Rocklahoma Day 3 | 7.15.07

25-twisted-sister-1All things considered, Rocklahoma was a massive success. There have been other festivals all over the world showcasing '80s hard rock artists, but this could be the first successful one in the US.  

 

 

 

 

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Twisted Sister, photo Jim Cambell

See more photos from Rocklahoma in the Photo Gallery

 

It was time to wrap up this love fest of hair/glam metal, and day three promised to be a good one. With Twisted Sister wrapping up the event, day three was shaping up to be the best of all three days of the event. 

 

Britny Fox

Britny Fox was one of those bands that served as a guilty pleasure for me in the ‘80s. While their songs were well written, it was hard to get past their image of super perms and heavy makeup. That said, I was excited to finally see the boys live and in person as they opened day three of Rocklahoma. Not only was I unimpressed, it was disappointed in their non-showy stage presence. With an updated look, their music seemed just OK as Tommy Paris has taken over as front man or Dizzy Dean Davidson. While their sound was decent, their energy was lacking. Some of their songs sounded fresh and interesting while the majority seemed dated and stale. Despite decent renditions of some of their biggest songs, their performance was just okay and left me wanting for more. C

Key Tracks Performed: "Long Way to Love"; "Girlschool"; "She's So Lonely"

Steelheart

I have another confession to make. Coming into Rocklahoma, I only knew of one Steelheart song. It was their big ballad in which the lead singer takes his vocals into the stratosphere. So imagine my delight when they came out onstage rocking to the song, "Blood Pollution" from the movie Rock Star. I had totally forgotten that the group contributed several songs to the movie and here they were performing them flawlessly. Lead singer, Miljenko Matijevic's vocals were out of this world fantastic as he infused each of his songs with an overabundance of energy and talent. Wrapping up their set with a couple more songs from the soundtrack, Steelheart was one of those bands that I knew the least about and liked the best. A

Key Tracks Performed: "Blood Pollution"; "We All Die Young"; "I'll Never Let You Go"

LA Guns

To me, LA Guns always seemed like an angry band. They came off mad that they never hit mainstream success or got the respect they deserved. The other aspect of LA Guns that annoyed me is the revolving door of band members. I never really knew who I was going to get when I went to see them live. Their set at Rocklahoma seemed to be a lot of noise about nothing in particular. Pointless and uninteresting, their set seemed to be comprised of semi-crowd favorite songs and just a lot of needless cursing. The band did do a decent job on their big ballad, "The Ballad of Jayne" as they pulled up about 50 people on the stage, but that was about the only highpoint of their set. D+

Key Tracks Performed: "L.A.P.D."; "The Ballad of Jayne"

Great White

Great White shouldn't have played Rocklahoma. Don't get me wrong, their performance was about par, but they are really a blues/ballad band at heart and their energy was not up to the level the crowd needed. Even though they sounded great and looked great, the only rock tune that got the crowd going was the controversial track, "On Your Knees." Other than that, the group did well on their ballads, but the sun soaked crowd needed to rock, not sway. B-

Key Tracks Performed: "Save All Your Love."; "Rock Me"; "Once Bitten"

Jackyl

Jessie James Dupree is the heart and soul of the southern rock band Jackyl. Their set during Rocklahoma proved that once and for all. With possibly the shortest set change between bands, Dupree simply walked on stage, strapped on his six string and proceeded to slay the crowd with one of the best sets of the entire festival. The one thing that always intrigued me about Jackyl is how they focused on the music rather than the image of a hard rock band. Point taken that Dupree's vocals are somewhat nasal in nature and Jackyl's songs always seem to focus on some sort of debauchery, but Dupree's passion and rock n' roll sprit is what drove the band to mainstream success. Their set at Rocklahoma was possibly one of the most energetic and well received sets as Dupree and company tore through one Jackyl hit after another. They killed – that is all you need to know. A-

Key Tracks Performed: "The Lumberjack"; "Down on Me; "When Will it Rain"

