Concert ReviewsRocklahoma

BEST OF ROCKLAHOMA 2018

ROCKLAHOMA 2018 | PRYOR, OK | MAY 24 - 27, 2018

After being blown away at Rocklahoma 2017 by the performances of Ded and Wage War, I wondered what band on the lineup for 2018 would fill their shoes. There were a few bands that I hadn’t seen before, a few I hadn’t heard of, and a couple that I caught that had already been through Dallas. Even after the boyfriend and I discussed and listened to some of the tracks from the bands we weren’t familiar with, we still had no idea who (if any) was going to fill the order of blowing us away.

I mean, in all reality I guess no band had to wow us, right? Who are we to demand such a tall order in the first place!? On the other hand, isn’t that what a festival’s duties are? Shouldn’t there be an expectation of some band that comes outta nowhere and just pummels the entire crowd? I think there should be that expectation from everyone coming to Rocklahoma or any other rock festival that there will be a band or two that has thousands of people in an all-out tissy because of their performance! This should be something that bands strive to be – no matter at what level; they should strive to be that band that even after a week, a month or even six months after it’s over, the festival fans are still talking about.

Honestly, looking back to Rocklahoma 2017, there were three bands that I still remember their shows like they just happened: Nothing More, Wage War, and Ded. I don’t really remember the other 45 bands or their performances. Wait, add one more to that list Coda Cutlass. So, there, four bands that I loved their sets and as a result of loving their set at Rocklahoma 2017, I made it a point to go to their shows when they came through this past year.

Who were these bands from Rocklahoma 2018 that slayed me (and the boyfriend too)? I think y’all are going to be just as surprised as I was when we reviewed what we experienced over the weekend as we drove home that Monday. Here they are – in no particular order, just as we talked about them:

DARK AVENUE

Rocklahoma 2018
Dark Avenue

Alright, before y’all go boo hooing that because they’re from Dallas and I know them personally or I’m playing favorites, just stop right there. If you’ve been following me for any amount of time, you can go back and see how many times I’ve talked about DARK AVENUE or shared posts from the band (or the members). I’m going to guess that over the past two years, it’s been under 10 posts generated by my page and maybe I’ve shared posts from their page five times or so. It isn’t because I don’t think the band is good either. I think they’re great – each player is really good, they know their instrument, the songs have been pretty decent. I think MARIO CADENA, the singer, has one of the best voices I have heard. He has a strength in the middle of his register that can make a grown man cry (and it has, I’ve seen it happen) and the intonation of a champ. He can rock a song out and he can woo a listener to a melody that will stick with them for days. Not to mention, he can sing any and all of the band’s songs in Spanish and delivers it like his last name is Iglesias.

What I loved about their performance at the Rocklahoma 2018 Campground Kick Off Thursday night was everything that has been good over the past two years about DARK AVENUE came full circle and became great. No, not instantly and not just from this performance. They’ve been building a solid steam-engine for the past three months. A month or so before Rocklahoma 2018 they released an OMV (Official Music Video) for the single “(Don’t) Hold On” and at the end of 2017, the band released “The Light”. These two songs have been the spark that has driven this band forward with a pretty powerful momentum that exploded on stage Thursday night. If you didn’t get to see this band, make a point to do so in the coming weeks. I know they have some dates in and around North Texas, Arkansas, and maybe in Oklahoma as well. Go like their socials right now, so you don’t forget and of course, I’ve linked them here for you to just click over to because I’m just that awesome. Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

NONPOINT

Rocklahoma 2018
Nonpoint

Literally, love this band and have for just about as long as they’ve been around (which is almost 20 years BTW). I see them every time they come to Dallas. As a part of that metal movement in the early 00’s, NONPOINT continues to remain strong even with that long break a few years back. They’ve put out some solid records and have toured like mo-fo’s over the years. I love the energy this band creates on stage and hands out to the crowd in big spoon fulls. They know how to engage a crowd by not firing off all cylinders at the jump of their set. It’s like getting served in a buffet line, you get served just enough to fit nicely in each of the places on your tray. It doesn’t flow over or mix with the other portions, everything served tastes good together, and at the end of it, you’re totally satisfied.

