As the final day of Rokisland festival was upon us just a week ago to the date, it became apparent that keeping up with the festival and festival coverage was an impossible task for one person here at The Pure Rock Shop, and now a week later we are just finishing the initial review (with a surplus of photos yet to process), so forgive us if we haven’t gotten to that special moment yet, there are many more to showcase but only so many hours in a day.
Fatigued or not, we couldn’t miss the Sapphire VIP party with our Trixter friends given that it was just a couple blocks away. And, as I mentioned in Friday’s amphitheater show coverage, Trixter tours as “Trixter Acoustic,” with stripped-down favorites from founding members Steve Brown (guitar) and PJ Farley (bass), who are joined by percussionist Ben Hans. Ben was also supporting Kip Winger’s acoustic performance at the Kick-off Party on the pier, where you can read more about his noteworthy credentials.
I will try not to repeat myself too much, but Steve is making headlines by co-producing the new Ace Frehley album 10000 Volts and is also celebrating success with his new line of signature SBS guitars (GuitarFetish.com). He is known for his performances with The Wizards of Winter, Danger Danger, supergroup Tokyo Motor Fist, Def Leppard, and Rubix Cube.
And, Steve has taken over vocal duties including the classic songs like “One in a Million” and “Surrender” that were once sung by the original Trixter frontman Pete Loran. Meanwhile amateur comic (who could actually be found performing at Comedy Key West later that evening) PJ Farley, also has a noteworthy career outside the band as a solo artist and with Chris Jericho’s Fozzy and Kuarantine (an ironic unmasked KISS tribute that formed during Covid). Once again, PJ took the lead for “Tattoos & Misery.”
And yes, the set list was similar to the day before on paper with “Give it to Me Good” being the fan favorite, but this show was quite different for many reasons. For one, the crowd was much more intimate and the greenroom was so close to the stage we could hear Steve warming up for pre-show entertainment. Additionally, the crowd was rowdy for an early show and the band brought the humor we’ve come to expect following last year’s musical instrument exchange with the Eric Martin Band (Trixter-lite) show at the historic theater. (Oh yeah, did I forget to mention that, all three of these guys are Eric Marin of Mr. Big’s solo band).
This year, PJ Farley also decided it would be fun to start a parade with an American flag that he found on the stage, and started marching with the flag pole while frontman Steve Brown tried to keep a straight face and finish their last song. As if that wasn’t hilarious enough, PJ aimed his bass guitar at Steve who leaped in the air like a Looney Tunes scene featuring Wile E. Coyote and the Roadrunner (and we have the pictures below to prove it). Then, following the show, the full band made it a point to meet and greet each and every fan in the lobby, taking photos and signing merch, and we just love them for that.
The humor continued when Bowling for Soup hit the stage at the amphitheater. We were all thinking it, but only frontman Jaret Reddick had the guts to stop the show and demand to know where the absolutely amazing smell was coming from that evening. Lucky him, because he scored some funnel cake mid-set and we were too busy to even checkout the amazing line-up of food, vendors, and merch the entire festival.
When the band wasn’t eating funnel cake or taking in applause during their oh so hilarious dramatic pauses, they were bringing out some favorites like “Life After Lisa,” “Almost,” and of course, the nostalgic “1985.” They are Jaret Reddick on guitar and vocals, Chris Burney on guitar, Rob Felicetti on bass, and Gary Wiseman on drums.
This was my third Bowling for Soup show, and I wish I could say it was the coolest, but they literally played my prom. Well, my “second chance” prom hosted by a local radio station back home in the ‘Burgh the first time I saw them, and there was one hell of a crowd surfing party at their show last year so it’s a tough scale. For this show, it was notable that the crowd was a bit…mature but I guarantee that they made new fans!
I’m honestly still getting to know the band’s material, but in my eyes anyone who has been touched by the golden wand of Butch Walker from The Marvelous 3 is worth a good listen. Along with their friends in Lit, Bowling for Soup has made the smart choice to tour Florida in winter, but their best decision was releasing the hit song “Today is Gonna Be a Great Day,” which you may recognize as the theme song from Phineas and Ferb.
Bowling for Soup’s tour mates Lit were next on our agenda, and we were so excited to see them again. Lit is known for their high-energy show, and honestly it seemed pointless to even try to keep up with frontman Ajay Popoff and bassist Kevin Blades during the opener of “Kicked Off the Plan.” So, instead we focused on brother Jeremy Popoff who needed to remain somewhat sedentary to delivery background vocals and drummer Taylor Carrol who was pounding so hard that I felt like my heart was going to burst out of my chest (seriously).
They never really did come up for air during the set with favorites like “Over My Head” and “Zip-Lock” to new materials like “Mouth Shut” which features No Doubt’s Adrian Young on the studio version and their take on “Let’s Go” by The Cars which features Butch Walker, both from the band’s latest album Tastes Like Gold.
But the show stopping finale was when Lit surprised the crowd and brought their good friend Vince Neil and guitarist Steve Brown (Trixter, Def Leppard, etc.) out on stage to perform the Brownsville Station song “Smokin’ in the Boys Room,” which of course was made famous by Motley Crue on their Theater of Pain Album. We actually aren’t sure who enjoyed this surprise more, the band members or the crowd. It was a new level of epic to paraphrase Ajay Popoff’s words to me following the show, and we couldn’t agree more.
Vice looked great and sounded great and everyone was grinning from ear to ear the whole time, and after having to cancel last year due to illness, it was a welcomed addition to the show for fans who had been running into Vince (who was dressed more like a tourist than a rockstar) all week.
