Anchor ads are not supported on this page.

4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs

San Diego Reader 2024 Music & Arts Issue

Favorite fakers: Baby Bushka, Fleetwood Max, Electric Waste Band, Oceans, Geezer – plus upcoming tribute schedule

Oceans is a Pearl Jam tribute band. The only songs outside of Pearl Jam they’ll play are tracks that have been covered by Pearl Jam.
Oceans is a Pearl Jam tribute band. The only songs outside of Pearl Jam they’ll play are tracks that have been covered by Pearl Jam.

Some musicians see forming a tribute group as a way to get into the music industry. Copping someone else’s successful act may seem their only chance at earning a bit of applause, adulation, and — ultimately — affirmation, however secondhand. Sometimes, the result is a jaded, uninspired cash grab, while others actually endeavor to recreate music they truly love. The Reader music writers have been catching up on local tribute acts. Here are a few of our favorite fakers.


That Woman’s Work

A lot of people laughed at the 2001 film Rock Star when Mark Wahlberg went from fronting a tribute band to heading up the “real” Steel Dragon. But that actually happened to the singer of Roundabout, a San Diego Yes tribute, when their frontman Jon Davison was tapped to replace Yes vocalist Jon Anderson.

Sometimes, wearing someone else’s fame can lead to a brush with the famous. Founding member of The Cure Lol Tolhurst once sat in with San Diego’s The Cured during a 2008 set at LA’s Gibson Amphitheatre. The locals of Geezer were invited onstage at Cox Arena with the real-life Weezer, Steve Perry sang with a Journey cover band in Point Loma, one-time North County resident Ace Frehley jumped onto the Casbah stage with a Kiss tribute band, and one night, a local Bauhaus tribute was joined during a Casbah concert by Bauhaus bassist David J, another occasional San Diegan.

But how often have you heard someone say a tribute act is even better than the real thing? That’s what I’m here to tell you about our local Kate Bush tribute act, Baby Bushka. Their debut Kate Bush Dance party at the Casbah in December 2017 was such a success that they parlayed the resulting press into a crowdfunded two-week tour through the U.K. and Ireland. Their first gig in London, England was attended by none other than Kate Bush’s longtime bassist and partner Del Palmer.

Tribute bands tend to pay homage to long-gone acts, rather than still-extant groups who might compete for ticket sales, but Bush performs so rarely that few are likely to have caught her in concert. (Particularly in America, thanks to the UK superstar’s well-chronicled fear of flying.) More’s the pity, since Bush’s operatic brand of theatrical prog-pop is so well suited for stage presentations.

And, make no mistake, the women of Baby Bushka are all about stage presentations. For one thing, they don’t just strive to re-create the exact sounds of long-available studio albums. Instead, their utter re-arrangements bring a contemporary feel even to songs punctuated by ancient instruments. The harmonies, which tend to be understated when multi-tracked on Bush’s recordings, sound far more like an angelic choir when sung live by multiple voices, nearly qualifying the vocals themselves as individual arrangements.

They even play with semi-original arrangements, loosely inspired by Bush and mashed up with other favored influences, such as the online video floating around with Bushka members rearranging the song “Hounds of Love” using the poetry of Francis Thompson’s “Hound of Heaven,” the vocal accompanied only by piano and violin. In that same artistically inspired urge to expand and experiment, their Patreon even has custom-created paper dolls.

Baby Bushka’s February showcase at the Music Box in Little Italy reminded San Diego just what a powerhouse live act we’re lucky enough to occasionally enjoy. The band is reportedly recording an album, as well as booking and planning a UK and Irish tour for September and October.

-Jay Allen Sanford

Faking Fleetwood

The last time I was at East County’s Navajo Live, I caught a two-fer of Rush cover bands. It was on this occasion that I learned the danger of booking multiple Rush tributes on a single bill: breaking down one gargantuan Neil Peart-sized drum kit takes an eternity, as does setting up a new one. All I was hoping for was that there wouldn’t be a massive, music-free dead zone in the middle of the show.

This time around, it was Fleetwood Max, a tribute to the British-American rock band Fleetwood…what was it again? Maxwell? Maximum? Cinemax? Mac? Yes, Fleetwood Mac was the band that made Stevie Nicks a household name and sold over forty million copies of their 1977 Rumours LP worldwide. Long story short, they are a known entity on the popular music front. As such, when I arrived at Navajo Live on a late February Saturday night to catch Fleetwood Max, I was lucky to have purchased a ticket beforehand, because – like their Fleetwood Mac counterparts – they can apparently sell out gigs, no problem.