Now, I just saw NONPOINT and BUTCHER BABIES in April on the KINGS AND QUEENS TOUR and I gotta be honest, that performance for me was kinda weak but it was the very first night of a 2-month tour, and they had some difficulties with some equipment at the venue. It wasn’t bad, but I did expect a little more on that show.

So when I saw them on the bill, I was happy that I would be able to see them again but didn’t expect to see what I got on the River Casino Stage on Sunday the 27th of May at Rocklahoma 2018. From the minute they were all on stage, they brought it hard!! So much so that I was a little upset that I had to leave their set to go photograph another band across the grounds. But had I not gone over, I wouldn’t have seen what I did on my way back to that part of the festival grounds. Instead of just describing it, here’s a picture of what I saw that blew me back a few feet as I walked over:

Literally, there was zero room to move because probably close to half of the festival goers (close to 20K people, if not more) were jammed in front of the stage, spilling over to the side, and back by the tent in the middle of the grounds, to all the way over to the other side by the food trucks, NONPOINT had sent out a tractor beam that pulled everyone with a pulse to come to their stage to watch their show.

And what a show! Seriously, I haven’t seen this band this good since maybe 2003! It’s like becoming a new fan all over again, but with the same band! The impact they had on Rocklahoma 2018, was monstrous! Fans were jumping up and down, screaming, waving their hands, and totally flipping out for this band! Good thing the band has a new record coming out soon because no one is finished with NONPOINT, that’s for sure! The band’s tenth studio album, operatively entitled “X” is slated to release sometime in August. Follow the band on Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

GODSMACK

Rocklahoma 2018
Godsmack

I am ashamed to admit it almost but seeing GODSMACK at Rocklahoma 2018 was the first time I’ve ever seen them live. I know, right? How did I go twenty years and manage to never see this band of brothers? Well, I have seen them now and holy ballz, they were f’ing fantastic live! What I loved the most about their set, besides the pyro, was that they played a majority of their new record and of course a few hits along the way. Now, maybe it’s because their new record “When Legends Rise” is fresh in my mind after reviewing it for The Rockpit (shameless plug, I know…) and that this release is probably some of the best work the band has ever done. GODSMACK has a way with a crowd that truly is a connection made through their music, as evident in the giant sing-a-long that 70,000 fans were participating in with as the band played.

The fact that after these twenty years (that seems more like five or seven) has passed, the band is still cranking out relevant hits is superfly. All of the members of this band are mega in their own right; SULLY is a mastermind at all things music and should have a PhD in marketing his music, SHANNON’s ability to carry not only the songs, but the audience in some other dimension trance-like way is unbelievable and can only be understood by watching him live and in person, TONY’s swagger with the guitar that teeters between rock god and bluesish demigod shines on the stage, and all held together by ROBBIE’s innate and automatic timing with the bass as it’s played is smooth AF!

Really, I’m not surprised that this band has remained solid like a rock for twenty years. They know how to write entertaining music that reaches both sides of the fan fence, that is female and male. With music like what they wrote for “When Legends Rise” and shows like their performance at Rocklahoma 2018, they deserve another 20 years at the helm.

