Rock USA, the second-year event in Oshkosh, Wisc., brought in a wealth of musical talent for the three-day music festival that ran July 12 through 14, 2012. Shinedown and Motley Crue headlined Thursday and Friday, respectively, setting the stage for Saturday’s lineup of Filter, Hollywood Undead, Seether and Kid Rock.
[See the Rock USA review for July 12 or July 13; check out Rock USA slideshow for July 14; and please peruse a complete concert gallery of all artists.]
Battling the heat, Filter took the stage at 4:30 p.m. and vocalist Richard Patrick immediately had issue with the lack of fans near the stage. Their set corresponded directly with the VIP dinner break and Patrick commented, “You and your f–king lawn chairs,” referencing the sea of mostly empty white chair near the stage. They opened with “Welcome to the Fold” and Patrick continued to look disgruntled. Fortunately, bassist Phil Buckman was rocking like he was headlining Lollapalooza, while Jonathan Radtke (guitar) and Jeff Friedl (drums) were also giving it their all.
They performed “The Take” and Patrick left the stage about halfway into “No Love” to perform from the crowd. He asked, “How’s everybody out there on the lawn? How’s everybody up there on the ferris wheel?” As he meandered through the fans, he said, “I could do this all day, I get to be a participant of the lawn chair festivities,” mocking the fans. Filter played their hour-long set, getting in 10 songs. This included their hits “Take a Picture,” “The Best Things” and the closing “Hey Man, Nice Shot.” Before leaving the stage, Patrick said, “Now go buy our f–king t-shirt, we’re the band Filter, enjoy the rest of your day.”
Hollywood Undead were the only major artist that played during the inaugural Rock USA to return for this year’s festival. They are currently working on new music, slated for release before the end of 2012. In the meantime, they returned to 2012 Rock USA to open for Seether and Kid Rock. They also played a set during Summerfest in Milwaukee last week while they were in the area. Hollywood Undead must have made an impact in 2011 because they moved into a later time slot and played to a crowd that were psyched to see them return. Funny Man even commented, “The seats are a lot more filled up than the last time we played here.”
Da Kurlzz must have had enough of the heat, having cut off his trademark locks. They played their standard set, opening with “Undead” and quickly moved through about 14 songs. “Been to Hell,” “California,” “Comin’ in Hot” and “My Town” were some of the highlights. Their set was super-charged and musically spot on. They saved “Everywhere I Go” and “Hear Me Now” for the end. It was nice to see the full crew signing autographs for fans after their set.
Darkness set in and Seether took the stage near 9:00 p.m. The trio of Shaun Morgan (vocals and guitar), Dale Stewart (bass) and John Humphrey (drums) have been touring relentlessly since “Holding Onto Strings Better Left to Fray” was released in mid-2011. They’ve toured with Bush and Nickelback and are now headlining some U.S. tour dates before heading back to Europe.
Not one to interact with the crowd, Morgan appeared on the dimly lit stage and began to thrash his mane to the opening chords of “I’m the One.” Morgan’s heavy feedback and sludgy riffs are the focal-point of Seether’s sound. Humphrey wailed on his kit and kept the rhythm with Stewart, who paced in circles while manhandling his bass. The crowd erupted during their second song, “Gasoline.”
Morgan’s voice was forceful and clean, meshing nicely with the wall of sound that was driven from the stage. Seether ended “Fine Again” with an extended solo before Morgan and Stewart performed an acoustic version of “Broken.” Morgan finally addressed the crowd afterward by stating, “Thank you, I think I swallowed a bug on that one.” Seether finished strongly with their biggest hits, “Country Song,” “Fake It” and “Remedy,” near the end of their set.
A white cloth was draped across the stage just before 11 p.m., suggesting Kid Rock’s headline set was about to be unleashed. Soon, a silhouette of Kid Rock appeared on the curtain as he began to rap the opening verses to “Devil Without a Cause.” Roughly 30-seconds into the song, the curtain was unveiled to reveal Kid Rock dressed in a pair of overalls that had been fashionably hand painted. The front showed an image of Hank Williams Jr., while the reverse had a tribute to Joe C.
Kid Rock constantly strutted back and forth across the stage, freely changing up lyrics to represent Wisconsin and midwestern women. His polished delivery and perfectly mixed Twisted Brown Trucker backing band showed why he’s sold close to 25 million records. However, his live performance is what truly makes Kid Rock a star. His stage presence coupled with his ability to flow his words into a fusion of country and rock were quite awe inspiring.
The warm evening seemed appropriate for “All Summer Long.” He welcomed the crowd and said, “Thank you for spending your hard earned money to come see us play tonight.” After “I Got One for Ya” he really got the crowd into the show with “Cowboy,” prompting one to wonder how many Country USA attendees from a couple weeks before decided to check out Rock USA.
Known as a multi-instrumentalist, he handled most of the backing music on his debut album. Kid Rock took a brief moment to play the drums, guitar and turntable, standing upon the latter show his scratching techniques, after “F–kin’ Forty.” He then broke into “Bawitdaba” to the crowd’s delight to end his set.
Most fans stuck around for a few minutes waiting for an encore. Those that did were treated to a three-song finale that included “Rock ‘n Roll Jesus,” “Only God Knows Why” and “Born Free.” Kid Rock certainly generated a few new fans tonight, and Rock USA stepped up and delivered with a solid three days of music. Here’s hoping that as Rock USA matures into a four-day event sooner than later.
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Kid Rock setlist:
Devil Without a Cause
Rock Bottom Blues
All Summer Long
I Got One for Ya’
God Bless Saturday
Rock N Roll Jesus
Only God Knows Why