There were a lot of good things about Rockfest. The sound systems on both stages were really great. The main stage setup was very concert-goer-friendly. There were some amazing monitors on either side of the stage. A good distance away from the stage, there was another one of these monitors, and more speakers. The action on the second stage was broadcast on these main stage monitors between bands, so there was NO downtime in the main stage area. This was great because the band times overlapped each other, and it was nearly impossible to catch two bands playing back to back.
We were not able to see every band at Rockfest, but these are my reviews of the ones we were able to catch:
Heaven's Basement: Mike and I were introduced to Heaven's basement this past fall when they opened up for Halestorm here in Springfield. I wasn't expecting much then--another radio-rock band. We were totally blown away, and immediately bought their album, Filthy Empire. I fell in love with Heaven's Basement all over again at Rockfest.
They charged on stage with "Welcome Home." You could tell they were pumped to be there, and grateful for those of us who made an effort to see them. They rock out HARD and give new life to their already rocking songs on stage. They play like they need to prove themselves. Frontman Aaron Buchanan is full of energy, and has a great stage presence.
|Did I mention they're adorable and British?|
They also rocked through their first single, "Fire, Fire," and their current hit, "Nothing Left to Lose." They also gave us "Can't Let Go," "I am Electric," and closed with "Executioner's Day." My only complaint about the set--I wish it was longer.
Buchanan decided to crowd surf...and do a handstand in the audience:
How rock 'n roll is that?!
Mudfest 2014: It started raining hard just as we entered the gates. If you've never just let yourself get rained on, I recommend it. It's a freeing experience.
Festival advice: if you even think it's going to rain, put your phone or anything else that can't get wet in a plastic bag. I did, and anything that wasn't in a bag was soaked. My purse is still drying out! Oh, and we were left with this. Everywhere:
Black Label Society: Though I have read Zakk Wylde's book and know he's a guitar god with a huge personality, I have never listened to much Black Label Society. I'm just not the biggest fan of Wylde's vocals.
Yes, real metal heads, I'm that person who cares about the vocals.
BUT, for some reason, their set (which we watched on the main stage monitor in the middle of the crowd) really drew me in. The dark and groovy guitars, peppered with Wylde's signature guitar squeal and impressive solos won me over. I was totally into it! Plus, the whole biker-gang BLS thing is so very badass. I tried to get a good shot of the monitor when there was a closeup of that bullseye axe, but it didn't happen:
The Pretty Reckless: This would be an example of why I thought Rockfest, well, rocked. After BLS, We got to see The Pretty Reckless play. How's that for a transition? They were on the second stage, and the set had already started. But those of us hanging at the main stage got to feel like we were there. We were even rocking out and cheering for something happening half-a-mile away!
I was not expecting much from singer Taylor Momsen live. I listened to the band's latest album, Going to Hell, and liked it. Crunchy guitars, decent lyrics. Nothing mind-blowing, but good. I was skeptical Momsen could pull it off live. I had seen a clip of them from some award show and wasn't impressed.
But--she sounded great. Not the most powerful voice in the world, but she definitely held her own through "Follow Me Down," Sweet Things," and the hit "Heaven Knows." If you listen to rock radio at all, you've heard that one. I like the song so much better now that I've heard it live, without the sing-along effect in the chorus.
Steel Panther: Their set made my face hurt. Not because it was melted by rock...but because I was laughing so hard. I know some people who read this blog don't share Mike and I's sick and terrible sense of humor, so I won't name the songs they sang, or the nature the comedy bits they did. If you're not easily offended, and an '80's parody band with lyrics that seem like they were written by 14-year-old boys sounds interesting, you can click on the link.
Offensive lyrics notwithstanding, Steel Panther's songs would probably have been hits in 1985. Lead singer Michael Starr can actually sing. He belted out some Rob Halford-caliber, operatic screams throughout the set.
I have a theory that these guys get off stage, take off the makeup and glittery spandex, and drive minivans singing "Let it Go" while they take their kids to school.
To show that I'm not a diva, here's Mike and I. No makeup...after being completely soaked with rain and drying out in the sun. Sexy.
Killswitch Engage: This was the band Mike was really excited to see. Killswitch Engage just isn't my thing. I think they are cool guys and I really dig their lyrics. But I just can't get into that much screaming and the guitar work that's more on the hardcore side.
That being said, I enjoyed their set. They guys rock HARD. Jesse Leach has a powerful voice, whether he's screaming or singing. Killswitch burned through "My Curse," "My Last Serenade," "Always," and "In Due Time." They closed with their cover of Ronnie James Dio's "Holy Diver." I love me some RJD. In spite of my aforementioned distaste for screaming, I actually really like what Killswitch did with "Holy Diver."
We did not see every band at Rockfest. I ended up opting to rest my sad runner's feet while Staind and Five Finger Death Punch played so we could enjoy the bands we really came to see.
|View from the second stage, looking at the whole park. The main stage was over to the left.|
We only watched a couple minutes of KoRn's (who was headlining) set. Mike saw them when they were in Springfield a few months ago, and I never really got into the Nu Metal thing. Call me old and lame, but I had to work Sunday and I wanted to get out of our downtown parking garage before the masses left.
However, I feel that we got our money's worth. I had an amazing time! It was surreal to be watching this killer music with Kansas City skyline in the background.
My criticisms of Rockfest:
- Trash cans. I only saw a few near the second stage. There was trash everywhere. I know that there are jerks who will throw their trash on the ground no matter what, but there was no opportunity for those of us who don't do that to throw anything away.
- It would have been great to have one of those monitors at the second stage, so people over there could have watched the main stage action in between bands. We probably would have stayed and watched KoRn from the second stage monitor if that was an option.
- I don't know if there is anywhere else Rockfest could be held, but I think the park is too small for the event. It was almost impossible to get around. I know festivals are crowded, and I think organizers did the best with what they had, but a little more room for the 50,000+ people would have made the day better.