While this could have ended things, the band returned to perform their biggest hit, “My Own Worst Enemy,” when Ajay left the stage to visit the crowd nearly jumping over the barricade, shortly after his brother’s solo along the monitors. And, they closed things out with their famous human pyramid as a final bow!
I’m still honored that my ‘brother’ Steve Brown asked me to capture all the fun with Vince for the band. A new level of epic for me as a photojournalist, friend, and fan as well!
Next, I really got to work when my friends from Buckcherry took the stage to a track of AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck.” I’m a lucky girl because (as some may have noticed) these guys give me all-access so that I can capture a unique perspective and document all the fun that happens after the standard three-songs of pit limit.
With that access, you get a peak from behind the drums with Francis Ruiz, where you can really take in the excitement as the band as they electrify the crowd with “Lit Up” and then later get that front-view perspective for the emotion of songs like “Sorry” once things have heated up a bit and frontman Josh Todd has revealed his many tattoos and chiseled physique that is worth capturing for obvious reasons.
Having been covering Buckcherry long enough to remember when there were just a sprinkling of tats across Josh’s torso, I always appreciate new additions to the band’s setlist while mourning the songs that must go. Honestly, I’m still not over the loss of “Tight Pants.” But, this past year I am pretty sure a few of my own expletives rolled off my tongue in joy when I heard the first few beats of “Somebody F*cked with Me” from my favorite Buckcherry album, the F*ck EP, and with the new album VOL. 10 in play, there’s a fun single “Let’s Get Wild” (have you seen the video) that has also made it into the set.
As you’ll see from my reels and photos, my favorite time to photograph bassist Kelly LeMieux and guitarists Billy Rowe and Stevie D. is during the lengthy breakdown of the fan favorite “Crazy Bitch” when everyone finds their time in the spotlight. By the way, if you recognize Billy, that’s because he was here last year with his band Jetboy at the kick-off party on the green. In fact, you can find my photos from that show on the back of Jetboy’s new covers album, Crate Digging (Cleopatra Records).
While I’d hoped to catch a snap of the band with the roaring Rokisland crowd behind them, they had other priorities as Jean Beaviour was watching from the shadows. So, we retreated to their green room for some group photos with the legend. Yet another moment where musicians reminded me that they too started off as fans, and as I share my coverage of this event, I hope that more young talents will continue to rise up and more seasoned fans will continue to support new music as many of the greats are planning their farewell tours and sadly some are departing for good. Thus, a void is inevitable without new blood in the mix.
As you can read in my last review of Stone Temple Pilots, I was never really a fan of the grunge-era, but there is no denying that these titans left their mark. Following the loss of their frontman, the band continued on with Jeff Gutt leading the charge along with brothers Dean DeLeo on guitar, Robert DeLeo on bass (and backing vocals), and Eric Kretz on drums. Given that many consider the brothers the heart of this band, we found it odd that they were hidden in the shadows with a single spotlight at the center of the stage illuminating Jeff and Eric, but we did the best to capture the energy in the photos below.
Being one of the younger bands in play, Stone Temple Pilots have just recently released a Super Deluxe Edition of Tiny Music… Songs from the Vatican Gift Shop, and debuted a new Video for “And So I Know” featuring never before seen footage in celebration of a notable 25 years.
Their set focused on fan favorites like “Wicked Garden,” “Vasoline,” and “Plush,” and while we can’t say for certain as we headed to the afterparty to get some food before the kitchen closed at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon and catch as much as we could of Paralandra’s final show, we’d guess that they finished with “Sex Type Thing,” as it is their usual closer. We just didn’t have the stamina to hang in that final night.
Fueling up at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon with our last slice of Key lime pie for the week and saying farewells to many friends who were flying out on Sunday morning, we took in the final show from Paralandra, dancing the night away to some KISS favorites, and even capturing some of the fun with our live feed on Facebook.
More Rokisland fun is on the way with lots of photo editing in the works. If you haven’t already, check out our Kick-Off party coverage, coverage from the first day of the festival here, coverage from day two here, and day four here.
We can’t begin to stress how much we love this festival, the atmosphere in Key West and the people who make the magic happen. Honored to be a part of the party and to bring you this coverage while visiting with some of our favorite people in the whole world.
And the fun didn’t end there. While not part of the festival, as we mentioned above, Comedy Key West was hopping during Rokisland Fest. And, we caught up with That Metal Show’s Don Jamieson and comedian and writer Courtney Cronin Dold on Sunday evening for a show that they headlined over local Key West comics. To add to the fun, we brought out a few friends along, including frontman Age from Wig Wam! Their comedy show is no stranger to rockstars, in fact, PJ Farley from Trixter performed as part of their Punchlines & Backlines show on Saturday night, and they’ve had many others like Greg Smith (The Guess Who), Jamie St. James (Black N Blue), Reb Beach (Winger), and Todd LaTorre (Queensryche) and more join their show. And we look forward to bringing you coverage from the next Punchlines & Backlines shows on Monsters of Rock Cruise in March.
We are an independent, non-profit publication…in other words, this is a labor of love. If you enjoyed our photos and reviews, or if you want to share some love in appreciate of a photo we captured. You can help support our publication with tips through PayPal. You’ll find us under firstname.lastname@example.org. If you are interested in licensing photos for your own personal or commercial use, contact us via email or social channels to discuss. Thank you for your support!
You can also show your support by following us @ThePureRockShop on Facebook and Instagram. Watch for more festival coverage as well as local shows including Mr. Big tomorrow (1/28/2024) and Lynch Mob, The Guess Who and Extreme early next month. In March, we’ll be on the Monsters of Rock Cruise, and in May, you’ll find us at the M3 Rock Festival in Baltimore.