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Rocklahoma 2013 – Festival Review

Festivals

Rocklahoma 2013, or How One Learned To Stop Worrying And Accept That This Was The Moore Tornado Relief Fund Concert.

Arriving and being in the forefront of the biggest rock festival in Oklahoma, I was happily thrilled to see it all unfurled before my eyes. Friday opened up with some mediocre sets from Zero Crossing and Otherwise. All That Remains blasted through with their brand of metal-core. Charging through with a terrific performance of “Two Weeks,” The Sword came on and rocked the pants off many in the audience. Shredding through their proto-metal masterpieces, they melded their  semi-famous “Freya” with ZZ Top’s “Cheap Sunglasses” mid-song, and they finished by going right back into their “calling card,” if you wanna call it that. Ratt followed and played all their 80’s hits, but seemed to disappoint on more occasions than impress.

lineup_5.1Clutch fused a southern drawl on metal-core with raspy vocals and ear-shattering choruses. Lead singer Neil Fallon owned the stage with his intensity. He correctly did what good frontmen should do – he made every person in the crowd feel “into” the show. Upon asking random festival goers about this show all weekend, a negative response was not once given.

Bush, after a set of singles, played an electro-groovy freak out of “Come Together” by The Beatles. After a shout-out about the Moore, OK tornado, Gavin Rossdale played “Glycerine” by himself for 90% of the song – a clear fan favorite. The chorus had nearly everyone in the over swollen audience singing. Noticing the sound of everyone singing it, the amount of people was staggering larger than last year’s audience.

David Draiman, of Disturbed fame, took his new project, Device, and played a various sorts of tracks, including ballads, mosh pit-inducers, and a cover of Nine Inch Nails’ “Wish” with festival-mate Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach. Although the cover doesn’t compare to the original, it was a very well-done song pulled off in the unlikeliest of places.

Eddie Trunk made a fool of himself by mistaking a hurricane with a tornado, explaining that every ticket purchased had funds going to the Hurricane Relief Fund. Is he on the hot seat as Rocklahoma’s host? Time will tell, but he introduced Guns N’ Roses like a true host should. Too bad the entire crowd was making fun of him.

Guns N’ Roses did exactly what I predicted they’d do – show up late, (20 minutes this, the going over/under was 30 min) perform poorly, and waste as much time as possible. Headlining the event, playing their most famous song (arguable, “Welcome To The Jungle”) second on the set list, and then following with three nameless and featureless songs? With a strange ass guitar solo to follow it? Who is this guy?01_guns_n_roses_live_in_concert One could understand if it were Slash, but it’s was not. To boot, three guitarists (including the immortally dumb named Bumblefoot) have to make up the work of Slash. Last year at Rocklahoma, Slash performed above average covers of GNR tracks and didn’t leave me wondering why I was here OR as a pity vote to watch. Watching “Guns  N’ Roses” ruin the reputation of the name and their fame was nearly sickening. Axl Rose – on a good night – used to be one of the best frontmen of all-time. Now he’s a fat joke, capable of ruining a night. I literally spent my time making fun of him when he sang “Live And Let Die,” (a cover that never pleased to begin with) by imitating Axl’s delivery with Bane’s accent (from The Dark Knight Rises). On the flip side, Bane singing that seems ago much better. Shitty pyrotechnics didn’t help their case. Fire columns puttered out into wisps when the crack of the snare came down on “Live And Let Die.” I literally watched the entire side of the general admission area that I was on clear up to nearly abandoned while GNR kept trying to seem interesting. Maybe some people will call me too young for not enjoying a half-assed attempt of a show, but I had to remind all (what was left of) the nearby people that the piano player was playing “No Quarter” by Led Zeppelin at some point. I wished I was kidding, but they actually played “No Quarter.” Instrumentally, thank God. Watching “Sweet Child O’ Mine” made me feel like I was watching a film that was proving my point – it’s time to end it. It was time to end it when it ended. And this is just a near travesty to go on. The show has ended. Go home. A surprising interlude of “Another Brick In The Wall Pt. 2″ didn’t stray this theory. The finale of “Paradise City” solidified this theory. The fact I stayed around this long should go into earning a medal of intestinal fortitude.

Note: Tommy Stinson of The Replacements played bass for GNR. Just sayin’.

Saturday.

We come to you live in the middle of a transmission – Halestorm. Performing radio singles and practically sounding the same either way, Halestorm rocked it hard and performed like it meant something. A error in travel led the next band, We As Human, to cancel. A band scheduled to play later, Mindset Evolution, stepped up and played their set without any noteworthy mentions. Skillet came on and did their set with yet more effort than needed and projected lamely at the audience. They have a demographic in their music, and their music makes this crystal clear.

