House of Blues Anaheim
In this era of social media and sensory overload, we can all use a break from reality. For most of us, music has always been our salvation from ourselves. With that in mind, a band called Power Serge might just be the cure we’ve been looking for. They’re Orange County’s best kept secret. Well, they were… until now. It’s no surprise that ’80s music and big hair are the great communicators between 30 to 50 year- old’s and teens. That combination of power ballads and big hair has been such a weird fascination of ours, it just has a way of taking us back to a simpler time.
Similar to punk rock cover band Me First and The Gimme Gimme’s, Power Serge is a collection of local band members that get together to play other people’s songs. This band gets together once a year to play a show at the House of Blues Anaheim. But they don’t simply just play the hits, they also dress the part with spandex outfits and wigs, looking like they just walked straight out of MTV’s Headbangers Ball. The collection of artists include musicians that can play a variety of instruments and different genres. But who is Power Serge really? Take away the spandex and big hair, and they dubbed themselves as Orange County’s greatest fake real glam metal cover band in the history of the world and beyond. Truth is, despite purporting to be from Yugoslavia this band is from the OC and they’re a bunch of guys who love music, play in bands, with one crazy lead singer who lived vicariously through karaoke. But don’t let the outrageous hair, costumes and over-the-top proclamations fool you. The band is distinguished and has the musical chops to do justice to any song by any great band.
Power Serge was founded in October 2004; the band includes their lead singer Sean Henry aka Sergei Von Sergio (the Karaoke King), as well as Brian Mashburn aka Smash (currently in Starpool / formerly in Save Ferris) on guitar and keys, Ian Matteson aka U.P., that’s short for short for Ultimate Partier (formerly in Home Grown) shreds on lead guitar, Ted Vega aka Mr. Vegas (Jamison Parker) is on bass, Dan Hammond aka Karel Poborsky (Home Grown) is on rhythm guitar AND Zach Amos aka Sgt. Rock (formerly in The Blood Arm) on drums. Although they are in character during their show, I really have to use their real names to give them the props they deserve. Ian Matteson’s mad guitar riffs are as good as it gets. Vega, Mashburn and Hammond are collectively electrifying. Amos on drums is Tommy Lee-like, and Sean Henry, YIKES…. is all I have to say about him! Like most 80’s Hair-Metal lead singers, he oozes that Chernobyl-like sexual energy that even Van Halen’s Diamond Dave would be inspired by. The difference with Sean is that he has an unbelievable voice, with a range that any singer would kill for.
For Power Serge fans, they can attest that there’s no voice too big and no song too difficult for this band to pull off. Sergei Von Sergio and his bandmates have somehow channeled the spirit of 80’s Glam and Hair Metal to form this band that is a must see. For the near capacity crowd at HOB, they were able to commune with the likes of Bowie and Mercury, while enjoying the sounds of AC/DC and Def Leppard! Honestly, I’ve covered most of these bands over the years, and I couldn’t tell; the difference between Def Leppard and Power Serge when they started the familiar guitar sound of “Photograph.” I’ve never seen a crowd more animated than in the presence of this band. It may not be original music, but a great band is proof that music brings out the best in all of us.
Given it was 4th of July weekend, midway through the show, Ian Cone performed a heart-pounding rendition of the Star Spangled Banner; you know, the Guitar-Hero inspired version by Jimi Henrdrix. That moment alone signified to the crowd that this was going to be an incredible epic night of music. From there on out the crowd was having a religious experience. They literally sang every word to every song, and danced and dance and danced!
For me, I can tell an exceptional band performance. Especially when it comes to cover songs I normally don’t listen to in the first place. I’ll be honest, I’m not a big Bon Jovi fan… I’m just not. These guys put an edgy spin on “Living on a Prayer,” and the crowd lost its proverbial mind! It was so good that for a brief moment, they made me consider the possibility that Bon Jovi was cool. A few of the songs they performed included Van Halen hits like “Panama” and “Jump”, “Firewoman” by The Cult, Poison’s “Talk Dirty To Me” , “Sweet Child O’ Mine” by Guns n’ Roses, and plenty more. You could barely hear yourself think because the crowd was so loud when the band broke into Poison’s mega-hit, “Every Rose has its Thorn.” Even the encore was cartoon crazy, it was like watching toons in a crazy video… it was that dramatic an ending. The crowd loved the finally, a VERY Steve Perry-esque sounding rendition of Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing.”
Opening the show were a few OC bands that we need to pay attention to. First up was Sega Genocide. They entertained the crowd with covers of The Beastie Boys, Third Eye Blind, Proclaimers and Celine Dion songs. Yeah, Celine Dion’s “My Heart Will Go On” went punk for the night, and it was spectacular! Also sharing the stage was original music from alt-rockers Gone Avery, and Straight Outta Fullerton, another very cool ALT Rock band called Wild Wild Monsters. Watch out for this band, they have a Social Distortion vibe, and their music sounds like every cool alt-rock band out there, and like nobody you’ve heard before. That’s definitely a great combination to have working for you.
Circling back to Power Serge, I’ve seen lots of good bands in my lifetime. Over the years, I’ve covered bands from X to Nirvana to Rage Against the Machine to Muse to the Foo Fighters. I know it’s a bold statement to make, but in my opinion, Power Serge harnessed their collective energy and sonically speaking, they are every bit as entertaining as any one of their big brother bands we’ve come to love. What’s most impressive, at some point in their shows, those bigger name bands give their fans a moment to breathe. Power Serge did not extend that courtesy to the HOB crowd; and they loved them for it. It was pedal to the metal (no pun intended) from beginning to end.
There’s no word just yet as to when these cats will play again. Albeit, nothing is a sure thing until it happens. All things being equal, Power Serge hasn’t missed a date since 2004. It’s very likely that we’ll hear from them soon. When we do, just know these cowboys don’t have sad, sad songs. You’ve heard the music they play in movies, TV and read about them in countless magazines; in the end, you’ll know this band when you see them. As hard as it is to make it in this dog-eat-dog world of music, this band is very lucky. For Power Serge, its skill cleverly disguised as luck. If you ever wonder what lightning in a bottle looks like, I highly recommend checking out this band. It’ll be the best trip back to the 80’s you’ll take any time soon!