Unlike last year’s second day which was ultimately cancelled after only a few bands had played, perfect weather was the order of day. Perhaps too perfect. Cloudless skies and temperatures in the 90’s kept fans on a quest for hydration and in fierce competition for the scant areas of shade. Festival organizers wisely lowered the price for bottles of water from $3.00 to $1.00. This gesture of good will on the heels of a change in policy not allowing fans to bring in one sealed bottle of water with them into the grounds.
This day there were 19 bands on tap to play across 3 stages,. With side stage bands playing simultaneously, transit time to traverse the grounds and personal needs to attend to it’s tough to see it all. Pop Evil, Powerman 5000, Clutch, Black Tora, Vince Neil and Diamond Head made this reviewers agenda for the day.
Pop Evil played a hot set. Facing west into a fierce late afternoon sun the band reveled in their elevation to main stage status and tore through a 40 minute set of their most well known songs concluding on a high note with “Trenches”. Their set was well received though Leigh Kakaty’s vocals were noticeably flat at times. Powerman 5000’s set did not go off without difficulty. A malfunction with what must have been their pre-recorded backing track derailed their set. They looked more than a little lost waiting for a stage technician to correct the issue. This would have been the perfect time for an impromptu jam session, but instead fans were treated to awkward silence. The show must go on, right? Clutch suffered no such malfunction because there are no enhancements to malfunction. Clutch are the antithesis of the rock star stereotype. No fancy electronics, no fancy wardrobes, just working dudes cranking out a rock and roll revival every show. The best main stage band of the day and one which probably baffled those unfamiliar with their music. More honest music was to be found with Black Tora on the Retrospect stage. This power trio is a Rocklahoma legend having played it’s stage 9 times. In addition to their solid original tunes, fans were treated to a jaw dropping rendition of Deep Purple’s “Highway Star” with both Ritchie Blackmore’s guitar and Jon Lord’s organ parts all channeled through a single guitarist. Vince Neil’s set was derided by many in attendance as painful to listen to. While his band was outstanding, Neil’s vocals were weak. Neil took a break in the middle of the set allowing the band to do an excellent cover of Dio-era Black Sabbath. A fan within earshot stated Neil must be offstage getting a oxygen treatment. Even though there were still 4 bands still to play after Diamond Head, the bar was set too high for other bands to reach. Simply an outstanding set. This was not Diamond Head from their early recordings. This was not Diamond Head with the heaviness of the Metallica covers. This was Diamond Head upgraded to a 2018 soundscape. Songs like “The Prince” and “Am I Evil” have stood the test of time and translated into modern day skull crushing anthems. After being unable to perform at last year’s Rocklahoma due to severe weather, kudos to the festival organizers for bringing them back!