From funnel cakes, corn-on-the-cob and cocktails to those oh-so-sweet-and-tangy BBQ ribs, this past weekend's Great American Rib Cook-Off worked best when there was some loud music to wash it all down. From Shinedown's Friday show to Bret Michael's fest-closing performance last night, the audience ate 'em up at the packed Time Warner Cable Amphitheater.
Halestorm, the opening act on Friday, got the extended weekend off to a great start. Frontwoman Lzzy Hale could be heard at the other end of the venue, as she opened the band's set with her super-powered voice. Shinedown came out in a mist of fog, ambient lighting and noise as frontman Brent Smith stood with arms raised to an audience roar that grew until the band broke into "Cry for Help." They played a mix of hits from all three of their albums, including fan faves like "Heroes," "Save Me," "Left Out" and "Devour."
Monday brought no change to the scenery, but there was a definite turn in the music. While most of the rib fest's music was hard rock and alternative, there was a mix of good ol' American-made rock 'n' roll yesterday.
Big John, familiar to fans of VH1's Rock of Love as Bret Michael's hulking bodyguard, introduced the Poison frontman. Michael's summer-starting set ranged from Rock of Love's theme to solo tunes to Poison hits. Even the guys wanted to talk dirty to Michaels by the end of his show. —Johnny Angell