The band started promptly at 8:30 and immediately got going with a crowd-pleaser, “The Chain,” off the aforementioned Rumours album. The audience was into it from the start, with the venue packed and the floor already crammed with attendees getting their dance on. Navajo Live was a fun space to catch the band, because they seemed to be feeding off the raucous energy pouring out of the crowd. Perhaps they are accustomed to playing slightly more refined venues, such as the Belly Up or the House of Blues, and for tamer audiences.

Navajo Live is a straight-up dive, with a stage akin to those found Casbah or Brick by Brick, and most of those in attendance seemed as if they weren’t shying away from the booze. In fact, I quickly realized how undeniably weird it felt being a quite sober person in a room full of primarily 50-and over-adults, who are getting wasted while watching a Fleetwood Mac cover band.

Adding to the weirdness was the fact that I’m no Fleetwood Mac superfan. I know the hits and have some clear-cut faves (such as the Christine McVie-penned eighties pop-nugget “Hold Me,” which the band tackled early in the night), but there were numerous instances where I simply didn’t know the songs. But, like any pro tribute act, they knew to intersperse the deeper cuts with the radio singles. You satisfy the hardcore fans while dishing out enough of the greatest hits to keep the casual listeners from jumping ship. All the players were obviously pros as well — even the substitute lead guitarist for the evening was a total ringer. The real standout though (similar to the actual Fleetwood Mac) was the band’s resident Stevie Nicks, Barbara Valente. Valente had a comfort and command of the stage that seemed not only fitting, but essential for a tribute like this to work.

One could even use the actual Fleetwood Mac as an example of how a band needs a star. They did okay from 1967-1974, but it wasn’t until Lindsey Buckingham joined the fold and brought Stevie Nicks along with him that they really took off. For the devout Fleetwood Mac fans at Navajo Live on this evening, the performance hinged not only on faithful interpretations of the songs, but on a magical Stevie Nicks experience as well.

-Dryw Keltz

The altar of the Dead

The Grateful Dead have been a major part of my musical palate since I was nineteen years old. My deep affinity for them began in 2014 while I was recovering from two strokes. I lost the ability to talk, read, write, and — worse — play guitar. One day during my recovery, I was listening to the Dead while lying on my couch. I found I could literally see the sounds and patterns. Next thing you know, I was relearning how to play guitar from the Grateful Dead.

All the while, the local players of the Electric Waste Band continued to keep the torch going by playing the sounds of the Dead and Jerry Garcia. They exhumed all the spirits of Pigpen, Keith Godchaux, and Brent Mydland. Accelerate to March 2 at the Aquarius. On my Lyft ride there, one of the recent downpours started. In my mind, it was going to be sunshine at the Aquarius. As if God was going to shine the sun on the jetty. That was not the case. It was raining just as hard when I arrived.

I and others opted to stay inside by the bar to keep our bones dry and whistles wet. The rain subsided, so I went out front to say hi to the Aquarius’ doorman. We put our collective energy together to put a halt to the rain. That was the consensus with all the other show-goers. God had heard us and obliged.

The local players of the Electric Waste Band make a wall of sound. They’ve been playing together for so long that they all know where they’re going and the exact notes to hit.

Heads started sprinkling in as the four EWB members were getting ready to play: Robert Harvey guitar and vocals, Ed Fletcher on drums and vocals, Eric Gabriel on keyboards, and Bob Rosencrans on bass and vocals. They started into “Touch of Grey,” but the band wasn’t quite ready to play yet, with Harvey announcing “Can’t start with that one.” They opened instead with “Bertha.” The count was nine “Anymores,” and then they got “Touch of Grey” done the right way.

All four of them make a wall of sound. They’ve been playing together for so long that they all know where they’re going and the exact notes to hit. They end their songs like a gymnast making a perfect dismount. I didn’t cry this time when they played “Black Muddy River,” even though it’s a tearjerker. They did a joyous version of “Sweet Virginia” by the Rolling Stones. An Electric Waste Band show is a revival, a congregation of a community, and beyond that, a religious experience.

-Gabriel Garcia

Oceans of Pearl Jam

The Navy brought me to San Diego first. Then it took me to Washington State, where I would serve most of my little four-year-stint as a sailor. I pined for San Diego, but I found a certain comfort in knowing I was near Seattle’s grungy musical ghosts. Uncle Sam had different plans for me. I didn’t protest. I knew I’d ultimately end up in San Diego, but before I could, a stop to the Pacific Northwest was in order. When the Pearl Jam cover band Oceans recently announced they’d be playing a show at the VFW in Lakeside, it made all the sense to attend, paying my own tribute.

Oceans graciously agreed to play a two-hour set to raise money for the East County post. While looking for the doors to the entrance of the VFW, we could hear “Even Flow” playing from the inside. The “yarler” vocals matched Eddie Ved-der’s pretty damn closely Meanwhile, the dirty guitar riffs were nailed down tightly by the band’s guitarists, solos included.

