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Rockfest 2002 In Gilford, NH

By Mick Stingley, Contributor
Tuesday, September 24, 2002 @ 10:59 AM

LA Guns, Warrant, Firehouse, R

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With reports of litigation and internal conflict following a series of last-minute cancellations and an abrupt end to the tour, this is my account of the great time I had attending this show a couple of weeks back...

Summer 2002 ended with a bang and not a whimper for me, with an outdoor package tour filled with some terrific “old school” Rock And Roll, complete with parking lot beers and chicks in tube tops. Ah, the summer. We will all be missing it so soon.

Through a series of interesting emails and tenuous connections, I procured tickets and backstage passes to the “Metal Edge ROCKFEST 2002” In Gilford, New Hampshire. “Live Free Or Die… and get ready to ROCK!” Gilford is right next to Laconia which is sort of the “Sturgis” of New England, the site of a yearly motorcycle rally that goes for about five days over Father’s Day Weekend. Needless to say, the audience was a full-on rock crowd, young and old, denim and leather types and moms and dads, chicks and dudes.

I got up to New Hampshire around 3:30 or 4PM, and spent about an hour and a half hanging around before I went out to my seat to check out the show. I got to meet up with Jizzy Pearl for a bit, which was pretty cool. He offered me food and drink from the backstage band bar-b-que. A very generous impromptu host, I must say. We talked about the dull stuff, the hurry-up and wait feelings of a workaday rocker. Nothing earthshattering, no gossip, no surprises.

Then he walked me around, showed me the set-up from the stage, actually looking out on the venue, “Meadowbrook,” an outdoor covered amphitheatre not unlike “Blossom” in Cuyahoga Falls, or probably most like any outdoor summer concert venue. It was kind of cool, peeping out from behind the amplifiers and sound boards at the incoming crowd as they took their seats, getting “pumped” or “psyched up” before the show, doubtless trading stories and news and histories of the bands they have seen, how they have changed, who they were with at the time, songs played and so on. I saw myself in everyone out there, and smiled somewhat. This is what we all think about at some point: getting backstage, hanging out, talking to our favorite performers, maybe girls have darker more libidinous ideas, who knows? I wasn’t ever sure about what I would say to anyone I ever went to see in concert, my only concern ever, was having great seats and being with someone -- perhaps my ex-girlfriend -- who might want to see the show with as much excitement as I do… that’s all.

The only thing I found unusual and somewhat surprising is that the tour sponsor, Metal Edge, didn’t have a booth set-up with other merch stands. Wouldn’t it be in the interest of a tour sponsor to promote, explain, sell subscriptions, etc.? It felt too loose, like someone didn’t think about it or just out and out didn’t care. I mean, if I was sponsoring a tour, I would make an investment in promoting what I stood for, mailing lists and such. No big deal I guess, just a curious observation.

That aside -- since Jizzy honored me with a ‘cook’s tour’ of the activities of a full-on touring rock show, I regarded the evening as a sampling of courses…

(serves 100)

1 tsp. ageless Brit singer
1 Steve Riley
2 brand new guys
1 Tracii Guns (Baked)
Dash of Punk
Pinch of Goth
A slice of Rock
1 Flying V

Regional differences might inhibit the meaning, but in New England a “grinder” is a submarine sandwich. Also known as a “torpedo,” a “sub,” a “hoagie,” and a “hero.” Every inch the “guitar hero,” Tracii Guns is plugged in, loud, and ready to rock.. Launching into the Maiden-riffic new song “Don’t Look At Me That Way,” Guns opens fire and the tone is set for the evening. I like L.A. Guns, think they are way underrated, and that Tracii is the bastard son of Johnny Thunders and Marc Bolan. He’s quite an accomplished guitar player for someone really so young. During “Never Enough” Tracii plays with flourish and gusto; and he does this weird thing which I have seen him do before but never understood. and don’t know how to describe. While sustaining a note with his left hand, he bangs on the back of the head of his guitar, like he’s angry at it -- “Bad buitar! BAD!” I guess this part of the Tracii Guns Technique For Guitar Discipline. No matter, he’s fun to watch and L.A.Guns always puts on a energetic show.

