Tag Archives: Totally 80s Bar and Grille

Totally 80’s with Rio!

I was thoroughly spoiled on Friday night, as I stood less than 30 feet away from Simon Le Bon as he sang Is There Something I Should Know AND Late Bar in a single set in a small, intimate bar in Fullerton, California. Of course, John, Roger, Andy and Nick were there too, and Duran Duran was on fire…playing everything from Sound of Thunder to Notorious, deep cuts to big hits. Duranies lined the stage, and while I only saw one pair of panties thrown…it was a good night.

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t really Simon. Or John, Roger, Andy and Nick for that matter. Particularly given the fact that they were in Argentina that night, and oh yes – Andy is no longer with the band – I kind of knew it was going to be tough to sell anyone on that story.  So who was the band and where was I? The band was of course Rio: the Duran Duran tribute band, and the venue was the Totally 80’s Bar and Grille.

Here’s the thing – as far as bars go, the Totally 80’s Bar is every 80s cliché wrapped up into one building. Neon, black lights, TV monitors on the wall playing completely different videos from the music pouring out of the speaker, even the same really gross, dank, but not entirely off putting, “ick” oozing from its walls. As I stood at the bar, nursing one of the worst vodka tonics I’ve ever had, I watched a guy dancing and spinning alone in the corner of the dance floor. I almost had to pinch myself, because I’d swear I saw that same dude thirty years ago at Fashions on the Redondo Beach pier.  Yeah, for me, Totally 80’s was nearly like stepping back in time….and falling flat on my face in a sea of neon paint with Apollonia 6 serenading me like carnival music in a fun house.  In a word: weird.  Fun, but weird.

I think that in order to appreciate the sights and sounds, you must have a sense of humor about the whole thing. Some do, as they come dressed proudly in 80s garb with a side ponytail and enough neon lighting bolts to power their own homes. Others, like me, are little more apprehensive and less likely to fully embrace 1980-something coming back to life. We come to see bands we think we know play music we rarely get to hear live.

As showtime neared, I was once again flabbergast to see Duranies – and yes, you can tell they’re Duranies because some even wear their Paper Gods touring t-shirts, which is both appropriate and cute in this setting – grabbing the front and center spots. They were ready to do battle if necessary to defend their territory from the few women (oh yes, even here) that feel they should always be awarded a spot directly in front of the singer, even if they drunkenly arrive mid-set. Truthfully, I can’t find fault with the Duranies in front, even if I chose not to join them in favor or standing back to watch the scene unfold. The die-hard in me screamed to go to the front, while the more reasonable side constantly reminded me that this was not really Duran Duran. The dance floor filled nicely for Rio, and once the band took the stage, even people from the back of the bar came to check the band out.

I hadn’t seen Rio perform live for about a year, and it might have been longer than that, now that I think about it. I can’t always make it to their shows (this is a tribute band that plays regularly so that Duranies can always get their fix, should the need arise!), but I go when I can.  Since my last trip to 1985 (with Rio, of course), they’ve had a personnel change. Not to be confused with the real Duran Duran (although they will tell you that they are in fact the real Duran Duran), in this case it is their keyboardist who has recently changed. Not sure if the sub “Nick” will stick around, but he was good.

I know a lot of people wince at the idea of a tribute band. I was one of those, once. Two things make Rio different: 1. They take the music seriously, even though sure – the “act” is a schtick of sorts. They’re not making fun of Duran Duran, they’re emulating them as they tell the crowd that we’ve all been taken back to 1985 in a time machine and that it’s going to be a party. These guys are fans – and I know this because I’ve hung out with them after Duran Duran shows! In turn, they make their own show fun, and do the music all kinds of justice. I’m picky about my Is There Something I Should Know, and they play it true to form….every time. EVERY TIME.  2. They don’t just play the hits. They also play the deep cuts only Duranies know. That’s the one thing I have to say, even when they’re playing Late Bar, everyone is dancing on that floor. I wish Duran Duran (the real band) could see it, because it’s a sight to behold. John Taylor may say that only die-hard fans in the first row or two know the song at his shows – but at these shows? Everybody knows it, or it’s so damn good they dance anyway.

So while Duran Duran may never play Late Bar or Sound of Thunder, Rio does…and they do it brilliantly. If you haven’t had a chance to see them, you should make the time. I’ll even save you space on the dance floor.

-R

Rio: The Duran Duran drought is over?

I’ve almost certainly lost my DD mojo at this point.

These are words I actually texted to a friend of mine on Saturday afternoon as we discussed going to see the greatest Duran Duran tribute band on this side of the Atlantic – Rio. They were playing at the Totally 80’s Bar in Fullerton California, which wasn’t far from my house.  I needed a night out, as did my husband. There has been a serious Duran Duran drought going on, and judging from responses I’ve seen over the past several months to whatever the band says, or even what happen to say on Twitter, it sounds like this is a full-fledged emergency.