Entering the VFW, I expected to walk into a flannel-filled house. Following a few Pearl Jam hitters, the tribute act busted out a keyboard. I wondered what they had planned for it, until the opening for “Teenage Wasteland” started. Did they break the tribute band rules by using a Who song? Then a couple of Neil Young songs slipped into the mix.

Later, I caught up with one of the band guitarists. He told me the only songs outside of Pearl Jam they’ll play are tracks that have been covered by Pearl Jam. A cover of a cover, if you will. Noting this, “Rockin’ in the Free World” kicked ass and brought the steak eaters to their feet.

-Jake Peterson

They’re Not a Tribute Band

“We’re not a tribute band.” I can’t really say for certain if Geezer’s musical declaration annoys me or permeates my knee-jerk dismissal of tribute bands. It’s my shit, having performed in a Black Sabbath tribute band and briefly riding a weird wave of notoriety for being able to perform someone else’s songs, despite bringing nothing original to music. Had the dipshits that were my bandmates been capable of realizing that they were not a legendary English band who became the architects of heavy metal, I might still be doing it. It was a few steps above pretending I was KISS frontman Paul Stanley when I was a kid, because I had a musical instrument instead of a baseball bat and, occasionally, I got paid.

So when I caught wind of a group of accomplished San Diego musicians (Adam Gimbel of Blasphemous Guitars and Rookie Card, Zachary Goode of Ghoulspoon and Smash Mouth, Dylan Martinez of Mission to Mars and Static Halo, Nas Helewa of Down With Leo) performing Weezer earworms through a senior citizen filter, my eyes rolled so far back in my head I saw my own brain. But curiosity got the better of me.

My initial response of “what the fuck” as they launched into a jazzy version of “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)” turned into a smirk as I strained to catch the lyrics, to hear any changes, which I didn’t detect. It was an “aha” moment for me: I think the band got the sarcasm behind the Beastie Boys song that thick-headed frat boys completely missed as they turned an insult into an anthem. But it was the next song that sealed the deal for me as they launched into “War Pigs” by my beloved Black Sabbath. There was no distortion on the guitars, which simultaneously stripped the song down and morphed it into a borderline easy listening ditty. The confrontational lyrics about warmongering politicians were replaced with words about…coupon clipping? Yep, I heard that right.

I sang “Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses/ Evil minds that plot destruction, sorcerers of death’s construction.” The band was singing “Geezers gathered in their masses, clipping coupons and free passes. Saving money out of habit, keeping kosher at Black Sabbath.” Fuck it, I was hooked, and while I don’t need to explain why — this was music, not math — my analytical brain demanded an answer.

Fleetwood Max provides a magical Stevie Nicks experience.

It came quickly. Geezer takes the piss out of self-important pseudo doppelgangers by not taking themselves seriously, eschewing the idol worship for amusement delivered with a straight face on par with the best Monty Python sketches. Singing “Mission Hills” to the tune of Weezer’s “Beverly Hills” scores bonus points. But it’s not all snark, as their flawless version of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” shows Billy Gibbons’ solos reproduced faithfully.

The compare and contrast provided a visceral recollection for me. I was once supporting some friends at a Battle of the Bands, which featured many tribute bands. A member of a Rolling Stones band in full character began talking to me in a shitty English accent. As it turned out, his band wasn’t even playing that night. He was just there doing a horrid imitation of Mr. Richards. I laughed at him and he became offended, oblivious to what a joke it all was. With Geezer, we’re all in on the joke. And as an added bonus, they may have some Werther’s candy in their pockets.

-Spike Steffenhagen

Bonus: Sgt. Tiki’s Fifteen Favored Fakers playing San Diego this spring and summer

Super Diamond at the Belly Up

Sponsored
Sponsored

April 5 and 6

Formed in 1993, the San Francisco-based Neil Diamond tribute band Super Diamond once appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and has played the Belly Up over a hundred times, proving popular enough to host a two-night stand.

Jimmy’s Buffet at the Grand-Ritz Theater

April 12

Although Margaritaville is reportedly closing its doors, the parrothead party never stops for fans of Jimmy Buffett’s soft island rock, as evidenced by the busy touring schedule of this tribute act fronted by Chris Maddox. Extant for over ten years, their shows feature live congas and steel drums.

Santana Soul at Aquarius Bar & Grille

April 19

One of several local Santana tributes (there’s also SantanaWays, Santana Brothers, and The Carlos Santana Experience), Santana Soul brings the Tijuana guitar star’s music to local stages several times each month, having been extant for nearly a decade.

Hotel California at Balboa Theatre

April 27

Based in Southern California and born along the same canyons and beaches that inspired the Eagles, Hotel California plays music from throughout that band’s career, as well as covering solo tracks by various members including Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Joe Walsh.

