After a *very* early flight, I finally landed in Tulsa, Oklahoma for Rocklahoma 2008. It's odd how you can look forward to something for so long, and then when the moment/event/experience finally happens, you don't quite know what to think.
This year, Rocklahoma organizers added a couple bands before the Thursday pre-party because the Rock n' Roll Fantasy Camp stopped in Pryor. I wasn't at the pre-pre party because of work, but literally everyone I've talked to has said both RATT and Faster Pussycat were very good, especially when compared to their respective performances of last year.
On Thursday, these artists performed:
Jet Boy, House of Lords, Vain, Enuff Z' Nuff, LA Guns, Dokken, Sebastian Bach and Bret Michaels. In all irony, this pre-day bill actually shaped up to be about my favorite of the entire festival line-up, save maybe for the bands slated to perform on Saturday.
Just about the second I landed in Tulsa, Oklahoma it started raining. It started raining really hard. I mean, it was bad. It had rained on Wednesday too, so I knew the grounds were already flooded - but I was not prepared for what I saw when I finally made it inside the festival gate.
Rocklahoma 2008 is a true swamp. It's July in Oklahoma, so it was already hot but standing water and rain complicated issues. Festivals are typically drawn out across large parts of open fields - Rocklahoma is no different. To get to the
restrooms port a potties, you have to literally wade across acres of land. Trust me when I say this is no easy task. By the end of the night, I had mud in places I can't tell you about, my demin mini- was covered...and it took a 25 minute shower just to hose down.
The show must go on, and it did. Since I had to check-in to the media area, I missed some of the earliest performances in their entirety. Of what I heard of Vain, I was semi-impressed. Davy Vain sounded fairly decent, but was having a hard time getting the crowd whipped up because of the rain and mud. In fact, I'd say there were not more than 500 people watching Vain, which is sort of sad. I'm also told there were even less for Jet Boy. I missed them myself because of a hotel crisis, but that's neither here nor there.
Enuff Z' Nuff with Donnie Vie sounded really good! I'll be the first to admit I'm not a major Enuff Z' Nuff fan, but I was impressed with what I heard. Of course, they played "Fly High Michelle" and were also joined by Steven Adler for a cover of "Come Together" and then Joe Leste of Bang Tango for "Knockin' on Heaven's Door." Both covers got the crowd pretty pumped and I have to admit Steven Adler looked both happy and together behind the drum kit. Later in the night I saw Chip Z' Nuff riding around the festival grounds in a golf cart. Perhaps I should have jumped on and avoided the mud...
I was most interested in LA Guns. Marty Casey just joined the band and I couldn't wait to hear his voice. The LA Guns press conference was pretty darn anticlimactic, with Tracii saying something along the lines of "This is the real LA Guns." The band also said their new CD would be out sometime in 2009. I have to admit that when LA Guns took the main stage, they tore it up. Here's the set list:
Fire It Up
One More Reason
Wish You Were Here (cover dedicated to the troops)
Ballad of Jayne
Shut the Fuck Up (performed by Jeremy Guns)
Rip and Tear
I can't express just how much Marty Casey impressed me during his performance. Tracii's version of LA Guns always put forth a really energetic show, and yesterday was no different. New guitarist Alec Bauer really meshes well with Tracii and this extra instrument really pushed the sound envelope for the band. After Jeremy Guns performed "Shut the Fuck Up" he blew his bass rig and then it was never really back to par after that but it didn't seem to matter. I know some people have problems with the LA Guns feud, but it is what it is, and if you like the band or the music, you might as well embrace the situation. I will say right here, right now that LA Guns gave the best performance of the day. Argue with me if you want, but I stand by that declaration.
When it came time for the National Anthem, a 12 year old kid named "Jack the Ripper" handled the duties. Obviously the kid can play if he was tasked with such an honor. The fans were very receptive to him as well, and that's one thing I'll give to everyone in attendance at Rocklahoma: the vibe is so happy and laid back, everyone feels welcome. I feel confident that Jack the Ripper has a long career in music ahead of him. His long hair is only an added bonus.
Dokken was up next. Don Dokken seemed cheerful enough and kept referencing last year's Rocklahoma, so maybe the fest made an impact on his life. By this time, the crowd was really starting to fill up and it was pretty hilarious watching a man one aisle from me air guitar his way through the entire set. I mean, the man never rested! Back on stage, Dokken performed:
Kiss of Death
Into the Fire
Unchain the Night
Just Got Lucky
Breakin' The Chains
It's Not Love
Tooth and Nail
In My Dreams
At about the mid-point of the show, Don Dokken stopped and said "Rock n' roll is a spiritual thing - sing along and we become one." Well, of course everyone in the place sang alone to "Alone Again." It's a phenomenon really: watching thousands of strangers, sing and sway to the same song. Don's quote is a little cheesy but 100% accurate.
Dokken and Sebastian Bach are on tour with Poison this summer. By the time the set changed and Bach was on stage, the VIP area of seating at Rocklahoma was darn full. I don't have Bach's entire set because I had to use the
facilities muddy port-a-potty, but here's some of the songs: "Back in the Saddle," "Slave to the Grind," "18 and Life," "American Metalhead," "Love is a Bitchslap," "By Your Side," "Monkey Business," "You Don't Understand," "I Remember You," "Youth Gone Wild," and more. Now, something that has always fascinated me about Bach is the way he performs.All the way back to the beginning of Skid Row, Bach would clench the mic, turn sideways and scream. All these years later, this is still his signature stance. I have to give Bach credit, even with some sound issues, he sounded good. He can clearly still hit those high notes and sustain his famous scream. He was whipping his head all over the place and sweating up a storm. In fact, my husband received a sweat bath while he watching from the photo pit.
By this time the crowd is good and excited. During Bach's set I had to check on Bret's press conference...which was cancelled. I wonder if that is because of the pay meet and greet? Anyway, Bret's set change was the longest. Pretty soon Pete Evick and the rest of the Bret Michaels Band came out - on their own - and performed "Ain't Talkin' 'Bout Love." I think people were generally confused, but this was a decent enough stall tactic. After this, Bret's roadies popped in Appetite for Destruction and the crowd was treated to "Welcome to the Jungle." Too bad the CD kept skipping...
Finally, Bret took the stage and performed:
Talk Dirty To Me
Look What the Cat Dragged In
Sweet Home Alabama
Something to Believe In
Knockin' on Heaven's Door
What I Like About You
Your Mama Don't Dance
Every Rose Has Its Thorn
Nothin' But A Good Time (with Crooked X)
Bret sounded really hoarse last night, but he got the job done. As an added bonus, Bret had on a literal ton of eye liner. I guess he figured he needed an extra coat because of the heat. I'm not really sure the need for four cover tunes, though. I would think people would genuinely rather hear Bret's solo songs as opposed to cover tunes - especially the ones he hasn't recorded with Poison! Naturally, just about everyone at the show was singing along as the set was rounding into home. The Bret Michaels Band seemed to match Bret's enthusiasm which is good at a festival show. After people have stood in the heat for eight hours, it takes a lot to keep people entertained.
I left after Bret because I'd been awake for 24 straight hours at that point. Today, I hope to catch more of the side stage bands...as long as the standing water is gone. My hope is that Catch the Fever trucked in some straw or sawdust overnight to absorb the muck. More later.