The nice and cozy and alluring local weather of South Florida is among the many extra becoming venues for a great time away from the each day grind, and such an event additionally bodes properly for these trying to revel within the party-obsessed nostalgia provided by the long-lasting 80s rock bands of the Sundown Strip.
As fortune would have it, the vacation vacation spot of Key West, Florida has lately turn out to be the house for such an occasion, because the aptly dubbed Rokisland Competition enters its second yr of delivering classic, over-the-top exhausting rock goodness to the lots over a number of days in the course of a Florida winter, which might be a good spring day for the remainder of us. Rounding out the meeting of heavy-hitters from 4 many years again for the 2023 sequel to this raucous celebration of sonic extra is a veritable who’s who of the 80s glam scene, together with a couple of stunning entries that show mentioned decade to have been a extra multifaceted level in historical past than some would possibly recommend.
Although operating 5 days in size, a lot of the excessive factors would relaxation in the direction of the latter finish of this occasion, and by Thursday, January 19 issues had progressed to a convincing roar. Kicking issues off at round 5pm can be Lynch Mob, the brainchild of 80s guitar shred maestro George Lynch following his late 80s exodus from Dokken, and their look would see some noteworthy adjustments from when Andrew Freeman was on the microphone.
Naturally Lynch‘s wildly expressive soloing and elaborate riff work stole a lot of the present, however a powerful efficiency can be turned in by vocal newcomer Gabriel Colon, whose shrieking pipes and leather-based jacket melded completely with the band’s 80s rock sensibilities, although as soon as opting to go shirtless later within the set bore a resemblance to Chris Cornell‘s early 90s incarnation. The rhythm part that was rounded out by bassist Jason Gulino and fill-in drummer Jordan Cannata would show no slouches both as this outfit plugged their approach by a riveting 10-song set that included a number of basic Dokken entries, with the metallic fury of instrumental basic “Mr. Scary” and the infectious hooks of “Into The Fireplace” standing a couple of inches above the remaining.
A bit later the entry of pioneering American metallic mainstays Quiet Riot would strike an equally thrilling, but considerably extra poignant be aware. With the current lack of all-time drummer Frankie Banali, together with the prior lack of unique and extremely charismatic entrance man Kevin Dubrow, one may need dubbed this an look by the shell of a former basic, however the re-entry of unique bassist and grasp showman Rudy Sarzo and the efficiency turned in by the remainder of the band’s present lineup had different concepts. Vocalist Jizzy Pearl would pour his proverbial soul out on stage and do full justice to the irreplaceable persona of his iconic predecessor, whereas guitarist Alex Grossi‘s work on the 7-string would additionally show a robust level, however one could not assist however be taken by how effortlessly the 72-year-old Sarzo energetically slammed his bass and labored the group, all however changing into a second entrance man within the course of.
Other than some technical points with Grossi‘s tools that may rob the opening pace anthem “Run For Cowl” of its signature lead elements, their set would slay from begin to end, with Grossi‘s partial rendition of “Loopy Prepare” in tribute to Randy Rhodes (who had been with the band previous to their business breakthrough) and subsequent guitar solo using excessive alongside bangers like “Steel Well being (Bang Your Head)” and the band’s signature covers of Slade classics “Cum On Really feel The Noize” and “Mama Weer All Crazee Now”.
Although it may need appeared that following two extremely energized performances from the likes of the 2 aforementioned 80s rock staples the power stage could not be kicked up a further notch, the entry of Vegas-born glam impresario act Slaughter would do exactly that as evening fell over the Florida sky. Drummer Jordan Cannata, whom had already had a rousing warm-up session with Lynch Mob earlier within the day, was a veritable pressure of nature from behind the package as an hour of heavy rocking nostalgia rang out from the amphitheater.
Vocalist Mark Slaughter raised the idea of shattering glass at each flip to an artwork kind as he wailed and howled his approach by AC/DC-inspired anthems like “Mad About You” and “Burnin’ Bridges”, and would match the vary and up the depth issue of unique high-ranged shrieked Robert Plant on a pummeling rendition of Led Zeppelin‘s “Immigrant Music”. The bass work of Blas Elias would additional bolster the bottom-heavy character of every exhausting rocking quantity on show, whereas Jeff Bland‘s extremely animated stage actions and technically charged solos ratcheted the influence issue even additional.
Headlining issues can be a quite curious alternative in southern rock mainstays and Florida natives 38 Particular, and although they introduced a really completely different taste to the festivities, garnered a robust crowd response. Regardless of their roots within the 70s and stylistic similarities to contemporaries Lynyrd Skynyrd (unavoidable provided that former entrance man Donnie Van Zant had a blood relation to mentioned outfit’s unique and now present singer), their large assortment of smash hits from the 80s would make them a surprisingly becoming and really a lot welcome change of tempo, although they naturally caught out compared to the impact-based fireplace of the three bands that they had been following.