Queen Nation at Epstein Family Amphitheatre

April 27

Founded in Los Angeles circa 2004, Queen Nation is fronted by Freddie Mercury look-alike and sound-alike Gregory Finsley, who has been known to perform selections from Mercury’s brief solo catalog, including his foray into classical music.

So Good at Moonlight Amphitheatre

May 24

Founded by onetime Broadway actor Robert Neary and the subject of a documentary film, the Neil Diamond tribute So Good takes its name from a lyric in one of Diamond’s most popular sing-alongs, “Sweet Caroline.”

In The End at House of Blues

June 7

Yet another Los Angeles based doppelganger act, In The End pays homage to Linkin Park and the memory of their late singer Chester Bennington, who did a stint before he died with San Diego hometown heroes Stone Temple Pilots.

Maybe I’m Amazed at Music Box

June 9

Paul McCartney tribute band Maybe I’m Amazed is known for bringing in well-known guest musicians to gigs, including many known from the orbits of actual Beatles. For this Little Italy event, former Wings member Laurence Juber will join the group to perform songs from the Wings album Back to the Egg.

Chest Fever at the Casbah

June 16

Featuring members of local Americana rockers Mrs. Henry, Chest Fever pays tribute to the music of Bob Dylan’s onetime backing group The Band. Their name comes from a song on the group’s 1968 debut Music From Big Pink, which Chest Fever has been known to play in its entirety.

The Steely Damned 2 at the Belly Up

June 18

The Steely Damned 2 is a local Steely Dan tribute band (duh) featuring guitarist Hank Easton, as well as Four Eyes guitarist Marc Decerbo, and several other area players. Easton frequently performs a jaw-dropping medley reproducing the guitar solos from several Steely Dan guitarists, including Larry Carlton, Denny Diaz, Elliott Randall, Rick Derringer, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

ABBA Mania at Moonlight Amphitheatre

June 27

Swedish hitmakers ABBA made such meticulous pop music in the recording studio that their songs are difficult to reproduce live, something that doesn’t seem to be a problem for ABBA Mania, which has been around for over 20 years now. In addition to doing all vocals and instrumentation live, the band offers elaborate staging, dancing, lighting, and concert effects.

Jason Scheff & Chicago Nights at Moonlight Amphitheatre

June 28

A native San Diegan and graduate of Point Loma High, Jason Scheff got his local start with bands like the People Movers and M&Ms. His father Jerry Scheff was a studio bassist who played for Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and the Doors. Later becoming the longtime singer for the real Chicago, Scheff will lead this tribute to the horn-heavy hitmakers.

GayC/DC at Brick By Brick

June 29

LA group GayC/DC pays lighthearted homage to the Australian hard rockers by billing themselves as that band’s only all-gay tribute. Much like local mashup The Spice Pistols, the band has been known to change up on lyrics and fold in tracks from other performers, all while poking gentle fun at how drag-like rock and roll can be.

The Australian Pink Floyd Show at Humphreys

August 10 and 11

Having sold over five million tickets to concerts that have taken place in 35 countries, The Australian Pink Floyd Show was formed in 1988 in Adelaide, South Australia. The group specializes in reproducing the same sort of projections, lasers, light, surround-sound, and giant inflatables that the iconic British progressive act became known for in its later years.

ZOSO at Music Box

August 22

Calling itself The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience (no relation to Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, fronted by the son of Zeppelin’s late drummer), ZOSO was formed in the mid-1990s and has played over 4,5000 concerts. The band attempts to recreate both the look and sound of 1970s-era Zeppelin, attracting its own following as one of the most frequently-booked tribute acts in the U.S.


Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Bluefin disappear but should soon return – Good yellowtail bite down south

Lake level lowered at Lake Jennings for repairs
Next Article

Tár is a waste of time

The only great classical music movie is Amadeus
Oceans is a Pearl Jam tribute band. The only songs outside of Pearl Jam they’ll play are tracks that have been covered by Pearl Jam.
Oceans is a Pearl Jam tribute band. The only songs outside of Pearl Jam they’ll play are tracks that have been covered by Pearl Jam.

Some musicians see forming a tribute group as a way to get into the music industry. Copping someone else’s successful act may seem their only chance at earning a bit of applause, adulation, and — ultimately — affirmation, however secondhand. Sometimes, the result is a jaded, uninspired cash grab, while others actually endeavor to recreate music they truly love. The Reader music writers have been catching up on local tribute acts. Here are a few of our favorite fakers.


That Woman’s Work

A lot of people laughed at the 2001 film Rock Star when Mark Wahlberg went from fronting a tribute band to heading up the “real” Steel Dragon. But that actually happened to the singer of Roundabout, a San Diego Yes tribute, when their frontman Jon Davison was tapped to replace Yes vocalist Jon Anderson.

