rockford illinois entertainment guide
Date: 07/12/2007
Blue Oyster Cult Returns to Riverfest
by Gary Hill

Rockers Blue Oyster Cult (or BOC as they are often called) will be making a return to Beloit's Riverfest on the 13th - that's tomorrow for those checking their calendars. They are no stranger to the area, having brought their brand of guitar dominated hard rock to Riverfest a few years back and also having graced the Metro Centre stage (along with playing On the Waterfront and Young at Heart and the Speedway way back when). Anyone who enjoys killer hard rock with insightful (often science fiction oriented) lyrics will be well advised not to miss this one. It doesn't get much better than BOC.

Long Island gave birth to Blue Oyster Cult. The group released their first album in 1972, and while they were already generating a buzz with fans of hard rock it wouldn't be until their third album, 1974's Secret Treaties that things started to really catch on for BOC. The disc is considered by most to be a masterpiece and is regarded by many as one of the best hard rock discs of the 1970's.

Still, they had not reached anything close to the level to which they were destined to rise. Their next studio album (a double live disc came out in the interim) was Agents of Fortune. That disc boasted one of the most well-known rockers of the 1970's in "Don't Fear The Reaper." One of their biggest hits that track really set the stage for the ascension of Blue Oyster Cult to the ranks of the hard rock elite.

As time went on they garnered several more huge tracks including "Burnin' For You," "Godzilla" and "Joan Crawford." For my money, and many other critics' as well, their best track of all time, though, was "Astronomy." The epic piece featured an arrangement that combined dark and light, hard rocking and mellower into a cohesive masterwork that works every bit as well today as it did the day it was written. It is one of the strongest hard rock songs of all time in the view of this writer.

In any event, as good as their studio albums have always been, the live setting is truly where Blue Oyster Cult shines. While much of the big budget stage productions have fallen away over the years, the intensity of the performance and power of the music still put them in line as one of the strongest live bands out there. That analysis is bolstered by their motto of being "on tour forever." BOC is certainly one of the harder working bands out there. And, as they say, practice makes perfect. The proof is in the pudding as BOC's stage skills have been honed with thousands of performances over the years, making them consummate professionals of the live concert arena.

While their have been numerous personnel changes over the years, three men stand out as remaining core members of the group - a part of the journey from the start. The first of these is Eric Bloom. Bloom serves as lead singer, but seems not content to exist in such a limited role. Indeed, his guitar work is a big part of BOC's sound and he is often seen helping out on the keyboards. As a songwriter he's been responsible for crafting such BOC classics as "Black Blade" and "Veteran of the Psychic Wars."

Buck Dharma is in many ways the sound of Blue Oyster Cult. His unique guitar skills are well renowned in the world of hard rock, placing him well toward the top of the pack of guitar gods. He also brings his vocal talents to the fray in the band. His songwriting has been responsible for BOC powerhouses like "Don't Fear the Reaper" and "Burnin' For You." Buck Dharma is in many ways the man who has been behind the push towards the group continually seeking to push the envelope of their sound.  Their experimentation with music that often times leans toward progressive rock is largely due to his influence.

Allen Lanier has a dual role in BOC. He handles both guitar work and keyboards, bringing a high level of skill and artistry to both roles. While his stage presence might lead him to be a bit less prominent than Bloom or Dharma, his contributions to the band are no less important. He has been responsible for songs like "In Thee," and "Lonely Teardrops."

Together these guys are the longtime core of the band. They will (along with their newer bandmates) bring the show and power and drama that is Blue Oyster Cult to Riverfest. Long time fans of the group will no doubt be pleased. It's safe to bet that they'll gain some new fans in the process, too. When a band is as good as they are, you can't help but be blown away when you see them.

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Blue Oyster Cult
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