Monday, May 25, 2009

The Women Rock Show, Whiskey A Go-Go, 5/16/09

Written by Pirata Hermoso

I have to admit, that I wasn’t too excited when one of my best friends said he wanted to go see Tiffany in concert. Yes, the Tiffany from the ‘80s who was more famous for doing cover songs, “I Saw Him Standing There” and “I Think We’re Alone Now,” than she was for any kind of original music that I could remember. But I figured, what the hell, why not? I had never been to the Whiskey A Go-Go in Hollywood before, and this was a good friend who had been to many shows with me that he probably didn’t really want see. And it didn’t hurt that the tickets were only $18. That’s pretty cheap even for an ’80s pop star. But what we didn’t know until the night before is that we would actually get to see seven other artists performing that same night. And that’s an even better long as they didn’t suck.

The tickets said that the show started at 8:00, so we showed up a few hours early. I don’t really like showing up that early, but I’ve been burned enough times going up into L.A. for a show and ending up late to an event because of the nightmarish gridlock that the city is famous for. I also hate looking for parking. We rolled up to the Whiskey at around 5:30. It’s in a pretty rundown-looking area, but across the street is The Viper Room, and you can see the Hustler store down the street. Now if that doesn’t say class, I don’t know what does.

I turned my car up the street just before the club and actually found the little parking lot for the Whiskey. Of course, there’s nobody parked there and there’s a large scruffy man in his late 50s wearing an old leather vest just standing in the center of the lot talking on his cell phone. There’s a younger guy nearby sitting on a crate, but he wasn’t really paying attention to us. The older guy, while still talking on the phone, walked up to us and said, “It’s $10 to park.” So I give the man the money and started to roll up the window when he said, “You have to let me park the car, and then I give you back your keys.”

For a split-second I froze as my mind began to race. Why in the hell did he need to park my car? We’re the only people in the lot, and it’s not that big. I glanced at my friend, and through my teeth muttered, “What the hell. Do we even know if this guy is a valet or is he just waiting for some dumbass to drive up and hand him keys to a car?” My friend shrugged, and slowly I got out of the car.

I intensely watched the man as he got into my car and started to move it. I was ready to chase after him, rip the door off the hinges and throw him out of my car if he gave even the slightest hint he might be trying to steal it. Okay, I’m not really sure how I would have stopped him, or why he would even steal my car, it’s not expensive, but dammit, it’s my F-ing car! So when he slowly moved the car about 10 feet away and got out, I was quite relieved. I still wasn’t sure why I couldn’t park it myself, but it didn’t matter as the ordeal was over.

At 7:00, after an hour or so of wandering around and walking over to Peet’s Coffee & Tea for a drink, where some strange guy sitting by the restrooms warned me of the mysterious smells in there, we headed over to the front door of the Whiskey. A small line had formed…well, not really. It was actually just some of the friends and family of the night’s first performer waiting to get in the club.

When we finally got in, I got to look around the infamous Whiskey where legendary performers like The Doors, Jimi Hendrix, Led Zeppelin and Guns N’ Roses had performed. I was a bit disappointed. I was expecting something better, more grandiose. I’ve been inside several McDonald’s that could hold more people than the Whiskey.

Amber-LakeOpening the show was host, Amber Lake. I didn’t recognize her at first, probably because she actually looked hotter and younger than she did on TV, which isn’t the way it usually works. She was the winner of the second season of Rock Of Love with Brett Michaels, the lead singer of Poison. I guess introducing bands at the Whiskey is just a natural progression after dating a rock star.

Laura Gossett was the first artist to take the stage at around 7:15. I’ve always got to give props to the first artist of the night. It takes more guts than you might realize to go first. Not only are people still walking around and talking during your set, but other bands are bringing in their equipment and it’s very distracting.

Laura sat alone with her keyboard in front of her. Some instruments littered the background waiting for other bands to show up later in the evening, but the presence of those instruments just seemed to emphasize the fact of how truly by herself she was. It probably didn’t help that her entourage of family and friends stood way in the back near the bar, leaving the dance floor in front of the stage barren as well. She was from Oklahoma, so that may have explained her lack of followers and band members at the show.

