Metal Babe Survived Rocklahoma!
Alison “MetalBabe” Cohen
The overall vibe of Rocklahoma was amazing. I have never seen so many genuine rock n’ roll fans in one place, who just want to rock out and have a good time. Also, I have also never seen more long hair, cool rock shirts, rock tattoos, or galoshes in my life. Yes, galoshes! Rocklahoma was a mud fest!
Eddie Trunk emceed the event, and showed a brief clip interview of most bands before they hit the stage. The lineup was incredible and I was really excited! My Rocklahoma experience was a bit rough, but definitely a LOT of fun!
Thursday, July 10th
The first band I saw on Thursday was Vain. It was early, and even Davy Vain admitted that he isn’t usually up yet, but they put on a great show. They played several classics off “No Respect” (“Down for the 3rd Time,” “Beat the Bullet,” my personal fave “1000 Degrees” and “Who’s Watching You”) along with some surprises. I was really happy I had to chance to talk with Davy a bit during Rocklahoma and look forward to seeing Vain at the Key Club in Hollywood in the near future.
Then Enuff Z’Nuff put on a killer show, with new songs from their latest CD “Dissonance” and hits “Fly High Michelle” and my fave “Baby Loves You.” During “Baby Loves You,” they had a special guest guitar player, which Donnie Vie said plays better than any of them. It was 6 year old “Jack the Ripper”! This kid was amazing! After that, Steven Adler from Guns N Roses takes the stage for a cover of “Come together.” Then Joe Leste, Traci Guns and Jack the Ripper all join in for a cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” (FYI – Bret Michaels also covers this song later in his set.) I really think Enuff Z’Nuff was taken by surprise with all of this, especially by the fact they didn’t have time to play “New Thing.” I ran into Chip a couple times throughout the weekend while he was driving a golf cart around and was glad I got to say hi.
Then it was time for the biggest disappointment of the day. LA Guns took the stage, or at least it was supposed to be. I was unsure who the “blonde guy” was singing, and I wanted Phil Lewis. Yes, it was cool to see Tracii Guns, but I didn’t know I had to trade him for Phil. After a few disappointing “covers” of LA Guns songs, (“No Mercy,” “Sex Action,” “Ballad of Jayne”) I left. It turns out the blonde guy was named Marty Casey, and was the 2nd runner up on Rock Star: INXS. I have never watched that show.
One of the most underrated bands in metal history is Living Colour. Somehow they fell through the cracks, but they were strong as ever. They rocked a bunch of songs I didn’t know and encored with “Cult of Personality,” which really got the crowd into motion.
Dokken took the stage next. (Unfortunately my camera battery died, so I have no pictures.) It was definitely “Rockin’ like Dokken” as they cranked out hit after hit. During “Just Got Lucky” (my fave) Don talked about how the best way to bring people together was through song, and get got us all to sing together. He is right too. I don’t think you could get a better group of people together. Everyone was there for the same reason, united as one.
I have to admit I’m a bit biased when it comes to Bret Michaels/Poison, and they didn’t disappoint. Full of energy and hit songs, with a bit of pyrotechnics thrown in, they put on an amazing show. Bret opened the show with “Talk Dirty to Me,” and then went into “Look What the Cat Dragged In.” It went on from there. Before playing “Driven,” one of the 2 songs they played off Bret’s new “Rock My World” CD, Bret asked fans to come closer to the stage….and MANY did. They also played “Bittersweet” from the “Rock My World” CD, which was my personal favorite song of the night. The show ended with “Nothing But a Good Time” as a bunch of “kids” joined Bret on stage.
Friday, July 11th
Friday things seemed to have cleared up quite a bit. There was no rain to speak of and it was HOT! The first band I saw Friday was Armored Saint. Hardcore fans were psyched,and I was surprised that I recognized several songs. (“March of the Saint,” “Symbol of Salvation,” “Long Train Home,” “Reign of Fire”) I absolutely fell in LOVE with Armored Saint! They put on such a high energy, hard, heavy and fun show that I am a fan for life, and have hardly been able to stop listening to their CD since I got home.
Also, I really like Night Ranger. I had seen Shaw/Blades a while back (’93 I think) and I own a Night Ranger greatest hits CD, but that’s it. They were so tight and their stage presence was amazing as they cranked out hit after hit, even including Damn Yankee’s song “Coming of Age” and 2 songs sung by drummer Kelly Keagy, “Sentimental Street” and “Sister Christian.” Their new songs were great, and everyone loved the classics. Nothing brings a crowd together more than singing “you’re motoring, what’s your price for flight, in finding mister right, you’ll be alright tonight.”
