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
ROCKLAHOMA 2014 LIVE REVIEW

ROCKLAHOMA 2014 LIVE REVIEW

ROCKLAHOMA 2014

PRYOR CREEK, OK USA - MAY 23-25 2014

Friday, May 23

Five Finger Death Punch, Deftones, Seether, Killswitch Engage, Hellyeah, Skid Row, Black Stone Cherry, The Pretty Reckless, Thousand Foot Krutch, Lacuna Coil, Killer Dwarfs, London’s Dungeon and more...

Saturday, May 24

Staind, Twisted Sister, Jackyl, Filter, Kix, Pop Evil, Adelitas Way, We Are Harlot, Kill Devil Hill, Ratchet Dolls, Black Tora, Bai Bang, Ragdoll and more...

Sunday, May 25

Kid Rock, Theory of a Deadman, Extreme, Black Label Society, Tom Keifer of Cinderella, Down, Redlight King, Kyng, Eve to Adam, Scorpion Child and more...

DAY ONE: FRIDAY MAY 23

 

I've had the pleasure of attending Rocklahoma for the past three years, and the festival has consistently delivered on the three things I love about great music festivals ; a fantastic line up, jovial atmosphere and the chance to hear new and breaking artists alongside heritage acts. Rocklahoma 2014 delivered in spades, and my initial reservations about the line up were soon forgotten by the time I navigated the insane traffic and drove in through the gates.


This year was by far the busiest I've seen the festival, and AEG seem to have got the mix right this year; 80s favourites Twisted Sister, Skid Row, Jackyl and Kix in "special guest" status alongside festival stalwarts Five Finger Death Punch, Staind and Kid Rock.


As with any festival, the hardest part is choosing which bands to see, so I've compiled my personal highlights here!

ROK FRIDAY – RETRO STAGE


The Retrospect Records stage keeps the tradition of rock'n'roll alive with it's mix of unsigned melodic bands and cult 80s artists. This year was arguably the strongest showing on this stage, with a huge new production rig and stadium worthy sound.


Tulsa natives Firstryke are a personal favourite, and they stunned the crowd this year with a super heavy set of groove metal. Like the bastard child of Black album Metallica and Painkiller album Priest, the Rick Adams fronted outfit did nothing but crush the Retrospect stage this year. A band worth checking out!


Loveblast did for Crue inspired sleaze what Firstryke did for metal; one of the tightest and note perfect live bands I've seen. I closed my eyes during their cover of girls, girls, girls and thought I was seeing Motley Crue. If you like sleaze delivered with class, Loveblast are essential listening.


Nasty Habit stole the show Friday night though, making their return to Rocklahoma after a 2013 debut. Taking their cues from early 90s Mr Big and Extreme, and with an average age of 21,the New York 4 piece sang and played like a band who has toured non stop since 1991. The Ende brothers harmonies and songwriting puts bands on the main stage to shame and the rhythm section of Frank Wheeler and David Jordan are one of the funkiest in rock. A highlight was the Eruption on crack solo from guitarist Kenny; simply world class. Nasty Habit kills!

FRIDAY HIGHTLIGHT – KILLSWITCH ENGAGE


With new/old Frontman Jesse Leach back, Killswitch Engage obliterated the main stage. The band who continue to redefine modern metal with every release were even heavier and tighter live, despite the washy stage due to the windy conditions. Their reworking of the Dio classic Holy Diver sent the crowd into a frenzy only matched by the intensity of the bands on stage headbanging and jumping.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHT – DELLACOMA


Rounding out festivities on Friday night after 5FDP was ex Sunset Riot singer Dellacoma and his new band. The half Aussie half Texan band opened with a slamming version of the Slash song "Mean Bone", with lead guitarist Art picking up where Sunset Riot axeman JP left off. Sunset Riot favourites Save me from LA, Rattlesnake and Rain fit seamlessly alongside new material like the single "Change" . Del  was his usual energetic self, the love child of Scott Weiland and Steven Tyler, commanding the faithful audience. USA audiences can catch the band as they tear up the midwest this year.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHT – DEFTONES


Deftones pulled one of the biggest crowds to Rocklahoma this year and could have commanded headliner status. The energy and enthusiasm from frontman Chino got the crowd pumping but unfortunately the inclement weather conditions meant the sound was washy and overly bass heavy; not that this stopped the crowd of die hards singing every word and throwing their arms in the air.

FRIDAY HIGHLIGHT – LACUNA COIL


One band I was super excited to see were Italian Goth metal titans Lacuna Coil. Slimmed down to a five piece, the band wasted no time absolutely dominating the Hard Rock stage. Front woman Christina Scabbia was every bit the rock goddess, with spot on vocals and commanding stage presence. Her lilting and ethereal vocals, the aggression of frontman Andrea Ferro and the tight pulsing grooves of the band cast a spell over the Oklahoma crowd and drove the performance to an incredible high. Evanescance wannabes? No way!


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHT – KILLER DWARFS


One of the surprises of this year's festival were Canadian legends Killer Dwarfs. The Dirty Weapons CD is a cult classic and it was a highlight of the Retrospect Records stage seeing the guys take the stage. With a set encompassing nothing but fan favourites and a huge, melodic sound and seasoned on stage performance, the Killer Dwarfs were the perfect start to Rocklahoma 2014.