Before I get into whom to blame for this tragedy (I think we all know exactly who is to blame here), let’s just talk about that evening. The truth of the matter, it’s been so long that I’ve been out, I feared I’d forgotten how to dress. I spend my luxurious, fun-filled days in jeans, a t-shirt and athletic trainers, running after a now five-month old puppy before he decides to use our house as his personal toilet among many other equally amazing “hobbies” I’ve acquired in the past four years. Dare I say I’ve become frumpy?!? I certainly feel that way every morning when I crawl out of bed, grabbing the first clothing items I can throw on, not even bothering with makeup or hair product. Instead of just being a Duranie-on-a (short) hiatus, I felt like I was becoming my mother, feeling every single second of my forty-four years on this planet. For a while, I even started to give in, waving my dishtowel as a white flag in defeat, sensing that it might be a while, perhaps even forever, before I went to another concert and screamed for the men onstage.

Yes, I had lost my DD mojo. Most definitely.  There is an intense Duran Duran drought going on here.

So that brings me to Saturday night. Immediately upon texting that I’d go to see Rio, I realized I had no idea of what to wear. Did I even still fit into my typical concert clothing? It had been months since I actually did a full make-up job or worried about my hair – could I still pull it off? Probably not. I pulled on my jeans, noting that I could still breathe (definitely an unexpected bonus), and then tried on a shirt. I shrugged it on, and then went to the mirror to see how bad it looked. I took a peek, and to my surprise – I started to recognize the reflection in the mirror. Yes, the girl was still in there, but what about the band…the real band? I hear we’ve got at least another six months of this Duran Duran drought ahead. Seriously, they expect us to hang on this long with virtually nothing?? No one needs remind me that they’ve done a few shows over the past year – but unless you were lucky to be able to attend one – which I was not, the rest of us are still living a California-sized Duran Duran drought.

We get to the club that night and sit down to grab a little pre-show dinner. If you haven’t been, the menu is filled with delights like the Breakfast Club burger (which has everything including an egg and hash browns on it) to Tater-Tots with toppings like poutine or nacho cheese sauce. They also have drinks that run the gamot of 80’s names. Yes, they even have a Duran Duran shot bomb. From memory it is black cherry vodka with some grenadine dropped into Red Bull.  I am certain this could kill me, so I go for the Richard Blade Rum Runner instead (still Duran themed, damn it!). I don’t even remember what is in this drink, but it was good. I want to say there was something raspberry in there with rum and maybe even some pineapple. Not sure. I just know I drank it and lived, even if my memory did not.

My friends arrive, we chat for a while at our table and then make our way to the front of the club to see the show. I’ve been to see Rio before – in fact I’ve done an interview with them here on the blog as well as reviewed a show, so being near the front wasn’t a requirement, but we made our way as close as possible – which ended up being directly to the side of some speakers. Yay for more early onset hearing loss! The show starts and the band is terrific as always. Honestly, as Tiger Tiger began, I could feel the Duran Duran drought ending for me in very much the same way I felt when California finally got some rain in December. Nourishment!! Relief!! I felt at home because let’s face it – Rio’s set list is vaguely familiar, with tunes like Planet Earth, Hungry Like the Wolf (oh you betcha!), Come Undone, Ordinary World…but they also played Is There Something I Should Know, New Moon on Monday (which sounded just a little off to me, but in fairness I was only getting part of the sound through the one set of speakers deafening me), and New Religion. A full-set of Duran Duran drought ending greatness. I can’t  complain about their show (and I wouldn’t anyway because as I’ve already said – this is the greatest DD Tribute band on this side of the pond, hands-down). For this Duranie, their set gave me a hint of DD mojo back.

However, just as I was starting to remember why it is I love the band, and yes, lately it has been difficult to remember why…I started remembering what I’d forgotten about concerts in general.

People are freaking NUTS.

We’d made our way up to nearly the front of the stage before the show started, not by pretending we knew someone or faking a leg injury, by just walking up to the front. After all, this wasn’t the band. I mean, it was Rio…but it wasn’t Duran Duran. Apparently though, management forgot to mention that small detail to many of the women (and a whole lot of the men!) in attendance. I witnessed behavior that night that I haven’t seen (well some of it I’ve never seen, but I’ll get to that in a bit) in a looonnnnngg time. From the woman who refused to give up on getting to the front no matter how many times the gentleman who stopped her from barging up there continued to put her off, to the presumable grandmother that elbowed me several times, leaving me with a nasty bruise on the backside of my arm to shove me out-of-the-way so that she could lock eyes with “Simon” Jake Jacobs, and the very, very drunk woman who used the stage as a way to prop her arms so that she could twerk for her man (I really wish I were joking about that one)…I was shocked. Pushing and shoving to get up front to see a tribute band? Climbing on to the stage to dance with the band members? Staking out front row spots to have a chance for Jake to grab your hand and sing to you?  Where in the hell was I???  I continued to utter the same words throughout the show: “You know this isn’t like, THE BAND…right?!?”  I can only imagine that the Duran Duran drought has caused this kind of madness.

