Scary Tribute Bands Edition!
Hotel California/Which One's Pink?/Planet Earth (a.k.a. "The Eagles," "Pink Floyd" and "Duran Duran")
Friday, Oct. 29
Imagine an OC without Linda's Doll Hut. An OC without Club 369, without Chain Reaction, without Steamers, without Koo's Art Cafe. Without the Tiki Bar, without the Backalley, the Hub, the Shack. Without the Coach House, the Galaxy Concert Theatre or the Sun. Without clubs, coffeehouses or any locales for original live music. What could possibly be left?
Welcome to tribute-band night at Hogue Barmichael's! WELCOME TO HELL!!! Granted, Hogue's is also one of those venues whose absence would make life here a lot less fun. But booked on this night (two spooky evenings before Halloween, which may have been the fiendish point) was this terrifying triple threat of tribute bands: homages to the Eagles, Pink Floyd and Duran Duran—yup, all on the same bill!
Up first were Duran tribute band Planet Earth, who even dress up like their coyly androgynous foof-pop idols, though "Nick Rhodes" actually looked more like the Cure's Robert Smith, and "Simon LeBon" more closely resembled Pat Benatar (though he pouted much better). Just like the band they were aping, their set was all about satiating their front man's humongous ego, and Planet Earth were dead-on! This "Simon" quite masterfully exuded just the right amount of well-lubricated shoulder rolls and fey-but-not-too-fey body contortions, but his singing was way over the top—he especially enjoyed bringing his voice up to the highest octave possible for the opening "Hungry Like the Wolf" ("Mouth is ali-VUH!/Running like wi-NUH!"—or however their lyrics went), a successful attempt to suck as badly as the real Duran! He was at his cheesy best during the song intros, though: before "Hungry Like the Wolf," he asked, "Is anybody hungry?!" Before "Girls on Film," it was "Where's that camera?!" And "My name is Bon—Simon LeBon" before "A View to a Kill." Pretty much every hit you remember was tackled, with some inexplicable omissions (they played the completely dreadful "Union of the Snake," but not the merely tolerable "The Reflex"), but it didn't really matter—any day now, we expect to see the real Duran booked to play Hogue's.
Next were Pink Floyd tribsters Which One's Pink?, who didn't try to physically resemble the real thing—a wise move, since Floyd in their heyday were probably the World's Ugliest Rock Band (after the Stones, of course). But Which One's Pink? actually had some nice, authentic chops—the guy playing David Gilmour's guitar parts sounded like the real deal, and the younger gent who sang all the Roger Waters songs had his doppelganger's nasally high-pitched whine down. Their set heavily favored cuts from Dark Side of the Moon and The Wall, and they even brought out a girl sax bleater to (raggedly) duplicate the horn parts in "Money." Though we secretly enjoyed them, the inevitable stoner-rock clichs became overwhelming—like when the tie-dyed hippie chick got up and did her lazy hippie dance in front of the band. And like when it seemed that all those droning songs just had absolutely no ending at all, ever—just like the real Floyd, Which One's Pink? would have been much better if we had had some 'shrooms with us. But they did receive one of the loudest audience ovations we've heard in a club in a very long time; we just haven't decided whether we should laugh or cry about that.
Our biggest fear was that Hotel California would try to imitate the wretched Joe Walsh, which definitely would have had us fleeing the room in holy, wide-eyed terror. We needn't have worried, but we were awfully bored by their tepid takes on Eagles tunes we've heard zillions of times before. Still, their stage presence was much more animated than the notoriously cardboard real deal—one guy even roamed through the crowd whilst blowing a harp, finishing with a stroll along the bar top. Soon, though, they fell into shameless cover-band puffery—their wiry lead singer twirled his mic stand around during "Victim of Love" with such knowing precision that we suspect he also moonlights in a Bon Jovi tribute band. Even worse, he started saying stuff like "Lemme hear all the sexy ladies scream!" And, well, you know.
It's too easy to make fun of tribute bands, of course—really, we just hope all the musicians this night made some decent cash (and, hopefully, that they're in other bands that do original stuff). But one thought hit us as we were watching Hotel California: With the price of concert tickets continuing to skyrocket (the real Eagles are charging $1,000 per ticket for their New Year's Eve show), is the day coming when we low-paid, working-class peons will only be able to afford shows by not-the-real-thing-but-an-incredible-simulation bands such as these? It's already here. Welcome to hell, indeed.
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