Sometimes, wearing someone else’s fame can lead to a brush with the famous. Founding member of The Cure Lol Tolhurst once sat in with San Diego’s The Cured during a 2008 set at LA’s Gibson Amphitheatre. The locals of Geezer were invited onstage at Cox Arena with the real-life Weezer, Steve Perry sang with a Journey cover band in Point Loma, one-time North County resident Ace Frehley jumped onto the Casbah stage with a Kiss tribute band, and one night, a local Bauhaus tribute was joined during a Casbah concert by Bauhaus bassist David J, another occasional San Diegan.

But how often have you heard someone say a tribute act is even better than the real thing? That’s what I’m here to tell you about our local Kate Bush tribute act, Baby Bushka. Their debut Kate Bush Dance party at the Casbah in December 2017 was such a success that they parlayed the resulting press into a crowdfunded two-week tour through the U.K. and Ireland. Their first gig in London, England was attended by none other than Kate Bush’s longtime bassist and partner Del Palmer.

Tribute bands tend to pay homage to long-gone acts, rather than still-extant groups who might compete for ticket sales, but Bush performs so rarely that few are likely to have caught her in concert. (Particularly in America, thanks to the UK superstar’s well-chronicled fear of flying.) More’s the pity, since Bush’s operatic brand of theatrical prog-pop is so well suited for stage presentations.

And, make no mistake, the women of Baby Bushka are all about stage presentations. For one thing, they don’t just strive to re-create the exact sounds of long-available studio albums. Instead, their utter re-arrangements bring a contemporary feel even to songs punctuated by ancient instruments. The harmonies, which tend to be understated when multi-tracked on Bush’s recordings, sound far more like an angelic choir when sung live by multiple voices, nearly qualifying the vocals themselves as individual arrangements.

They even play with semi-original arrangements, loosely inspired by Bush and mashed up with other favored influences, such as the online video floating around with Bushka members rearranging the song “Hounds of Love” using the poetry of Francis Thompson’s “Hound of Heaven,” the vocal accompanied only by piano and violin. In that same artistically inspired urge to expand and experiment, their Patreon even has custom-created paper dolls.

Baby Bushka’s February showcase at the Music Box in Little Italy reminded San Diego just what a powerhouse live act we’re lucky enough to occasionally enjoy. The band is reportedly recording an album, as well as booking and planning a UK and Irish tour for September and October.

-Jay Allen Sanford

Faking Fleetwood

The last time I was at East County’s Navajo Live, I caught a two-fer of Rush cover bands. It was on this occasion that I learned the danger of booking multiple Rush tributes on a single bill: breaking down one gargantuan Neil Peart-sized drum kit takes an eternity, as does setting up a new one. All I was hoping for was that there wouldn’t be a massive, music-free dead zone in the middle of the show.

This time around, it was Fleetwood Max, a tribute to the British-American rock band Fleetwood…what was it again? Maxwell? Maximum? Cinemax? Mac? Yes, Fleetwood Mac was the band that made Stevie Nicks a household name and sold over forty million copies of their 1977 Rumours LP worldwide. Long story short, they are a known entity on the popular music front. As such, when I arrived at Navajo Live on a late February Saturday night to catch Fleetwood Max, I was lucky to have purchased a ticket beforehand, because – like their Fleetwood Mac counterparts – they can apparently sell out gigs, no problem.

The band started promptly at 8:30 and immediately got going with a crowd-pleaser, “The Chain,” off the aforementioned Rumours album. The audience was into it from the start, with the venue packed and the floor already crammed with attendees getting their dance on. Navajo Live was a fun space to catch the band, because they seemed to be feeding off the raucous energy pouring out of the crowd. Perhaps they are accustomed to playing slightly more refined venues, such as the Belly Up or the House of Blues, and for tamer audiences.

Navajo Live is a straight-up dive, with a stage akin to those found Casbah or Brick by Brick, and most of those in attendance seemed as if they weren’t shying away from the booze. In fact, I quickly realized how undeniably weird it felt being a quite sober person in a room full of primarily 50-and over-adults, who are getting wasted while watching a Fleetwood Mac cover band.

Adding to the weirdness was the fact that I’m no Fleetwood Mac superfan. I know the hits and have some clear-cut faves (such as the Christine McVie-penned eighties pop-nugget “Hold Me,” which the band tackled early in the night), but there were numerous instances where I simply didn’t know the songs. But, like any pro tribute act, they knew to intersperse the deeper cuts with the radio singles. You satisfy the hardcore fans while dishing out enough of the greatest hits to keep the casual listeners from jumping ship. All the players were obviously pros as well — even the substitute lead guitarist for the evening was a total ringer. The real standout though (similar to the actual Fleetwood Mac) was the band’s resident Stevie Nicks, Barbara Valente. Valente had a comfort and command of the stage that seemed not only fitting, but essential for a tribute like this to work.

