You know where you are?! You’re [at a tribute show] baby!
The hair metal scene of the 80s was kind of a strange, magical thing, wasn’t it? Hair wasn’t just big— it was massive. Guys wore jeans that looked like they’d been through a chipper shredder along with pirate jewelry, animal prints, scarves, leather vests with reams of chest hair underneath, and even crop tops (this last one in particular baffles me). Then there was the kind of hilarious, completely over-the-top, macho, sex-drugs-and-rock ’n’ roll personas that many of these guys assumed. It was quite a combination.
Now that it’s been a few decades since these bands ruled the top 40, we can lightheartedly look back on their heyday with a sense of humor and nostalgia.
Just last week (July 21st, to be exact) was the 30th anniversary of Guns N’ Roses’ debut, and best-selling album, Appetite for Destruction. This album was celebrated at New York City’s Bowery Ballroom with the help of the all-female GnR tribute band Guns N’ Hoses with Def Leppard tribute band Dum Cheeta opening.
I personally love a good cover band. I’ve seen Bruce in the USA (the Springsteen tribute band) play every winter at Brooklyn Bowl for the past five years or so. And let me tell you, I’ve had almost (let me emphasize that—almost) as much fun seeing them as I’ve had seeing the real Bruce live. Their lead guy, Matt Ryan, looks like Bruce, sings like Bruce, talks like Bruce, and even has Bruce’s stage presence down to a T. It’s kind of bizarre, actually. But once you get past that, you’ll have a super fun time.
So when I heard about Guns N’ Hoses and Dum Cheeta I knew I had to check it out. Dum Cheeta (how great is that name, btw?!) really dressed the part with each of the band members donning a spectacularly gigantic 80’s wig. They covered most of DL’s classics like “Pour Some Sugar On Me,” “Hysteria,” and “Love Bites,” and were talented and hilarious and all-around entertaining. Guns N’ Hoses were such fun too. In celebration of Appetite’s anniversary, the band played all of this album, from beginning to end, including the mega-hits “Sweet Child O’ Mine,” “Paradise City,” and “Welcome to the Jungle” (or “Vajungle” as Guns N’ Hoses says… Get it? All women… vag… Clever!).
What’s most enjoyable and remarkable about tribute band shows though are the people in the audience. These are people who really want to be there. I’ve been to more shows than I can count where attendees have talked through the entire show. This allows me to assume that the only reason they went in the first place was so that they could say they went. I hate these people. But who’s gonna brag about going to see a tribute show? These people bought tickets because they love GnR and Def Leppard songs and want to celebrate that love with other fans. Genuine people are just superior, aren’t they? It was an eclectic, music-nerdy group in attendance at this show for sure. Needless to say, I fit right in. There’s such a level of cheese involved in all tribute bands though that is fully acknowledged by both the band and the attendees. And that is really what makes it all so much fun.
To be perfectly honest here, I think I’d rather spend $15 to see a female tribute band of GnR than to pay $100+ to see the actual grizzled GnR members, some of whom are notorious for being hours late to their own gigs. But hey, to each their own.