Tag Archives: Tribute bands

You Can Still Be My Icon

Good morning, world! I hope everyone is having a good start to their respective week. I’m finally able to breathe fairly well again after battling a lingering cold/flu thing, so things must be looking up!

My weekend was rainy and wet, although I did get out of the house on Saturday night to go see a concert. This was our first “date night” in months, and we went to Rava Winery to see a Beatles tribute band called Hard Days Night.

First of all, I’m from So Cal, and I’m used to lights, and plenty of them. Cars, buildings, street lights, traffic lights….light pollution!! One of the things that I’m having a tougher time getting used to here out in the country is that there are relatively few of those lights! It’s harder to see at night, and so while we were driving in what felt like the middle of nowhere, through rain, to get to this winery – I wondered if we’d A. get there in one piece and B. make it back home at the end of the night. (spoiler: we were fine!)

Now is the time to come out

When we got to the winery, it was sprinkling, but my fears about being the only people showing up to the gig were unfounded. There were plenty of people there. I noticed a few things about the crowd. To begin with, Walt and I were on the younger side compared to many. I don’t know if that surprised me that much, but it was worth noting. I went dressed pretty casually (as is the usual with me), but a LOT of people dressed up in their 60s-era finest attire: from go-go boots for the women, to bright floral shirts for the guys. The other thing I noticed was that everyone, and I mean everyone, seemed to know one another. I spent the hour or so before the concert just watching everyone greet one another.

Again, being from Orange County (and there is a point to this so stick with me here), I don’t know very many people here yet. When we go to most concerts down south, it is rare that I know anyone unless I run into a neighbor, which almost never happened even when I’d be at a local grocery store!

Come out of the shadows

As the band took the stage, I noticed a sizable dance floor and commented to my husband that we were not going to be out there for all to see. He agreed, as he was nursing a sore back anyway. I figured no one would use it. I was dead wrong.

Within minutes, the floor was packed, and this crowd of primarily 50-60 somethings were out on the floor, dancing and reveling the night away. Granted, a lot of the women were the ones either dragging their men out on to the floor, or they were dancing with groups of friends while the men snuck more glasses of wine back at the tables with their friends, but it was fun to watch! It reminded me of something so very familiar….

Invariably, when I see family or friends outside of my Duran Duran “family”, the questions I get range from: “Aren’t you getting a little old for concerts?” to “When are you too old to be a fan?” I have to tell you, no matter how well I prepare myself for the questions, I always feel uncomfortable by them. What is the right answer? What can I say that will stop the conversation in its tracks so we can talk about something else? Why do I always feel like I’m wrong for having fun?? No matter what I say each time, I end up feeling icky.

Out on the edge

Well, Saturday night reminded me that age shouldn’t be a factor at all. The table directly in front of us had a group of probably 10 couples, and they were easily in their mid to late 60s. They were locals, and judging from the very loud conversation amongst the men, they were ranch and small orchard/winery owners. I heard one of them comment that they were “checking out the competition” that night as they drank their bottle of Cabernet. I’ve never seen people party it up harder in the first hour they were at a show than this group! They downed bottles of wine faster than I drink vodka tonics. It was a sight to behold. The dancing and laughing reminded me very much of some of the Duran shows I’ve attended.

The way this concert was set up, the band took a short break after about a 45-minute set for a costume change. At that point, a lot of people made their way back out into the rain. I was a little surprised to see that about half of the table in front of us left at that point, citing that they had early mornings ahead of them. Even so, I’d say about 2/3 of the audience stayed behind, and finished out the evening. The dancing didn’t slow down, nor did the imbibing.

My face in the mirror

As the show ended, and we made our way out into the now-pounding rain (I need a better raincoat, apparently!), I thought about aging. I can see the years whenever I look into a mirror. It’s getting more difficult to ignore the lines on my face, or the way my body aches after a full day of weeding or raking. Age is just a number, though. It shouldn’t stop anyone from wanting to have a night out with friends, or enjoying good music, or even cheering on a fantastic band.

My age is definitely not going to stop me from having a great time in a few weeks!

-R

I Have a Problem with Tribute Bands

On Saturday night, we took a break from the whirlwind of constant activity so that we could spend time seeing a few tribute bands at the Anaheim House of Blues. My sister-in-law invited my husband and I to go see The Cured with them, and while we had no business taking any time away to do much of anything, we said yes anyway.

Rule #1 – buy the concert tickets.  In this case, they were free, so why not, right??

I was thrilled to get away from this house, to be honest. Selling a house is stressful, and we’ve been working on this place for months now. Any deep desire to stay here and not move has long since been squelched. I’m ready to bid farewell to Rancho Santa Margarita and welcome what comes next.

