THE Hard Rock and AOR Reference on the Internet!
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February 6, 2020:
"Best of 2019" lists have been posted
Come check out the top 5 picks from Mike, Jez, Pete, and myself, and
add your own! -Dan
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May 26-28, 2000
"I just flew in from Las Vegas, and boy are my arms tired."
What an exhausting, scorchingly-hot, expensive, and
mind-blowingly fantastic weekend!!!
I was so hyped-up Thursday night to get going that while
I tried going to sleep at 8:00 p.m., I didn't fall asleep
until 12:30 a.m... of course I had to get up at 1:30 a.m.
to go drive to Indy to catch my flight. That set the tone
for the weekend. Nonstop goings on. It was a blast!
Over the course of this little report I'm writing, I'll
probably forget to mention some of the people I met over
the weekend; my apologies in advance. The very first thing
I've gotta do though is give a hearty thump on the back to
Dave "Be My Love Slave" Tedder and Deb "No, damnit! He's MY
Love Slave" Penny from
Ego Trip Entertainment
for going above and beyond the call of
duty in pulling this off! I can't imagine the amount of stress
they've had to endure, and both of them did a yeoman's job
fighting fires all weekend long. Have a beer (or 7)!
Like any first-time festival, there were a few hiccups along
the way, but everyone I spoke with, from band members to
label reps, to just plain folks, enjoyed the hell out of
themselves, and were all planning to attend next year
[fade to scene of Dave banging his head against the wall
screaming "No! Not already!!! AUGH!!!!].
It was blisteringly hot. All 4 days the daytime highs were
105-110 degrees. For those of us from more temperate climes,
this was, shall we say, "different." Much beer (and water)
I got a chance to meet some of the people from various web
sites and record labels that I'd talked with on occasion via
and a bunch more that I'm forgetting...
I was able to meet and get autographs from a bunch of bands
and artists that I've been looking forward to seeing for
ages. While there were a couple of pinheads in the mix, the
VAST majority of guys (and gals) were incredibly cool and
down-to-earth. In one respect, the slightly lower-than-expected
turnout made it easier for people to spend more time talking
with their favorite artists at a relaxed pace; it felt more
like a casual "get together" with friends.
The performances, as one would expect, were all over the
map quality-wise, but the vast majority of them were quite
good, and some were simply amazing.
Here's my brief take on the performances, rated 0-10:
Mad Margritt. Hard rock. 7/10
- Sidebar: Danny, the drummer for Mad Margritt gets the "Character
of the Convention" award. This guy was a laugh-a-minute.
Picture a guy about 45-50, long blond/grey hair, covered
with tattoos, perpetually guzzling drinks like there's
no tomorrow, and flaming like a forest fire. He had us in
stitches, cracking outrageous jokes, quasi-"hitting" on
anything walking, male or female (it was all in good fun).
You'd see this guy at any time of the day or night drinking
like a fish; the guy must be permanently pickled. The band
got sick and had to cancel their acoustic set on Sunday,
and he was the only one that wasn't touched by it. Go figure.
Kinetik. Prog metal. 4/10
- Bo-ring. The lead singer was annoying as hell. These guys
do get the "Tallest Guitar Player on the Face of the Planet"
award. How tall was that guy, 6'10"?
Agent Steel. Power Metal. 2/10
- Quite possibly the worst lead singer I've ever heard.
Every lyric was a screech, and while I don't mind screeching,
the screeching was off-key! GAH! The only reason they
don't get a 0/10 was that the band was tight...
Vain. Glam. 7.5/10
- It's what you would have expected, and he put on a good
Erotic Suicide. Hard rock. 7/10
- Hard rock, with just a slight glammish edge to it. Not bad.
Towne Cryer XXI. Prog rock. 8.5/10
- Very tight set; I liked the lead vocalist. The sound mix was way off,
so many of the subtleties got lost in the mush.
Swirl. Hard Rock. 9/10
- Duane, the guitar player, absolutely SMOKES! He's got great
stage presence as well. The acoustic number that closes the
set, with the bass player playing violin, was a unique and
Lazy Jane. Hard rock. 5/10
- This band didn't do much for me. Female backing vocalist that really
should have been in the background, not up front on stage.
