Written by Robert Williams with photography courtesy of Sandra Torres< ?xml:namespace prefix = o ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:office" />
With the recent resurgence in popularity of outdoor summer hard rock festivals such as Rocklahoma and the upcoming Rock On The Bayou fest that harken back to the glory days of the famed 80′s Monsters Of Rock festival, the Lonestar state, not to be outdone by our Okie counterparts, offered up the first annual Nikita Productions Presents: South Texas Rock Fest.
Boasting an almost identical roster of artists as the Rocklahoma lineup, such as Queensryche, Skid Row, Faster Pussycat, Dokken, Tesla, and even Texas favorites Helstar, bands ping ponged back and forth over the course of the weekend, shuttling from Texas to Oklahoma and vice versa.
Garnering media attention from Sirius Satellite Radio, XM’s Boneyard and sponsorship from Miller Lite beer and Harley Davidson motorcycles, the weekend long festival went off without a hitch. The only real complaint would’ve been the grueling Texas heat. Saturday afternoon there was not a cloud to be found in the summer sky, and it made the "all you can hear buffet of buttrawk" seemingly "Hotter Than Hell" but would you really want to hear Y&T play "Summertime Girls" in the rain?
Divided up between two stages and hosted on the Javelina Harley Davidson fairgrounds, vendors served up ice cold Miller Lite products to the estimated capacity crowd of 20,000 strong. Also of note, where as the Rocklahoma crowd could only enjoy 3% beer to their heart’s content, us Texan’s relished in the full strength domestic beer. This was a major concern when choosing which festival to cover. Besides beer, fans could enjoy frozen margaritas’s, fajita’s, burgers, shop for glass blown pipes, rock t-shirts and various other symbolic mementos of a gluttonous good time.
I arrived on site and made my way across the field in time to catch a set by LA’s "House of Lords" vocalist James Christian tried his best to get the crowd moving to a good start, but I felt bad that most people were just starting to shuffle in and that point. After all it was a Friday afternoon and I imagine many people were still at work at that time. The band sounded brilliant, especially during "I Wanna Be Loved" I would definitely recommend catching them live if you get a chance.
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Pretty Boy Floyd were next and they were a lot of fun. You may remember guitarist Kristy Majors had challenged vocalist Steve Summers to a kickboxing match back in January, but lo and behold, everything has been patched up since that time and Kristy and Steve were rounded out by the rest of the band’s classic lineup… bassist JK Famous as well as drummer Kari Kane. Highlights from their high energy stageshow included "Leather Boyz With Electric Toyz" "48 Hours" (a song that was featured on the "Karate Kid 3" soundtrack, that probably would’ve fit better on the "48 Hours" soundtrack) token ballad "I Wanna Be With You" and the celebratory "Toast of the Town" Steve Summers encouraged the front row Wal-Mart-icans to "Show us your tits!" and I think he had a couple of takers, so there you go.
Bullet Boys were next and Marq Torien dressed in white, lead the boys through a star studded stomp of classics, eventually belting out a sweat soaked "Smooth Up In Ya" that really had festival revelers in a frenzy. Watching the band cool in the shade in the bleacher section, I overheard a man tell his wife, "I’m gonna go up front for this one." Her response was golden, "I’m just gonna stay here and drink." It was obvious that by drink she didn’t mean a casual beer, oh no, how can you top camping out in the bleacher section while observing band after band throw out classics one after another without downing at least a case full of Miller Lite’s? I followed her lead and enjoyed a few Miller Lite’s myself. Nothing exceeds like excess at South Texas Rock Fest.
Skid Row was next and played a high energy set of rockers featuring "Sweet Little Sister" "Piece Of Me" "Get The Fuck Out" and recent material like "Thick Is The Skin" only slowing down momentarily for the classic "I Remember You" before sending the crowd into orbit with "Youth Gone Wild" vocalist Johnny Solinger told the crowd that this was like a hometown gig for him as he only had to drive 70 miles from his home to perform. Say what you will, but Johnny Solinger always gets a warm Texas welcome around these parts. It is worth noting the absence of guitarist Dave "Snake" Sabo. The last jaunt across the globe he was absent for a string of shows, I was a little dissapointed he didn’t make it down this time around, but here’s hoping everything is ok on his end.
Dokken and his gang of hired guns took to the stage and did their thing for the better part of 45 minutes. Don reminded the crowd that "Dream Warriors" was from the Nightmare On Elm Street: 3 soundtrack, that it was one of Freddy Krueger’s favorite songs, and that most of the crowd was only twelve when it came out. He made several references that he was getting too old to do this shit, but to be fair I thought he was alright. Not at his best, admittedly, but somewhere between alright….and pretty good. All the hit’s were in place with "Tooth and Nail" "Breaking the Chains" and "Into The Fire"
Bang Tango’s current lineup includes former members of his successful recent side band "Beautiful Creatures" and naturally incorporated a few numbers from the Beautiful Creatures repertoire into the band’s set alongside the BT favorite "Someone Like You" and closed their performance with a guest appearance from one Steven "Popcorn" Adler who was introduced as not only being the former drummer of Guns N’ Roses, but also being plugged as an upcoming patient on "VH-1′s Celebrity Rehab: With Dr. Drew Pinski." Bang Tango and Steven covered the 1987 Guns N’ Roses hit "Paradise City" and were well received.
Faster Pussycat stood out like a sore thumb amongst an ocean of bleached blond, hairsprayed beach bums, donning the stage in all black outfits complete with middle eastern burkas covering most of their faces. It was quite a menacing spectacle to see. Taime Downe and Co. declared jihad on the audience and played some material off of 2006′s outstanding "Power and the Glory Hole" album including the title track and "Number One With A Bullet" and then mixed in old favorites such as "Cathouse" "Bathroom Wall" and even included their version of Carly Simon’s "You’re So Vain" The band were really on their game and provided one of my personal favorite performances of the weekend.
Stephen Pearcy of RATT performed a solo set, which was a little strange considering the recently reunited RATT was performing this same weekend at Rocklahoma. Never the less we got crowd favorites "You’re In Love" a particularly rowdy version of "Body Talk" the uber cool "Way Cool Jr." and of course "Round and Round" Judging by Stephen’s enthusiasm on stage, I’d say the RATT reunion should be worth checking out when it comes to your neck of the woods. I had previously seen Stephen two or three years back open for Twisted Sister, and his performance Saturday afternoon was hands down better than the first time I watched him perform and he was pretty good then too!
I left the South Texas Rock Fest sunburned yet satisfied, I felt like it was a very memorable weekend full of some stellar performances. I got to make some new friends, I met a small group of fans who traveled all the way from Brazil to make the South Texas Rock Fest and even though their broken English was a little tough to understand at times, we both could agree that the combination of cerveza and hard rock was a sure fire winner. I’d like to personally thank Pete, Luis and Maria from Nikita Productions for allowing me to cover the South Texas Rock Fest for metal-rules.com, and here’s hoping for many more Rock Fest’s from them in the years to come!
Stay tuned for more coverage from the South Texas Rock Fest, including video interviews with Stephen Pearcy (RATT) Faster Pussycat’s Taime Downe and Danny Nordahl and Geoff Tate of Queensryche