One could even use the actual Fleetwood Mac as an example of how a band needs a star. They did okay from 1967-1974, but it wasn’t until Lindsey Buckingham joined the fold and brought Stevie Nicks along with him that they really took off. For the devout Fleetwood Mac fans at Navajo Live on this evening, the performance hinged not only on faithful interpretations of the songs, but on a magical Stevie Nicks experience as well.

-Dryw Keltz

The altar of the Dead

The Grateful Dead have been a major part of my musical palate since I was nineteen years old. My deep affinity for them began in 2014 while I was recovering from two strokes. I lost the ability to talk, read, write, and — worse — play guitar. One day during my recovery, I was listening to the Dead while lying on my couch. I found I could literally see the sounds and patterns. Next thing you know, I was relearning how to play guitar from the Grateful Dead.

All the while, the local players of the Electric Waste Band continued to keep the torch going by playing the sounds of the Dead and Jerry Garcia. They exhumed all the spirits of Pigpen, Keith Godchaux, and Brent Mydland. Accelerate to March 2 at the Aquarius. On my Lyft ride there, one of the recent downpours started. In my mind, it was going to be sunshine at the Aquarius. As if God was going to shine the sun on the jetty. That was not the case. It was raining just as hard when I arrived.

I and others opted to stay inside by the bar to keep our bones dry and whistles wet. The rain subsided, so I went out front to say hi to the Aquarius’ doorman. We put our collective energy together to put a halt to the rain. That was the consensus with all the other show-goers. God had heard us and obliged.

The local players of the Electric Waste Band make a wall of sound. They’ve been playing together for so long that they all know where they’re going and the exact notes to hit.

Heads started sprinkling in as the four EWB members were getting ready to play: Robert Harvey guitar and vocals, Ed Fletcher on drums and vocals, Eric Gabriel on keyboards, and Bob Rosencrans on bass and vocals. They started into “Touch of Grey,” but the band wasn’t quite ready to play yet, with Harvey announcing “Can’t start with that one.” They opened instead with “Bertha.” The count was nine “Anymores,” and then they got “Touch of Grey” done the right way.

All four of them make a wall of sound. They’ve been playing together for so long that they all know where they’re going and the exact notes to hit. They end their songs like a gymnast making a perfect dismount. I didn’t cry this time when they played “Black Muddy River,” even though it’s a tearjerker. They did a joyous version of “Sweet Virginia” by the Rolling Stones. An Electric Waste Band show is a revival, a congregation of a community, and beyond that, a religious experience.

-Gabriel Garcia

Oceans of Pearl Jam

The Navy brought me to San Diego first. Then it took me to Washington State, where I would serve most of my little four-year-stint as a sailor. I pined for San Diego, but I found a certain comfort in knowing I was near Seattle’s grungy musical ghosts. Uncle Sam had different plans for me. I didn’t protest. I knew I’d ultimately end up in San Diego, but before I could, a stop to the Pacific Northwest was in order. When the Pearl Jam cover band Oceans recently announced they’d be playing a show at the VFW in Lakeside, it made all the sense to attend, paying my own tribute.

Oceans graciously agreed to play a two-hour set to raise money for the East County post. While looking for the doors to the entrance of the VFW, we could hear “Even Flow” playing from the inside. The “yarler” vocals matched Eddie Ved-der’s pretty damn closely Meanwhile, the dirty guitar riffs were nailed down tightly by the band’s guitarists, solos included.

Entering the VFW, I expected to walk into a flannel-filled house. Following a few Pearl Jam hitters, the tribute act busted out a keyboard. I wondered what they had planned for it, until the opening for “Teenage Wasteland” started. Did they break the tribute band rules by using a Who song? Then a couple of Neil Young songs slipped into the mix.

Later, I caught up with one of the band guitarists. He told me the only songs outside of Pearl Jam they’ll play are tracks that have been covered by Pearl Jam. A cover of a cover, if you will. Noting this, “Rockin’ in the Free World” kicked ass and brought the steak eaters to their feet.

-Jake Peterson

They’re Not a Tribute Band

“We’re not a tribute band.” I can’t really say for certain if Geezer’s musical declaration annoys me or permeates my knee-jerk dismissal of tribute bands. It’s my shit, having performed in a Black Sabbath tribute band and briefly riding a weird wave of notoriety for being able to perform someone else’s songs, despite bringing nothing original to music. Had the dipshits that were my bandmates been capable of realizing that they were not a legendary English band who became the architects of heavy metal, I might still be doing it. It was a few steps above pretending I was KISS frontman Paul Stanley when I was a kid, because I had a musical instrument instead of a baseball bat and, occasionally, I got paid.