Turns out, not only was The Cured playing, but Planet Earth (which ended up being Arena, because Planet Earth suddenly retired) was also on the bill that night, along with Substance, a New Order tribute. I was in luck!

This show was at the new Anaheim House of Blues. On the inside, the venue is big, clean and beautiful, but I dislike the way you enter. It used to be that if a concert-goer dines at the restaurant, entrance would be granted through the dining hall, and there wouldn’t be a wait at the door. No more. Customers may certainly eat at the HOB, but afterward, you exit the restaurant and still wait in the long line. Not the end of the world, but definitely an inconvenience and a hassle. Fine for tribute band shows, particularly this one since we had free tickets, but for a well-known band? No way. Why would anyone want to eat dinner at the House of Blues, particularly when their once-ample menu has now been paired down to less-than-a single-page of offerings, and then be forced to stand at the end of the very long GA line for a band like Duran Duran, for instance? The wise decision would be to forgo the dinner and just wait in line, or be happy hearing the concert from one of the side bar areas that offer an obstructed view.

The venue itself is big and airy like a warehouse conversion, along with dark and intimate feeling inside the actual concert hall. It is a nice, ample space for GA shows, similar to most other HOB locations I’ve been in. Believe it or not, the space filled very quickly. When the first band took the stage around 8pm, the house was packed.

And what was that first band, you ask?  Arena!

I’ve learned a few things about tribute bands over the years. They tend to use the tribute thing as a bit of a gimmick. Some create as real of an experience as you can get without seeing the actual band live. They strive for authenticity, and that means if you’re playing Simon Le Bon, you’d better BE as close to Simon as possible. There’s no taking “artistic license” with his vocals OR with the lyrics. The costuming has to be accurate. “Simon’s” wig cannot look like it once belonged to Donald Trump, for instance. The music has to sound as close to the band as possible without it being karaoke or merely a lip sync performance. Sure, there might be some smoke and some mirrors, after all, even the real bands use backing tracks and a zillion other effects. However, the goal is for it all to feel genuine. Other bands use the tribute as shtick. It’s comedic, and it’s not really meant to be authentic, although it might still get audiences in the door. That said, there’s good comedy, and there’s really bad comedy, right? The same can be said for tribute bands. Some might be hilariously funny, but the musicianship is top-notch. Others might be funny because they’re trying to hide the fact that they can’t really play. Still others are a blend of all of it.

The whole tribute band scene is rather incestuous, so to speak. While you might see a band like Arena, or even The Cured—later on that same night, you might see people from those same bands performing in other tributes. While I can understand the economic issues in doing so, it all feels a little awkward to someone like me who might be paying attention.  What band are they actually IN, and why is everyone trading members? Those things bug me. Even so, if the guy (or girl) can play it all, so be it.

Lastly, there’s me, obsessed Duran Duran fan. I am probably not the best audience for any DD tribute band, because A. I’m a huge fan. I know every single Duran Duran song down to the tiniest chord and glottal stop. and B. I own a blog.

The reality is, I’m a great audience member for any other tribute band besides Duran Duran. I don’t know anyone’s music the way I do DD’s, and I’m happy just to hear Blue Monday, Love Will Tear Us Apart or even Love Cats. I know the hits pretty well, but not obsessively so, and it’s all great fun. So, when I tell you that I was not entirely taken by Arena, understand that my standards are unapologetically high. They were good, but not great.

All of that aside, the band was fun. I definitely spent time bobbing my head and instinctively doing all the same things I might do at a Duran show—except for maybe screaming at the guitar player and rolling my eyes when they played HLTW—I’ve got to save something for the real deal, you know. I can’t review Arena the way I initially thought I might, because it would be unfair. I did have fun that night, and maybe that’s the takeaway for me – I can’t and shouldn’t intensively review a DD-tribute band.

I’ve come to the realization that I am the nightmare audience member for a DD tribute band, outside of maybe any actual, real, band member. I’m the person you can and should call in for a quality control assessment, because I’m brutally honest. However, no one needs me in their audience, particularly if I’m writing a review.

On the other hand, I loved Substance – the New Order tribute, because I’m a casual fan of New Order. I have their albums, I know their songs, but I don’t know them in the same way. The vocals weren’t exactly the right tone, but the music was good, and I heard songs I hadn’t heard in years. The same holds true for The Cured. The vocals were fairly close, and musically the band was fabulous. They have a professional quality about them that I very much admire, and I’d go see them again.

The escape, even for just a few hours, was a welcome respite.

-R