RockUSA Oshkosh 2015

In the past, I have went to RockUSA in Oshkosh because they usually have good lineups and that’s the music festival most of my friends go to. In 2014, I had just moved to Austin, so I did not have any vacation time that I could burn so I did not go. I knew for 2015, I would have some vacation time, so I planned to go well in advance. I bought the 4 day pass and camping well in advance when it was first being sold to get the best deal. I also made sure to put my PTO request in well in advance. When the time came I made my visit to Marshfield. After visiting, I headed over that Wednesday. I had a 5 gallon water jug to fill that I completely forgot about until I just hit Highway 10 in Marshfield. My grandparent’s house was the closest, so I made a quick detour and filled it up and said one last goodbye before hitting Highway 10 to Oshkosh. Well come to find out, none of my friends decided to buy tickets for various reasons. I found out I was going to be on my own, but since the lineup was going to be awesome, I knew I’d make the best of it. I setup my tent and kicked back a little bit.

I decided to hit a little hard stuff I got in Mexico because I knew beer would be super expensive. I’m going to make another blog entry on what I think about corporatized music festivals and the money grabs that some of them do, but that’s for another post.

The funny thing is I wore jeans the whole time I was there. Some people would ask me, “How can you wear jeans in 85 degrees!?” While I admit in the sun it was hot as heck, but the second there was cloud cover it felt amazing. It’s interesting now that I am living my second summer in Texas and this kind of stuff does put certain things in perspective. While 85 degrees is getting hot in Wisconsin, it’s been hitting 100 every single day since I got back. The heat indexes some days are 105-110. People in Texas wish for an 85 degree day and it’s often almost that hot waking up each morning. I guess it’s mainly what you are used to. People in Wisconsin ask how people can live down there during the summer just as people in Texas ask how people can live in Wisconsin during the winter. The main thing is, you get used to it. For me getting used to it, 85 degrees and jeans felt absolutely awesome. As I said with my phone security fail, I lost a lot of pictures so most of the pictures, at least of the bands themselves, are what I posted on Facebook as I watched the concert. I’m not one for taking a bunch of pictures to document every little moment when I’m doing something. I live in the moment, so I’ll take a few pictures and enjoy the rest of the time without the need to document every little moment. The lineup for Day 1 was: Wayland is a local band in Wisconsin and I have seen them multiple times. By the time I got my tent setup, they were already done. I made it to the gate to see a little bit of Vixen but I didn’t get a picture, nor was I super interested in seeing the whole show. Warrant was pretty good overall.

After that Queensryche also put on a decent show but I don’t remember them playing their signature song, “Jet City Woman.”

Alice Cooper also put on an amazing show. I’ve seen him a couple times, with the first time in 2007 when he came to the Marshfield Fair. In my opinion, he puts on one of the best stage shows out of all the musicians out there.

As you can see by the pictures, I could damn near put up any picture and say it’s any band and you couldn’t tell the difference. That’s how far away the non-VIP (or affordable) sections were. The first night I actually got some pretty good seats and the guy I was talking to next to me scored some even better seats in the second row. There was a gap where some people took their chairs so he ceased on the opportunity. Since there was an extra area for my chair, he invited me up there. I made sure to buy him a beer for his keen eye to score better seats. On my way back to the campsite I was walking down the road my camper was on. I saw this guy that looked familiar as heck but I couldn’t think of his name. I asked him if he went to Marshfield High School and he said no. Then I remembered we went to Herzing together and had a bunch of classes together. It was pretty crazy we ended up basically camping kiddy corner across the road from each other and hadn’t seen each other in many years. He (Jay) was with there with his girlfriend (Ali) and another buddy (Matt). We ended up all partying together the rest of the time there. I was definitely happy to find someone I knew and it was awesome being able to reconnect since we hadn’t seen each other 5-6 years. Day 2 the lineup was as follows: Roadtrip is another local band that I have seen a couple times, mainly in the separate beer tents off to the side at RockUSA. I was able to catch Dokken and they did play my favorite song from them, “Into the Fire.”

