RockFest 80s plugged into Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida under a cloud of Aqua Net for a weekend of live music performed by bands that dominated the big hair era of metal.
The two-day festival was sponsored by local rock jocks Paul and Young Ron from Big 105.9, hosted by national radio personality/metal aficionado Eddie Trunk and attended by fans of all ages. For those who don’t know, outdoor concerts in south Florida can be enjoyed two ways: under the sun or in the rain. Much to the fans delight, RockFest 80s was played to a sunny tune, with plenty of heat — making for the perfect party atmosphere.
Bands of RockFest 80s — Day 1
Matthew and Gunnar Nelson may have trimmed their hair, but they didn’t cut back on any of their enthusiasm for playing live music. The brothers opened the day on the main stage with a performance that set the tone for a great day of rock n roll. Talented axe slinger Joel Hoekstra made a special guest appearance that received plenty of love and affection from the fans.
Trixter, Paramus, New Jersey’s favorite rockers, eagerly gave it good to everyone in the crowd. Despite a broken drumhead, the band never missed a beat. They even got in a short comedy routine as the kick drum was being repaired. Though their locks are much shorter, everything about their music is still 100% hair band.
John Waite didn’t need a midnight rendezvous with the fans to get their attention. The English-born rocker played a set that included tunes from his time with The Babys and Bad English, along with tunes like “Missing You” that made him a household name in the 80s. It was clear to see that the fans never want him to change the way he makes music.
Wally Palmer guided the 21st Century version of The Romantics through all the songs that made them popular in the 80s. Joining him were longtime members Mike Skill and Rich Cole. Props go out to drummer Brad Elvis for adding a bit of zany showmanship to his timekeeping duties.
The lovely ladies from Vixen revved it up with a sultry set from the band’s hard-rocking career. Janet Gardner sang like a siren over wailing guitar riffs. Roxy Petrucci was a bundle of feisty energy as she pounded out the beats still well known by all the fans pressed up against the barricade. Gina Stile’s aggressive guitar playing was the perfect complement to Share Ross and her low-end steadiness on the bass.
Glam rockers Warrant know where the down boys go — and they joined them at Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida. With decades of touring behind them, these guys definitely know how to put on a show. The band played all the hits that made them FM radio heroes and MTV legends. It was by far one of the coolest performances on a hot afternoon.
North Carolina metallers Firehouse fanned the heat wave with heavy-hitting tunes and power ballads on the west stage. Though they remain one of the biggest bands in Europe, their U.S. touring schedule has been more limited. But nobody seemed to care about the extended absence. That’s because their performance cemented their legacy as one of the most popular bands to make music in the 80s.
When Night Ranger took the stage during RockFest 80s, the band proved they can still rock in America — and definitely in the Sunshine State. With the original lineup almost completely in tact, these guys gave the fans an all-out rock and roll performance. Like they’ve always done, Jack Blades and Kelly Keagy shared lead vocal duties. Jack, of course, still bounded around thumping his bass and Kelly kicked ass on the drums. Brad Gillis ruled the stage with his amazing guitar playing and Keri Kelli added a flurry fretwork. Eric Levy provided a melodic backing for the band on the keys.
Cinderella’s Tom Keifer knows that the secret to continued success in the music industry is giving the fans a reason to come out and support the band. So it’s no surprise that he played all the right night songs with plenty of raw emotion. His voice is unmistakably unique and he still sings with unabashed passion.
Totally cool and electrifying frontman Bret Michaels closed down day 1 of RockFest 80s with an incredible set of fan favorite tunes. The Bret Michaels Band is not the least bit pretentious and everyone up on stage played like it was the most exciting venue they ever visited. Bret talked dirty to the fans, encouraged them to look at what the cat dragged in and went out of his way to make sure everyone got to enjoy a kick ass rock show.
Day 2 — RockFest 80s Concert Experience
Local rock band Made of Metal began the day with a tribute to groups like Judas Priest, Iron Maiden and Dio. Their covers of the iconic songs got the fans all charged up for another dose of rock –n– roll.
Rock and rollers come in all shapes, sizes and ages. Krush leans to the younger side. These talented pre-teens from School of Rock stormed the stage and played with plenty of confidence. Based on the reaction from those in the crowd, these kids have a great future in music ahead of them.
Autograph signed in and kicked off day 2 of RockFest 80s on the main stage. Like a fine wine, these guys get better as the years go by. Original member Steve Lynch continues to raise the bar for lead guitarists, playing with his familiar finger tapping style. Randy Rand, also with the group since the beginning, remains a steadfast bass player who looks like he’s never had more fun being on stage. New members Simon Daniels (vocals) and Marc Weiland (drums) are the perfect additions to help Autograph play tunes not heard by audiences in almost 25 years. Sounding heavier than ever, the band is out touring, playing all the famous tunes along with tracks from their new album Louder.
George Lynch has been shredding the guitar for the better part of 30 years. And all that time has only made his playing more intense. When he and Lynch Mob hit the stage, it was pure rock and roll mayhem. The band’s performance was tight, loud and filled with wicked sensations.
Quiet Riot drummer Frankie Banali carries the torch proudly for the first metal band to land on top of the Billboard charts. With Jizzy Pearl handling vocals, Alex Grassi on guitar and Chuck Wright on bass, the band is poised to enjoy metal health for years to come.
Slaughter always brings plenty of excitement to their live performances. All the guys give fans a show to remember, but drummer Zoltan Chaney always seems to steal the show with his frenetic drumming that’s a show all its own.
Geoff Tate’s voice is one of the most distinctive in the music industry. He also has a tremendous stage presence. Combine the two and it makes for an unforgettable event. Of course, singing songs everyone knows by heart is part of the festival concert experience. But when the guy who belted out those lyrics in the first place sings them, the vibe touches everyone in attendance. Geoff Tate and Operation: mindcrime delivered one of the most popular sets of the festival.
Sebastian Bach remembered yesterday and played a raucous set to celebrate his birthday on April 3, 2016. An impressive crowd gathered to hear him play tunes from Skid Row and his youth gone wild.
Bobby Blotzer brought Robbie Crane, guitar phenom Blaze, Doc Ellis and Josh Alan to Markham Park for an afternoon of Ratt and roll under the Florida sun. No matter the lineup, it was evident the fans will always come back for more when this band comes to town.
The guys in Winger still play like they’re filled with youthful exuberance; but the girl from Seventeen is now 43 years old. That could have been her in the front row, or maybe she was miles away. Whatever the case, everyone watching got treated to an incredible set from a band that helped the 80s be the era of heavy metal.
One of the most highly anticipated sets of the festival came from Ace Frehley. This guitar legend remains a musical magician with a Gibson in his hands, mesmerizing every fan in attendance. His style has always been over the top, and there wasn’t any gravity holding him down when he exploded onto the stage. Even though there was a parasite oozing from his six string, his performance was out of this world.
Headliner Paul Rodgers was in good company when he played tunes from Bad Company, The Firm and other groups from his long and illustrious career. His performance to close out RockFest 80s capped an incredible weekend of live music from some of the most popular bands to ever record and tour the world.
Check out this top RockFest 80s pictures in the photo gallery.