Queensrÿche

Stepping in for W.A.S.P., the Seattle progressive rockers added an interesting dynamic to the festival. Never having seen the band live before, I wasn't aware how theatrical lead singer Geoff Tate performs on stage. Despite a relatively bare stage, Queensrÿche managed to turn the stage into a theatre of sorts as Tate stalked around the stage emoting on each and every song. I know the band used much of the same equipment as other bands, but their sound seemed to be louder and more intense than the rest of the bands performing. Queensrÿche get the award for best technical band of the festival as they pulled of the most complex performance out of the rest of the bands. Enjoyable from start to finish, Queensrÿche was the perfect opening band for Twisted Sister. A

 

Key Tracks Performed: "Eyes of a Stranger"; "Empire"; "Jet City Woman"

 

Twisted Sister

After Queensrÿche left the stage, the anticipation for Twisted Sister began to build immediately. It had been too long since the band had performed for the masses and it seemed that this set was the one everyone was waiting to see. After a surprisingly short set change, Dee Snider stormed the stage and reminded the crowd why Twisted Sister rose to the level of stardom they once achieved. When it comes to energy and attitude, few bands could rival Twisted Sister. In full makeup and wardrobe, the band kicked out all of their jams and a few special tracks. Interestingly enough, 20 minutes into the set, the band launched into "We're Not Gonna Take It", arguably their biggest hit. Snider informed the crowd that if they came only to see them sing that song, now they can leave if they want. It was both arrogant and impressive to see the band treat the audience with such raw attitude. Even though a few did leave, about 98 percent of the audience stuck around to see what Snider and company had in store for the crowd. 

After having watched 25+ bands attempt to rock the crowd, it was stunning to see how much energy the crowd had left. Snider didn't once let his energy dip nor did he ever hide somewhere off stage. Song after song, Twisted Sister rocked the crowd into a frenzy and ultimately impressed me as the best performance of the entire festival. Snider's vocals were crisp and genuine and the band worked so well together it was hard to believe that they had taken such a long break. A highlight of the set was when Snider made it snow on stage and performed a very metal version of "Silver Bells" from his album A Twisted Christmas. After watching so many bands come and go from the Rocklahoma stage, Twisted Sister was one band that truly brought their A game to the stage and rocked Oklahoma. A+

Key Tracks Performed: "Burn in Hell"; "The Fire Still Burns"; "I Wanna Rock"

Wrap-up:

In addition to the main three days of the festival, there was a pre-show warm up night, held Thursday, which consisted of cover bands and a surprise special guest who turned out to be Lillian Axe.

Here are a few life lessons I learned during my Rocklahoma experience:

  • Never wear white tennis shoes to a festival in which you may have to walk to muddy fields over and over again.
  • When you have the opportunity to ride a mechanical bull, take it.
  • Just when you think it can't get any hotter, it will.
  • There is an odd mathematical equation that proves the amount of time it takes to do a band's set change is inversely proportional to how hard the band will rock. The bands that took the longest time between set changes were usually the biggest disappointments.
  • Sunscreen with SPF 45 is your friend – use it.

All things considered, Rocklahoma was a massive success. There have been other festivals all over the world showcasing '80s hard rock artists, but this could be the first successful one in the US. Yes, there is Ozzfest, the Family Values tour, and the Warped tour, but they showcase today's bands – most of who could have been influenced by bands on this bill.

In addition to the main three days of the festival there was a pre-show warm up night held Thursday which consisted of cover bands and a surprise special guest who turned out to be Lillian Axe.

Additionally, it is easy to criticize the promoter for not snagging other, more notable 80's hair metal acts like Cinderella, Scorpions, Europe, Whitesnake, Tesla, Bon Jovi, Lita Ford, Vixen, Danger Danger, Ozzy, Def Leppard, Kix and Damn Yankees just to name a few. But then again, there is always Rocklahoma 2008 to dream about.

| Jim Campbell

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