Rocklahoma | 07.13.07-07.15.07

25-twisted-sister-1This was a major lineup consisting of some of the most influential bands from the 80's. Bands like White Lion, Slaughter, Warrant, Skid Row, Great White, and Jackyl not only graced the covers of Hit Parader, they also sold millions of albums and provided the soundtrack for many impressionable youngsters' adolescent years.

 

 

 

9-bang-tango

Bang Tango, photo: Jim Campbell 

See more photos from Rocklahoma in the Photo Gallery

Pryor, Oklahoma

When I first heard about Rocklahoma – a three day music festival featuring hair metal acts from the ‘80's – I was intrigued. I began to wonder how many of my favorite glam/hair metal groups were still together let alone if they still sounded any good. Sure, acts like Poison, Def Leppard, and Bon Jovi are still alive and kicking – and having successful tours mind you – but what about all the other smaller bands that fell to the wayside once grunge hit the airwaves?

As I perused the website for Rocklahoma (http://www.rockfeverfest.com/) my eyes got bigger and bigger as I read the impressive list of artists committed to the concert. This was not going to be some dumpy little concert of "who's that" and one-hit wonders, this was a major lineup consisting of some of the most influential bands from the 80's. Bands like White Lion, Slaughter, Warrant, Skid Row, Great White, and Jackyl not only graced the covers of Hit Parader, they also sold millions of albums and provided the soundtrack for many impressionable youngsters' adolescent years. Additionally, some of the larger acts on the bill (i.e. Poison, Ratt, Dokken, Vince Neil, Queensryche, and Twisted Sister) have proved time and time again that good music – no matter if you are wearing spandex or not – is always in fashion.

The festival was held on the campgrounds located in Pryor, Okla., which is about an hour outside of Tulsa. In addition to the regular gaggle of food vendors and merchandise tents, the festival grounds also provided several other attractions, such as smaller tents for local bands to perform in as well as a mechanical bull to help pass the time between acts. The festival grounds were spacious and well kept despite a pre-festival rainstorm that made the first day somewhat muddy. Fortunately, the second and third days were bright and sunshiny (read: too damn hot) which gave the hordes of concertgoers dry, warm places to lay out their blankets and lawn chairs.

Enough about the ambiance of the festival, right? You what to know who rocked, who rolled and who just plain sucked. Stay tuned kids; I have the low down on all the notable acts, some of the newer acts, and some of the acts that you may have forgotten all about. While I won't go into in-depth analysis of each set – ranging from 30-90 minutes in length -what I can give you is the highlights, the lowlights and some of the key songs performed.

 

Day 1 (7.13)

Greg Leon Invasion

While most of you may have never heard of Greg Leon himself, I guarantee that you have heard of some bands he has been a member of at one time or another. He has played with Tommy Lee in Suite 19, as well as being a member of Quiet Riot and Dokken. His band performed a set that was a throwback to the early days of hair metal, full of soaring lyrics and big heavy rhythms. His energy was contagious as he interacted with the crowd, giving off the feeling that he is one of those musicians who were truly grateful for this opportunity to perform in front of the masses once again. His set was one of my favorites of the entire day. B

Dirty Penny

Hailing from Santa Cruz, Calif., this group won a contest on Jpot.com, which gave them a coveted spot on the main stage. Lead singer, Binge Matthews' look and vocals were a throwback to Vince Neil. While their image was classic hair metal, their sound was fresh and hard hitting. Dirty Penny is proof positive that hair metal is alive and kicking. The group's short set was energetic, infectious, and impressive. This is one group to keep an eye on for the future. B+

White Lion

OK, now we are getting into some of the more influential bands from the ‘80's During a press conference held before the group's set, Mike Tramp was thrown off his game as a member of the press asked questions about Tramp's relationship with the group's ex-lead guitarist Vito Bratta. Despite the bad feelings that still exist to this day, Tramp pushed aside all the negativity he was confronted with and pulled of an amazing set full of White Lion's biggest hits. Tramp looked energized and his vocals were damn near perfect. This is one of the acts that should have been given an hour to perform. It was a waste to have them this early in the lineup. A-

