"If you missed the 80s, you missed out!" Great White frontman Jack Russell bellowed from the Rock n' America stage. Rock n' America officially opened Friday with a theme of all 80s metal and old fashioned heat.
Who played the first official day of Rock n' America? Lizzy Borden, The Sweet, Trixter, Great White and Twisted Sister. On the side stage, bands like Toxin, Axe, Bulletboys and Faster Pussycat rocked out.
The Zoo Amphitheater in Oklahoma City is old so the venue isn't necessarily modern but it is nice. The walk from the parking area to the gates is super long which is unfortunate, but it is what it is I guess. The Zoo Amp has good gradation - I think it's hard to find a bad seat in the house. You can see from pretty much everywhere! The side stage is just to the right of the main stage which is okay...except for the fact that the sound is being run through one PA so when the main stage is being swapped and instruments tuned, you can hear it a little.
The standout bands of the day? The Sweet, Faster Pussycat and Twisted Sister. Jack Russell and Great White sounded much better than previous reports and YouTube videos would indicate. Jack continues to mend from two back surgeries so the set is a little more subdued. He was standing on his own just fine but there's no wild jumping around - and that's to be expected. By the time Great White was finishing their set with "Once Bitten, Twice Shy" the crowd was more energized. The sun had finally let up and it wasn't oppressive anymore. People seemed to be dancing and generally the crowd was happy. The main mix for Great White wasn't great - a problem that plagued the entire set.
The Sweet seemed to really surprise people. Yes, there was a red cape and some hits. A lot of people kept walking by saying "I didn't know they played that song!" For many - like me - it was a first time seeing the band live. I was entertained.
Twisted Sister always rocks but the set was a little more subdued than the last time I saw them. I'm not sure why - it just was. But I liked the opening with the cries of "Twisted Sister, come out and play!" over and over. Yes, Twisted changed the order of their set which I like. I just wish they'd drop "The Price" and keep the entire set straight metal - people were into it. Dee Snider also mentioned his upcoming series on A&E that debuts next week and Jay Jay French went on his usual rant about how American Idol sucks. The band's encore included a very nice tribute to Ronnie James Dio.
The thing that is weird about Rock n' America is that there is a “no cursing from the stage” rule...but it's a rock show. So saying there's no cursing is insane. It just happens and must be some crazy rule from Oklahoma City or something. But apparently the bands are getting fined or something every time they drop an F-bomb. Just odd.
What else? Oh yeah, Faster Pussycat ("Goth Cat") was great -- even with Taime Downe's crazy potty mouth. He swore, bless him! "Bathroom Wall" rocks and I swear it had the biggest sing a long chorus of the day. The Bulletboys didn't play "Smooth Up in Ya" which is inexcusable in my book. I'm not sure if they were cut off or what, but the 20 minute long music jam at the beginning should have been shortened to accommodate the band's biggest hit.
I'm guessing attendance on Friday to be somewhere between 3,000 – 5,000.
I've got photos but I haven't had time to edit them - so check back.