Sunday, June 26, 2005


The first time I went to Ford Park was for a ZZ Top concert a few months back. It was a nightmare. It took more than an hour from the time I exited the freeway to the time I got in the parking lot. And then it was about another hour to clear security. This time, there was no wait for anything. But then, this wasn't ZZ Top and the parking lot wasn't nearly as full. Nor was the pavilion. But there was still a pretty good crowd.

In case anyone hasn't been paying attention, RockFest '77 is a concert consisting of four tribute bands--Satisfaction doing the Rolling Stones, TNT doing AC/DC, Zoso doing Led Zeppelin, and Us and Them doing Pink Floyd. And they all do what they do very well.

And then there was the film crew. Several cameras filming the bands and the crowd (or that portion of it that seemed to be dressed in appropriate 70s garb).

And first up was Satisfaction. And I don't think the Stones could do the Stones better. "Mick" looked like Mick, moved like Mick, and sounded like Mick. Same for Keith. As for the rest of them, who notices?

And after the Stones, there was an intermission while they set up for the next band. And that band was TNT, an AC/DC tribute band.

TNT is a very good AC/DC tribute band. I don't think they're quite as good as Hells Bells, but they're close. I think their Angus looks a bit more like the real Angus, but I think Hells Bells' Angus is more animated, if that can be believed (or more authentically spastic, anyway).

And, since I mentioned getting mooned by Angus McWannabe in a previous post, I suppose I should mention that, during "The Jack," Angus dropped his shorts to reveal... AC/DC boxers. And then there was just a flash of a moon that was over before it began. There were children present,after all.

It could be the acoustics of the venue, or maybe a problem with the sound board, but I thought the Bon Scott vocals sounded a bit thin. Especially when compared with Hells Bells' singer.

And trough the whole set, the singer wore his Brian Johnson hat. (Hells Bells' singer only wears the hat when he's doing a Brian Johnson song. He removes his hat in honor of Bon Scott.) At the end of the show, the band took a bow, and the hat came off. And all was made clear. You just can't do Bon Scott with a bald spot. It just doesn't work.

(Here's a bit of unbelievable trivia. Cliff Williams, AC/DC's base player since 1977, toured with Al Stewart in 1974.)

Anyway, TNT did a bang up job. Bon Scott/Brian Johnson belted them out, Angus spazed across the stage, and even toured the crowd on a roadie's shoulders. A good time was had by all.

And then they were done. And about this time, I was thinking it was time for Jive Train. Or any suitable Funk band. Someone who could tear the roof off; tear the roof off the mother, sucker; tear the roof off the sucker. I was really ready for someone to give up the funk. But alas, it was not to be.

Next up was Zoso, the Led Zeppelin band. While AC/DC revels in a three-chord progression of beer, bawdy innuendo, and adolescent sexuality, Led Zeppelin's music (with some notable exceptions) tends more toward an artsy, ethereal sort of stuff infused with deep meanings. Or at least meanings that seem deep after a few hours of breathing in the "atmosphere" at The Bulldog in Amsterdam. ("If there's a bustle in your hedgerow, don't be alarmed now...." Seriously folks.... Does anyone think that has any non-pharmacological meaning?)

(Here's another bit of trivia. Led Zeppelin's Jimmy Page, played on Al Stewart's first recording, the excrable "The Elf." He also played on Al Stewart's quite good album "Love Chronicles.")

Anyway, Zoso provided a nice opportunity to leave the seats, stretch out on the lawn, and take a nap. Led Zeppelin has a tendency to do that to me. Don't get me wrong. I like a lot of Led Zeppelin's stuff. But a lot of it also has a hypnotic, soporific effect.

If you ever find yourself thinking you want to kick off your shoes and lie down in the grass as the sun sets on a Southeast Texas summer day, think again. Right now I really want to soak my feet in boiling water. Sure the skin would all sluff off, but it would take the mosquito bites with it.

After Zoso finished, the special surprise act cranked it up on the side stage. There was a poster on the side of the lemonade stand that had their name, but I can't remember what it was. Mocor or Melcor or something like that. Maybe. Maybe not. I dunno. I'm not sure either of those is even close. Suffice it to say that they were a KISS tribute band.

I am not a KISS fan; much the opposite, actually. But I have to give them credit for one thing. "Rock 'n Roll All Nite" is one of the truly great rock 'n roll anthems; right up there with Judas Priest's "Living After Midnight," AC/DC's "Long Way to the Top," the Stones "It's Only Rock 'N Roll," or Zeppelin's "Rock And Roll." (As I see it, in order to qualify as a proper rock 'n roll anthem, the song has to be about rockin' 'n rollin' and not much else.)

Not being a KISS fan, I didn't really feel qualified to comment on how they did as a KISS tribute band. But I can say that their costumes looked really good (whether they looked authentic I couldn't say), and I thoroughly enjoyed their rendition of Rock 'n Roll All Nite. But I thought the Jean Simmons character needed to lose some weight.

Believe it or not, this wasn't my first KISS tribute band. I've actually seen Strutter more than once. I liked this band's costumes better; they had a more professional look. But I couldn't say which band does KISS better. I'd like to see them side-by-side sometime, each with their full show, including pyrotechnics and whatever else they might have in their bags of tricks.

And after KISS was over, it was back to the seats for Us and Them.

And then it was time for technical difficulties. But not too many; and after a not entirely unreasonable time, the band took the stage.

If you close your eyes, Us and Them is indistinguishable from Pink Floyd. And if you opened your eyes, the laser show was fantastic. But, unfortunately, that wasn't enough. This thing started at about 3, and they didn't take the stage until around 11. By that time, everyone was hot, sweaty, sticky, and tired. They could have blown everybody away with a tight set of Pink Floyd favorites.

But they didn't.

Instead, they played a few of the standbys, but mainly the more obscure stuff, with extended Floydian instrumental breaks. I'm sure it was terribly authentic, and it sounded exactly like the real thing, but the music selection just wasn't right for the occasion. This was a time to hit on the hits, not to play "Shine On You Crazy Diamond Part 41." It was good, but not what it could have been. I'd like to see them some time fresh, and with air conditioning. I'm sure they'd be great.

And on one final note, late June isn't the best time of the year for an all day outdoor event in Southeast Texas. Not quite the worst either, but pretty close.

Labels: ,


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wow! sounds like I was almost there!!

Monday, June 27, 2005 1:35:00 AM  
Blogger Laurie said...

Man, you covered everything right down to Robert Plant's jiggly belly and even threw in some Al Stewart trivia. Perfect! (And, my ankles are itching like a b**ch, too.)

Monday, June 27, 2005 6:49:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It was surely the best show ever to come to Ford Park. I love the "obscure" Pink Floyd (Echoes) and the majestic quality of the end of the Led Zep set. Let's have another festival, only I vote for and early Fall show. Here's a little something for ya, Wang.

Monday, June 27, 2005 2:21:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was delighted to find that you had taken time from your grueling work schedule to not only attend Rockfest, but also to provide a thorough overview of the various bands that performed.

Monday, June 27, 2005 5:37:00 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home