I was hanging with Jay and Matt and we pretty much went to all the shows together and partied before, in between, and after all the shows. They were very adamant on standing for concerts, so we got this little section where most people were standing on not with their chairs. There were some chairs around there and I know it royally pissed Jay off, for sure. At this angle, this was about the closest you could get to the stage non-VIP. We ended up partying through Whitesnake. That wasn’t that big of a deal since I’ve seen them in the past. Lynyrd Skynyrd then proceeded to put on an amazing show. They ultimately played Freebird for their encore and by the end of it a ton of people, including myself, were chanting, “USA! USA! USA!.”

With that theme of USA, I decided to hit the side beer tent where another local band was playing and make a toast to ‘Murica.

After that Judas Priest put on an amazing show. The one thing that did suck is they didn’t play my favorite Priest song, “Heading Out to the Highway.”

When we got back to the campsite, of course we partied some more. This time we had a bigger group as the neighbors also joined in on our campfire/party. Later that night, it started to absolutely pour. It turned a lot of the campground roads impassable unless you had 4 wheel drive. It was funny watching people trying to even get their 4 wheel drive vehicles through some of the mud holes. Of course there were other uses for the mud holes. Some of our neighbors played mud football in the mud hole. I had videos and pictures of it but my phone security fail deleted them. Day 3 consisted of the following lineup I, as well as the other guys, didn’t have much of an interest in the day’s lineup except for Avenged Sevenfold. Matt actually had a huge Avenged Sevenfold tattoo on his chest. Instead of going to concerts, we decided to party all day. We played beer pong with liquor, hitting some of my cheap Mexican rum, and basically, by the time for Avenged Sevenfold, we were feeling no pain. Avenged Sevenfold proceeded to put on an amazing show. I had stopped for a second to raise my phone and take the picture while walking in and instantly there were several security people yelling at me, so I moved 6 paces to the left and this spot was technically legitimate to take a picture. As you can see, there’s nobody really crowding this area so my couple second stop wasn’t holding anyone up, but we’ll get into my thoughts on corporatized music festivals in another post.

Later that night, I went to take a leak and after walking back, I stopped to take another picture. If it weren’t for the phone security fail, I’d probably have about 6-8 different pictures of each concert. Obviously not an excessive amount, but enough to portray what was going on. I stopped to take a picture in the aisle and again, security was yelling at me. Like the last time, I moved over to an area with a bunch of empty chairs in the front row. What happens at these concerts is people reserve their seats by leaving their chairs in the specified rows. Then they can come back later and they have those seats. It’s really first come, first serve and people typically honor that. The one thing that sucks about it is people tend to go to the earlier shows and then never show up to the later shows. This essentially means there are tracts of open spots due to this. I walked over to the middle of bunch of empty chairs. A guy sitting in the front row seeing security yell at me for being in the aisle motioned for security and told them that wasn’t my spot. Security came over and started yelling again at me. I was now out of the aisle as they told me to be and they told me to move from again. This time I was royally pissed. I flat out told them until someone claims this row of empty chairs, I’m standing here. They backed off, and guess what, nobody ever filled a single chair was empty. The people who put those chairs there decided not to show up to the concert, yet their chairs occupied a good amount of prime area. From there I got this picture.

Even there, that’s the closest you could get non-VIP in this specific area. Avenged did go on to put on an amazing concert. After the concert I wandered around a bit and saw, since it was Friday night, people were partying like nuts. When I got back to the campsite, we played some more beer pong and then I went to bed. I had only been sleeping a couple hours when a huge storm hit the area. I remember briefly waking up and my tent was flapping like crazy. There were around 50mph mainline winds. Since, prior to going to bed, I put my phone in my car to charge, I had no clue how bad this really storm was. I just figured it was a hard storm like the night before, and then decided to go back to sleep since getting out of the tent meant getting wet and since I wasn’t getting out of the tent, I might as well make the best of it and go back to sleep as the best lineup was later that day. When I woke up, I found out the true carnage this storm actually had. I found my tent had been pulled from its stakes and the only reason it didn’t blow away was because I was in it. I heard a funnel cloud touched down about 5 miles away and I could see a lot of tents and awnings were damaged. The following was Jay, Matt, and Ali’s campsite and their damaged awning.

