A Memorial Day weekend of merrily menacing heavy metal madness awaits all headbanging fans descending on the “Catch the Fever” festival grounds north of Pryor for the sixth annual three-day blowout/campout known as
Not all acts are strictly metal this year, what with mainstream band Creed topping Friday's roster. But with Rob Zombie, Megadeth and Theory of a Deadman leading Saturday's charge, and Chickenfoot, Queensryche and Jackyl dominating Sunday's schedule, the package is definitely top-heavy with bands that can bruise.
And that must be a good thing, since organizers are expecting attendance to top 35,000 a day, which was the total 2011 crowd count.
“One of the things I really admire about Rocklahoma is that we here in America finally have a premiere rock festival again,” said David Ellefson, bassist, backing vocalist and co-founder of Los Angeles thrash-metal veterans
“When I was growing up in Minnesota in a rural area, and I remember there were all these festivals — Iowa Jam, Texxas Jam, California Jam. America had real rock 'n' roll festivals, you know, multiple days, big events, and all the biggest bands would go play 'em. And then by the time we got into the '80s, and certainly by the '90s, those were gone.”
Ellefson, who returned to the studio in 2011 to record “Th1rt3en,” his first album with Megadeth in a decade, said European countries have always known how to stage great rock festivals.
“Every festival they did, the one in Switzerland is different from Germany, and that one's different from Belgium and the one they do in England,” he said. “It really became their namesakes, and it was really a statement about their cultures ... something unique to themselves.
“So it's nice now with Rocklahoma in a large way, because now there are other ones like Rock on the Range and Rock on the Bayou. But really, Rocklahoma was the original one that stirred the waters and created this iconic festival again here in America. So I'm really proud that Megadeth is gonna be part of that this year.”
Ellefson's previous experience with Rocklahoma was as a counselor at the festival's 2008 “Rock 'n' Roll Fantasy Camp,” in which aspiring young musicians got coached by pros and then performed in front of the festival audience.
“I remember we had done our thing, went back to the hotel and one of the stages collapsed,” Ellefson said. “I think there was a microburst that came through. Fortunately, no one was on the stage, no one got hurt, but yeah, it was pretty tricky.”
Another veteran of the sometimes wild and woolly event is Theory of a Deadman leader Tyler Connolly, whose band played Rocklahoma in 2010, the year the festival dropped its emphasis on '80s “hair” bands, such as Poison, Ratt and Quiet Riot, in favor of a more varied and current musical menu.
“I think now they're kind of mixing and matching,” Connolly said. “Now it's Megadeth and Jackyl, so it's kinda cool, man, 'cause I like those bands. I just wanna go see 'em.”
Connolly has come under fire for writing songs that are misogynistic, particularly on TOAD's 2011 album “The Truth Is ...” But he's quick to point out that he co-writes some of those songs with his ex-wife, Canadian actress Christine Danielle Connolly, and he's only telling the truth about how bitter broken relationships can be.
“What works I think is the fact that it's so relatable,” he said. “It's from a level that a lot of other people can relate to when it comes to love.”
Which also can be said of Rob Zombie, writer-director of such horror flicks as “House of 1,000 Corpses,” “The Haunted World of El Superbeasto” and the forthcoming “The Lords of Salem,” and composer of such heavy-hearted ditties as “Living Dead Girl,” “Dead Girl Superstar” and “The Devil's Rejects.”
“To say that this is my favorite lineup is not meant to bash any other lineup,” Zombie said of his current band in a recent phone interview from New York. “Every time I have to change personnel I always try to find somebody who fits even better, and at this stage of the game, after all this time, I mean it's the most comfortable and the best fit of personalities ... and this is really the best-fitting group of personalities I've ever had.”
Zombie's sidemen include guitarist John 5 and new drummer Ginger Fish, both formerly with Marilyn Manson, as well as bassist Piggy D. The band is at work on a new album, due out in September.
“I think that'll play and make a big difference with the record, too, because you know sometimes conflicting personalities don't always make for great music,” Zombie said. “It just makes for drama.”
As for a dramatic performance, Zombie promises plenty.
“It'll be a monstrously huge show, probably the biggest show Rocklahoma's ever seen,” he said boldly. “So ... get ready.”
IF YOU GO
Starring: More than 70 acts including Rob Zombie, Chickenfoot, Creed, Megadeth, Slash, Queensryche, Chevelle, Jackyl, Theory of a Deadman, Hellyeah and Puddle of Mudd.
When: From noon to after midnight Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
Where: Catch the Fever Festival and Campgrounds, 1421 W 450 Road, Pryor.
Tickets: Full weekend general admission $185 plus service fees; VIP reserved tickets $400 plus fees; single-day tickets $70 Friday, $80 Saturday, $70 Sunday.
Camping tickets: (866) 310-2288 or email info@
Schedules and band lists: www.