Bodies were moving at the Rokout Festival on Saturday: Shivering from the cold, dancing to the beats of featured artists, and vibrating with sheer volume and power of headliners the Prodigy.
The National Orange Show Events Center in San Bernardino hosted the event, which featured artists on four stages. Three outdoor stages were dedicated to dance, hip hop, and dnb, aka drum and base or jungle music, while the main stage (which was indoors, thankfully) featured a variety of bands from punk to techno, including Taxi Doll, Mindless Self Indulgence, and of course the Prodigy.
The festival appealed to a larger demographic than a typical rave, due to the different types of music being offered. Casual fans showed up wearing their usual jeans and sweatshirts, but then there were ladies in fishnets and pixie wings, as well as seasoned ravers with their bright colors and extensive beaded “kandi” bracelet collections.
The different groups brought their different drugs. Ecstasy was not as obviously present as at a straight rave, but cigarettes and their friends cloves and marijuana moved on in. It was too little too late, however, to avoid a thick chest and a sore throat.
It was also after the singer for Mindless Self Indulgence, James “Little Jimmy Urine” Euringer, solicited cigarettes and lighters from the crowd, which obligingly showered the stage. Later in the performance, Euringer upped the ante and threw a potted plant into the audience. One audience member was later seen with part of the plant jutting out from the front of his pants.
At least the audience kept their pants on apparently the show is not over until Euringer drops his. Gray boxer-briefs made an appearance, but were hidden away by the time the camera turned back on.
The acid punk rocker kept up such antics through the performance, at one point jamming the microphone down the front of his pants and then looking surprised when he went to sing and found that it was not in either hand. He also passed the microphone back and forth in front of his face during a particularly rapid portion of a song, creating an interesting effect since only snippets were audible. He also seemed to enjoy leaping across the stage.
Another performer who was interesting to watch was Mickey Avalon on the hip hop stage. He had a woman with him, and as his shirt came off things took to the floor, one wondered if eyes ought to be averted.
His voice was typical white rapper, rather squeaky, but his use of the music from “Come Together” by the Beatles/Michael Jackson/Aerosmith caught a curious ear while his onstage performance raised surprised brows.
The Prodigy left no question as to why they were at the event. They came on stage and got down to business, blasting their music and flashing their lights. The sound waves vibrated through the room and all the people in it, no longer simple sound but a physical force. Smoke machines and theatrical lighting completed the effect.
The Prodigy has two vocalists, Maxim and Keith. Keith paced back and forth across the stage like a caged tiger, while Maxim was more willing to pose for the audience. Maxim actually left the stage, at one point staying in the pit but jumping up onto the security divider and letting his fans adore him.
With all the primal energy being released by hits such as “Their Law” and “No Good,” the group decided to start throwing water bottles into the crowd. After all, dehydration is a co
mmon malady of the rave scene. Then the crowd started throwing them back. So Maxim started spitting the water. The crowd could not really respond to that.
The Prodigy drew the largest crowd, but even then the back half of the room remained pretty empty. Whereas at past raves friends had to hold hands to avoid being separated and huge tents filled to nearly bursting, this particular show was surprisingly easy to navigate. The stages were arranged in a straight line, which helped.
Like the capacity levels, enthusiasm did not quite top the charts at any point during the festival. The two outdoor stages manned by DJs had groups of people dancing, but the hip hop stage was not getting much love. Inside, some people simply sat on the floor. People closest to the stages danced, and then movement faded with distance. It was amusing to see the explosion of camera phones, however, when the Prodigy launched into “Firestarter.” But as time went on, Maxim had to repeatedly coax the crowd into cheering for the encore.
They were not the only ones that were confused.
In addition, all organizers ought to know better than to hold an event outdoors at the end of November, especially at night.
It was so cold that some locals were predicting snow, but the weather reports listed the low temperature for the day at 47 degrees.
Overall, the Rokout Festival had potential but did not quite make it.
Many of the bands were worth seeing, but would benefit from a more carefully crafted atmosphere.
An indoor, heated venue would not hurt either.