With all the craziness at Rocklahoma, I didn’t make it to Extreme’s set until “More Than Words.” Honestly, I hadn’t even thought about this song, or the words to that song, in a LONG time. But it all came back….as I sang and swayed to every word. I was surprised as they jumped into 2 songs from “Three Sides to Every Story,” “Cupid’s Dead” and “Am I Ever Gonna Change?” Both VERY cool. After dredging through “Hole Hearted,” which seemed a bit forced, they picked up the pace, and rocked the close of their set with Led Zeppelin’s “Communication Breakdown.”
After Extreme, I heard one of the most beautiful sounds I have ever heard coming from the distance. It sounded like an angel calling. What I am talking about is some amazing, high octave, progressive rock, complete with melodic vocals, dueling guitars and a keyboard player. I thought I was in heaven as I ran across the muddy field to see where this sound was coming from. After half a song, I was in LOVE. They were called Krucible. As I watched five songs, my mouth dropped to the ground as my fist pounded the air. Krucible blew me away! They definitely are my NEW favorite band from Rocklahoma, and I really look forward to the release of their new CD.
Triumph’s return was just as if they never left. Their set was complete with lasers, pyrotechnics and a lightshow that we’ve come to expect over the years. They rocked through hits “Lay it on the Line,” “Allied Forces” and “Lights Go Down.”
Saturday, July 12th
As I write today’s entry, I sit in my rental car, stuck in a field of mud, knowing that my tent is completely soaked and I’ll be sleeping in my car tonight. I don’t think I’ve ever seen this much rain or been this soaked in my life!
The day started off dry, with Pretty Boy Floyd taking that stage at 11:00 AM. They rocked so hard it might as well have been 11:00 PM. The front of the stage was packed with die-hard fans screaming every word to every song. Steve Summers gave out a bunch of free “stuff” and repeatedly thanked the fans for being there so early. Before singing my favorite ballad “I Only Want to Be With You,” Steve Summers said, “This song should have made us millions, but instead it made us humble.” For a few minutes there, I felt that I was back in high school and that Steve Summers was singing directly to me. They played a ton of hits off “Leather Boyz with Electric Toyz” and made a point of letting everyone know they would be signing autographs after their show at the merch booth. I was truly impressed with Pretty Boy Floyd and all their dedicated fans. You should have seen the line of people waiting to meet Pretty Boy Floyd. It seemed to go on forever!
Every Mother’s Nightmare wasn’t so lucky. Most of the fans had left with Pretty Boy Floyd. But, Every Mother’s Nightmare were able to keep enough fans in their seats with their Memphis drunken drawl. Singer Rick Ruhl admitted they had just gotten in at 4:30 in the morning, and that he’d been drinking Bacardi ever since. “Walls Come Down” was awesome! Rick Ruhl sat down on the ground with a beer and a cigarette for “Love Can Make You Blind,” and the crowd sang along with every word. Every Mother’s Nightmare played a couple new songs, and ended with a hard and fast version of “Long Haired Country Boy.” They almost got kicked off the stage because their set was too long, but ended just in time. They were drunk, and they rocked! Enough said.
Although I would have liked to see Tora Tora, we had to make an emergency run into town. We made it back in time to catch most of Black and Blue, and it was HOT! It felt like we were in a sauna. I didn’t know a single song that Black and Blue played, but most of the crowd remembered a song called “Wicked Bitch,” and sang along with the chorus. They rocked hard. So hard…. that bass player Patrick Young actually collapsed from the heat! Paramedics revived him, giving him oxygen, and he joined the band again to close the show with “Hold on to 18.” Many kudos go out to Patrick Young.
Trixter played for the first time in 13 years and rocked out to a bunch of die-hards in thefront, singing every word to hits from their self titled debut CD. (“Ride the Whip,” “Heart of Steel,” “Surrender”) They played a couple of newer songs, which a lot of people still seemed to know. All the while Trixter played, the crowed kept looking back at the sky, taking pictures. I wasn’t worried…what’s a little rain? Little did I know that moments later I would be soaked from head to toe, standing on a bench with the ground flooded below me, screaming the words to “Give it to me Good.” (And ironically enough, I did get it good! I went from rockin’ to running for my life.) As they started to cover “Paradise City,” it was raining so hard I couldn’t even see. It was time to go! Things got really crazy from there, and let’s just say, I’m glad I made it back to my car.
