For some reason I always forget just how oppressive the heat in Pryor, Oklahoma can be...and this year is no different. We’re talking temperatures of over one hundred degrees – before the heat index. Needless to say, Rocklahoma 2009 is a real hot box.
The first day of Rocklahoma – or Metal day – featured a lot bands outside my comfort zone. Leatherwolf, Metal Church, Anvil, Overkill, Saxon and Anthrax. I am not a rabid fan of any of these acts, so coverage wise, this is my “light day.”
Since I was still getting my bearings during Leatherwolf, I can’t say too much about their performance. The mix was off and the crowd was quite small. It’s always hard for the first band of any festival on day one regarding crowd size.
Metal Church just announced plans to call it quits, making Rocklahoma their final show. I gotta say, not being a Metal Church fan, the band did sound good. Ronnie Monroe has a good voice and I remember watching him solo on a side stage last year. The band opened with "Fake Healer..." and
the crowd was slowly growing by this point.
I was most curious about Anvil. Truth be told, Anvil are more known for the documentary about their lives versus their music. Also, their set was right at the heat of the day, so that couldn’t have helped the crowd situation any. Poor lead singer “Lips” was playing his guitar on the first song, lost his sound, and ran to get it fixed. Sure enough, he slipped on one of the stage steps but got right back up. I don’t think he was hurt at all. Later he said “That first step is a loo loo” or something to that effect. Anvil didn’t play “Metal on Metal” until their very last song – there was, however, a random drum solo thrown in for good measure.
After Anvil – and a general feeling of dizziness from the heat – I took a break during Overkill. This means I missed their entire set and can’t speak to their abilities. The band did have some interesting merchandise including a T shirt with a bat and wings logo that reads “Get your own logo” or something like that. This seems like a slam toward Avenged Sevenfold, but I’m not sure.
Saxon was the band I was waiting for all day – and I wasn’t the only one. It seemed like for the first time of the day, the seating area was starting to fill up, although general admission attendance seemed to remain lean. Saxon played just about everything you’d expect: “Wheels of Steel,” “Crusader,” “Denim and Leather.” They didn’t play “The Eagle Has Landed.” All in all it was a great set, with beautiful British accents and Biff Byford jumping around and commenting on the heat. He was preaching to the choir.
As expected, the crowd was heaviest for Anthrax – after all, they headlined Metal day. I’ve never been into Anthrax – just not my cup of tea I guess. The band did have a lot of energy and it was the first time I’d really heard new singer Dan Nelson belt. He is very heavy, which surprised me just a little. The band played “Indians,” “Antisocial” and all the rest. Someone threw a beach ball into the crowd and I noticed the men were very violent with it during Anthrax. Some guy two rows up from me kept body slamming himself into his wooden bench seat. Music has never made me want to hurl my body into something like a wall or a bench, but whatever. I hope the guy got his money’s worth.
Glam wise I checked out Bai Bang and Beautiful Creatures – both side stage acts and basically excellent. Honestly, I think Beautiful Creatures had the biggest crowd of the day next to Anthrax. People were packed into the tented area close and tight, which made moving around less than great. Joe Leste sounded great and looked happy and I think that was enough for the crowd. Bai Bang are obscure Glam – Google them because they rule. Real Swedish sleaze that would be better in the night versus so early in the afternoon. Bai Bang played very early and not a lot of people got a chance to watch them on first pass – hopefully I’ll get to see them again during the run of the festival.
My attendance guess for Metal day? I’d say somewhere between 4500 and 5500 people.