Rock The Bayou festival proves rock ‘ roll not dead

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With video games such as Guitar Hero and Rock Band reviving some of the past’s most memorable tunes, there’s no denying that ’80s rock ‘n’ roll is back. The huge turnout at the Rock The Bayou festival over the weekend only proved it.

But don’t tell the bands that. As far as they’re concerned, the music never left.

"(Rock The Bayou is) just showing you that people still care about this music and they care about metal," L.A. Guns lead singer Marty Casey said. "These bands are so established and have been around for so long, and that doesn’t really happen anymore."

Rock The Bayou brought more than 100 bands together for four days during Labor Day weekend at the old AstroWorld grounds. The site featured a campground, vendor booths and an outdoor movie theater featuring classic rock ‘n’ roll movies.

However, the best shows were on the four live music stages, where rock ‘n’ roll greats such as Alice Cooper, Sammy Hagar, Twisted Sister, Bret Michaels and Great White performed.

With so much going on, it was hard to tell whether the fans or the bands had more fun.

"I love getting in front of people," Great White lead singer Jack Russell said. "It’s like… what I was born to do. If they show up I’ll be there, and if I can make them have a good time then its all the better."

The Bud Light Stage featured each day’s headlining acts, while the EGO Energy Drink Stage, Bud Light Lime Stage and Budweiser Stage showcased lesser-known acts such as England’s Gypsy Pistoleros.

Although not the festival’s main draw, the bands playing the side stages weren’t the least intimidated by the larger acts around them.

"(We’re) very intense," Lee Pistolero, Gypsy Pistoleros guitarist, said. "I’m gonna apologize to Bret Michaels because we’re gonna be rockin’ and steal his show."

However, some groups have performed long enough that intimidation was not a factor.

"Twisted (Sister) brings the full-on old-school show with the hair, makeup, costumes and everything," Dee Snider, Twisted Sister’s lead singer, said. "We want to give people the closest representation of what we can get of what it was like back in the day.

"The Twisted attitude has always been that it was a total package in that you’re supposed to deliver musically, you’re supposed to give people the songs, and you also have to give them something to look at, because if you don’t then why don’t they just sit at home and listen to their stereo? It sounds a hell of a lot better than what (we) sound like live," Snider said.

Still, elder rockers are not blind to the fact that their era is a current fad.

"Nostalgia runs on a 20-year cycle, and we’re in the ’80s nostalgia right now," Snider said. "When I was in high school way back in the ’70s, we were all about the ’50s – guys walking around with greased hair and leather jackets going, ‘Hey, I’m the Fonz.’ Today the young people are into the nostalgia of the ’80s nostalgia."

Though the summer heat and possible threat of a hurricane may have kept some from attending, legions of loyal fans showed up and got heartfelt performances from some of the ’70s and ’80s top performers.

The support was much appreciated from the bands.

"It’s amazing to me," Russell said. "It’s like the music has translated over three generations now, and it’s really cool."

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