So when I caught wind of a group of accomplished San Diego musicians (Adam Gimbel of Blasphemous Guitars and Rookie Card, Zachary Goode of Ghoulspoon and Smash Mouth, Dylan Martinez of Mission to Mars and Static Halo, Nas Helewa of Down With Leo) performing Weezer earworms through a senior citizen filter, my eyes rolled so far back in my head I saw my own brain. But curiosity got the better of me.

My initial response of “what the fuck” as they launched into a jazzy version of “(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party)” turned into a smirk as I strained to catch the lyrics, to hear any changes, which I didn’t detect. It was an “aha” moment for me: I think the band got the sarcasm behind the Beastie Boys song that thick-headed frat boys completely missed as they turned an insult into an anthem. But it was the next song that sealed the deal for me as they launched into “War Pigs” by my beloved Black Sabbath. There was no distortion on the guitars, which simultaneously stripped the song down and morphed it into a borderline easy listening ditty. The confrontational lyrics about warmongering politicians were replaced with words about…coupon clipping? Yep, I heard that right.

I sang “Generals gathered in their masses, just like witches at black masses/ Evil minds that plot destruction, sorcerers of death’s construction.” The band was singing “Geezers gathered in their masses, clipping coupons and free passes. Saving money out of habit, keeping kosher at Black Sabbath.” Fuck it, I was hooked, and while I don’t need to explain why — this was music, not math — my analytical brain demanded an answer.

Fleetwood Max provides a magical Stevie Nicks experience.

It came quickly. Geezer takes the piss out of self-important pseudo doppelgangers by not taking themselves seriously, eschewing the idol worship for amusement delivered with a straight face on par with the best Monty Python sketches. Singing “Mission Hills” to the tune of Weezer’s “Beverly Hills” scores bonus points. But it’s not all snark, as their flawless version of ZZ Top’s “La Grange” shows Billy Gibbons’ solos reproduced faithfully.

The compare and contrast provided a visceral recollection for me. I was once supporting some friends at a Battle of the Bands, which featured many tribute bands. A member of a Rolling Stones band in full character began talking to me in a shitty English accent. As it turned out, his band wasn’t even playing that night. He was just there doing a horrid imitation of Mr. Richards. I laughed at him and he became offended, oblivious to what a joke it all was. With Geezer, we’re all in on the joke. And as an added bonus, they may have some Werther’s candy in their pockets.

-Spike Steffenhagen

Bonus: Sgt. Tiki’s Fifteen Favored Fakers playing San Diego this spring and summer

Super Diamond at the Belly Up

Sponsored
Sponsored

April 5 and 6

Formed in 1993, the San Francisco-based Neil Diamond tribute band Super Diamond once appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman and has played the Belly Up over a hundred times, proving popular enough to host a two-night stand.

Jimmy’s Buffet at the Grand-Ritz Theater

April 12

Although Margaritaville is reportedly closing its doors, the parrothead party never stops for fans of Jimmy Buffett’s soft island rock, as evidenced by the busy touring schedule of this tribute act fronted by Chris Maddox. Extant for over ten years, their shows feature live congas and steel drums.

Santana Soul at Aquarius Bar & Grille

April 19

One of several local Santana tributes (there’s also SantanaWays, Santana Brothers, and The Carlos Santana Experience), Santana Soul brings the Tijuana guitar star’s music to local stages several times each month, having been extant for nearly a decade.

Hotel California at Balboa Theatre

April 27

Based in Southern California and born along the same canyons and beaches that inspired the Eagles, Hotel California plays music from throughout that band’s career, as well as covering solo tracks by various members including Don Henley, Glenn Frey, and Joe Walsh.

Queen Nation at Epstein Family Amphitheatre

April 27

Founded in Los Angeles circa 2004, Queen Nation is fronted by Freddie Mercury look-alike and sound-alike Gregory Finsley, who has been known to perform selections from Mercury’s brief solo catalog, including his foray into classical music.

So Good at Moonlight Amphitheatre

May 24

Founded by onetime Broadway actor Robert Neary and the subject of a documentary film, the Neil Diamond tribute So Good takes its name from a lyric in one of Diamond’s most popular sing-alongs, “Sweet Caroline.”

In The End at House of Blues

June 7

Yet another Los Angeles based doppelganger act, In The End pays homage to Linkin Park and the memory of their late singer Chester Bennington, who did a stint before he died with San Diego hometown heroes Stone Temple Pilots.

Maybe I’m Amazed at Music Box

June 9

Paul McCartney tribute band Maybe I’m Amazed is known for bringing in well-known guest musicians to gigs, including many known from the orbits of actual Beatles. For this Little Italy event, former Wings member Laurence Juber will join the group to perform songs from the Wings album Back to the Egg.

