Quoting Dr. Suess. That’s gotta be a Decibel Geek first.
The worst thing about the start of summer is knowing it will soon end. As soon as summer begins it’s hard to miss the signs that harken its end. Back to School sales. Pre-season football. Dairy Queens closing. And if Grand Casino continues to host an annual Grand Rocktember Festival I will have my own official last weekend of Summer.
Now in it’s third year, this year’s two day festival would be my first. It’s been a summer of Festivals for Bakko and while I enjoyed them all part of me most anticipated this one. A gathering of bands I grew up with. Whose t-shirts let everyone at Owatonna High School know, behind the zits, was a man (boy) who liked to rock. That may be a bit dramatic. More like a gathering of middle aged white people battling over the same baby sitter to just have one weekend where they can drink like they’re 25 while enjoying the soundtrack to the evenings that made needing that babysitter necessary. Those are my people and this is my crowd.
Day 1 started early Friday evening with Steelheart. While I was looking forward to hearing their hit “I’ll Never Let You Go” I got the feeling that were it not for the singer’s involvement in that dreadful movie Rock Star, most in attendance wouldn’t have known much about them. I have always had a twisted obsession with “I’ll Never Let You Go”. Don’t get me wrong it’s a good rock ballad. But I like it for the freak factor. And if you know what I’m talking about then you know what I was wondering. Can he (Miljenko Matijevic and only original member) still hit those notes. Yes he can. And it was AWESOME! Hairs and other parts of my body stood erect in anticipation of that last ridiculous note the song ends on. It was glorious.
Next was Decibel Geek alum Jack Russell and his version of Great White. I last saw Jack and his guitar player Robby Lochner do an acoustic story tellers type show back in February but this would be my first time seeing the full band. They killed it. Former Great White (official) bass player Tony Montana is now playing guitar and handling keyboard duties. The two guitar attack brings some balls to those songs and since I don’t have to be political I can say this band is better than the other Great White. It may be time for Great White (official) to reconsider who’s singing for them.
I missed the first half of Candlebox’s set hanging with Jack and his band but I was impressed with what I did see. But it was Skid Row with new singer Tony Harnell that most intrigued me out of the Day 1 lineup. And much like we’d all prefer there be just one happy version of Great White for us all to love, everyone (not in the band) would prefer Skid Row and Sebastian Bach just made nice. I saw the Skids with former singer Johnny Solinger a few times over the decade or so he fronted band. He did a fine job I guess but his whole crotch stuffing Cowboy hat shtick just didn’t do it for me. When I heard he was out and Tony Harnell was in I became a lot more interested in Skid Row. So what did I think? First thing you’ll notice is Tony brings a real rock front man presence they’ve been lacking since Bas. He also has the chops that sadly Johnny didn’t. Tony can hit any note in the Skid Row catalog. The final verdict for me? Still not Bas. Tony is almost too smooth at times for Skid Row. Whatever the hell that means. But if you’re not going to get Sebastian (This just in. You’re not.) you’re not going to do better than Tony Harnell. By the way the band was good as well. But in all the times I’ve seen them that was never the issue.
To end Day 1 Bret Michaels flew in at the last minute (for real) to give whatever the hell it is he gives ya. To start the show a booming voice came over the PA and said this: (Insert classic rock show/monster truck commercial voice) ALRIGHT HINCKLEY. ARE YOU READY TO ROCK? DON’T FORGET TO GO TO OVERSTOCK.COM FOR THE OVERSTOCK.COM ROCKS STYLE WITH LIVE BRET MICHAELS. SOMETIMES YOU NEED TO ROCK AND SOMETIME YOU NEED TO LIVE. AND PETSMART FEATURING BRET MICHAELS PET’S ROCK LINE OF PET APPAREL.”
That actually happened.
Any enjoyment I get out Bret Michaels is for all the wrong reasons. There isn’t another person who is as equally famous as unaware. But if you’re a divorce’ in your forties and hammered, Bret’s got something for you.
Next up! Day 2.