“Are you feeling it tonight Oklahoma City?!” Godsmack's Sully Erna screamed from the Rocklahoma stage. I like Godsmack a lot. I just wish someone had told poor Sully that Rocklahoma happens annually in Pryor, Oklahoma...not Oklahoma City. No matter. The crowd for Godsmack was simply huge – easily rivaling that of the first Rocklahoma event in 2007.
Of course, the day didn't begin with Godsmack. The fun started much earlier – and hotter – with Adelita's Way on the main stage. Despite an early forecast predicting rain, the skies were clear and sunny. In fact, the sun beat down and everyone was pretty sweaty within just a few minutes of being at Rocklahoma. This old standard among a lot of changes made me feel at home. After all, how can you have Rocklahoma and not have heat?
Let's talk changes: the big side stage is sponsored by the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Tulsa. The sound from that second stage is just massive. Actually, the sound from the main stage is louder too. There is no air conditioning in the VIP tent. There's a concrete pit at the main stage for those who upgraded to special packages and yes – there were a few people moshing into the night over at the Hard Rock stage.
Now – I've have about a zillion private emails, texts and Facebook messages asking me about the crowd. Yes, the crowd is large. Very large. No, the VIP is not sold out but I think the amount of people in GA makes up for that difference. For those who were predicting an epic fail...well, you were wrong. The crowd is much younger this year. Many kids (and by that I mean teenagers) are hanging out. Of course, with a large GA contingent, attendance can – and probably will – change daily.
The first side stage band I checked out was New Medicine. I really liked them! They have a heavy, yet Beastie Boys sort of sound to them. They are young too and talked about the heat. Actually, all the bands made mention of the heat. Every time that happened, I chuckled. These bands haven't experienced REAL Rocklahoma heat!
Saving Abel was up next on the main stage. They are playing songs from their self-titled debut as well as their upcoming release Miss America. They have quite a few radio-friendly songs, the biggest one being “Addicted.” Since they played at 5 pm, the crowd was starting to shift and fill in more. That's how it is at every festival I've ever attended.
Lots of people were in VIP watching Buckcherry. Of course, Buckcherry is a modern glam band so it makes sense that the old Rocklahoma faithful would come out to hear their set. Again, more commentary on the heat, this time courtesy of lead singer Josh Todd. Buckcherry have a new album coming out soon, so there was the title track from the forthcoming All Night Long. Then there were staples “Lit Up,” “Sorry,” “Highway Star” and “Crazy Bitch.” It was with the last song that the older crowd seemed to come alive – and I laughed to myself from my vantage point in the back of VIP. I move around during the day – never settling on any one seat. For “Crazy Bitch” I knew I needed to be able to see a large swath of people. Men and women always react differently to “Crazy Bitch” and this time was no different. Near me, one woman was beating the shit of out her husband with a white bandana. Since he had a sunburned back, I'd imagine this was not great but he didn't complain. He just let her jump up and down with the band.
So now what? The Veer Union was up next on the Hard Rock stage. The band is young and new and I know them from Noisecreep. In fact, I did a video premiere for them about a year ago. I like their songs which are a mix of heavy but melodic. The singer has a wacky Mohawk, which I always love to see. The kids loved The Veer Union too...but the Hard Rock stage really got pumped with Richy Nix.
Do you know Richy Nix? I did a feature on him for Noisecreep awhile back. He's a metal/rap hybrid of sorts. The young members of the crowd loved this guy and his band. A few of the teenage guys got a small pit going. Richy Nix has an EP out – and one of his songs is getting a lot of commercial radio play. The band also did a rap metal cover of “Wonderwall” by Oasis. It was straight up Oasis until about the middle and then it went heavy, complete with screamo lyrics. This amused me.
Three Days Grace brought the pyro, something I firmly believe should be part of every rock fest. The band has a slew of hits so their set is long and packed with sing-along tunes. There's no point in me listing out the songs – if you know Three Days Grace, you know what they sang. If you've never heard them, check them out. I suggest starting with the record One X. I saw Three Days Grace just last weekend at Rock on the Range. I liked their performance at Rocklahoma more.
And now we're back to Godsmack. I also saw Godsmack last weekend at Rock on the Range and I liked the Rocklahoma show better. I don't know if it is the vibe of the venue or what but there's something more intimate about Rocklahoma. For sure, less people are at Rocklahoma than at Rock on the Range. In fact, it was just announced 60,000 people attended Rock on the Range. It's always cool to be a part of a crowd that large...and yet, it's also cool to be able to walk a little easier through seating and the pit. Know what I mean?
Anyway, Godsmack played for exactly 90 minutes. Shannon Larkin is one of my favorite drummers. This year, there's a special camera that shoots the drummers from behind so you can see what's going on via the jumbotron. Because Larkin is so skinny, his body literally flies off his stool every time he hits the kit real hard. If you've ever seen Godsmack, you know he's doing a lot of heavy hitting.
Godsmack have a ton of hit songs, don't they? There's “Keep Away,” “Voodoo,” “I Stand Alone” and the new one, “Cryin' Like a Bitch.” All were played and many more. Plus, the band always does some snippets of other songs which tend to change. At Rocklahoma, they played a bit of Twisted Sister's “We're Not Gonna Take It” which I thought was brilliant! They were giving the old Rocklahoma crowd props by acknowledging Twisted Sister. It was great until singer Sully Erna pulled a major goober and
said “Do you all now how gay it is that you know that song?!”That was maybe the worst thing to say about Twisted Sister at Rocklahoma, but I guess he doesn't know the history of the festival.
Still, Godsmack were very good as they always are and it was great for me to see so many people back at Rocklahoma. I'm catching up with some old friends and desperately missing others who usually make this trip with me.
More news later. For immediate updates and commentary, follow me on Twitter @bringbackglam