Music is a driving force in my life. My tastes are pretty varied, but good old ROCK & ROLL is where my heart drifts to most often. Portland, Oregon is fortunate to have a very vibrant and thriving music scene. Even better, this is perhaps becoming the Tribute Band capitol of the world!
Big Words? A bit of a boast? Perhaps, but I think it could be proven as a fact with very little work. Saturdaynight was just another example. Iconic Portland nightspot, Dante's located on Burnside hosted a show consisting of Grand Royale, (Beastie Boys) Shoot to Thrill, (AC/DC) and Unchained (Van Halen). A bit of a confession, when the Beastie Boys first hit the scene, I was so against anything "rap" related, that I refused to even give them a listen. Then I heard one of the best albums ever...Paul's Boutique.
Saturdaynight was my first time catching Grand Royale...it will NOT be the last. They were smokin' hot and had the act down cold. I have not had that much fun watching an opener in a long time, and I have a feeling they will be moving up on the venue slots before long. Jason Fellman told me about these guys a while ago, and he is (as usual) spot on with his assessment of the amazing talent. And how many other bands do you know that invite an audience member to come up and face them in a beer drinking challenge? Yep...probably just this one.
They nailed the hits and still pulled out a few of the non-pop gems. I would love to hear more from Paul's Boutique (High Plains Drifter comes to mind right away). This is a group that I think we will be adding to our "must see" list any chance we can. They even let me sing along on No Sleep 'til Brooklyn. That was kinda fun.
Shoot to Thrill was second to hit the stage in this 4 hour music extravaganza. This is the premier AC/DC tribute band in Portland, Oregon, and perhaps beyond. They cover both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson eras. Evan is the voice and ever-improving front man for this group and has the showman chops of somebody much older. He has even worked in wearing the very recognizable Brian Johnson cap during songs from that part of the band's catalog. (You're welcome , Evan...I was the one who spotted it under the drum riser after the show and gave it to one of Jason's crew to return to you. It looks better on you than it ever would on me anyway.)
This band is perhaps one of the tightest musically with a very solid backing band that drives a fierce hard rock engine. They play a great set and own the stage from start to finish. They have a very loyal fan base and once you catch them, you will see why.
This is a band that puts a lot of energy into their shows. They pull off many of the signature show highlights from AC/DC's stage shows when they have room. The small stage at Dante's is fun because you are almost certain there will be a massive collision. One more thing of note, this is a band that features a father-son combo. Evan's dad is Angus. Very cool.
Closing the show was one of my personal favorites. Unchained tosses the audience into a time machine and shoots them back to the early 80s when Van Halen ruled the world of rock. They have the swagger and the personalities of the original four young punks from Santa Monica without some of the drawbacks of the old days like Diamond Dave's propensity for forgetting the lyrics or being too drunk to understand.
If I could win guitar lessons from one person in the Portland Tribute scene, it would be a toss up between guitar iron man Dan Bates or Brad "Shreddy Van Halen" Halleck, DDS. (Yeah...probably the coolest dentist in the entire world!) If you remember the old VH videos, Eddie always had a smile on his face. Brad shows off that very same grin throughout the show and just manages to look so damn cool the whole time. He is a reminder of why we all wanted to be Eddie when we were growing up, the big difference is that he gets to play him on stage with amazing effect.
By the time the show ended, Dante's was sweltering and the only cool thing in the place were the members of the three bands that gave one helluva show. If you missed it, then I suggest that you get your tickets to Harefest V. (They go on sale today, just an FYI.)
Here is the lineup:
Fri July 17
Appetite for DeceptionGuns 'N' Roses
Crazy TrainOzzy Osbourne
Sat July 18