Co-founder and now vocal helmsman Don Barnes did an apt job of filling the sneakers and emulating the old fashioned southern swagger of former chief Van Zant and led a big ensemble by a 90-minute medley of mercilessly catchy truthful, with the infectious radio fodder “Caught Up In You”, “Maintain On Loosely”, Revenge Of The Nerds 2 soundtrack anthem “Again To Paradise” and energy ballad “Second Likelihood” capping off a really robust displaying.
Issues would show no much less participating as Thursday gave approach to Friday and one other quartet of licensed classics would grace the stage. Main issues off can be arguably essentially the most longest operating opening act of the 80s in Black N’ Blue, given their considerably obscure standing among the many heavy hitters of the last decade and their standing as a most popular opening act for the likes of KISS and Aerosmith throughout glam’s heyday. They naturally embodied nearly each attribute of the period regardless of that they might characteristic a few a lot youthful members.
For his or her elements, rhythm guitarist and newly recruited member Doug Rappoport and lead guitarist and barely much less current pickup Brandon Prepare dinner labored the stage fairly properly and gelled seamlessly with the remaining unique membership. Although they might garner the most important response from their lone smash hit “Maintain On To 18” on the shut of their set, entrance man Jaime St. James and the remainder of the fold saved issues attention-grabbing for your entire length of their set, and classic anthems like “Rockin’ On Heaven’s Door” and “Nasty Nasty” shone the brightest of a constant 12 tune foray of finely aged 80s sleaze.
The California taste of this occasion can be maintained however tackle a way more metallic texture with the entry of Orange County’s favourite sons and Christian metallic pioneers Stryper. Having at all times had one foot planted within the visually exaggerated character of the bands they had been sharing the stage with at this occasion and the opposite within the extra aggressive stylings of Iron Maiden and Judas Priest, theirs’ was a set steeped as a lot in high-impact power because it was 80s grade saccharine, and their continuous relevance was underscored by a efficiency befitting a band that had soldiered by the altering musical panorama of the previous a number of many years and continued to place out excessive grade music within the studio.
The Candy brothers, Ox Fox and relative newcomer Percy Richardson (truthfully he is been within the fold for fairly some time) had been on fireplace from begin to end, sticking largely to their basic 80s repertoire, however managing to have all of it come out meaner, heavier and really a lot consistent with their present metallic sound, with signature classics “Troopers Below Command”, “Free” and “To Hell With The Satan” standing on the summit of a colossal, 13-song mountain of a efficiency.
The now roaring fireplace of hard-hitting 80s extra can be continued with a latter-day edge by way of Excessive, their namesake naturally befitting the riveting efficiency that they might ship as nightfall entered the image. Frontman Gary Cherone would rival the group work and animated stage persona of classic David Lee Roth, leaving little thriller as to why he had been tapped to entrance Van Halen when their unique gymnast turned vocalist and his gravely successor Sammy Hagar had vacated the fold, however the efficiency turned in by the entire band was on one other stage, with Nuno Bettencourt functioning as a de facto second helmsman between his fluid and gusto-driven guitar work and vocal enter, whereas the muse put forth by bassist Pat Badger and drummer Kevin Figueiredo was nothing wanting rock stable.
The set of turn-of-the-decade exhausting rocking goodness proved as versatile because it did rousing, with punchy groove machines like “Decadence Dance” and “It (‘s A Monster)” buying and selling blows with the graceful acoustic balladry of radio hits “Extra Than Phrases” and “Gap Hearted”, even when it was their set nearer “Get The Funk Out” which introduced the response from the viewers to deafening ranges.
Friday night’s festivities would finish on a barely much less excessive (no pun meant) level of distinction relative to yesterday with 70s area and progressive rock icons Styx, arguably a closely influential determine to the 80s outfits dominating this occasion, in a headlining position. Advancing age has continued to be a non-factor for elder statesmen of the exhausting rock realm as they proceeded to unleash an enormous 17-song set of largely basic entries with the excellence in high quality between their efficiency and the studio incarnations of every tune being nearly nonexistent.
Tommy Shaw would commerce the vocal helm with keyboardist and Dennis DeYoung alternative Lawrence Gowan, and although their riveting performances on fan favorites like “Blue Collar Man”, “Crystal Ball”, “The Grand Phantasm” and “Come Sail Away” had been key notes of their marathon displaying, the band’s true energy can be within the large collective sound that may be attained by every musician in congress, together with a number of featured appearances by unique bassist Chuck Panozzo, notably on basic anthem “Girl” and the explosive encore efficiency of “Renegade”, and one can be remiss to gloss over guitarist/vocalist James Younger‘s gritty rendition of “Miss America”.
The ultimate day of this prolonged extravaganza of 80s nostalgia would largely mirror the format of Friday, although it could ratchet issues up even additional in nearly each respect. Kicking the afternoon off was arguably the head of opening acts in Autograph, a band that epitomizes the very idea of a one-hit surprise that had a complete lot extra to supply the last decade and scene that birthed them, however finally didn’t as a result of heavy saturation of acts sporting an identical sound.
