Rock Fest 2014 in Cadott, Wisconsin starts out wonderfully with some of the greatest weather anyone working or attending a festival could ask for. Thursday has a fantastic lineup, which includes Wayland, Winger, Steel Panther, REO Speedwagon, and Sammy Hagar. The lineup has a strange feel to it on paper, as the bands are certainly different styles and from different eras, but they all work very well together and create a great flow to the evening.
Steel Panther was one of the earlier bands and managed to steal the day from just about everyone. There show was like being at a rock festival in the summer of the 1980’s with sun, heavy metal, long hair, and girls dancing on stage. It is nothing but unadulterated fun. They are followed up by REO Speedwagon, which many not understand, but they really work out well. The crowd begins to simmer down from the show before and relax on the hill. Sammy Hagar then comes out with Jason Bonham on drums, which makes for an excellent set. He was able to mix together Van Halen and Led Zeppelin music, including “Poundcake” and “When the Levee Breaks”. After the main stage ends the acts, Kip Winger plays The Leine Lounge for the remainder of the evening. This is something new to Rock Fest this year, having big acts play the small tents.
Friday is a completely different style of music, as far as numerous spectators go. It shifts to a more heavy style, including bands such as Devour the Day, Pop Evil, Sick Puppies, Alter Bridge, and Five Finger Death Punch. Five Finger Death Punch takes over the day for sure, putting on a fantastic show unlike any other at the festival that weekend. The rest of the bands hold up incredibly well, with Devour the Day playing the Leine Lodge at the end of the night.
Saturday is basically one thing: a countdown to Aerosmith. People cannot wait for them, are lining up for them, and are driving to the grounds from all around, simply to see them. There is a slew of other bands available for the viewing beforehand, however. Eve to Adam is a real treat, being a band I have never heard before. They have a great sound. The Pretty Reckless should not have followed them. When they reach the stage, Taylor Momsen spends a large amount of her time swaying silently behind the drum set and telling people to start clapping or else they won’t continue their set. Numerous people leave that particular show to pursue more entertaining endeavors, as the show is a sheer train wreck.
When Live takes the stage with their new singer, people are much more entertained. Between sets on Saturday, the Red Bull Air Force parachutes into the top of the hill at Rock Fest, giving out tandem jumps to a man and woman they see holding Red Bull that day. There are also motor cross that do numerous tricks, entertaining a larger audience than we had expected. It is a very fun addition to the festival and I hope to see it in years to come.
Cheap Trick and Aerosmith are the main acts that night. Cheap Trick puts on an amazing performance, sounding the same as they did decades ago. Their set list is full of hits and they find the audience on their feet nearly the entire time, singing along. Aerosmith follows them, a band that never puts on a bad show. This evening is no exception, as Aerosmith plays an eighteen song set filled with hits and deep tracks, including the rarely played, “Kings and Queens”. At the end of the night, people are saying two things. “The show was amazing,” and “Why couldn’t they have played longer?” The mere fact that they have a huge catalog makes it difficult for them to ever have a show that will please everyone. People want to hear everything, but they get a huge variety that night.
Sunday is the come down from the Aerosmith show. It is also the most humid day of the weekend, which makes a lot of people feel stir crazy. Thousand Foot Krutch, Redlight King, and P.O.D. make for incredible day shows, to lead up to the Stone Sour show. Corey Taylor is amazing that night, regardless of his scratchy throat. The audience participates throughout the show to help him hit the notes his throat can’t.
Rock Fest comes to an unexpected and unfortunate end when the final act, Rob Zombie, announces after two songs that he cannot sing well enough to continue with an adequate performance. The move comes as a major blow to not only the festival, but the fans as well. After he leaves the stage, as a large group of audience members make their way to the side stages to listen to music until the early morning. It is not the way the festival should have ended, but overall, the weekend is fantastic, with performances from numerous great acts.