It was still raining, and I didn’t want to miss Lita Ford. After changing into dry clothes and grabbing a poncho, I ventured back into the rain. It turns out the path to the show was flooded (again) and we needed to wait to get across. (I didn’t listen though!) Once inside, I was already soaked, and then I found out that both side stages had been completely destroyed. I was really bummed about all the bands that might not get to showcase their music. Kix was playing, and both jumbo trons were burnt out. I watched “Don’t Close Your Eyes” and “Midnight Dynamite.” But then I needed to seek some shelter. I am absolutely amazed at the dedication of Rocklahoma fans. It was pouring rain, muddy and freezing cold, yet the crowd was still rockin’.
I needed to stick it out for Lita Ford. Looking really hot, and dry, she hit the stage with “Larger Than Life,” then into “Hungry.” I wanted more than anything to see Lita play “Kiss Me Deadly,” especially since this was the first show she had played in 15 years. Unfortunately, I was soaked and freezing to death, and had to go. I ended up leaving during “Gotta Let Go.”
Sunday, July 13th
When I arrived on Sunday, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. I was really happy to see that they were in the process of setting up 3 NEW stages in the beer tents and that most of the second stage bands were going to be able to play! I saw bits and pieces of quite a few different bands…
Axe started off the day, and was really good. Then I saw a few songs from Oney on the side stage, and I remembered having one of their tapes “way back when.” Zebra opened with “Tell Me What You Want,” which was great. And Real Steel poured out some straight up rock and roll, which was very solid. Steelheart started their set with a looonnggg video intro, and I felt like I was at a Judas Priest show watching the movie “Rock Star” as singer Michael Matijevic drove on to the stage on a motorcycle. It seemed a bit cheesy, as they played songs from “Rock Star” and their hit “I’ll Never Let You Go (Angel Eyes).” I had received a flyer for Halcyon Way, and really wanted to check them out. With all the stage changes, I caught the last half of their set. They were progressive rock, and sounded really good. Singer Sean Shields used a megaphone on 2 songs, and bass player Kris Maltenieks had amazing stage presence.
I had been really looking forward to Tesla, and although their set was a bit short, I couldn’t have chosen a better set if I tried. Opening with “Comin’ Atcha Live,” “Into the Now,” “Gettin’ Better” and “Hang Tough,” Jeff Keith made the crowd happy that theymade it this far, that it will get better, and that they need to keep hanging tough. I was in! “Mama Didn’t Raise No Fool” was very cool, everyone sang along to “Signs” and “Lovesong.” “Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out)” was a fun and heavy addition. I always love “Little Suzi,” and it was great to hear “Edison’s Medicine.” I wish they could have played longer, but with the time they had, they were amazing!
Queensryche performed Operation Mindcrime (the best written album ever) in its entirety. I have seen them do this several times before, but this was the largest crowd I’d ever seen it performed to by far. I was truly impressed with their performance, and happy to see that they had reworked the entire video to be better than ever. PamelaMoore joined in as Sister Mary, Geoff Tate played Dr. X and they had an actor on stage as Nikki. Stage props included guns, straight jackets and a wheelchair, and they all did a phenomenal job! The strange thing was, most of the crowd didn’t seem to get it. I think they would have rather heard the “hits.” I even heard someone shouting, “this is stupid” behind me. Stupid? After closing “Mindcrime” with “Eyes of a Stranger,” Queensryche came back for a 5 song encore. The crowd seemed to “wake up” as they played “Take Hold of the Flame,” “Walk in the Shadows,” “Jet City Woman,” “Empire” and “Silent Lucidity.” It was an amazing encore, and to top it off, I ended up in the VERY front for the last couple songs.
After Queensryche, the Bullet Boys, Dirty Penny and Ron Keel were all playing at the same time in the 3 side tents. I caught a little bit of all 3. I recognized Ron Keel’s “Rock and Roll Outlaw.” Dirty Penny definitely had the biggest following and their tent was PACKED full. They have definitely been promoting themselves to death, and have a TON of fans. Bullet Boys ended their set with “Smooth Up In Ya’” and invited as many fans to the stage that would fit to help sing along.
It was already 2:00 in the morning, and I was done. Some crazy fans went on to party in the campground with additional bands playing until 5:30 in the morning.
Overall, it was definitely an adventure and a lot of fun. I’m still not fully recovered and am happy to be back in L.A. (where it hardly rains). Kudos go out to Albumman, who was at the front of almost every band holding autographed records. And prayers go out to the woman who died during Every Mother’s Nightmare’s set.