Rockin’ new festival takes over South Florida.
– review of the first day of the festival at Markham Park (Sunrise).
Happy Saturday, South Florida! The sun is HOT and we are packed and ready for RockFest. Today, we made plans to meet at Bonaventure Resort. The shuttle that was provided by Markham Park quickly transported us in five minutes. During the ride we took some backroads, which was an itsy-bitsy sketchy, but after some rocky roads, we arrived to security. A couple beeps here, a couple of beeps there of the ticket scanner and then security waved us on. We quickly noticed that many of ongoing attendees were using the beautiful weather to their advantage. There was enough barbequing and footballs being thrown around to represent, MERICA.’ Between the early live music and exotic vendors, attendees weren’t shy of drinking either – Bud Light or Budweiser. And, how could I forget? Word on the block was Bret Michaels and his esteemed gang were showing some spirit with the attendees, tossing a football or two. What’s a rock n’ roll festival without football and beer?
As my partner and I ventured through the park, we quickly saw why Markham Park was the chosen one. The 666- acre park of open lakes and plains created more than enough space for the two stages, vendors and rockers. Walking along the long road of vendors, parallel to the two stages facing each other, one could buy merchandise ranging from Bob Marley’s t-shirts to bullets and guitar strings transformed into accessories. One vendor that stuck out to me was the tent of deep archived vinyls and coasters with printed artists – a Rolling Stones’ multicolored tongue coaster sits proudly on my nightstand now. As we continued down the paved path, we arrived to the opposite end of the venue where the Budweiser stage stood, a line of freshly parked American muscle cars ended the walk. As an American muscle car enthusiast, the Dodge Charger’s fierceness blended well into the environment. Grrr!
Now, the music – John Waite was the first to put power chords through 8-foot highly stacked speakers that rung over the park. His classics, such as Back on My Feet Again and Rhonda Girl brought the cloud of attendees to a single gathering. As we hovered the stage, shout outs of his hit track, When I See You Smile was being requested. John and his band did more than just give it to them – a banging drum solo was quickly to follow. As if that wasn’t enough, Led Zeppelin’s inspiring Whole Lotta Love brought the crowd to a roar.
Up next, The Romantics took matters into their own hands with staples Talking in Your Sleep and What I Like About You. Not only was Clem Burke fashionably rocking a red blazer with one white glove, but the lead singer whipped out this harmonica on top of rocking the guitar.
As we headed back across the way to the other stage, a heavy rhythm of bass and drums echoed throughout the field. All of a sudden, a group of women came over the mics- Yes, it is. Vixen is in the house. Talk about a power group of women, because they power-stood their grounds at Markham Park that day. The ladies rocked through songs, such as Cruising, I Want You to Rock Me and Edge of a Broken Heart. After the set, I had the pleasure of meeting Share Pederson who slapped her way through the bass. She openly admitted that the set was unrehearsed. Now fully intrigued, I asked if she had any advice for young female artists, like myself. She said, “Yeah, just rock like you mean it.” You got it, Share!
As the sun finally cooled down, Warrant and Firehouse filled the park with rocking sounds. Even though Warrant didn’t play their massive hits until halfway through the set, the onlookers didn’t mind belting out the lyrics to Heaven and Cherry Pie. From across the field, Firehouse got things shaking with their classic song, Shake and Tumble. After all of the dancing, my stomach started rumbling so I finished up watching, All She Wrote – time for food.
As we walked down the paved path of food vendors, the variety of smells filled my nose. It was a tough decision – gyro platters and hummus, Mexican City’s tacos and burritos, flatbread pizzas, wings and basically anything with everything. I may have paced this road like three times until I settled on a gyro sandwich, which took two hands to get a grip on it. Needless to say, I was full and very satisfied.
The night had overcome us, stage lights and fog filled the air. Even though my belly was full and my feet were sore, we weren’t quite done just yet! Night Ranger carried us on. About four songs in, the acoustic guitar sweetly rang out, Sister Christian, and the crowd proudly chimed in! Then we swayed into When you Close your Eyes and Don’t Tell me you Love Me. Attendees didn’t skip a beat as the artists covered every inch of the stage. The drum set might as well have had wheels, because this band was on the crazy train.
Boom, clap, boom-boom, clap. Two marching women dressed in soldier’s outfits began the beat. Cinderella’s Tom Keifer opened up the stage with Queen’s signature hit, We will Rock You! This set was nothing close to being a disgrace. Tom Keifer jammed his way through, Once Around the Ride, Don’t Know What you Got (Till it’s Gone), Shelter Me and even the Beetle’s hit song With a Little Help from my Friends. Tom definitely set the tone for upcoming, Bret Michaels.
Just before the main attraction came on, we met Bret Michaels in the media tent. The energy was high! He was ecstatic and READY to rock. Once we departed the tent, we ran straight over to the stage. While there was a slight delay, Michaels and his band came on in full swing. Not only did he rock out to some Poison classics, such as Talk Dirty to Me, Look What the Cat Dragged in, Something to Believe in and Nothin’ but a Good Time – Michaels and his band jammed into a full variety of music. I found myself jiving to my favorite song of the night, Sweet Home Alabama, which always hits home for me. As if that wasn’t enough, Michaels and gang smashed out What I Got (a famous Sublime cover). Smiling from ear to ear, it was time for bed! My partner and I were rocked out after ten hours of jamming. Time for some shut eye because day two is coming!