Prior to this year fans of Rock USA could count on rocking out to some of the best 70’s and 80’s music.
Last year was awesome. Alice Cooper was amazing, Def Leppard rocked the whole place and Lynard Skynard was out of this world. However, it was tailored to a certain type of audience. They did have one day dedicated to modern rock and it was great.
This year they decided to up the ante and change their entire format, which was risky considering they had been doing the same thing for years.
They dropped the festival down to 3 days from 4 – got rid of the carnival rides except for one, added a place to chill out and have fun that didn’t cost money, put a pit area in front of the stage and most of all brought in all modern rock.
Let’s talk about the least biggest changes.
Having Rock USA last 3 days instead of 4 was fine to me. I was beat after 2 days. Four seemed wwaaayyy too long, so 3 seems to be a nice number.
Glad to see them go. However, at night the lights did add a nice atmosphere. They only have the one they always have had. The one that spins all the way around.
Hang Out Zone
This was hugely cool and it was my favorite addition. It didn’t cost money and it was a nice way to just pass the time without having to sit on the grass, head to your campground, walk around vendors, buy food, merch or drinks. It gave you another option. Especially if you didn’t have a campsite. There were hammocks, beach volleyball, and a giant version of beer pong.
From 2015 to 2016 there was a noticeable increase in vendors. They had a greater variety of merch including smoking huts. I do not smoke but I can imagine that these were a welcome addition to people who did.
The pit is located right in front of the VIP area. This caused concern to the VIP patrons because they would now not have the prime view they used to. Last year while talking to the staff they had said that some of the artists had complained that they were too far away from the audience. The audience last year was a good 50 feet away from the stage. The artists wanted to get out and interact with the audience more. Jacoby didn’t let the distance stop him. Last year he just jumped off the stage and went out into the audience. This year RUSA tried to remedy the audience situation by creating a standing only pit. This put the audience about 10 feet away from the stage and artists. However, the problem still exists that without a catwalk the talent cannot get out and interact with the audience. Why is there still a barrier? Because there is a fence that allows security, press and others to go between the stage and the audience.
It is an additional ticket price to get to the pit which is a plus and a negative.
Positive – let’s people who could never typically afford a VIP ticket get up and close with the artists.
Negative – Still keeps a large empty space for the earlier bands. Some bands even invited people into the pit area while on stage. Having the pit area gets very crowed at night. This is a big negative for the VIP crowd which has a nice seated area and is typically a pretty subdued crowd.
Now, about the music. Leading up to the days of RUSA I had seen many ads for people selling their VIP packages citing that this year was just not in their wheelhouse of musical taste. So, I was wondering if this year was going to be a success compared to other years. That concern was put to rest when Cutter got up on the stage and announced that this year was the best one both financially and in attendance numbers. So, there you have it. Northeast Wisconsin wants their modern rock.
But now you are asking what about the bands??? How were they?
Well first, unlike last year I was not privy to a VIP pass, but I did have a photo pass. This allowed me to be in the space between the standing audience pit and the stage. So I was right up against the stage. It was awesome except media only gets to be up there for the first 3 songs, so for the rest of time I was just like the rest of the folks in the back. But it gave me a chance to get a VIP look.
The artists were amazing. I love modern rock so all the artists were top notch and they were all relevant.
I have to give a big shout out to all the Sheriffs, Police Officers and Security Guards that were there. They were very visible and made sure everyone was safe. In the times that I was around them they were very friendly and always willing to help out concert goers.
Let’s be honest. Any festival you go to the cost of food, drinks and merch is going to be expensive. It is something you have to plan on and count on if you plan on grabbing a bite or beer at the show. But the food was hot and the soda was cold. (I am not a beer drinker, but my husband is and he said it was cold)
Last year if you read my article we won a whole package from The Razor and camped for four days. For some reason we were more tired this time around. It was exhausting. I don’t know why but by the third night I felt like I had been beat up, chewed up, spit out and ground up.
But if you love music there’s nothing better than hearing Corey Taylor or Shinedown or seeing the theatrics of In This Moment.
Enjoy our pictures and we hope to see you out there next year.