Here are a few more pictures of the damage.  

Day 4 the lineup consisted of the following: That morning (or more like noon) we started discussing the storm. Everyone was amazed that I slept through it when they thought they were going to die. I have been told in the past that my ability to sleep through pretty much anything is a superpower. I guess that’s what enables me to sleep at waysides or pretty much anywhere and travel the way I do. Since this was the last day, I decided to stay sober. I knew the next morning, I had to hit the road early and I had a very long drive to Texas. The first band I decided to see was Jackyl. Jackyl is one of my favorite bands and I think their lead singer, Jesse James Dupree, really represents what rock n’ roll is about. The chainsaw he plays is definitely badass and some of his antics like, when Kmart refused to sell his album in the early 90’s due to explicit content, he had a flatbed truck driven into a nearby Kmart parking lot to play a concert. Basically if they weren’t going to sell his music, he was bringing his music to them. He played until the cops escorted the band out. I guess the, “I don’t give a f*ck” sort of attitude is what makes Jackyl awesome. I have seen them around 4-5 times. When they were at RockUSA in 2013, they were the only band to setup a table, sign autographs, and shake their fan’s hands. Obviously their music also encompasses the, “I don’t give a f*ck” sort of rock n’ roll attitude that has been lost in a lot of modern rock bands.

This is picture was after taken after my phone security fail. I was about to take the picture and the phone said erasing. It was sad this was the day this happened because this was the beverage of choice for the day.

When Jackyl was done, I headed back to the campsite. I was pretty hungover so I kept pounding down more water. The hot sun was also doing its wonders so I skipped Tesla. I’ve seen them in the past, so I wasn’t too concerned. I later came by for Styx. This picture was taken as I walked to the other area we’d been standing for the rest of the concerts. I find it hard to believe I didn’t get yelled at by security for stopping in the aisle for a couple seconds to snap this picture.

The interesting thing is during Styx, there was another interesting security incident. It wasn’t with me, but it was with the other guys. Someone from VIP (or maybe even the festival itself) launched about 3-4 beach balls. People were hitting them around and having a good time. Sometimes the beach balls would land on the ground and then someone would pick them up and hit it again. Well as you saw earlier, it was wet as heck from the storm earlier that morning.
The beach ball landed by us and Matt had picked it up. He immediately hit it back into the air. With the beach ball on the ground, it was a little wet. A guy and his girlfriend went over to security and complained they were getting wet from the beach ball. Security came over and started yelling at Matt, who was then dumbfounded since everyone was hitting the ball around. Before you know it, all the beach balls had been taken by security. Like I said, I’ll get more into this in a future blog post, but it does seem pretty pathetic that people would complain about having a couple drops of water on them from a beach ball getting hit around, especially when half the area was a big puddle in the first place and, most importantly, they are at a rock concert. The last band of the night was Def Leppard. Like most of the bands at RockUSA, they also put on an awesome show.

Later that night, we sat around the fire and BS’d a little bit. I knew I’d probably be up and on the road before anyone woke up. Jay had invited me to come with them to Jurassic World, but I knew I was cramped for time. We made sure to get each other’s contact info so we wouldn’t lose touch again. I then went to bed and got about 4 hours of sleep. I woke up around 5:30 and packed everything up. I hit the road about 6:30 to go back to Texas. Pretty much everyone was still sleeping as I figured. Overall, it was a great time at RockUSA. Originally I thought I’d be on my own, as none of my friends showed up. I was happy to run into Jay and all of us partied like crazy and had a good time. The lineups were amazing and partying in our camping area was also a ton of fun. The only thing was security and the whole way a corporatized rock festival is setup. In an upcoming blog entry, I will touch more on that.