The upgraded PA and lights in the Retrospect tent were a huge improvement over previous years and made the stage one to watch over the weekend.


FRIDAY HIGHLIGHTS – SKID ROW


New Jersey legends Skid Row were first on my list to catch, and with good reason ; their set was a well balanced mix of classics from the self-titled debut, slave to the grind and subhuman race with new material pulled from their latest EP. Seeing the capacity crowd pumping fists to anthem Youth Gone Wild was an experience I'll never forget; these guys really have no need fire Sebastian Bach as Johnny Solinger commanded the stage like a true professional. Pure class.

DAY TWO: SATURDAY MAY 24

 

Saturday was a huge day for me ; Ratchet Dolls threw together Motley Crue with South Texan charm before Pop Evil destroyed the main stage. A clear favourite with the crowd, the band were one of the most energetic of the weekend. 5 guys playing rock music with no gimmicks and putting on one hell of a show. Pop Evil do it right.


I was over the moon to hey to see Filter, and had the pleasure of chatting to Richard Patrick before their set. An unresponsive crowd and poor sound plagued their set and put a dampener on an otherwise flawless set, with hits like Jurassitol and Take A Picture being particular highlights.

 

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS – JACKYL


If Filter was an anticlimax, Jackyl was the exact opposite. Jesse James Dupree and co. owned the main stage. Jackyl understand their core audience and delivered a swaggering set of redneck boogie that left everyone smiling. A tight band with a true wild man of a singer! Watching Jesse rip a chainsaw out then burn a chair on stage is an experience I'll never forget!

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS – BLACK TORA

 

Black Tora are a band many will be unfamiliar with, but the Texan three piece crushed skulls with their Rocklahoma set. Frontman Chris channels the power of Bruce Dickinson with the charisma of Paul Stanley, the perfect foil for guitar god in the making Razordave. Yngwie, Paul Gilbert and Dimebag influenced runs over classic Dio/Maiden/Priest style riffs are the order of the day and Black Tora put it all together like nobody else. An amazing, undiscovered gem.

 

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS – TWISTED SISTER


Twisted Sister; where do you begin? If Jackyl were great, Dee Snider and his merry men were god like. Hit after hit, flawless sound and a stage presence that were truly larger than life. Closing with a tribute to Lemmy and the Motorhead classic Born to Raise Hell was the unexpected highlight of a greatest hits set second to none.

 

SATURDAY HIGHLIGHTS – KIX


Kix closed Saturday night out perfectly. I admit to being familiar with very little of their catalogue, but they did what only a great band can and held my attention for 40 minutes of power rock and roll. Their performance turned me from a casual fan into a die hard. Equal parts Rolling Stones, ACDC and Foreigner, songs like Midnight Dynamite had the crowd in awe, with the power ballad Don't close your eyes sounding as fresh as it was 25 years ago. The perfect end to an amazing day of music. 

DAY THREE: SUNDAY MAY 25

 

Sunday is always the party day at Rocklahoma, and between interviews and hanging with fans and friends I got to hear some great music.


Aussies 12 foot ninja won plenty of new fans with their eclectic djent meets funk meets salsa sound. Great to see a great new Aussie band tearing up the USA.


Station are another retrospect favourite, one of the most anthemic and melodic new bands out now. These guys could easily headline a European festival with their enormous hooks, soaring harmonies and anthemic songs.

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS – BLACK LABEL SOCIETY

 

Black Label Society did what Black Label Society does; a pounding rhythm section propping up the Viking riffage and shredding of Zakk Wylde. Newcomer Dario Lorina held his own but Zakk was the star of the show. Seeing Zakk live for the first time was almost a religious experience, a larger than life persona and player. New songs like opener In My Dying Time fit well alongside BLS stalwarts Stillborn, with no bullshit in between. Hail Zakk!

 

SUNDAY TALKING POINT – EXTREME


Extreme were the disappointment of the festival. While the first 40 minutes were a matter class in funky riff rock and Gary Cherone was killing it on Lead vocals, Nuno Bettencourt stormed off stage after a guitar malfunction. Cherone was then stranded while the band threw down their instruments in frustration, leaving the crowd stunned and frustrated. A bummer all around.

 

SUNDAY HIGHLIGHTS – KYNG


Kyng were my must see band this year and they delivered in spades. Having to cut their set short to 25 minutes, the Californians ripped through tunes off new record Burn the Serum and debut Trampled Sun. New single Electric Halo brought the house down. Three guys who deserve huge success.

Headliner Kid Rock puts on one hell of a rock show. Transcending his rap rock roots and faux southern rock styling, Kid Rock and his band were all class. Snippets of Rush's Tom Sawyer, some Skynyrd, Zeppelin and Ted Nugent peppered a set of essential songs for the sold out crowd. A true showman!


Scorpion Child and Mach 22 closed the night as Rocklahoma wound up, the former channelling the epic riffage of Zeppelin and Rainbow the latter the sleazy grooves of Aerosmith. Two bands to watch!


My night closed out playing a second set with Ragdoll in the campgrounds, an experience I'll discuss in my exclusive tour blog. What a wild weekend!

 

Follow these links for more info on ROCKLAHOMA

http://www.rocklahoma.com/ 

 

your writer playing the Retrospect stage this year...

 

 

words by Leon Todd (of Ragdoll) and images by Elspeth Erickson May 2014

 

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