Here we go again. Less than a week after Summerfest ended, I went to yet another music festival. This time, I went to the inaugural Rock USA 2011 in Oshkosh, WI, at the site where they hold Country USA every year. Apparently they decided to try their hands at a rock show. It was a three-day festival with a decent musical lineup including Daughtry, Puddle of Mudd, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Journey, Korn, and KISS. My friend and I decided that we would be going on the last day, which was yesterday. We felt it had the best lineup of the three days - Dokken, Hollywood Undead, Korn, and KISS.
The site is located in a huge field. They had campgrounds so people could camp out for three days, amusement park rides, several vendors, food, and beer. They apparently modeled it after Country USA by selling VIP tickets and having this very large section in front of the stage with plastic chairs. The size of this section forced general admission attendees to be one or two hundred yards away. The sad part about this VIP section was that it was never full. Each and every band that came to the stage, including KISS, made comments about wanting everyone to be closer. Hollywood Undead's comment was funniest as they said they never performed for so many white chairs before. The festival people need to realize that the fans that attend country shows are different from fans that attend rock shows. I can only imagine the size of the swirling mosh pit that would have ensued had that section not been blocked off. As it was, concerts are much more enjoyable when you can be up close. Since I wasn't that close, I also didn't take a lot of pictures, thought I did get a few. Check them out here.
Now on to the music...
Arrived about 4pm. First band I saw was Dokken. I saw them open for Aerosmith (I believe) back in the late 80's. George Lynch (original lead guitarist) hasn't been with the band for many years. Don Dokken can't quite hit those high notes anymore, so they sung and played some songs at a lower octave. I've always liked Dokken and they still jammed. Up next was Hollywood Undead. I had just seen them at Summerfest the previous Sunday. The show was better at Summerfest, which may have been attributed to being closer then than we were yesterday. The interesting thing to watch was the crowd. You go from an 80's hair metal band like Dokken to a new wave rap/metal band like Hollywood Undead and you certainly see changes in the crowd. Before HU took the stage you could see all of the younger kids moving up into the crowd. Then when they were over, they left. There were some older rock fans who were confused and surprised that so many people were singing along with HU. Good show!
The final two bands for the evening I had not seen before - Korn and KISS. Korn is an awesome band. KISS was more of a bucket-list band. I have to admit that I was a bit disappointed that the first time I was seeing Korn, or KISS for that matter, I was so far away from the stage. The first time I see a band, I like to be up close and really experience the performance and the sound. Korn came out and rocked me. No talking. No bullshitting in between songs. They were flowing seamlessly from one song to the next...UNTIL the sound system went out on the back speakers. By the mere fact that Korn kept going told me that they were unaware of the technical difficulties. The sound cut in and out a few more times and really soured my experience. At one point, my friends and I were preparing for things to get ugly in the crowd, but it never happened. From some things I've read today, it sounds as though it just may have been Korn's sound crew that messed this one up. Either way, it was disappointing. While I can say that I saw Korn, I'm not so sure I can positively say I heard them...at least not the entire set. Hopefully they will come around again soon.
Headlining this last night of Rock USA 2011 was none other than the "greatest show in the world", show being the operative word. I've never been a big fan of KISS as a band. Sure they have been around for 40 years and have lots of commercial success with many songs that everyone can sing to, but I just feel that they are not a great band musically. Individually, they are all mediocre musicians. Seriously, Paul Stanley is a terrible singer. Eric Singer, the drummer, is actually a better singer. Ace Frehly may have been the one standout. Collectively, they do put on one impressive show. For KISS, it's always about the show, the spectacle of KISS. From the fire, the explosions, the makeup, the costumes, and all of the theatrics they are a great rock 'show'. I can now check them off my bucket-list.
Rock USA 2011 was a good time. I can only hope that the folks that put this show on make some necessary changes to make it better. They can begin with removing the front fenced-in VIP section and finding alternative methods for VIP sales. They say they are wanting to spend $2.5M on bands for next year's Rock USA. Time will only tell if they are successful and if I will attend.