Rocklahoma 2008 is in the history books, and this remains true: Kix were the best band at the festival...but Tesla gave them a run for their "funny" money.
Bands set to perform on the final day of Rocklahoma included Axe, Zebra, UFO, Steelheart, Ace Frehley, Tesla and Queensryche. Lynam also got to play in a makeshift side stage.
I didn't see Axe and only half saw Zebra, so I can't really pass judgement there. UFO was a band I was least interested in watching, but I have to admit they were quite good. UFO performed "Mother Mary," "When Daylight Goes to Town," "Hard Being Me," "This Kids," "Only You Can Rock Me," "Baby Blue," "Too Hot to Handle," "Lights Out," "Love to Love" and "Rock Bottom." Christian was riled that UFO didn't play "Doctor, Doctor" but the band probably ran out of time: "Rock Bottom" seemed to go on forever and a day. Phil Mogg's stage banter was actually funny and provided a nice detraction from the heat. Happily, the band sounded tight.
Steelheart were great - and the crowd was quite sizable for them. Lead singer Milli road in on a motorcycle and then proceeded to wail the entire set. During "I'll Never Let You Go," Milli went into the crowd to sing and take photos with fans. The band closed with "Blood Pollution" from the movie Rock Star. Steelheart was out of time by this point but fans kept chanting "One more song!" It was definitely a few minutes before anyone could tell if the band would be allowed back on stage. In the end, they were not.
I had no desire to watch Ace Frehley because I don't like Frehley's Comet but it turns out Ace did mostly KISS songs during his set. He and his band performed "Shout It Out Loud," "Duece" and "Cold Gin." The crowd reaction was very good for Ace and it seemed like most people were happily singing along to the KISS tunes. I'm not sure who the members of Ace's backing band are, but it should be noted that they handle a lot of the singing duties.
Lynam was able to perform on a *tiny* make-shift side stage in one of the beer tents. The band made the best of things, and a small crowd of die hards stood in a mud pit to support the southern band. Lynam's set wasn't very long because they were trying to get done before Tesla, but they did perform "Tanis," "Better" and a cover of "We're Not Gonna Take It." I'm very happy they were allowed to perform in spite of the storm. Now, more people know of one of my favorite bands.
Now, Tesla. I think the crowd was at its largest all weekend in preparation for Tesla. The lawn seemed heavily populated, and many of the seats seemed crammed. Tesla performed "Comin' At You Live," "Into the Now," "Gettin' Better," "Hang Tough," "Mama's Fool," "Heaven's Trail," "Love Song," "Little Suzi," "Signs," "Man Out of Time" and "Modern Day Cowboy." From the second the band hit the stage, Tesla gave an over-the-top, high energy performance. Moreover, the crowd actually seem excited. This isn't to say that other bands failed to excite, rather, Tesla impressed. Rocklahoma was my first time seeing Tesla live, and I didn't know what to expect. I'd heard that Jeff Keith's voice was shot - but this is not the case! By the time Tesla was done, people were demanding more songs. I heard people around me say "Tesla should have closed." I agree.
Queensryche had the responsibility of closing the festival. Last year, Queensryche were a late add and they performed a greatest hits set. This year, they performed Operation: Mindcrime in full. This was my first time seeing the stage production of "Mindcrime" and I'll admit it was very good and interesting - but totally not the right fit for a rock festival. When it's time for Mary to shoot herself, people behind me were screaming "Do it!" "Do it!" That's never a good thing. Still, the band sounded good and Geoff Tate seems to really love musical theatre. I'm not sure how many people followed the story to the conclusion, but the reward was a few of Queensryche's best known songs including "Empire," "Jet City Woman" and "Silent Lucidity."
I'll note here that I was impressed Rocklahoma officials cleaned up the VIP tent so quickly. By Sunday morning, all the water was gone from Saturday's storm and it seemed like the massive amounts of mud on the concrete floor had been washed away. Also, props to the person who quickly erected the small side stages so all the bands could play. The conditions were not ideal, but the show continued as scheduled.