Review by: Dan Hollingsworth // HEAR Magazine
How can a state which has been hit hard with massive tornadoes and total destruction help forget sorrows and their own misfortune? How about host one of the biggest Rock/Metal festival’s in the entire Mid-West. Welcome to Rocklahoma held over Memorial Day weekend May 24th, 25th, & 26th. This annual festival hosted by Pryor OK which is just 30 miles N.E. of Tulsa is this small towns claim to fame for the last 7 years. Part Rock festival, part traveling carnival, part X-rated KOA campground, this was no small feat for the 2 middle aged rookie rocklaholics to accept this assignment to travel some 800 miles in search of Life, Liberty, & the Pursuit of Rock. Many festival goers drove hundreds of miles with their RV’s, Campers, and Tents to stay at the on-site campground which seemed to be choice of more than 75% of the people there. This was the place to be for cookouts, inflatable swimming pools, beer pong, homemade stripper poles, which were spotted on more than a couple campsites would turn quickly into frat house parties and campground strip clubs after-hours. The Rocklahoma festival itself has a great tradetdition of treating their patrons as Rock Stars themselves. For a worthy charge fans could upgrade to the V.I.P status, which granted you reserved seats up close to the main stage and access to the air conditioned V.I.P tent where they had a catered strolling buffet and all you could drink draft beer each day. This is something you don’t always see at these types of festivals. The Rocklahoma festival consist of 4 stages of musical entertainment with 87 bands playing over the 3 days of the festival.
The Axis campground stage has some local bands and some newly unsigned bands playing from 12:00pm to 2:00am on Fri, Sat, Sun. This stage is located just outside of the festival grounds in the campground area and was also the sight of a wedding on Saturday night after the AIC performance. Some of the acts that played this stage were Motortrain, Shotgun Rebels, Strikes at One, Caroline’s Spine. The Retrospect Records stage located to the right of the main stage was under a huge tent with high energy performances from young and up coming bands such as London’s Dungeon, The Last Vegas, London, Black Tora, Ragdoll, Lynam, and personal favorite Wildstreet from NYC. The Hard Rock stage located to the left of the main stage is just a smaller version of the main stage. The bands that graced this stage might end up playing the main stage in future Rocklahoma festivals. Some of the stand out performances from this stage were Escape The Fate, Clutch, Young Guns, Asking Alexandria, Thousand Ft. Krutch and my personal favorites David Draiman’s Metal/Industrial band Device and the Beverly Hills 90210 meets Twilight saga Motionless in White had the crowd moshing and body surfing.
Friday’s main stage lineup kicked off with All That Remains, Ratt, Papa Roach, Bush, and headliners Guns and Roses. All the bands sounded good this night and played most of the classic songs that made them famous but the standout performance from this night belonged to Jacoby Shaddix front man for Papa Roach when he joined the crowd with his microphone for a little sign along.
Saturday’s main stage lineup saw the likes of Big Wreck, Halestrom, Skillet, Bullet For My Valentine and headliners Alice In Chains. The standout performances from this night were Halestorm with the sexy Lizzy Hale commanding the audiences attention with her strong stage persona. The vocal ability of AIC’s new frontman William Duvall has seemed to have brought new life to some of AIC’s classic songs like Them Bones, Down In A Hole, Man In The Box. Jerry Cantrell even brought out his Dad “Rooster” to introduce that song for which the inspiration came, and a small heart felt tribute to Layne Staley and Mike Starr was done in a nice way.
Sunday’s main stage lineup had Dokken, Steel Panther, Hollywood Undead, Cheap Trick, and closing out the festival were Korn. The things that standout about these performances were that Don Dokken might be a better comedian than front man these days. The fact is, Steel Panther could probably do Dokken better than Dokken. With all due respect, Cheap Trick should of stuck with there classic’s instead of playing a heavy B-side set. The standout performances on this night belonged to the high energy 6 piece Rap/Rock outfit Hollywood Undead as they stormed the crowd and got them on their feet. Last but not least was the festival main stage closer’s for the weekend, Korn. They were recently reunited with founding guitarist Brian “Head” Welch which was much anticipated by fans. They came out guns blazing through their set of classic songs and heavy but passionate vocals by front man Johnathon Davis and truly the best band to end the festival with for 2013 year.
In between main stage acts Rocklahoma Staff would auction off memorabilia such as autographed/signed Guitars selling for 5 – 12k each day, proceeds going to help support the American Red Cross Tornado relief efforts in Oklahoma. Eddie Trunk from that Metal Show fame was the auctioneer for this campaign as well as being the MC introducing the main stage acts over the weekend. Many festival goers return each year regardless of the lineup. They come for the Music, Party, and to rekindle friendships made at other festivals. These people in large consider themselves a Rocklahoma family and I hope to see my new brothers and sisters next year at Rocklahoma 2014.
By Dan Hollingsworth // HEAR Magazine