Rocklahoma, either intentionally or unintentionally, put on three British bands after another – Young Guns, Bullet For My Valentine, and Asking Alexandria all hail from “across the pond.” Young Guns played an energetic collection of post-hardcore tracks with some hard rock infused. Their set didn’t include anything memorable, but at the same time, they didn’t play anything horrible. Bullet For My Valentine’s set surprised me – pulling all their tricks and putting their best effort into the show. Breaking out “4 Words (To Choke Upon),” “Tears Don’t Fall”, and set-closer “Scream Aim Fire” and setting the crowd ablaze was a success. I was even surprised on how they translated their newer work to blend so well with their older work. Asking Alexandria brutalized the entire crowd with percussive jackhammers and chugging death riffs. Growling, screaming, and singing, lead singer Danny Worsnop kept everything together in a nice prelude to Saturday’s closer.

alice in chainsI will never doubt William DuVall for replacing Layne Staley again. A bold statement, but after watching the booming set from Alice In Chains, I am a firm believer in DuVall. Alice started (on time) explosively with “Them Bones,” and transitioned to many older favorites. DuVall practically echoed Staley for majority, and if you closed your eyes, you would’ve believed Layne was singing. Their newer material was the content I was most interested in. Playing “Hollow” and “Stone” from The Devils Put Dinosaurs Here was a trip and a half, with DuVall and Cantrell hitting the perfect harmonies while playing skilled riffs. The entire band gelled as a unit, no matter how cliche it sounds. The surprising choice of “Dam That River” aurally asphyxiated me. Watching DuVall sing one of the Layne Staley-signature songs, “Nutshell,” I almost broke out in tears. The long walk to the campsite had me still racing about Alice’s performance, and I envision myself having big, large, and golden stars over my eyes while thinking about it.

Sunday.

Steel Panther evoked Rocklahoma’s demographic – 80’s hair metal. Pulling off all kinds of tropes while never attempting to mask their intention of the “sex, drugs, and rock n’ roll” lifestyle, they mixed honoring AND satirizing the entire scene of glam rock and hair metal. Playing out their set and promising to return next year, Rocklahoma would be stupid to not bring these guys back as headliners or, at the least, near headliners.

Cheap Trick sloppily played a set of classics and forgettable older songs that didn’t get anyone excited. Singles like “Dream Police” and “Surrender” were not received well by the audience, and the entire crowd barely sang along. Guitarist Rick Nielsen threw out a smorgasbord of guitar picks, as if that were the priority over playing the songs. Vocalist Robin Zander lazily stood in place and sang his songs without any crowd interaction in his jeweled suit and biker hat.

KornKorn closed the entire festival with a hellacious and triumphant set. Reuniting with old guitarist Brian “Head” Welch, the band played most classics – opening with “Blind” and closing with “Got The Life” and “Freak on a Leash.” What deviated from the classics was “Narcissistic Cannibal” and “Get Up!”, which are on Korn’s dubstep venture, The Path of Totality. Jonathan Davis made the entire show, with fierce screams and growls throughout the night. His part of the show alone was worth waiting the whole festival for. Drummer Ray Luzier improved most basic drum riffs played by ex-drummer David Silveria, and put on a show by himself, with all kinds of intense, intricate cymbal and tom patterns. Munky and Head were cerebral in their guitar playing, playing all their bits incredibly well all night long. All in all, Korn’s set was breathtaking and one of the best of the entire festival.

Alright, now time for The 2013 Rocklahoma Awards!

Most Surprising Performance: Steel Panther (Runner-up: Clutch)

Best Vocal Performance: Jonathan Davis of Korn (Runner-up: Will DuVall of Alice in Chains)

Best Single Song Performance: Alice In Chains performing “Nutshell” (Runner-up: Device feat. Jacoby Shaddix of Papa Roach performing “Wish” by Nine Inch Nails.)

Best Guitar Solo: Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains performing “Man In The Box” (Runner-up: Jerry Cantrell of Alice In Chains performing “Nutshell”)

Worst Performance: Guns N’ Roses (Runner-up: Cheap Trick)

Best Performance: Alice In Chains (Runner-up: Korn)

So, there it is. Rocklahoma 2013 was a mild success, but personally and honestly, I had slightly higher hopes after last year’s festival. Even though most of my reporting is either complete apathy, hatred, or love, Rocklahoma as an event was pretty well executed. It was a thoroughly enjoyable festival with some sub-par and horrific performances, which can’t be held against the creators of the fest. But the best performances made up for it. And, yes, it was easily fun enough to guarantee that this author will be back next year.

On the subject of my title, I called it The Moore Tornado Relief Fund Concert, which, not to seem catty or rude, it was! Throughout the weekend, Eddie Trunk started auctions for autographed guitars before bands came on the main stage at random times. They earned more than $34,000 over the weekend on the guitars alone, which isn’t including the tickets, merchandise, or any other miscellaneous money. On Sunday, Trunk mentioned that this was the biggest Rocklahoma ever, which means the Moore Tornado Relief Fund will be getting some huge help from Rocklahoma!

Written by Dylan Tracy

OurVinyl | Contributor