On Thursday July 17th I made a trip up to Oshkosh , WI to enjoy what Rock USA Fest had to offer. The line-up for this summer was packed with a versatile line-up of bands ranging from mainstream radio-friendly melodic rock bands like 3 Doors Down and Seether to more extreme metal acts like Megadeth and Slayer.
Unfortunately I was unable to attend the first day of this fest, but I made it for the 2nd. I was in for a treat as this evening's headliners were Megadeth followed by Rob Zombie! This would be the 4th or 5th time I've seen Megadeth, but my first time to see Rob Zombie. I was curious to see what they each would play in their concert set-list. With such a diversity of bands, and the festival format leaving each band with the same amount of performance time (1 hour) I was expecting sets focused on the bands' big hits and fan favorites. I wasn't far off.
Megadeth's set was during sunset hours; they went on at dusk, and played until just after dark. Overall Megadeth didn't play anything much different from what I've seen them play before. Again, this was more likely due to the limited set-time and the desire to appeal to a crowd that may not know more than their hits anyway. They included their biggest classics: Hangar 18, Peace Sells, Trust, and Symphony of Destruction. The one thing that I found entertaining and was a new element I had not seen them do before, is every few songs they would play a clip from a movie between songs. The movie clip always referenced the music of Megadeth. I did not recognize all the movies from which they sampled, but I know one was from one of the Wayne's World films. The one song that was new for me was from their newest album Super Collider, as they performed 'Kingmaker'
Rob Zombie was a different experience for me. I would not call Rob Zombie my favorite band or performer, or even in my top 5, top 10, top 25, or even top 50. I enjoy live music for the raw quality of it; hard-working musicians playing their instruments purely for our entertainment as fans- not as much as when the performance is mixed with a playback of recorded effects and artificial musical elements. I also enjoy hearing a band perform their original works (more than I do cover-songs, although a good cover is often worth hearing, so long as an original band doesn't go overboard on the covers.) Now, in spite of Rob Zombie being guilty of most of these shortcomings from my personal perspective, I do have to say that he did win me over with his performance! Equal credit should be given to his lead guitarist, John 5. John 5 performed an 8-minute guitar solo prior to their encore that I would honestly say was the best concert guitar solo I've witnessed since the last time I saw Eddie Van Halen... in 1998!
In spite of the crowd's inability to express their fanaticism kinetically for the music (due largely to the seating format which included row upon row of plastic lawn chairs the went right up to the stage), Rob still gave a top-notch performance as a front man, and delivered all his best-known songs (Dragula, More Human Than Human, Living Dead Girl), and several good covers (Alice Cooper's 'School's Out', Grand Funk's 'We're an American Band', and to my enthusiastic surprise, Diamond Head's metal classic 'Am I Evil?'). He even outdid himself, by virtue of being the night's headliner, by over-playing his set time by about 30 minutes. He prefaced his closing number by saying: "So we're only allowed to play until midnight... ... so we have one more song. Don't worry though, it's a 20-minute song."
In closing I will say that although Rob Zombie may not be among my favorite bands, he is certainly a formidable live performer. I will watch for him on tour in the future, and I will see him again if opportunity presents itself. I would recommend seeing Rob Zombie live in concert to even his most fair-weather of fans.
Even though I arrived too late for the performances of Hellyeah and All That Remains, I will include their setlists below for reference. I found them online at setlist.fm - an excellent, fan-contributed and edited website for documenting live performances. I would recommend this site to any concert-goer.
Rock USA Setlists from Thursday, July 17th, 2014:
-Matter of Time
-Sangre Por Sangre (Blood for Blood)
-Drink Drank Drunk
-Cross to Bier (Cradle of Bones)
-Band of Brothers
-You Wouldn't Know
ALL THAT REMAINS
-The Air That I Breathe
-Now Let Them Tremble
-...For We Are Many
-Some of the People, All of the Time
-What if I was Nothing?
-Asking Too Much
-Down Through the Ages
-The Last Time
-This Darkened Heart
(Prince of Darkness -played as intro...)
-Wake Up Dead
-In My Darkest Hour
-Public Enemy #1
-Symphony of Destruction
-Holy Wars... the Punishment Due
-Living Dead Girl
-Dead City Radio and the New Gods of Supertown
-More Human Than Human
-House of 1000 Corpses
-Never Gonna Stop
-Am I Evil?
-Thunder Kiss '65
-School's Out/Thunder Kiss '65 (continued)
-We're an American Band