Rock USA 2016
Ford Festival Park
July 14 – 15 – 16 2016.
While still feeling growing pains, Rock USA 2016 delivers a who’s who of modern rock.
Putting on a multi day music fest is no small undertaking, with budget constraints, artist availability and a litany of other obstacles to overcome.
With everything involved, it’s almost guaranteed that you’ll never satisfy your target audience 100% and Rock USA 2016 was no exception. The 2016 line up, which skewed almost exclusively towards modern mainstream rock was either the best year ever, or a big disappointment depending on who you ask.
In it’s 6 year existence the annual outdoor music fest held in Oshkosh WI, has boasted an impressive list of classic and modern rock and metal, featuring such artist as KISS, Korn, Slayer, Van Halen, Rob Zombie, Journey, Kid Rock, Hollywood Undead, Motley Crue, Papa Roach, Buckcherry, Godsmack, Anthrax, Twisted Sister, STYX, Def Leppard, Alice Cooper, Judas Priest, Avenged Sevenfold, Halestorm, Seether, Black Label Society, Five Finger Death Punch, Black Stone Cherry, Megadeth, Three Days Grace, 3 Doors Down, Sevendust, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and others. In years past it has included a solid mix of old and new, but tends to skew toward veteran artist with strong multi generational followings.
For 2016 the pendulum swung in the opposite direction. Save for 90’s grunge rockers Alice In Chains, this year’s line up of over 20 bands was comprised predominately of artist who came to prominence in the post grunge / nu metal area of modern rock.
In addition to the aforementioned Alice In Chains, Rock USA 2016 featured Slipknot, Disturbed, Shinedown, Skillet, Chevelle, In This Moment, Finger Eleven, Bobaflex, Wilson, We Are Harlot, Trivium, Sick Puppies and return appearances by both Five Finger Death Punch and Halestorm.
Not only were “classic artist” noticeably absent this year, but the event was shortened from 4 days to 3, as it had been in it’s inaugural season. In previous years various seating options and been offered, from a 3 day VIP reserved seat package that includes parking, complimentary food and beverages and premium seating in front of the stage for $349.00 per ticket to a less expensive standing room only general admission ticket situated behind the reserved seating, available at $159.00 for all three days or $89.00 for a single day. The festival also offers camp sites on a first come, first served basis, for those who are so inclined.
For 2016 the previous options were augmented with the addition of a General Admission “pit” that was added directly in front of the stage, pushing back the reserved seating, which drew strong complaints from season ticket holders who had been paying several hundred dollars for their premium seats since the events inception. The new “Pit Pass” is an up charge in addition to either of the other ticket options.
Time will tell if this new “pit pass” which sells for a couple hundred dollars is here to stay or was just an experiment.
Compared to some of the other major rock festivals Rock USA is still in it’s infancy & developing it’s identity. With the motto of “Solid Rock, No Limits”, it would be nice to see the inclusion of other rock sub genres like rockabilly and punk included along with the hard rock and metal offerings in years to come. With that said the organizers of Rock USA do a solid job of brining major rock acts to a smaller market and are putting on a solid yearly event.
Tickets for 2017 are now on sale at rockusaoshkosh.com with line up announcements typically coming in March.
All Photos ©2016 Dave Burke. do not use without permission.