Don’t get me wrong. Rio is fabulous. They are an outstanding band, and they have a great time doing what they do. They’re true musicians and I dare say rock stars in their own right. But they’re not Duran Duran. Unless of course you haven’t seen Duran Duran in what, three or four years. Then suddenly, this tribute band takes on a whole new meaning – they’re helping end the Duran Duran drought!! They’re the band that is standing incredibly well for the other band that can’t seem to be bothered at the moment. From what I saw that night, the crowd is more than happy to take what they’re eager to give. And then some.

The show had everything from a guy jumping up on stage to take a photo with the band – which was harmless enough, to a woman who helped herself to a free frontal feel on “Simon”. (Don’t even ask…although I wonder if the real Simon has been molested the way Jake was that night. I’m going to guess in the affirmative, even though Jake himself told me that in the twenty-something years he’s spent performing, it’s never happened before that night. Nice.) By all intents and purposes, this very-packed crowd genuinely believed it was the real deal on the stage that night, obviously to the credit of Rio. The tribute band really is that charismatic, and while I stood by mostly mortified on Saturday night, Rio tells me that I shouldn’t go around reminding people they’re not really Duran Duran. They love being the enablers for the fantasy, and the last thing they really need is someone like me screaming “Get off my lawn!” Fair enough.

However, facts are facts, and it has been just about three-and-a-half years since the band toured. It has been just over four years since All You Need is Now has been released. As of spring this year, this will be the very longest it’s EVER GONE between album releases – you want to talk about a Duran Duran drought?? Here we are, people! This is insane. Fans are restless. They need shows. They want new music. The tribute band Rio helps to pass the time, and I’m grateful that they play, but they aren’t Duran Duran in the same way that Simon, John, Nick, Roger AND Dom are Duran Duran (and also to their credit, Rio knows this). We’re not a bunch of teenagers anymore that can still be counted on to be there in five or ten years. Fans probably won’t still be there if the band continues to wait to tour or put out a single or do much of anything. At our age – time is a commodity we’re losing, like it or not. I very much respect John, Simon, Roger and Nick – but I very much disagree with the attitude they continue to expel at every opportunity that they don’t need to hurry or get themselves out there to continue the momentum that they have almost assuredly lost after all of this time. To that I must emphatically respond, “You don’t get it at all. You really and truly just do not get it, boys.”

I question what is really going on “behind the curtain” at times such as these. It is difficult to be a Duranie in this Duran Duran drought at the moment. On one hand, of course I want to be supportive. At the end of it all, I’m still a fan. Disgruntled? Perhaps. Bored? Certainly. But I still care. I want to say, “Take the time you need. We’ll wait!” On the other hand, I’m wondering if they really want to get out there at all. It’s been a long-ass time since All You Need is Now. You can’t even argue that it hasn’t. Why did they need so many big names on one album? Why haven’t they put out a single at this point if for no other reason than to put voices like mine with questions like the ones I’ve brought up here to rest? Why don’t they seem to care at all? Have they lost their minds???  Or, is their collective heart not really in the game anymore, and they don’t know how to SAY they’re done?  I think most fans, including myself, feel like this album might be the last for a least a very long while – and every single time I hear Nick say “Well, we’ll certainly play some shows”… my heart hears, “Well, we might play SOME shows…but probably not nearly as many as we did before” and it sinks. Each time John does a Katy Kafe and sounds like he’d much rather be plucking his nose-hairs, I feel it sink even farther. How does a fan stay optimistic during this Duran Duran drought?!?

Mostly, I’ve lost my DD mojo, and this Duran Duran drought feels never-ending. We all tell ourselves that we don’t mind waiting and that it’ll be worth it in the end because otherwise, we wouldn’t be fans. I’ve been doing that as much as anyone. It is the name of the fandom game – we’ll wait because the other choice is to walk away and not care. I also know that for as many people who will tell me they’ll wait forever for Simon and Co…there are still others who are nodding their heads as they read this, proud of my “bravery” in publicly saying what we’re all thinking. This blog isn’t managed or supported by the band. I am not required to adhere to party line talking points provided by a PR company. I write whatever I’m thinking or feeling on any given day and it’s 100% truthful, even if the concerns are unfounded when all said and done – and with that comes great freedom, if not also a little sadness.

The Duran Duran drought continues…

-R