Chest Fever at the Casbah

June 16

Featuring members of local Americana rockers Mrs. Henry, Chest Fever pays tribute to the music of Bob Dylan’s onetime backing group The Band. Their name comes from a song on the group’s 1968 debut Music From Big Pink, which Chest Fever has been known to play in its entirety.

The Steely Damned 2 at the Belly Up

June 18

The Steely Damned 2 is a local Steely Dan tribute band (duh) featuring guitarist Hank Easton, as well as Four Eyes guitarist Marc Decerbo, and several other area players. Easton frequently performs a jaw-dropping medley reproducing the guitar solos from several Steely Dan guitarists, including Larry Carlton, Denny Diaz, Elliott Randall, Rick Derringer, and Jeff “Skunk” Baxter.

ABBA Mania at Moonlight Amphitheatre

June 27

Swedish hitmakers ABBA made such meticulous pop music in the recording studio that their songs are difficult to reproduce live, something that doesn’t seem to be a problem for ABBA Mania, which has been around for over 20 years now. In addition to doing all vocals and instrumentation live, the band offers elaborate staging, dancing, lighting, and concert effects.

Jason Scheff & Chicago Nights at Moonlight Amphitheatre

June 28

A native San Diegan and graduate of Point Loma High, Jason Scheff got his local start with bands like the People Movers and M&Ms. His father Jerry Scheff was a studio bassist who played for Bob Dylan, Elvis Presley, and the Doors. Later becoming the longtime singer for the real Chicago, Scheff will lead this tribute to the horn-heavy hitmakers.

GayC/DC at Brick By Brick

June 29

LA group GayC/DC pays lighthearted homage to the Australian hard rockers by billing themselves as that band’s only all-gay tribute. Much like local mashup The Spice Pistols, the band has been known to change up on lyrics and fold in tracks from other performers, all while poking gentle fun at how drag-like rock and roll can be.

The Australian Pink Floyd Show at Humphreys

August 10 and 11

Having sold over five million tickets to concerts that have taken place in 35 countries, The Australian Pink Floyd Show was formed in 1988 in Adelaide, South Australia. The group specializes in reproducing the same sort of projections, lasers, light, surround-sound, and giant inflatables that the iconic British progressive act became known for in its later years.

ZOSO at Music Box

August 22

Calling itself The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience (no relation to Jason Bonham’s Led Zeppelin Experience, fronted by the son of Zeppelin’s late drummer), ZOSO was formed in the mid-1990s and has played over 4,5000 concerts. The band attempts to recreate both the look and sound of 1970s-era Zeppelin, attracting its own following as one of the most frequently-booked tribute acts in the U.S.


Comments
Sponsored
Here's something you might be interested in.
Submit a free classified
or view all
Previous article

Five of us in a one-bedroom on 47th Street

Cars run fast from the light at the 805 to the light on Logan Ave.
Next Article

You & Yours puts peppers in its Spring Salad

“When you actually get down to the sweetness of them, they pair so well with fruit.”
Comments
Ask a Hipster — Advice you didn't know you needed Big Screen — Movie commentary Blurt — Music's inside track Booze News — San Diego spirits Classical Music — Immortal beauty Classifieds — Free and easy Cover Stories — Front-page features Drinks All Around — Bartenders' drink recipes Excerpts — Literary and spiritual excerpts Feast! — Food & drink reviews Feature Stories — Local news & stories Fishing Report — What’s getting hooked from ship and shore From the Archives — Spotlight on the past Golden Dreams — Talk of the town The Gonzo Report — Making the musical scene, or at least reporting from it Letters — Our inbox Movies@Home — Local movie buffs share favorites Movie Reviews — Our critics' picks and pans Musician Interviews — Up close with local artists Neighborhood News from Stringers — Hyperlocal news News Ticker — News & politics Obermeyer — San Diego politics illustrated Outdoors — Weekly changes in flora and fauna Overheard in San Diego — Eavesdropping illustrated Poetry — The old and the new Reader Travel — Travel section built by travelers Reading — The hunt for intellectuals Roam-O-Rama — SoCal's best hiking/biking trails San Diego Beer — Inside San Diego suds SD on the QT — Almost factual news Sheep and Goats — Places of worship Special Issues — The best of Street Style — San Diego streets have style Surf Diego — Real stories from those braving the waves Theater — On stage in San Diego this week Tin Fork — Silver spoon alternative Under the Radar — Matt Potter's undercover work Unforgettable — Long-ago San Diego Unreal Estate — San Diego's priciest pads Your Week — Daily event picks
4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
Close

Anchor ads are not supported on this page.