The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world
LIVE ROCKLAHOMA 2013 Pryor Creek Oklahoma reviewLIVE ROCKLAHOMA 2013 Pryor Creek Oklahoma review


The Rockpit has been travelling across the oceans the US since the inception of the Rocklahoma Festival in 2007 to see what has become one of the world’s great Rock music gatherings and 2013 may just have been one of the very best so far.  







For those that have never been Rocklahoma is one of those festivals that draws people together from not just the State but all over the country, and from all walks of life. Over the years too, the international contingent has been growing each year – both the number of bands and those travellers like us who made the big trip to a field 30 miles East of Tulsa to experience something unique. Rocklahoma you see is not just about the music, it’s about the party and also about feeling a part of Rock’s huge global family.



2013 promised a lot more though this year – Guns ‘n’ Roses the band that everyone had wanted here from day one finally made it and the weather was almost perfect. Rocklahoma gives you three days of living the dream, soaking up the music, not to mention the booze and catching up with friends old and new.  This year proved to also be the biggest yet with the deluxe packages selling out for the first time. We got to sit back, relax and enjoy as many of the 70+ bands as we could.









The best place to start any Festival is checking out all that is on offer and like the previous few years we have the Retrospect Stage for up-and-coming bands; the Hard Rock stage that features many great name bands and of course the main where the biggest names gather. Each has their own unique flavour and the venue is so easy to get around you find yourself spoilt for choice as the day wears on, compiling your ‘must see’ lists is often the hardest task of all.





Camped out at the Retrospect stage early on it’s great to see old ROK veterans like BAI BANG back to see us and along with a great set by LONDON’S DUNGEON who draw a great crowd and put on a great show with their own distinctive brand of Rock and Roll. RUFF JUSTICE also impress early on.






Out on the HARD ROCK stage THE SWORD cook up a set of Metallic mayhem for an appreciative crowd but with a shortened set you feel you would have liked to have heard so much more, as half an hour really doesn’t do them justice. But like any good festival that’s soon forgotten as RATT take the main stage several slots down the bill from when they were last here. Whether you like RATT or not they are always entertaining and even though Pearcy’s voice isn’t quite what it was their place in hard rock history is secure. Of course the crowd is on their feet as one for the likes of ‘Round and Round’: it’s interesting to think that a band that once led the way for GUNS ‘N’ ROSES are still around to play the same bill in 2013.






PAPA ROACH really has the crowd filling up in front of the main stage and as we’ve seen him do before Jacoby was right out in the crowd to deliver the set, live this band is a sight to see that far exceeds listening to their recorded output and songs like ‘Getting Away With Murder’ and ‘Scars’ particularly shine.



CLUTCH light up the Hard Rock stage with their vibrant brand of heavy blues and grind. For many they are the best band of the day out on the Hard Rock, and those gathered their certainly can’t take their eyes if them. Out in support of their latest release ‘Earth Rocker’  they know how to win a crowd and their twenty plus years of playing together makes them sound tight as a drum. It’s one band that a thirty minute slot doesn’t do justice to and they leave the stage with the crowd still baying for more.





As the sun sets on the Festival we head quickly back over to the main to hear BUSH, who since their comeback a few years ago are plying their trade on the festival circuit around the globe and surprising a good few people with how good they are. Before they take the stage a guitar signed by Gavin Rossdale is auctioned for $3000 to help the victims of the Moore tornado. It’s a nice touch.




Opening with ‘Machinehead’ one of Bush’s better known songs wins the crowd over instantly and from then on the crowd and the band just seem to feed off each other’s energy.  They play all the favourites and a great cover of The Beatles’ ‘Come Together’ where Rossdale takes a walk out into the crowd, hugging and shaking hands and high-fiving as he goes. Despite that for this reviewer it’s still ‘Glycerine’ that is the absolute peak.



