Walter Mencken 11 a.m., Nov. 27
- Community Blog
Tribute Band Groupies
What a phenomena. I’ve often marveled at the concept and attraction of tribute bands. But, it’s undeniably big business. As I sat there listening to Dust n’ Bones a couple weeks ago at the Pala Casino, I marveled at what compels a musician to want to pretend to be another performer? I’ve known a few musicians in my day and they aren’t the most humble profession I’ve encountered. Impersonating Elvis, I get. The whole he’s not really dead thing. I get that. But, really, did this Richard guy grow up wanting to be chisel cheeked Axl Rose? Like, that’s the best he could come up with?
Watching him undulate his hips and remove the stray hairs from his mouth, I had to laugh imaging the hours he must have spent in front of his full length mirror practicing Axl’s gestures and moves. Even the toothy smile. Hysterical.
What was even funnier though were the groupies with their cell phones held high in the air videotaping the performance as if it were really Guns n’ Roses on stage. You had Big White Man who basically stood in front of the stage with his hands shoved deep in his pockets, bobbing his head up and down while Young Hot Thang, presumably his girlfriend, enthusiastically if not rhythmically flailed herself all round him. Mr. Perv with his grey flat top kept running down to the dance floor to “bump” with HalterSkelter and the 6’3” Doublemint Sisters. And then, there was The Hat.
The Hat made my night. He could dance. I mean, this man had all the moves. He was firstly, all over the place. From one side of the dance floor to the other, skipping, reeling, jamming on his very own air guitar, grooving with a distinct style all his own.
Secondly, he was all about himself and totally in his own private jamfest. He had obviously taken some swing classes because he grabbed a woman, who may or may not have known him, and began to shuffle her around like a pro. Only, a pro on Coke, violently spinning and shoving her and I half expected to see her go crashing into the bar.
He took his hat off a few times, all part of his act. He’d put it back on again in rhythm with the music, flatting out the front brim as he pulled it low over his eyes then break out into a perfect spin straight out of the Thriller video.
All I could think is that these mealy fleshed double chinned balding wannabes had no aspirations other than to mimic their favorite childhood bands. And, heck, if you can’t afford the real thing, some of these spin offs provide an opportunity to pretend that you are experiencing the real thing. Perhaps I’m missing something immersed in my cynicism because it’s not like the authentic bands haven’t graduated members from tribute bands to replace the members who had quit.
In some cases, it’s the surviving members of a band who had the misfortune to lose its lead that form new bands, taking front men from their tributes. Weir and Lesh formed Furthur in this way and Dave Brock joined the big league when he left Wild Child to join the remaining Door’s members in Manzarek-Krieger. Joey Fatale of Mini Kiss, however, will never be able to fill Gene Simmon’s shoes in his wildest dreams.
Live and learn, live and learn. T'is good to know one still can at almost fifty.