Photos and Review by: Allyssa Arens
Photographer’s Instagram: allyarensphoto
Lineup: Godsmack, I Prevail, Bad Omens, Zero 9:36, Catch Your Breath
Venue: The Zoo Amphitheatre, Oklahoma City, OK
Date: May 12, 2023
It was a hot and humid day in central Oklahoma, and there was a looming concern that the party may be shut down due to forecasted thunderstorms and hail, but none of that stopped the sold-out crowd from coming out to Oklahoma City’s Zoo Amphitheatre for a long day of hard rock and good times. Thankfully, Mother Nature heard our prayers, and the show went off without a hitch.
KATTFest is an annual event put on by OKC’s local rock station 100.5 The Katt, and in the past has taken place anywhere between May and October depending on tour routing and scheduling for the year, but most frequently occurs sometime in the summer months. Recent headliners have included Halestorm, Daughtry, Shinedown, Korn, Marilyn Manson, and this year’s returning headliners Godsmack, and rock fans can always expect a full day of hard rock jams when attending. This year was no exception, with the aforementioned rock veterans Godsmack being joined by a crop of newer acts that have all been making waves in their own right: I Prevail, Bad Omens, Zero 9:36, and Catch Your Breath.
First to take the stage was Texas-based hard rockers Catch Your Breath, who have been riding a wave of success spurred by their 2022 single “Dial Tone” catching some viral attention (it’s currently sitting at over 21 million Spotify streams). Their set, which was their first in Oklahoma City, started the day off on an electric note as their brief but mighty set spanned their current releases, including newest single “No Evil” and heavy ripper “Ricochet,” before closing on a somewhat more melodic note with “Shame on Me” and the aforementioned “Dial Tone.” Catch Your Breath is definitely an act to keep an eye on, and I look forward to hopefully seeing them again soon!
Next up was Philadelphia-based rap-rocker Zero 9:36, who is also making a name for himself in the rock scene by blending deep and meaningful lyrics about topics such as depression with smooth vocal flows and punchy riffs. His breakout into the rock scene began a couple of years ago with the release of his single “Adrenaline,” and that was the main song I was familiar with, but his set proved that he is definitely no one-hit-wonder, with other songs such as “Break,” “I’m Not,” and “Self-Destruct” packing a similar punch. While many will hear the term “rap-rock” and have their brain automatically go to the JNCO jeans and nu-metal of the 90s and early 2000s, Zero fuses the genres in such a way that doesn’t sound dated, instead giving a modern touch to a genre that many of us, myself included, grew up on.
The third act of the day was perhaps my most anticipated, as they are absolutely dominating the hard rock scene at the moment, selling out entire tours within days if not hours and just being absolute powerhouses; that act being none other than Bad Omens. Hailing from Virginia, the band has been cranking out banger after banger since 2016 (and I’ve been at least a casual listener for almost that long, after a couple of their tracks were used in the film American Satan), but last year’s The Death of Peace of Mind has cemented their place as mainstays in the heavy scene.
The set kicked off with “Artificial Suicide,” and as the band took the stage, vocalist Noah Sebastian’s face was obscured by a ski mask throughout the song, though he performed the remainder of the set unmasked. The setlist consisted primarily of tracks from TDOPOM, including “Like A Villain,” “Limits,” new set addition “Take Me First,” and of course their viral hit “Just Pretend,” though they also threw it back to their earlier records with tracks like “Glass Houses” and “Never Know.” Bad Omens sounded absolutely phenomenal, and if you’re lucky enough to be seeing them on either of their sold-out headlining runs this year, you are in for an absolute treat.
The penultimate performance of the day, and the last before the sun set, came from I Prevail, another act I’d been wanting to see for a while and finally had the chance. They took the stage and immediately had the crowd thrashing around as they opened with “Bow Down,” one of my personal favorites of their discography; this energy was kept up as they went into “Body Bag” and “Self-Destruction” from their most recent record True Power. I Prevail is a band known equally for their heaviness as for their more melodic side, and while this particular setlist skewed further into the heavier side, including a short cover of part of System of a Down’s “Chop Suey,” they made sure to not alienate fans of their somewhat lighter fare by also performing songs like “Deep End” and “Hurricane,” the latter of which featured a special guest appearance from Bad Omens’ Noah Sebastian. Their set was full of power and energy (True Power, if you will), and now I hope to be able to catch them on their next headliner as they put on one hell of a show.
Finally, a little before 9:30 pm, it was time for the stars of the show. When Godsmack took the stage, no holds were barred as they launched immediately into the anthemic “When Legends Rise”, followed by the punchy riffs of “Cryin’ Like a Bitch”. After that, they quite literally set the stage on fire with some impressive pyrotechnics to accompany their recent single “Soul on Fire,” which made for some extra special visuals. Godsmack have been releasing music and performing consistently for the past 25 years, and this set proved that Sully Erna and co. are not planning on slowing down any time soon as they brought out the kick-ass, in-your-face hard rock that Godsmack has become known for. Though their most recent release is their last, they aren’t planning on hanging it up just yet; instead they hope to keep touring and start putting together their “greatest hits” sets.
While their setlist skewed a bit more heavily toward their recent material, with about half of the set coming from 2018’s When Legends Rise and February’s Lighting Up The Sky, that didn’t make it rock any less. Plus, they still made sure to include older hits like “Voodoo”, “Whatever” and “Awake, among others, so there was something for all generations of Godsmack fans.
One of the most poignant moments of the set to me actually came when they slowed things down a bit toward the end of the set for “Under Your Scars”. A piano was brought out, and Sully sat in front of the keys talking about the importance of taking care of one’s mental health and how the song’s popularity allowed the band to start their own non-profit, The Scars Foundation, to help provide others with mental health resources. The song was also dedicated to the many rock icons who we’ve unfortunately lost in recent years due to mental illness, such as Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington, as well as those around us who may have been lost or are struggling, and the performance itself was beautiful and chilling. By this point in the night, a slight cooling breeze had picked up, and the entire venue had an air of calmness over it that I can’t easily describe, but moments like this are one of my favorite things about going to shows – just being able to experience a moving performance surrounded by others who are seeing the same show. We all may be moved differently based on what’s happening in our personal lives, but are able to come together and share a beautiful moment.
Throughout the day and into the night, every band on the bill had poured their hearts out on the stage to the sold-out crowd of nearly 7,000 people, and despite the heat, it was a wonderful show.
Godsmack will stay on the road through the end of the month with a mixture of radio festivals and shows supported by I Prevail and Austin Meade, as well as appearances at Welcome to Rockville and Sonic Temple festivals. Later in the summer, they will embark on a co-headliner with Staind across the U.S., culminating in appearances at Rocklahoma, Louder Than Life, and Aftershock in September/October. All upcoming tour dates and ticket links can be found on their website.