Grand RockTember V, 2017

At the Grand Casino Amphitheater, Hinckley, MN, USA, September 8-9, 2017

Grand RockTember V, 2017

About an hour’s drive north of Minneapolis/St Paul, Minnesota, in lake country is a small community casino with an outdoor amphitheater host to the Grand RockTember 2-day music festival held the weekend after Labor Day. RockTember shares similar DNA with the M3 Rock Festival held in Columbia, Maryland. While M3 is known for a focus on 80s Heavy Metal, RockTember is unafraid to book Classic Rock bands and an occasional 90s-era band.

Weather in Minnesota’s lake country is unpredictable in September, the start of meteorological autumn. Yes, autumn. A RockTember attendee might experience temperate daytime temperatures of mid-70 degrees Fahrenheit with evening temperatures in the 50s. Or one might experience dreary, cool temperatures and rain. Either way, the show goes on. Fortunately, the 2017 Grand Rocktember festival had clear skies and comfortable day temps with cooler evening temps to ensure pit attendees don’t break a sweat as they raise their fists.

Midwestern rock and Metal fans arrive Friday with customary Minnesota-nice manners blended with varying allegiance to the Metal lifestyle. Everyone is welcome. Extensive camping is available on the grounds and tailgating occurs in the parking lots surrounding the venue though it’s not officially permitted. One is able to exit the venue between bands to visit a campsite, vehicle or the full-service casino a short walk away. There is a good bit of milling about during and between sets. Concessions and merchandise lines are not long creating a very chill atmosphere.

This year’s line-up featured 80s Heavy Metal band and Styx as the lone Classic Rock participant.

Friday, September 8, 2017: Paradise Kitty, Last In Line, Firehouse, Slaughter, Jackyl, Extreme

Saturday, September 9, 2017: Iron Maidens, Bang Tango, Faster Pussycat, Scrap Metal, Great White, Warrant, Skid Row, Queensrÿche, Styx

After the first day’s evening performances, attendees recharge in the campground, the casino hotel, or local community motels which provide a complimentary shuttle to the venue. It’s not Minnesota-nice to rock (read: drink) and drive.

Day two of the festival starts in the early afternoon and is more of the same with more bands. For the fourth straight year, Scrap Metal, a self-proclaimed “rock and roll rat pack” comprised of varying artists from Arena Rock bands created by Gunnar and Matthew Nelson of Nelson and Mark Slaughter, was a highlight of the day. This year’s participating artists were Pat Travers (Pat Travers Band), Elliot Easton (The Cars), George Lynch (Dokken, Lynch Mob), Michael Sweet (Stryper, Boston), and others. The Scrap Metal line-up was well-received by an enthusiastic and participative party crowd. Highlights were “Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights)”, “Good Times Roll”, “Wicked Sensation”, “Into The Fire”, “Soldiers Under Command”, and “Foreplay/Long Time”.

Starting late on Saturday night and playing into the early hours of Sunday, RockTember closed with Styx. The set had a late 1970s edge as it featured many Grand Illusion tracks as Styx celebrates the 40th anniversary of the album. Not content to rest on their catalog of hits, the band also showcased tracks from their latest release The Mission, their fifteenth studio album. Highlights of the set included: “The Grand Illusion”, “Miss America”, “Suite Madame Blue” and “Radio Silence”. Like other honored rock statesmen, Styx continues entertaining fans with a high quality concert experience hit after hit.


  • Zac Halter

    Zac was a reviewer here at Metal Express Radio, hailing from Minneapolis, Minnesota, USA. His interest in heavy music began in the 70s with his father’s Johnny Cash albums. After cousins introduced him to Steppenwolf, Bachman-Turner Overdrive, KISS, Black Sabbath and Deep Purple, Johnny Cash didn’t stand a chance. The 80s were spent in full pursuit of everything Metal: searching for new music at record stores, listening to albums, studying the covers and sleeves, and attending concerts. In the 90s, he preferred Death Metal over Grunge and hosted the Death Metal Juggernaut on WUPX in Marquette, Michigan. It was advertised as the only prime time Death Metal radio show in the country.

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