Key Tracks Performed: "Wait"; "Lady of the Valley"; "Tell Me"

Y&T

I have a confession to make. I really was never a fan of Y&T – but I am now. The thing I was most impressed about was their level of musical excellence. Their sound was crisp, heavy, and mature. It sounded like the group really cared about how their music sounded rather than just coming out on stage just to run around and create manic panic. I am not sure if it is due to their long, deep musical roots or the fact that they never really got the respect they deserved, but Y&T appeared to be on a mission to prove that their music is as relevant now as it was back in the day. This was the band I knew the least about, but impressed me the most. A

Key Tracks Performed: "Mean Streak"; "Rescue Me"

Slaughter

Slaughter was one of my all-time favorite bands back in the day, but I was slightly disappointed by their performance at Rocklahoma. While I was stoked they pulled off several of their bigger hits, Mark Slaughter's usual high level of energy was somewhat lacking. While it wasn't a bad performance, it wasn't a top notch one either. He did get the crowd up on their feet with strong vocals on "Wild Life" and "Mad about You," but as the set went on his energy was noticeably diminishing. After all was said and done Slaughter proved why they deserved to be on this bill – they wrote great songs and Mark Slaughter has a voice that most singers would kill for. B-

Key Tracks Performed: "Fly to the Angels"; "Eye to Eye"; "Up All Night"

Quiet Riot

I was surprised at QR's spot in the lineup. Quiet Riot is metal royalty and should have been a closing band or at the very least the second to closing band of the day. I suppose being the third to last band isn't all that bad, but I thought they deserved more respect. The set they performed reinforced my point as Kevin DuBrow and company came out and slayed the crowd with an amazing set full of crazy energy and monster hits. DuBrow looked like a man possessed as he prowled the stage with intense energy and terrific vocals. There is a reason Quiet Riot inspired so many bands – their music is sensational and their spirit is undeniable. Even after thirty years in the music business, Quiet Riot is still putting out fresh, new music. The group performed a couple new songs from their latest album, Rehab which sounded as hard and heavy as some of their biggest hits. A

Key Tracks Performed: "Slick Black Cadillac"; Mama Weer All Crazee Now"; "Bang Your Head"

Ratt

Ratt – who are currently on tour with Poison – always managed to walk the fine line in the hair metal world of appealing to both the men and the women. They were good looking enough to get the chicks to come to the show, but their sound was hard enough to get the guys to come as well. Their performance at Rocklahoma proved once again why they were so popular in the 80's. Stephen Pearcy's vocals were CD quality as he and his band ticked off one hit after another during their impressive set. The band looked and sounded great as they gave the eager crowd what they came for – a heaping helping of rock gems. Ratt could have easily been the headliners of the first night with their damn near flawless performance. A

Key Tracks Performed: "Back for More"; "Lay It Down"; "Round and Round"

Poison

What can I say about Poison? This band is known for their legendary live shows and Rocklahoma was no exception. They came out rocking and didn't let up their entire set. Bret Michaels looked sensational as he strutted around the stage connecting with the audience on each and every song. While I have seen Poison more times that I can count, I can't recall a concert in which I have ever heard Michaels sound this good. His enthusiasm was hard to dismiss as he and the original members, C.C. DeVille, Bobby Dall, and Rikki Rockett, proved once again why they ruled the airwaves in the ‘80s. Not only are they sensational live performers, they manage to give each of their performances a healthy dose of genuine love for their music. Even their cover versions of some classic rock tunes – which appear on their latest album, Poison'd! – sounded fresh and original. Poison is and always will be one of the best hair metal acts to see in concert. A

Key Tracks Performed: "Ride the Wind"; "Something to Believe In"; "Can't You See"

| Jim Campbell

 

For more, read coverage of Days 2 and 3.

Be the first to comment

Leave a Reply