They say that timing is everything. In May of 1992, I had just moved back to my hometown of Denver and attending college for Music & Video Business because, at the ripe old age of 23, I may have still not known the direction I wanted to go in life but I did know the two things I had a passion for were music and video. It was that passion for new music that led me into the local record store where I was a regular customer. Scanning the new releases, my eye caught a cassette cover of a young girl in a bright red swimsuit, all dolled up with a cigarette in hand and the logo of WildSide above the title, Under The Influence. One look at the back cover of five guys with long hair and leather jackets was all it took to tell me that this new band was right in my genre of “80’s Hair Metal” that I loved and was raised on throughout the MTV era. After throwing down my five bucks for the cassette tape and popping it into my Walkman (yes, it was the early 90’s), I quickly realized this was not the bubblegum rock of Def Leppard or the watered-down rock of Poison that I was accustomed to hearing in constant rotation from my local radio station. From the opening sirens and pounding drumbeats of “Hang On Lucy” I felt the excitement that I hadn’t felt in the four years since I first heard another album called Appetite For Destruction. Each song was as good as, if not better than, the last…from the haunting sound and killer riff of the epic “Lad In Sin” to the sleaze rock lyrics of “Clock Strikes” even the token ballads like “Just Another Night”, “Kiss This Love Goodbye”, and especially the harsh in-your-face fuck-off to an ex-girlfriend lyrics of “How Many Lies” had a rough edge to them. I remember thinking as I listened to it over and over again, that this band is going to be HUGE!
Now, remember when I said “timing is everything”? This was in May of 1992 and a mere six months after a band from Seattle had released an album called Nevermind that unbeknownst to myself, Wildside, and pretty much everybody else on the planet would end up ushering in a whole new genre of music. Suddenly making any of the Sunset Strip Hollywood bands like Wildside, old news and blase’. Meaning that after listening to this excellent debut album from a band I thought was going to be huge, I hadn’t seen or heard anything more from them (I did discover through Itunes about 5 years ago that they had released an album of demos titled The Wasted Years). That is until…24 years later!
May of 2016, you can’t imagine my excitement when Wolfpack Productions, the top Rock Promoters in the Denver area, announced that for their annual Wolf Fest 2-day rock festival on September 2nd and 3rd at the Buffalo Rose in Golden, Co. they were reuniting Wildside on the bill. Four out of the five original members (rhythm guitarist Benny Rhynedance was not included after an unfortunate falling out with the other members), Drew Rose (AKA Drew Hannah) on vocals, Marc Simon on bass, Jimmy Darby on drums, and the only member to stay in the music industry playing for artists such as Vince Neil and Sebastian Bach, Brent Woods on lead guitar were reuniting to play their first show in many years and continue where they left off some 20+ years ago.
The night before their debut, I had the opportunity to chat with Drew and Marc about the upcoming show. It was obvious they were more than a little nervous about whether the show would be good and what the audience reaction would be. After all, they no longer had the long, flowing hair and “pretty boy” looks on the back cover of Under The Influence and although each has carved out successful careers outside of the music industry, it had still been quite a few years since they had been on a stage. They also seemed overwhelmed but pleased with the anticipation from fans such as myself and all over the internet that had been hoping for this to happen for over 20 years. As I finished talking to them and reassuring them that I predict it will be a great show and they will not disappoint, I did notice a beautiful and vibrant teenage girl that was around the area where they were signing autographs for fans. She was just kinda hanging out so I assumed she must be a daughter or some kind of relation.
Finally, it’s Saturday night, September 3rd at the Buffalo Rose and about an hour before they were scheduled to hit the stage, I went backstage and met the other two members Brent and Jimmy. This time, I sensed more excitement than nervousness as they all were smiling and genuinely happy, I took a photo with them and then proceeded to the back of the club with my video camera where I could freely document this historic show since the Buffalo Rose was at what had to be near full capacity.
With the house lights down and the stage dark, the haunting intro starts and Jimmy begins to hit his cymbals. As soon as the lights come on and Brent starts busting out the riff to “Hair Of The Dog”, the crowd erupted. Dressed in a leather motorcycle jacket, sunglasses, and his salt & pepper goatee, looking like he just came from the set of Sons Of Anarchy, Drew screams out the lyrics, not with the smoothness of the recording but, a gruff growl that gave this song and eventually, the rest of their set an even harder more modern metal sound. Along with Drew‘s gruff vocals, Brent‘s blistering riffs, Marc‘s stomping bass lines, and Jimmy‘s pounding backbeat was the rhythmic sound of the “guest” rhythm guitarist, that young, vibrant teenage girl from the night before now had a guitar in front of her, strumming chords like a pro with an energy and infectious smile that won over the crowd immediately, as evident in the thundering applause when she was introduced by Brent as “the awesomely talented, future of Rock ‘N Roll” Ms. Lexii Lynn Frazier.
They continued through a great setlist including three of the songs off their mostly demo album, The Wasted Years, “Easy As 1,2,3”, “Crash Diet”, and a much harder sounding version of “Dance Swing”, staying away from the softer power ballads with the exception of “Just Another Night”, their token ballad single that was a requirement from every band in the late 80’s to early 90’s. This was the only time that I noticed Drew really struggling to get that softer, smoothness to his voice that simply is just not there anymore. But the capacity crowd had it covered with harmonizing the lyrics. With that done, it was onward and upwards with a non-stop hard-driving barrage of blistering riffs, pounding beats, and screaming vocals with all the classic staples from the debut album. From the furious build-up and eruption of “Lad In Sin” and the sleazy growl of “Clock Strikes” and “Hang On Lucy” to the anger-driven intensity of “Heart & Soul” and “How Many Lies”! The set ended with a thunderous encore cover of the Accept song “Balls To The Wall” to an even more thunderous applause from the crowd of longtime fans like myself and I’m sure, many new fans that may not have heard of Wildside when they burst onto the scene in 1992 only to be extinguished quickly by the overwhelming surge of Grunge Rock but, did witness The Triumphant Return Of Wildside.
First and foremost, I have to thank Anthony Lucero and Jim Chapman of Wolfpack Productions for bringing Wildside to Denver and not only organizing this Wolf Fest event but, also bringing many of the top Hard Rock acts that have been posted on the Decibel Geek YouTube channel. To the fans that were not able to see this event, Wildside has assured me that they will be doing more shows in the near future so, continue to keep updated at DecibelGeek.com on any shows that might be coming to your area. Credit to Chris Deutsch and Front Row Concert Photos for the photos accompanying this article and check out the first video made available from DBGTV below of “Lad In Sin” with more coming soon.