUEENSRYCHE was by FAR not ready to throw down the gauntlet just yet…

    Knowing what TESLA was capable of, QUEENSRYCHE hit the stage with their most powerful weapon of all… playing the entire “Operation: Mindcrime” release from start to finish… an album more than just a few consider not only and all-time classic, but the album of the decade! A sheer masterpiece in every sense of the word and no matter how many times I hear it, it just keeps getting better.

    This was a spectacular performance to behold. The lights, the theatrics, the story, the music… everything was just amazing. Pamela Moore revived her role as “Sister Mary” and is still the perfect compliment to the world class vocals of Geoff Tate who even now continues to impress with his one of a kind vocal styling. The only critique I really have (and will ALWAYS have) is that despite the fact that guitarist Mike Stone has grown into his role over the past few years, there’s just NO ONE who can replace Chris DeGarmo. He’s the only link missing who could turn this formidable exhibition into sheer and utter perfection and brilliance!

    After “Mindcrime,” Geoff and the band continued to woo the crowd starting off with two killer tracks from the QUEENSRYCHE archives, “Walk In The Shadows” and “Take Hold Of The Flame.” Then finally representing the band’s 1990 release “Empire” were three tracks which included “Jet City Woman,” the title track “Empire,” and finally ending with the tender “Silent Lucidity.” This is where I think they fell short of TESLA in that while no doubt “Silent Lucidity” is a phenomenal piece of work, it doesn’t end a show on a high note… as did TESLA’s “Modern Day Cowboy.” I never understood bands that ended their sets with a ballad but regardless, it was still one Hell of a show.

    As I waited up top with Brian and Mark (who had joined me shortly after they finished photographing their three songs of the QUEENSRYCHE set) for our friend Lance to join us, we were able to catch our last artist of the week… Ron Keel and his band K2. We unfortunately didn’t stay for the whole set but what we did hear was HOT! He opened the show with “American Thunder” followed up by “Rock & Roll Outlaw” and “Evil, Wicked, Mean & Nasty.” Just about this time, Lance finally arrived and we headed on out to the car as Ron and his band continued to rock the night away with “Somebody’s Waiting”… a perfect ending to an incredible five days of music.

    Thus ends ROCKLAHOMA 2008. The promoters and schedulers certainly did indeed do their homework ending the five days of festivities with two bands that turned in two of the most memorable performances of the past five days in TESLA & QUEENSRYCHE… good job! But our coverage doesn’t end here! Please check back in a few days for our final wrap up…

    DAY 1
    DAY 2
    DAY 3
    DAY 4
    DAY 5
    DAY 6

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