At last year's inaugural Rolling Rock Town Fair the laid back atmosphere brought about by pie-eating contests, a barbershop quartet, and petting zoo was disrupted when an angry mob of beer worshippers outnumbered the actual suds available.
This year's expanded Beer Garden replaced the Second Stage. That, along with nine hours of testosterone-heavy guitar rock, could have been a recipe for disaster, but the worst that happened at RRTF 2.0 on Saturday (Aug. 4) at Westmoreland Fairgrounds was a lot of sunburn lotion being applied once concertgoers made it home from Latrobe, Pa. Besides, while these bands may rock hard, they're prone to show their sensitive side.
Other than the acoustic moments provided by Staind's two hits ("Outside" and "It's Been Awhile") and Stone Temple Pilot's brief acoustic set, the focus was on power chords. The diversity shown at last year's show (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Moby, Our Lady Peace) was dropped in favor of Stone Temple Pilots, Live, Deftones, Incubus, Tantric, and Oleander.
While solid performances appeased the more than 45,000 who suffered through temperatures in the upper 80s, high humidity, and mud (due to a nasty thunderstorm the day before), only Incubus provided a broad spectrum of styles: hip-hop, thrash, metal, acoustic pop, and worldbeat. On "Nebula," it occurred all at once. The band also performed "Nice to Know You" from its forthcoming album due in October.
Deftones' hour-long set gave the energy boost needed as fans were going through the event's fifth hour. Chino Moreno showed that he's as hard on his vocal chords as he is on his microphone. He ended several songs by bouncing it off the stage in a poor imitation of Roger Daltrey's mike swinging movements. By the second number, "My Own Summer (Shove It)," Moreno made the first of several visits to the barrier at the front of the crowd.
Staind's mix of assaulting guitar riffs and delicate moments mimicked frontman Aaron Lewis' vocal and onstage demeanor -- calm, snarling, and cathartic.
York, Pa., natives Live provided the obligatory hits ("Lightning Strikes," "I Alone," "When Dolphins Cry," and "Pain Lies on the Riverside"), but the bump-and-grind tactics of the new tune "Deep Enough" deflated all the talk of unity and spirituality.
One can easily decipher Stone Temple Pilots' influences from one song to the next (i.e., guitarist Dean DeLeo knocking out Led Zeppelin's "The Ocean" before the encore), but the quartet secures its little spot in the rock-and-roll world by writing tunes so catchy that it makes it forgivable.
It's particularly helpful that STP is blessed with a frontman such as Scott Weiland. His serpentine movements, stage gear (leather motorcycle hat and vest á la ex-Judas Priest vocalist Rob Halford, ball-gown gloves, American flag, birthday suit), charismatic presence, and vocal roar definitely make STP stand out. As "Sex Type Thing" ended, the exhausted crowd made a peaceful march to the exit, content with the day's activities even though it was less filling in the process.
Other highlights of the show:
* Deftones covered Weezer's "Say It Ain't So" near the end of their set.
* Live's Ed Kowalczyk griped about the state of music with venom aimed at pop stars such as Britney Spears and Christina Aguilera, who happens to be from nearby Pittsburgh.
* After the first number, Weiland addressed the crowd, "Hello. We're Judas Priest."
* Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian was there, not to perform but to cover the event as a journalist for his VH1 program The Rock Show.
* A comment overheard from a female concertgoer walking around the grounds barefoot, "Does anyone know of a shoe store nearby?"