Too bad more people didn’t get to see her, because she had a really nice, powerful voice. Her piano playing was good, but the mixing job by the house P.A. system would have problems all night long and made the music a little distorted.

Shanta Loecker was the next artist to take the stage around 8:15. She also sat in the center of the stage with nothing but a keyboard in front of her. But she wasn’t by herself up there. She had a backup singer, a bass player, and a guitarist. The only one out of the three additional members you could even hear was the backup singer. The guitar and bass were so quiet that they probably couldn’t even hear themselves playing. I’m not sure if that was the poor house mixing or if by design.

Shanta’s voice was quiet and timid. She didn’t have any real stage presence and ended up muttering strange comments between songs like the comment after introducing the song “Childhood Mistake,” “No, it’s not about the last black guy I dated,” she said as she managed to embarrass herself. The audience probably had forgotten about her slip of the tongue, but before the next song she decided to apologize for the comment and mutter more incoherencies while doing so.

Personally, I wasn’t too impressed with her lackluster performance, but a group of about 20 girls showed up and sang along with most of the songs. They all really got excited at the final song, “Teacher,” and sang along with her almost word for word.

Rocket-Ship-Heroes Finally, an actual band, Rocketship Heroes, took the stage: a singer, lead guitar, bass, and *gasp* a drummer. The music started off just fine, but as soon as lead singer, Dani Slajer, started to sing you could tell something was wrong. Once again, the bad mixing job came into play; her microphone had no power. She ended up singing the entire first verse before they managed to fix the problem. But the Heroes were professional and kept right on going through all the technical problems. Their first song, which they never named, had a bit of a Good Charlotte feel to it and made me think of “Another loser anthem.”

Their originals were good and all solid rock songs. For some reason, I kept picturing them as a really young Blondie but with more edge. No, they weren’t that good, but I could see them metamorphize into a truly awesome rock band several years down the line.

The only negative thing I could say was that they didn’t do enough originals. They covered 3 Doors Down’s “Kryptonite,” a Jonas Brothers song, and Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker. With such a limited amount of time they had to perform, they needed to showcase their own talents more. The first two cover songs were fine, but Dani couldn’t even come close to reaching the power and intensity that Pat Benatar can bring with her voice.

Gabrielle WortmanAs the night went on, the audience slowly increased in size and the performers really started to bring it on. Gabrielle may not have been the best performer of the night, but she certainly tried the hardest. She brought it all. She had energy, sex appeal, and marketing. Earlier where there had been no band posters on the wall, suddenly there were tons of pictures of Gabrielle everywhere. They were even above the urinals in the men’s room. She also brought 20 young men with her who crowded the stage and cheered her on. Even her band was bigger than the others. Not only did she have the standard four members, but she had a saxophone and violin player as well.

Gabrielle also had a keyboard that she played, but she had a difficult time keeping her seat. From the opening notes of the first song she was hopping up and struggling to keep herself chained to her instrument. She didn’t play for long until she broke free and writhed around the stage. She really got into the songs as she enticed the audience with her body, until once again there were technical problems. Her monitor wasn’t loud enough and she couldn’t hear what she was singing. She became flustered and hit several off-key notes. After a few seconds the equipment issues were fixed, but it would take Gabrielle a couple more songs before she could get back into the groove of the music. By the time she was comfortable again, her time was up.

After a strange introduction as “The Actress in The Diary of a Mad Black Woman,” by a man with a bass guitar, who resembled Flavor Flav and didn’t seem to actually be in any of the bands playing that night, Marva King took the stage.

From the first note they struck you knew they were professionals. Of course, this band was about 20 years older than anyone else who had played that night, but they were good. Their music was soulful and jazzy. They played a cover of Seal’s “Crazy,” which Marva sang impressively and the band played as good as the original. The entire performance was very tight, and even the movements between Marva and her lead guitarist were smooth and synchronized as they played off one another. They were most definitely the best band at that point in the show.

Out of all the younger artists we saw at the show, I would have to say that Madadian had the best songs. The music is always what’s important, but it’s still going to be a couple years before they are polished enough to really have a chance of making it, but they were good.