The band tours later this summer with SHINEDOWN and BAD WOLVES. Check their socials for cities and dates and if you haven’t picked up their newest record, go do that right now. You’re gonna want to know all of the songs when they come to play your city because let’s be honest, when you don’t know the words to the song that everyone else is singing around you, you feel bad and no matter how hard you try and fake sing the song, you don’t want to be that guy or girl that’s busted by the cameraman shooting for the jumbotron, now do you? Hell no you don’t. Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

MACHINE GUN KELLY

Rocklahoma 2018
Machine Gun Kelly

Alright, so I had no clue who MACHINE GUN KELLY was. I don’t have an excuse really, other than I don’t listen to rap and I’m old? I also don’t listen to the radio and for sure I don’t listen to Top 40 radio. I’ll also make something clear, it’s not that I don’t like rap. I dig the hell out of EMINEM, I love RUN DMC, THE BEASTIE BOYS, and SALT N PEPPA, SNOOP is cool, ICE CUBE AND ICE T, all cool with me. Hell, I’ve even seen POST MALONE (how I managed to see POST MALONE before ever seeing GODSMACK is beyond me and can only attribute that bit of coolness to my BFFs daughter who drug me to his sold-out show in Dallas) in concert, live and in my face!!

Buuuttt…I didn’t know that MACHINE GUN KELLY was a rapper necessarily but since I wasn’t that familiar, I thought I would at least shoot the first three songs of the set since a pretty significant amount of people were already gathering at the River Casino Stage even before the band on the Bud Light Stage was finished. It’s always great to have an artist on film that you haven’t ever shot before.

MACHINE GUN KELLY isn’t just a rapper. He’s a full-on musical entertainer. His set at Rocklahoma 2018, he performed with a full band, including a drummer that played like SEVEN (aka CHRIS ANTONOPOULOS oddly enough drummed for VANILLA ICE, and HELLIFIED FUNK CREW before playing with OPIATE FOR THE MASSES), guitarist, bassist, and keyboard/turntable. What I saw in his set was the uncanny diversity in music that MGK has and delivered to a swarm of fans buzzing around the stage. He can rap, sing, play guitar, move with the grooves, all while having a kick-ass time on stage. His energy is gobbled up by the fans like a piranha feasting on an overturned boat full of meat on the Amazon and is recycled back to MGK. It is amazing to watch and thrilling to be in the middle of it for three songs as I took pictures.

I’ll tell you something though, I’ve yet to see crowd surfing or hear of crowd surfing being done at any other rapper’s show, but they did it at MGK. Girls were on guy’s shoulders, glow sticks were thrown around, people were dancing, then jumping up and down as they were singing with the movement of the music and the lights. The echoes of the cheering fans were felt across the grounds as an appreciative and somewhat humble MGK soaked it in. Equipped with fog blasters that were used in short bursts instead of the long blasts I’m used to seeing, up to the finale of confetti released into the crowd; that might as well have been doves or gold coins because the audience went bananas over!

I was impressed with the energy that the music created like a big bubble around the stage and the audience. It was impressive, and I really felt a part of a moment or part of what was happening around me. I also loved the songs – rap or not – MACHINE GUN KELLY freakin’ nailed it! His music, the performance and after looking his backstory up, have all contributed in making a fan out of me!

Facebook | Instagram | Twitter

There y’all have it. The Best from Rocklahoma 2018 – those bands that brought it and brought it hard. Now, this doesn’t mean that the other bands sucked, and I have nothing to say about them. The article is called the “Best Of Rocklahoma 2018” not the “Best and Kinda Good Of Rocklahoma”. I’ll have more from the other bands I covered while there, more pics from these shows and the others and some fan pictures and camping pictures as well, so chill, check out DARK AVENUE or see when GODSMACK’s coming to your city, better yet, go buy their records. Mark your calendar for August when NONPOINTs record drops and save your pennies so you can snatch one of those right up!

Til Next Time – MRML – Cherri

All pictures © 2018 Cherri Bird for AntiHero Magazine and subject to copyright laws. Not to be used without written permission.

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Cherri Bird

Independent and selective rock journalist & wordsmith, focused on strengthening the connections between a fan and the bands they follow through the words she writes. Specializing in interviews, music & show reviews, and candid photography; Cherri takes what she discovers and pounds the social media pavement to fuse the energy that music brings us with the bands that create it.

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