Quiet Riot have soldiered on after the 2007 death of frontman Kevin DuBrow, but only drummer Frankie Banali was there to feel the noise back in the ’80s. Faster Pussycat are led by singer Taime Downe and a bunch of dirty-faced Los Angeles ringers, and BulletBoys offered a one-two punch into the hair metal time machine via vocalist Marq Torien and bassist Lonnie Vencent.
(And we’re not even getting into Gilby Clarke and his band, who opened the show around 7:05 p.m.; as I thought I heard a cover of “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door” through the walls from the Wilbur box office, I quickly turned around and went to neighborhood dive the Tam for a drink. On the corner of Tremont and Stuart streets, a middle-aged man from Brockton asked if I had an extra ticket, because he wanted to “see Guns N’ Roses play.”)
I walked into the Wibur in the middle of BulletBoys’ set and thought I had stumbled onto their soundcheck. A few dozen people loosely filled the standing-room floor section of the venue, and there were maybe another 50 or so in the (first) balcony. The Wilbur holds 1,200 people.
The sound was muddled, and after realizing it was BulletBoys and not Clarke up there on stage, I still couldn’t make out what song they were playing (admission: I know the band’s catalog well). That’s because the house music was still on, coming through the speakers on top of whatever nonsense BulletBoys were churning out. After the song, babyfaced-but-still-LA-looking guitarist Nick Rozz finally shouted at the sound guy to kill the house music.
From there, the room was now BulletBoys to own. So what did they do? They played a song off their new record Elefante. Jesus mother of Christ we were all there for “Smooth Up In Ya” and maybe “Shoot The Preacher Down.” I definitely didn’t expect “F#9” (their best song) or even sophomore record single “THC Groove,” but c’mon with the new shit in 2014, especially at $35 a ticket.
“This afternoon the venue told us there weren’t many ticket sales for tonight’s show,” Torien yelled at one point. “They said we might not get paid tonight! But I don’t do this for the money, I do it for rock and roll.”
He mumbled some other things and then gave us a “Boston strong!”
We all just kinda looked at each other.
Finally, Torien delivered the goods on the band’s last gasp after only 20 minutes or so, screaming out the intro to “Smooth Up In Ya” just like he did in 1988. All was right in the world during our little private concert, even if the guy standing next to me smelled like a stale deli tray.
Then it was Faster Pussycat’s turn to bring the sleaze, and me and my authentic 1992 Cathouse “Wild West Tour” was ready and willing. Downe’s certainly no young pup from the spandex-wearing, high-hair glory days, but can still sing with the nasally cat-scratch shriek like he did back in the late-’80s. At this point that’s all we want, even if they all look like scuzzy biker dudes with a million miles on their tires.
Songs like “Cathouse” and “Bathroom Wall” still retain their immature sexed-up charm, and hell, power ballad “House of Pain” (with Downe crouched down on a guitar case holding up a cigarette Massachusetts law prohibited him from actually lighting) may have been the best thing heard all night. Downe did at one point call us in the crowd “fahhkin retahhded” but he may or may not have been kidding. He definitely mocked us with the Cheers theme song, though.
Others members of the band told us to “wake up” on a several occasions, and while Downe informed us that they wished they could “play all night” or whatever, he couldn’t have gotten off that stage fast enough. In fact, bassist Danny Nordahl even filled in on vocals during a cover of Supersuckers’ “Pretty Fucked Up,” which kinda blew when we were only getting 25 minutes (and roughly six songs) of Faster Pussycat time. Guess we’ll have to wait until next tour to hear those Whipped! singles.
(Side note in defense of this “new” Faster Pussycat: Guitarist Xristian Simon, Nordahl, and drummer Chad Stewart have all now been in the band since 2001; that’s definitely more time than Brent Muscat or Greg Steele put in, so there you go.)
Once Faster Pussycat were done and we all decided a tetanus shot appoint was necessary come morning, that dreaded house music came back on.
And it was playing a recording of Quiet Riot’s biggest hit, “Cum On Feel The Noise.”
This was unfortunate. One, that’s just silly. Take the performing bands off the Now That’s What I Call Hair Metal playlist for the night, double up on some Bang Tango or Slik Toxik or Danger Danger if you have to. Don’t play a song by a band about to hit the stage, sung by their now-dead former lead singer, because two, it brought the white elephant ghost of DuBrow right back into the room. And no one was gettin’ wild wild wild. It was a Thursday — we all had work the next day. The sound guy quickly realized his mistake and the emptiness of the room made it awkward for everyone. I think he put on Billy Squier.
Anyway, Quiet Riot eventually took the stage and what was left of the audience was just out of gas. New(-ish) frontman Jizzy Pearl was hyper and frenetic, but all I could keep thinking was “That’s the guy from Love/Hate.” He tried to make light of the sparse crowd, pointing to the empty upper balcony and saying that’s where he’d be sitting, but it was a lost cause. Banali (who declined our request to interview him in advance of the show because the Quiet Riot tour schedule was “too hectic”) did a few drum solos and people cheered, but I’m sure the reception in New Hampshire was twice as loud the following night. Just a hunch.
After a few songs, including a shrug-inducing “Slick Black Cadillac,” I decided I had enough. There was going to be no Kevin DuBrow tribute like New Order does for Ian Curtis, and I sure as fuck wasn’t staying another 45 minutes to hear Jizzy Freakin’ Pearl sing “Metal Health.”
Outside, my Vanyaland colleague Michael Christopher ran into Torien on the street, presumably looking to meet chicks (there were very few inside the venue), and he was very friendly. I would have asked him to yell “Teatime!” just for shits and giggles, but I missed out.
As I drove home down the Mass Pike, BulletBoys’ “For The Love Of Money” came on SiriusXM Hair Nation. I thought about what Torien said earlier about playing for free, I thought of this massive clusterfuck of a show that could’ve been held at the Middle East Upstairs, and I thought about bands like Poison, Def Leppard, and Ratt, who, with a bit of promotional scheduling and proper routing, can still respectively fill suburban venues like the XFinity Center in Mansfield. My mind raced as I couldn’t tell if I had a great time or a terrible time, but realized I like Faster Pussycat enough to feel the whole thing was worth it.
Then I thought about Downe calling me us “fahhkin retahhded,” turned off the radio, and went home.