Although saddled with the label of being a glorified tribute band provided that no unique members are concerned now, Brazilian born vocalist/guitarist and helmsman since 2013 Simon Daniels led a quartet of newly recruited members by a stable set of 80s entries by this outfit, with their smash single “Flip Up The Radio” being the brightest spotlight, although different rocking entries like “Loud And Clear” and “Gotta Getcha” proved formidable, as did the technically-charged guitar work of Jimi Bell, who carried out aptly in emulating the Eddie Van Halen on steroids strategy this band sported throughout their heyday.
Hints of the day progressing in a extra metallic course had been within the air when a recording of Judas Priest‘s “Painkiller” rang out as an introduction to Ratt helmsman Steven Pearcy‘s entry onto the stage. Although Pearcy‘s vocal efficiency proved a bit tough at instances, he and his meeting of stay musicians led the lots by a 14-song meeting of licensed classics courtesy of the band that he initially reduce his tooth on in the course of the peak of the 80s.
The group response was a ceaseless roar that by some means didn’t rob the long-lasting singer of his listening to as he delivered one entry after one other, with smash radio anthems like “Lay It Down”, “I Desire a Lady” and “Spherical And Spherical” sending the encompassing decibel stage into the proverbial stratosphere. Nonetheless, from a purely musical perspective, the excessive level that really stole the present was the excessive octane rendition of pace rocker “Physique Speak”, which all however transported all in attendance to that basic scene of The Golden Baby that it was initially featured in with Eddie Murphy taking over a whole biker gang.
With the evening sky now absolutely in view, the looming promise of a full-blown metallic assault grew to become palpable with the entry of Seattle progressive heavy metallic icons Queensryche to the stage, to a recording of Pantera‘s “Stroll” no much less. In some ways, their presence stood as essentially the most blatant testomony to the 80s being something however a one-dimensional interval in music’s historical past, because the overwhelming majority of the basic entries showcased coincided with that of the dominant Sundown Strip scene, however bore little or no resemblance to it. Although solely a pair members of their unique lineup had been nonetheless current, the spectacle that unfolded may properly have taken place on the peak of the 80s, as Todd La Torre‘s blaring wail embodied the identical otherworldly character that Geoff Tate delivered to the desk in the course of the band’s glory days, whereas the twin guitar assault of Michael Wilton and Mike Stone, alongside a pummeling rhythm part show courtesy of bassist Eddie Jackson and newly acquired package man and former Kamelot drummer Casey Grillo all however made the earth quake.
Selecting a spotlight out of the ocean of basic metallic entries from 1983 by 1990 would show a idiot’s errand, however between La Torre‘s good signature howls on “Take Maintain of The Flame” and “Queen of The Reich”, and the ringer performances of classics like “Empire”, “En Drive” and “Eyes Of A Stranger”, this was a efficiency for the ages and the viewers responded accordingly. Not relying solely of their most profitable anthems, they included within the setlist “Behind the Partitions”, a observe off their most up-to-date, and broadly celebrated, studio album Digital Noise Alliance.
The headliner of the ultimate day of this celebration of rock’s most extreme period can be a extra typical determine in that of hard-rockers icons Tesla, and although they had been saddled with the close to unimaginable activity of following a riveting displaying by Queensryche, they did their greatest to maintain the group pleasure as excessive as attainable. The power issue would appear a bit lessened even when adjusting for the distinction in fashion in comparison with the above-mentioned previous act, because the songs appeared to coast at a slower than traditional tempo, and vocalist Jeff Keith got here off as hoarse when displaying the upper a part of his vocal vary.
Nonetheless, the instrumental efficiency supplied by guitarists Frank Hannon and David Impolite established its traditional synergistic luster and the muse supplied by bassist Brian Wheat and drummer Steve Brown was stable as they labored their approach by signature entries like “Trendy Day Cowboy”, “What You Give” and a pair of rocking covers of Ph.D‘s “Little Suzy” and 5 Man Electrical Band‘s “Indicators” on the tail finish of their set. Comparatively talking, it was a extra subdued displaying in comparison with what had occurred earlier within the night, however the crowd response and stage presentation finally bought the job finished.
With festivities having thus concluded, the first takeaway from this close to week-long occasion was one in every of professionalism, and it went past the grand performances that had been its major characteristic. Having handled lower than favorable circumstances throughout 2022’s Blue Ridge Rock Competition, not to mention the chaotic mess that may ensue south of the border on the Hell & Heaven Steel Fest of the identical yr, the system that was put in place in Key West was a extremely environment friendly one for bands, followers and journalists alike.
Naturally the scope of this celebration was significantly lower than the 4-5 stage mammoth that typified the 2 aforesaid festivals, however between each entry level to the amphitheater being properly staffed and managed, free catering and air-conditioned restroom services, and a minimal of fuss being concerned in everybody receiving their correct credentials, a really gratifying time was had by the followers who flocked the three days, the musical fêtes paired with lovely sunsets and the breezy climate of the Florida shoreline. Rokisland Competition has introduced its return for 2024, and even when no line-up bulletins have been made at this level, I’m certain they’ll have little to no hassle in gathering one other large attendance.
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