Live Review: Mark Farner Opens Buffalo Chip Concerts at Sturgis

Published on August 1st, 2009

It was the first night of concerts at the Buffalo Chip Campground at Sturgis 2009, and a full line-up of true classic rock all stars was in store for the crowd who gathered to enjoy the atmosphere. Mark Farner, formerly of Grand Funk Railroad, took the stage for a unique set that was intertwined with that of three veterans of rock. Opening for the headline entertainment was a South Dakota original act – Kory and the Fireflies. Although the crowd was a bit hesitant to pack in near the stage, lead singer Kory Van Sickle tried his best throughout the band’s hour long performance to get the fans warmed up. With fifteen years together and five years at the Buffalo Chip, the Fireflies have become somewhat of a local entertainment fixture. For this performance, variety was key as a mix of rock and pop-oriented songs were drawn from four albums.

More bikes and people filtered in for the Classic Rock All Stars, who came on stage at 10:30. A supergroup of sorts, the All Stars are a unique blend of skilled and storied musicians who were members of and wrote songs for the likes of Sugarloaf, Alice Cooper, Iron Butterfly, Rare Earth, and Blues Image. There was no shortage of hits to be played, and the trio didn’t waste any time as drummer Peter Rivera broke into “Get Ready“, an uptempo track that put Rare Earth on the map. Immediately noticeable is the band’s energy and enthusiasm on stage when delivering these classic songs to some of the same people who bought the records years ago.

Guitarist Mike Pinera had a contagious smile on his face at all times as he played his own songs and the songs of his friends on stage alike. The infectious Sugarloaf hit “Don’t Call Us, We’ll Call You” kicked it into gear even further as evidenced by the sing-a-long crowd. Finishing out the first part of the set with two Alice Cooper songs, there was something for everyone to be heard during the show.

A unique one-night-only combination of musicians followed as guitarist and singer Mark Farner emerged on stage with his own bassist Lawrence Buckner, while keyboardist Jerry Corbetta and drummer Rivera remained to play through the very best of Farner’s Grand Funk hits. “The Loco-Motion” and “I’m Your Captain” echoed through the night and sounded fresh as Farner leaped around the stage and waved his fans on. He also made mention of the great atmosphere he encountered at the Buffalo Chip, and promised that this year’s rally would not be his last. Since departing from his Railroad bandmates in 1999, Farner has branded himself as a rock patriot and has even entered the realm of Christian Rock. With his long ponytail swinging wildly and his voice as strong as ever, there was a great spirit to his performance and it was the perfect start to an action packed week of concerts ahead.

Aerosmith, Lita Ford, George Thorogood, Billy Squier, Creedence Clearwater Revisited, Hinder, Buckcherry, and Tesla will all be taking the stage over the coming days as the Buffalo Chip Amphitheater welcomes what just might be a record crowd. Here you fill find the latest scoop on all the shows and even some behind the scenes coverage as some of the artists including Steven Tyler will be on site for several days before taking the stage. Be sure to check us out on Twitter for instant updates throughout the week, just head on over to

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  1. Posted by Larry on August 1st, 2009, 23:46 [Reply]

    Mark is an incredible performer and always delivers! His body of work in songs spans over 40 years and had 10 consecutive Platinum albums with Grand Funk.

  2. Posted by Chad Coppess on August 2nd, 2009, 17:31 [Reply]

    Looks like a great start to the Rally Matt. Nice job on all your reviews and photos. Hope to see you Wednesday night.

  3. Posted by Matt Becker on August 4th, 2009, 14:08 [Reply]

    Thanks Chad! Hope to see you tomorrow.

  4. Posted by Diane on August 4th, 2009, 22:23 [Reply]

    I was on Chad’s site and he wrote to come check out your site to catch up on the Sturgis Rally. I’ve never been, but I’m a HUGE Kory and the Fireflies fan, so I’m happy to see that you mentioned them in your blog. Kory and the Fireflies ROCK. I’m looking forward to seeing them next weekend.


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