Back at the Hard Rock Stage for DEVICE we get a frenetic set including a couple of interesting covers ‘Close My Eyes Forever’ made famous by Ozzy and Lita Ford, and closer ‘Wish’ originally by Nine Inch Nails. It’s a great warm up for the band that everyone is here to see GUNS ‘N’ ROSES. Our other reviewer instead made their way to the Retrospect stage to see THE LAST VEGAS whose electric take on old fashioned hard rock ends up being one of the huge highlights of Friday.





GUNS ‘N” ROSES may need no introduction but they can be a very divisive band, as we all know this is very much the Axl Rose show and no matter how proficient the musicians he has gathered behind him (and an amazing bunch they are) no one can quite forgive the man for sacking the original band or causing them to walk away despite the years of water under the bridge.    





GUNS ‘N” ROSES have recently been over in Australia and Europe and so to see them back on home soil in front of a crowd that is brimming with anticipation makes the air electric. What we got though was more than most expected with a huge set of twenty plus songs brimming with hits, the usual set pieces, piano solos and covers as well as a great rendition of The Who’s ‘The Seeker’. Despite the usual rumblings from the permanently discontent about this not being Guns ‘n’ Roses the truth is that they finally made it to ROK after 7 years and the vast majority of the crowd loved it. A great way to end the first night back in Pryor Creek.    











Saturday is the big day for most, it’s when the campgrounds are in full swing and everyone has had a chance to catch up, grab a beer or two and take in some bands. By Saturday everyone is ready to get out there and discover and one of the best places early on is the bar in the Retrospect Stage tent where Australia’s EMERALD CITY is playing.  EC is a band made for this festival growing up on a diet of GUNNER and the like, their brand of rock is made for a party and they go down really well.



Lizzy Hale and HALESTORM draw us to the main stage to hear what must be one of the best sets of the weekend. Seriously if you haven’t checked out these guys you really need to. ‘Freak Like Me’; ‘Love Bites (So Do I)’ and a wonderful cover of ‘Straight Through the Heart’ in memory of Ronnie James Dio really get the crowd fired up.
We take in a great little set from BLACK TORA, another up and coming band worth checking out before venturing back to the main for SKILLET, the crowd warm to the unashamed Christian Rockers and with songs ‘Hero’ and ‘The Last Night’ they have enough quality in their songs to draw you in irrespective of your belief – we all after all believe in Rock and Roll.



Welsh band Bullet For My Valentine may well be the only real Metal of the festival and they seem to revel in the fact, drawing a great crowd back to the main after a great set by YOUNG GUNS on the Hard Rock stage and a welcome return for LONDON on Retrospect. As Festival veterans here, in Europe and down-under they know how to bring their best game, and while a few band today may have been guilty of going through the motions you couldn’t accuse Bullet of doing that. It’s power and aggression from the off and they play a set that really gets the crowd on their side including a lot of new tracks from this years’ ‘Temper Temper’ as well as classics like  ‘Scream Aim Fire’ and ‘Tears Don’t Fall’.





The headliner from Saturday is the legendary ALICE IN CHAINS, who play a surprisingly short set for the main event to the biggest crowd of the weekend. What they leave us with though, despite its brevity, is a lasting impression and I’m sure there are many who will name them as their absolute highlight of the weekend. In William DuVall they have a singer who is strikingly unlike Layne Staley in appearance, but who sounds uncannily similar. They have a great stage presence too, reaching out to the crowd and really getting involved.



Opening with evergreen ‘Them Bones’ we get off to the perfect start, with a darkened stage and a band clad in black it’s almost eerie.  It’s also a set that is as low key as you can imagine which works beautifully as it draws your attention to solely the music. ‘Check My Brain’ and ‘Hollow’ sound great but it’s ‘Down in a Hole’ that really ignites the crowd. Overall it’s a stunning performance that perhaps more than anything shows that AIC remain a creative force rather than just an act who rekindle past glories. ‘Would?’ as it always has been remains a great favourite and tonight it sounds awesome but it’s the tribute to Layne Staley ending the night with ‘Man In The Box’ and ‘Rooster.’ That says everything you need to know. Cantrell’s father (an OK resident) even comes out onstage for Rooster – the song is after all about him.