Madadian-2 Lead singer Tiffany Madadian came out in what looked like a giant scarf made into a dress and a masquerade ball mask. A little strange, but all the young ladies who showed up to see this band approved of her outfit. Unfortunately, the P.A. system was once again having issues. Madadian’s vocals were too quiet, and her lead guitarist was having issues with his amplifier and making loud crackling noises every few minutes.

Playing right before the headliner was a good position for this band since the audience had finally settled in and it helped them get exposed to a few more people than might have seen them earlier in the evening. Even so, they had the biggest number of fans as a good portion knew the lyrics.

The first thing I have to say is who knew that Tiffany could sing? Of course, she’s always been a singer, but I mean really sing. There are a lot of people who can sing, but she actually has some serious vocal skills. Her set was as follows:

I Will not Breakdown
Be Alright
All the Talking
Sweet Child O’ Mine
I Saw Him Standing There
I Think We’re Alone Now
He’s All Man and He’s All Mine
Bobby McGee

Tiffany-1I was truly impressed with the songs she performed, and was happy because most of the songs rocked. There were no sweet sappy ballads and no cheesy pop, although I would have preferred a little of the cheese on “I Think We’re Alone Now” just because they tried to funk the song up and the music just didn’t work for me. I had not heard any of her originals, but they were all fun enjoyable songs. I may even consider looking up some of her albums and giving them a listen when I have the chance

Tiffany’s vocals blew up the house when she sang “Sweet Child O’ Mine.” I’ve seen Guns N' Roses perform and I’ve heard many crappy versions of their songs, but Tiffany sang it well. And while one of her guitarists was new to her band, he played the song better than anyone I’ve heard play it other than Slash himself. Somehow I ended up in the front of the stage and about a foot away from him playing those solos. He was damned good.

When she sang “Heartbreaker,” she put Rocketship Heroes to shame since it was obvious how weak their rendition a few hours earlier was. I think Pat Benatar would have approved of Tiffany’s version.

The band was very professional and tight. You could certainly see the differences with the two more experienced bands that performed on Saturday night. When Tiffany performed, the club was finally packed with people.

There were a lot of fans that came to see her, so many that she even had her own creepy stalker fan in the front row. No, not me!! But there was a guy in his late 40s with white hair who stood dead center and just stared directly at her with a psycho-killer look on his face. The only time he would move was to raise his arms up in the air after every song like he was saying a prayer to the Lord. He came with his own giant, white pillow and unique odor. My friend had the pleasure of standing next to him during the show and thought he might be homeless, or at least he smelled that way. Later on the stalker went up to Tiffany, pillow under his arm, and talked to her in the upstairs balcony area where all the bands went to hang out and sell CDs and mingle with the fans. I kept waiting for a security guy to leap out and tackle him, but thankfully nothing bad happened.

Strange-Kind-1I’d have to say that I felt really bad for Strange Kind. Not only did three members get stuck in Seattle and miss the performance, but they had to play after the headliner. I think they need a new manager.

As soon as Tiffany’s set was over the crowd dispersed instantly. It went from a crowded 200 or so people to about 40 in less than a minute. As the crowd left, one guy was yelling, “Stay, everybody, please, stay. My best friend’s in the next band.”

Without half of their band members, two guys and a girl took the stage and did an acoustic set. The drummer beat on a wooden box while the other two played guitar. Surprisingly, they were pretty good. I would like to have heard them with a full band, but the unplugged set was a nice ending to the night.

Strange-Kind-2The lead singer was a woman named Xolie. Her voice had a folksy Irish sound to it, and she was dressed in a black and white striped shirt with a red bandanna and made her look like she had stepped out of an old French film. After their official set, they performed a song that Xolie had written about Seattle with a French sound to it and a trumpet solo that she performed without the use of a trumpet.

I didn’t think I was going to like them when they first started, but they were fun and entertaining and didn’t take the whole situation too seriously.

The show ended at 1:30 and I left the Whiskey feeling glad that I had gone to something I really wasn’t looking forward to when the night began and it had turned out to be a good night after all.

1 comment:

James said...

El Bicho,

Thank you for taking the time to write such a discriptive report of your experiance. I enjoyed it and felt like I was there. nice writing!