I will say this against them: Phil Lewis should quit it with the half-shirts. He should, in fact, not tour in the summer, or play during the day. L.A. Guns suffers from severe lack of image. I’m loathe to suggest that looks and ability are tied together, but these guys have been all over the map for so long, no one gets it when they get up there. I’m no Mr. Blackwell, but Phil Lewis, who is English, needs to wear one of those early Rod Stewart-Austin Powers mod suits while the rest of the guys should be decked out in leather jackets and scuzzy jeans. Then he can prance around like a fop and wail while the rest of the band shreds, and people who don’t know them might go, “Oh, yeah -- it’s like the Faces, but sleazier!” Then they could cover “Cut Across Shorty” and “Stay With Me” for an encore, and music journalists from Rolling Stone would fucking wet their pants wondering why they’re writing about shitty food-court nu-metal, when there is a really good band out there “keeping it real.” This is rock and roll, after all. The “new guys,” by the way, are Keff Ratcliff (guitar) and Adam Hamilton (bass). If L.A. Guns was a pastrami sandwich, these guys are the mustard. Gotta have a good mustard… (Method Of Preparation demands that Tracii is baked AFTER the show.)

“Don’t Look At Me That Way”/”Never Enough”/”Revolution”/”Ballad Of Jayne”/”Hellraiser’s Ball”/”Rip And Tear”

(serves 500+)

4 white guys from Sarasota, FL.
1 electronic keyboard
1 stupid black trenchcoat
LOTS of cheese

These guys from Sarasota, FLA. came into the 80’s rock scene with their catchy by-the-numbers little songs. I never liked them, but I will grant that they:
1) were really tight
2) really connected with the audience
3) have a lot of merchandise for sale.

That’s about as much as I can say that is nice. It’s always been strange to me that such a clean ready-for-the-mall rock band would have recorded a tune with a grammatically incorrect title. It should be “Baby, Don’t Treat Me BADLY.” I know, I know, it’s rock… but still, these guys look and sound more like Phys. Ed. teachers than rock and rollers. They play with the banal choreographed charm of a well-produced Florida boy-band, but they seemed to think they were Dream Theatre. Firehouse, as a band, were always lightweights in my opinion; but without a doubt, they are loved by many. I would be a liar if I suggested that they didn’t “WOW” the crowd. They did. I, however, was “Wowed” in a slightly different way, as in, “Wow. I can’t believe this shit…” If you really enjoy seeing “rock,” you will find that Firehouse is about as entertaining as a car chase on Matlock…

“Bye-Bye Baby Bye-Bye”/”Shake And Tumble”/”?“/”Love Of A Lifetime”/”Reach For The Sky”/”Baby, Don’t Treat Me Bad”

(serves 1000+)

1 Mohawk
2 Stupid banners
1 terrycloth ascot
1 bassist with Misfits shirt
A bunch of songs that were lame twelve years ago that sound great now…

Warrant is the surprise of the evening. I had no idea what to expect. I saw these guys on the “Cherry Pie” tour with Poison in ’90 or ’91; and then in 1999 at Caesar’s Palace at The Exotic Dancer Expo. They were kind of…well, I would say, “ehh.”

Wasn’t ever really a fan, but I was completely taken by the astonishing amount of heart that pours out of Jani Lane onstage. Whether or not it’s a rap he does over and over, this guy comes off as someone who has been through hell, looks like it (new fashionable Mohawk aside), and sings like it. He’s even pretty funny- when they start into “Heaven,” Jani announces “It’s pussy-ballad time, it’s pussy-ballad time...” The audience digs the self-mockery, if only because it takes the sting out of singing along to a few songs we’d maybe rather not admit we like in public. I got goosebumps, and was so mortified, I had to run and get a beer and smoke a cigarette. It sucks when a song makes you feel all wimpy and reminds you of your ex-girlfriend and how miserable you are. But everyone else seems that way too, so it’s not so bad. This is what makes Warrant likeable to me. Everything that comes out of his mouth sounds as meaningful as the struggling band you watch at your local rock club that plays every night and is trying to get a record deal. Sure, he takes a lot of beatings on the Internet and in the little press that he gets, but Jani Lane is an underdog now. He isn’t in the shape that he used to be, but girls are still screaming for Jani… (maybe those girls aren’t in the shape they used to be in, but hey… ) The band plays like it’s the show of their lives. Lucky for us up here in little old New Hampshire.