On the way out we stop off to see GOLDEN STATE and another Australian band SUNSET RIOT who blow away any cobwebs with a great show that proves that the smaller stages are sometimes the best place to be.












Sunday is always a little bitter-sweet as we know another year is coming to an end and that some of us will be leaving friends we won’t see again until next Memorial Day weekend. This year though it turns out to be our favourite year musically.





We start off at the Retrospect stage for RAGDOLL surely Australia’s best unsigned Rock Band, they combine all their back catalogue with tracks from their new EP – available here before the worldwide release as a gesture of real affection for their US fans. If anything this year RAGDOLL sounds even better and put on one of the lower key performances of the festival. There’s little doubt a band like this could hold their own on a bigger stage.






From then on it’s a wonderful blur of great music as we alternate between stages and catch DOKKEN, the UK’s best undiscovered band HEAVEN’S BASEMENT and STEEL PANTHER in quick succession before we can take a breath.



DOKKEN these days is what it is: a band that has produced some truly great songs but one which is content to deal exclusively in past glories and has been trotting out the same old tired set for years now, as Dokken’s voice gets more and more indistinct. It’s such a shame as these guys have released some great albums over the last few years but we get to hear none of them. DOKKEN these days are also taking a stance against You-Tube videos so don’t expect them to be up very long. When that’s all said and done though we still love them to pieces.





HEAVEN’S BASEMENT is another of those bands you have to hear, and one that has been leading the charge to re-establish good old hard rock back in the UK, their sound though is perfect for American ears and they put on a great show that draws a decent crowd of the curious and those in the know.






STEEL PANTHER of course needs no introduction; they’re still funny even after seeing them half a dozen times before and put on their usual flawless set that has the crowd in tears of laughter.






HOLLYWOOD UNDEAD entertain to the max with a set that includes the likes of ‘Been to Hell’; ‘Undead’ and ‘Hear Me Now’ they are even joined onstage by  Fieldy of KORN for the closer ‘Everywhere I Go’.





It’s the next band on the Main Stage though that we’ve been waiting for – the legendary CHEAP TRICK still with us in 2013 – 35 years after their watershed album ‘At Budokan’.  Now here’s a band that have never been out of style and at the same time never seem to have been particularly fashionable. But boy are they good. We get all the hits including our Editor’s favourite “I Want You to Want Me’ the only surprise really is that ‘The Flame’ doesn’t get an airing when the night is calling out for romance! It’s certainly a contrast to the next band on the main stage – KORN.





Strangely the last time we saw KORN was in support of Day 1 headliners GUNS ‘N’ ROSES in Australia a couple of years ago. Tonight is special to fans of the band as it’s the first time in 8 years that the band is reunited with their original guitarist, Brian ‘Head’ Welch (whose new band LOVE AND DEATH is well worth checking out).  KORN put on a great show and look like about the happiest band to take the main stage this weekend, they are brimming with energy and everyone is on top form. Starting off with ‘Blind’ they take in all the big songs like ‘Lodi Dodi’; ‘Falling Away from Me’; ‘Narcissistic Cannibal’ and ‘Coming Undone’ before Davis breaks out the dreaded bagpipes for ‘Shoots and Ladders’.  Ending with final encore of ‘Freak on a Leash’ it’s a great way to end a set and also a festival.






For those that have never experienced Rocklahoma take it from us it’s something as a Rock fan you have to do. We’ve been coming out here since it all began, and seen it change over the years, but one thing remains the same and one thing elevates it above similar festivals – the people make it, and many for us have become great friends though we may be continents away. You have to take your hat off too to AEG live and the organizers for putting together such a great weekend. ROK is the place to spend your Memorial Day weekend, long may it continue.  Put it in your diary! 





by Jess Yarbrough with additional words by Mark Diggins and various tweeters



LIVE ROCKLAHOMA 2013 Pryor Creek Oklahoma Concert Review