Rockfest 80’s 2016 Review: The Top 5 Sets + Photos

by | Apr 5, 2016 | Features, Music

(Photo: Rick Munroe / © Beach Magazine)

If you love big hair bands of the 80’s, you”ll love the inaugural edition of Rockfest 80’s. Despite being heavily promoted by local radio stations, Big105.9 (Miami/Broward) and Real Radio 94.3 (Palm Beaches) the inaugural edition of Rockfest 80’s should have never happened. Perhaps this statement may seem harsh, but the idea of “Build it and they will come” was certainly not true in the case of Rockfest 80’s.

In fact, everything was great, the bands, stages, sound, beer, security and nearly everything else. What was missing? The fans.

The festival took place at Markham Park in Sunrise, Florida. Organizers may have expected a larger turnout because the grounds were much bigger than needed. Getting into the festival and through security was a breeze. Walking shoes were mandatory for the walk from the parking lot to the entrance. This stroll was a bit long unless you wanted to shell out some cash for a pedicab.


Warrant – Erik Turner & Jerry Dixon at Rockfest 80’s (Photo: Rick Munroe / © Beach Magazine)


Logistics: Ticket prices were reasonable at $99.00 for a general admission day pass. The two-day ticket was $169.00. Parking was $15.00. Food and drink prices were typical and the selection was good for a festival. There were plenty of port-o-potties. For those who opted the VIP package, were given benefits of an elevated viewing platform, food, drink and access to private bathrooms.

There were two stages consisting of a West and East stage. The West stage served as the main stage where the headliners performed. The stages were large and well branded with the Rockfest 80’s logo and banners on both sides. The sound system was outstanding, one of the best for a festival of this size. There didn’t appear to be any technical issues that stood out and the music was loud. Although the stage was sufficient, lighting was below average. During some of the evening performances, there were moments when the singer would be in the dark. In other words, the theater design was lacking stagefront spotlighting to illuminate each performing act.

Bret Michaels

Bret Michaels Performs at Rockfest 80’s. (Photo: Rick Munroe / © Beach Magazine)


The lineup consisted of headliners such as Bret Michaels and Paul Rodgers. Let’s remember that 30 years ago these musicians would sell-out arenas and stadiums. However, the demographic of 80’s big hair music fans is 45+. That being said, we may assume the ‘forty- somethings’ may be trading rock scenes in for little Johnny’s soccer game.  Yet, those attended were treated to some amazing performances.

Top 5 Sets

1 – The festivities opened with Detroit Rockers, the Romantics. Moving the crowd with songs like “When I look in Your Eyes, Talking in Your Sleep and What I Like About You” giving us a snapshot into the past.

2 – True to form former Poison front-man Bret Michaels didn’t disappoint. Although Michaels came on stage later than scheduled, those who stuck around during 90 degree weather, got a real surprise. Hits including “Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Talk Dirty to Me, Something to Believe In, Unskinny Bop music reveling in Michael’s spirit. His performance, energized a lethargic crowd, bringing them back to life.

3 – Fans of The Firm or Bad Company, enjoyed seeing Paul Rodgers electric performance. Rodgers played a mix of Bad Company, Free and the Firm’s hits. His performance of “Can’t Get Enough” set the tone for a great set. The late night Sunday show had less of a crowd due to working adults returning to work on Monday.  Although outstanding, this performance took place later, making the audience scarce in the process.

4 – One of the highlights of Rockfest 80’s was the performance by Warrant. These hard-core rockers proved that like fine wine, they have only gotten better with age. The band was tight and seemed to enjoy playing together, delighting those in attendance. Lead singer Robert Mason added his own musical style to well known Warrant songs. They chose hits like “Cherry Pie, Down Boys, Heaven”, taking you back to days of MTV and Z-cavariccis.

5 – Although no longer together as the band Skid Row, Sebastian Bach, played nearly every hit the band ever produced. His band was tight and entertaining performing hits like Youth Gone Wild, I Remember You and 18 and Life. If you get a chance to catch Bach in the future you most likely won’t be disappointed. Did someone forget to tell Bach, it’s not 1986? These guys played like it was. They were outstanding.

John Waite

John Waite Rocked Rockfest 80’s. (Photo: Rick Munroe / © Beach Magazine)


Needless to say, first year festivals encounter growing pains. It may be hard to believe, established festivals such as Ultra, Coachela and Bonnaroo were all unproven concepts at one point. First-year festivals are typically about learning from the mistakes. It usually takes a few years before a festival becomes streamlined.

Okay, so Rockfest 80’s wasn’t perfect, there were a few things that it wasn’t in this festivals favor.  Events like baseball season’s opening day, Florida Panthers hockey playoff, and the Final Four college basketball game may have superseded the 80’s celebration. Perhaps the timing was off, perhaps not. Adults 40+ with jobs and kids are simply too busy with life to dedicate an entire weekend to a music. Or so it seemed.


FireHouse’s C.J. Snare & Allen McKenzie (Photo: Rick Munroe / © Beach Magazine)

In conclusion, we should ask is 80’s music coming to an end? Maybe, but in festival form the numbers say it all. Estimates of how many people attended Rockfest 80’s on Saturday ranged from 2,000 to 3,000 people. Let’s face it, that is not enough to sustain a major event of the magnitude of Rockfest 80’s. Overall, the experience was great, let’s hope we have Rockfest 80’s in 2017 and many more years to come.

Name: Rockfest 80’s
Dates: April 3-4, 2016
Location: Markham Park, Sunrise, Florida
Size: 3,000 (estimate)
Ticket Prices: $99.00(one day G/A) $169.00(two-day G/A) VIP (available)
Years Running: 1

Complete Lineup:
Bret Michaels
Paul Rodgers
Cinderellas Tom Keifer
Ace Frehley
Night Ranger
Ratt Warrant
Geoff Tate
The Romantics
John Waite
Lynch Mob

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  • author's avatar

    By: Chloe Park

    Chloe is a writer and photographer who has covered music and pop culture for publications including the Los Angeles Times and San Diego Times-Union. She has covered the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival, Bonnaroo and other music festivals.

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