They have two banners that flank the stage, one on the left that Says “DOWN” and one on the right that says, “BOYS.” It’s pretty funny looking, But everyone cheered when they were being set up. I don’t care for it, but whatever. “Subhuman” is a great song.

“Down Boys”/”Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich”/”Hole In My Wall”/ “Heaven-I Saw Red-Bed Of Roses”/”Subhuman”/”Uncle Tom’s Cabin”/”Cherry Pie-We Will Rock You”

(serves 1000+)

1 Warren De Martini
1 Bobby Blotzer
1 Whole Crab
1 Robbie Crane
1 Raw Jizzy Pearl

‘Fra Diavolo’ means “Brother Devil” in Italian and usually applies to seafood dishes served in a hot and spicy marinara (tomato) sauce. The heat coming off the stage from the opening number is enough to cook a turkey in under 5 minutes. And the speed? It sounds like a Slayer cover band by the time they get to the second song, “I’m Insane.” These guys are hot, no question. Corabi and Pearl are the new, not-so-secret ingredients, and thought I hate to say it, they, er-- “kick it up a notch -- Bam!.” There, I said it. If this band goes back to being with Pearcy, it would ruin the recipe completely, and it would not be as savory. Jizzy rocks circles around Pearcy. Period. Sorry to the three guys in the row in front of me who thought otherwise, flipping Jizzy the bird and staying seated while everyone else, including one girl in a wheelchair on the aisle, jumped up and down. I don’t know why people are so emphatic about this: old singer, new singer, blah, blah, blah. I’m tired of this shit. Let me put it this way… I don’t want my parents getting back together anytime soon… but that said, whether or not you are a “Pearcy fan,” or a “Pearl fan,” what I saw this evening cemented the fact that, sometimes, change IS good. Corabi scares the shit out of me, though. He looks at the crowd like he’s looking for someone who welched on a loan. I have met him, briefly, and he was perfectly pleasant and downright charming; but still, he freaks me out, and I would cross the street if I saw him walking towards me. If RATT was The Sopranos he would be “Richie Aprille.”

“Wanted Man”/“I’m Insane”/“Way Cool, Jr. ”/ “City To City”/“Shame, Shame, Shame”/“Lack Of Communication”/“Back For More”/“Lovin’ You’s A Dirty Job”/“Nobody Rides For Free”/“Lay It Down”/“You’re In Love”/“Round And Round”

[The Warren DeMartini: With Cosmopolitans and Chocolate and Candy-flavored martinis all the rage these days, I thought I would invent a recipe for an “up” cocktail that recalls the “spirit” of this mighty low-key and unsung ‘80s guitar-god]

2 oz. Absolut Peppar
4 oz. V-8
1 dash of McIlhenny Tabasco

Mix over ice, pour spirits and shake well. Serve in a chilled martini glass, up. Add Tabasco to taste. Garnish with a lime. This is a variation on a “Bloody Mary,” which, like his guitar-playing, is “bloody good.” This drink is hot, and you will, uh, be “Back For More.” (Make your own terrible joke here).

(serves ??)

I hate this stuff more than I hate sushi and eggplant. I mean Dokken, of course. Great tee shirt, terrible band. The days of “Rokken With Dokken” have passed. How they proclaim themselves “headliners” has got to be politics worthy of an “X-Files” investigation. These guys should be “The Early Bird Special.” If this band sucked any harder, they would be entertaining salesmen in Atlantic City for 50 bucks a throw. Awful. I was in for three songs then out. I can’t bear to watch, and even if I wasn’t driving, the amount of alcohol I would need to consume to enjoy this band would prove fatal. Not worth it for me. I’d rather watch Firehouse again. This is one item that needs to come off the menu.

As I didn’t stick around, and really don’t care, consult your local Dokken fansite for updates. Or better yet, go to the Hustler Busty website and look at pictures of naked girls with huge boobs. It doesn’t have anything to do with Dokken, but it would be time better spent.

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