Cage. Heavy Metal. 8.5/10
- These guys were intense! Vintage Judas Priest type of sound.
The Szuters. ??? N/A
- Didn't see this one; went out for dinner.
Mad Margritt. Hard Rock. N/A
Steel Prophet. Heavy metal. 10/10
- One of the surprises of the weekend for me! These guys SMOKE!
Excellent execution and great stage presence. Rick Mythiasin
is a fantastic frontman with great crowd interaction. I met
the band at the registration table when they arrived, and
they had a great sense of humour. Rick is, well....insane. :)
Jag Panzer. Power Metal. 9/10
- Very tight. Harry "The Tyrant" Conklin has a fairly
intimidating stage presence (and he looks like Wayne Newton,
Leatherwolf. Melodic Metal. 8/10
- After a blown fuse prompted an impromptu drum solo, the
band settled into a nice tight unit.
John Taglieri. AOR. 10/10
- 100+ degrees by the pool, and the man is giving it his all!
He sounded great, despite having to deal with a black guitar
in the sun (OWITCH! OWITCH! OWITCH!). He put on a great
set, and his voice sounded fantastic! [He and his wife
Michelle are the nicest people you'd ever want to meet].
Robin Brock. AOR. 7.5/10
- I thought the mike was too low on her vocals; I had a
hard time hearing her. Wearing black leather in 100+
degree temperature has GOT to be painful. :) Her set
was very well received.
Ken Tamplin. AOR/Hard Rock. 9/10
- He did a 2-man thing with guitarist Howie Simon that sounded extremely
good. They played solo Tamplin as well as new and classic Shout material.
Good stuff! Good enough, in fact, that it piques my curiosity as to how
an acoustic album of Shout and Tamplin material would go over. I'd buy it...:)
Smilek. Hard Rock. 9.5/10
- Very good stuff! Bon Jovi meets Kip Winger meets Bryan
Adams, with their own flair. The crowd loved their set.
I had a chance to spend time chatting with all the guys
in the band, and they are about THE most down-to-earth,
friendly dudes you'll ever run into. They have the
potential to break out big...
Moore. Gothic rock/metal. 5/10
- They had their own following, but honestly, they did
nothing for me...
Enertia. Prog metal. 9/10
- Pretty unique stuff. The vocalist has a very Ray Gillen-
esque quality to his voice, but it's definitely metal.
These guys were tight too.
The Promise. AOR. 10/10
- Probably the act of the show for me. They sounded awesome!
This Scottish group needs more exposure. They should be
New Eden. Power prog. 6/10
- Snore. Ok, so Andre the Giant is the lead vocalist.
Picture Perfect. Hard Rock. 8.5/10
- I enjoyed these guys. Good straight ahead hard rock.
Swirl. See above.
- Good set, but unfortunately IDENTICAL to the first set.
I'd have liked to seen a bit of variety...
Michael Morales. AOR. 4/10
- This one was a major disappointment to me. No stage
presence at all; they seemed to be going through the
motions. Yes, I know he was disappointed in the turnout,
but as a couple of other band members mentioned, "whether
it's 2 people or 20,000, you give it everything you've
got! However many people are in the room, they paid to
see a show, and deserve your best effort!" [and several
of the bands that played to small audiences gave a hell
of a show; this wasn't one of them]. A few other people
I talked to really enjoyed his set; maybe it was just me.
Vicious Rumors. Heavy Metal. N/A
- I was dead to the world at this point so I skipped out.
Most people said the sound was so loud and so distorted
that they started leaving. What was up with those fake
amps put up on stage? Publicity photos?
So while it musically ended on a slightly down note for me
personally, overall the weekend was fantastic, and yes I'll
be going back next year (budget permitting).
I spent a gazillion dollars at the
Century Media table, picking up loads of stuff I've been wanting
forever, but never gotten around to...
So, to all of those who didn't attend, you are all worthless
and weak. :) Make plans to show up next year. I certainly will!