Pure Rock Patroller
Wednesday, January 23, 2002 @ 5:54 PM
Fozzy, IronHorse And Sick Spee
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Shackin' Up with Fozzy
Anaheim, CA -- Thank goodness Fozzy's ferocious founders didn't shuffle off into obscurity the way many of the '80s metal burnouts did. Damn if Fozzy didn't write the most granite-shattering songs of the big-hair decade, music drunk on locker-room rhythms and sick, hormonal surges. That's gotta be the reason they've been going strong so long. While they were trapped in Japan due to the confinements of a bad record deal for more than a decade, the five-some honed their thundering musical charge to the point that it could sweep you up like a riptide. Now they're back, touring a select number of towns before the release of their second CD for the new millennium, due out this summer on Megaforce records.
Last Friday night, Fozzy's first Southern California tour brought them to The Shack in Anaheim for a music benefit for the Fire Fighters Foundation for 9/11/01 sponsored by Peavey Guitars. It didn't hurt matters that it was also opening night of the annual, coveted west coast NAMM Convention in Los Angeles (formerly known as the National Association of Music Merchants, now expanded to the title International Music Products Association). This brought many stuffy music-industry types over to the combo bar-pool hall-restaurant, all hoping to experience Fozzy's hell-bent-for-leather attack first hand.
When this writer arrived shortly after 8pm, however, the room was being sabotaged by Stinkfinger, some unsigned local outfit chock full of stringy goatees and bad sunglasses who were quite flat in comparison to Limp Bizkit, the band who's song from "Three Dollar Bill Y'All" Stinkfinger copped their name from. Focusing on the guitarist, I felt he was a better colorist than a composer, but quite a listenable player nonetheless. But rap-core performers tend to be entertainers more than they are artists, and Stinkfinger's singer relied more on his comedic tendencies than he did on timing, inflection or finesse. I don't know how many times he used this tired old comment between songs, "Where the hell is Chris Jericho?" to make a few bystanders in the audience chuckle. The tight pack of Fozzy fans that filled the room saw it as an undistinguished plea for help, though, since WWF wrestler Jericho has been known to stalk Fozzy leader Moongoose McQueen while he's on the road. Was Stinkfinger's singer hoping Jericho could show up and defend him from Fozzy's massive metal attack? What about all those Hell's Angels hanging out at the bar? Certainly they weren't there to get autographs from any wrestlers, and obviously they were rabid fans of McQueen.
Luckily, we were soon relieved from Stinkfinger's rather expressionless set before any fights broke out, and Atlanta's Sick Speed took over the stage. The uncomprising sound and unmistakable passion of this hard rock four-piece has helped make them one of the hottest up-and-coming metal acts on the continent. Formed from the roots of '90s rap-metal conglomerate Stuck Mojo, Sick Speed founder Rich Ward recently added Billy Grey to the group as rapper/guitarist, and Keith Watson on bass. Wow can they chain instrumental aggression to a stirring metal melody, but the real interest lies in how well they can go beyond the usual limits of the metal-core song format. "Can't See Straight" epitomized this streamlined attack, welding Billy's raunchy-melodic opening rap with the propulsive guitar and bass arsenal. Too bad their set was limited to a mere 35 minutes on this busy, showcasing night. The full-bore instrumental frenzy came to fruition on their last number, "The Way I Am," which really proved Ward has an act here that cannot be ignored. His high-jumping, fluid stage persona had the fans just hoppin' and screamin'; his guitar solo was deliberately wet and provocative. Sick Speed is poised for further success as a stylish act with a knack for killer riffs, and it's a tasty treat that they haven't lost any of their popwise footing either.
Noodling after them was Liquid, who tried to meld ska, R&B and hip-hop into something palatable, but came off more like just a bunch of white boys trying so damn hard to be bad. With no street credibility, this was more like a high-school version of the Beastie Boys. Then suddenly the show shifted completely in the opposite direction, rolling back to a time when the mighty groups of the White ruled: White Snake, White Lion, Great White. Who was it going to be?
The band moving in on the stage called themselves IronHorse, but wait, "Isn't that Ron Keel?" a little voice said inside my head. Yep, there's no missing a full-tilt rocker such as him. "Time Is On My Side" wasn't in the repertoire this evening for these cats, and for obvious reasons, so it was tough to sit through the chorus-savoring slow songs that filled up most of their set. Only on the last number, when Keel left the stage and allowed the IronHorse guitarist to cut loose on a long, note-laden sad solo, did I feel that possibly these players did have a stirring, important documentary piece of the past in their hearts. I'm glad it was able to at least shine a little for Ron Keel's sake. He was looking pretty serious about his stuff, just like he always did.
Then the room was elevated to the most credible fury of the evening. The crowd packed in tightly around the small stage, but I could make out a swarm of gorgeous Fozzy Floozies, many WWF stars (including Al Snow, Ivory, Chavo Guerrero, Jr. and some of the cast from the latest Tough Enough installment), and savage media animals such as Paul Gargano from Metal Edge magazine, all frantically trying to edge close to their idol, the voracious Moongoose McQueen. It was quite a scramble, with at least four videographers running around taping the show. But Moongoose was wild as ever for the camera, and gave an insinuating, but romantic delivery of "Eat the Rich," (a Fozzy hit later immortalized when ripped-off by Krokus). It was grand to hear his voice rise to a heavenly register with such ease. Sporting an edge of crimson red at the bottom of his long, wavy, gold locks, McQueen commanded much stage presence during the show, acting cool but flirtatious during "Wrathchild" and "Black Out" also.
Lord Bagden Powell was in attendance as well (now that he is a permanent third guitarist in Fozzy) looking Nordic but ballsy with his knight's garb, and using his fiery sound to forge melodic steel beside The Kidd and Duke LaRue. Another fun point was McQueen inviting members of the audience to sing along on "TNT"; an Amazon-sized blonde with thighs as thick as his owned quickly jumped up onstage to join him (apparently one of the Tough Enough contenders), and she cracked everyone up with her wobbled, slightly off-key rendition of the hit. The show closed with a roof-shaking version of "Rock You Like A Hurricane," proving that Fozzy live detonates with the same gratifying crunch as their records. Catch 'em soon at a biker bar near you.