Regardless of your affinity for or aversion to classic rock and '80s hair metal, Rocklahoma is back in 2010 for yet another round, but this year big changes are in store.
The three-day rock festival has been overhauled this year with a new focus, look and sound in hopes of breathing new life into the flagship rock event held at the festival grounds in Pryor, Okla.
Although there had been some speculation as to just how successful past Rocklahoma events have actually been and whether the festival would return, organizers were resolved to keep a major rock festival planted in northeast Oklahoma.
With input from international concert promoter AEG Live, event planners made two major changes. First, the event was moved from mid-July to Memorial Day weekend. Not only does the date change provide relief from the heat of summer, it also settles the event into what is already established as a national holiday and three-day weekend allowing more people to attend.
Second, and perhaps most important to the identity of Rocklahoma, the scope and focus of the lineup includes bands representing three decades and multiple sub-genres of the rock demographic. While some embraced the idea immediately, many fans who identified the festival with its previous rosters of '80s hair metal bands took no pause in crying foul.
Certainly, it's a gamble, but it's one organizers were willing to make. Chances are, many of those who initially cried foul will still attend to support bands like Cinderella and Tesla who fit the previous Rocklahoma template and revel in bands that they are already fans of such as ZZ Top, Buckcherry and Theory of a Deadman.
By expanding to a lineup that's described with a tagline of "Some of the biggest rock bands in the United States from the '80s, '90s and today," however, planners are no doubt looking to tap a broader audience and raise attendance numbers.
In all honesty, it's easy to be skeptical of the lineup when organizers have made wholesale changes to the festival. It's hard to buy into the current lineup being a true Rocklahoma when it has previously been identified with strictly '80s hair metal bands.
When you get right down to it, though, this is a move that was all but inevitable. In the past three years, Rocklahoma has successfully tapped almost every band from the genre that had even a moderate level of success and had already repeated itself in part of the artist roster. Only a few of the upper-tier artists such as Kiss, Scorpions, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi had not headlined the festival, and those were likely well outside of the festival's budget.
If you continue to repeat yourself, interest and attendance will only dwindle, and festivals everywhere are already struggling.
Change is the name of the game, and a major change was all but inevitable to keep the brand alive. I'm still not completely sold on the lineup, but I have to give organizers credit for being creative in incorporating a few similar bands into the new lineup.
When it all comes out in the wash, Rocklahoma organizers are repositioning the event as simply a mainstream rock festival. It's hard for rock fans to argue with a lineup that covers most of the subgenres and major or mid-major acts from the past three decades, however.
Three day, general admission tickets are available for only $150 or VIP tickets, which include reserved seating and catering, can still be had for $350 (plus service charges for both) at the gate. For those who don't feel like traveling back and forth to Pryor each day, weekend camping packages are also available.
Most important, however, is the fact that every effort is being made to create and keep a major rock festival in Oklahoma. Headliners for Friday evening, May 28, include Adelita's Way, Saving Abel, Buckcherry, Three Days Grace and Godsmack, while Saturday's lineup features Burn Halo, Fuel, Saliva, Cinderella and ZZ Top. The weekend wraps up on Sunday with Aranda, Sevendust, Theory of a Deadman, Chevelle and Tesla on the main stage.
Two additional stages provide a little relief from the larger crowds and a peek at some emerging, local and regional artists such as Lacuna Coil, Taddy Porter, The Last Vegas and Chuk Cooley and the Demon Hammers. Full details, including band details, ticket prices, band listings and set times can all be found online at rocklahoma.com.
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