Saturday, January 17, 2009

Another Bizarre Concert Experience

Last summer, I had the privilege of witnessing a hilarious but sad musical fiasco when I went to see the 80's hard rock bands Great White and Warrant. Jani Lane, the past star of VH1's Celebrity Fit Club and several stints in rehab, had reunited with Warrant and promptly celebrated by showing up drunk off his ass...even by 80's hard rock standards. He warbled through the lyrics in humiliating fashion as the band went through their entire set. This of course resulted in a full refund for everyone.

I didn't think that experience could be topped, but tonight's festivities at Santa Fe Station Casino may have done the job. Another chapter out of the book of Jeremy's peculiar musical tastes...I went to see Enuff Z'Nuff. They had a couple semi-hits on MTV back in the day, but never really struck it big. I actually think they have a really impressive catalog of songs considering the lack of attention they received from commercial radio. I have seen them twice before and they put on a great show. This time, their original lead singer, Donnie Vie...another one who has had his tug of war with illicit substances...was back in tow. So I was excited to be able to see him live. The band got off to an auspicious start...sounded good. They played about five songs...the fifth being their first semi-hit, "New Thing." As soon as this song was done, band leader and bassist, Chip Z'Nuff promptly dumped his bass against an amp and headed off stage. A seemingly bewildered (and likely stoned) Vie was like, "Hey leavin?" Followed by, "What are you doin man? You leavin? We gotta play Fly High," referring to their "biggest" hit, "Fly High Michelle." Z'Nuff was unfazed by the remarks and disappeared behind the curtain. The drummer followed suit, leaving Vie and the lead guitarist alone on stage.

Vie made the obvious move and picked up the bass. This was surely going to be entertaining. He and the guitarist jumped into what was probably a new tune, as I did not recognize it, sans drummer, and with Vie stumbling somewhat aptly through the bass part. Sounded OK. Then as they attempted to launch into the aforementioned "Fly High Michelle," Vie apparently decided he couldn't hack it on bass any longer, switching instruments with the lone remaining band member.

Suddenly, a random audience member starts waving his hands and shouting, "Hey, do you need a drummer??!!" Apparently, someone beat him to it, as another gentlemen emerged from the crowd, as Vie declared, "OK, Mark knows this one," implying this was an acquaintance of the band or something like that. Mark hopped on stage and took over drumming duties as the opening chords of the apparent show closer emanated from Vie's guitar. The other drumming hopeful still waving his hands, miffed at missing his one shot at "fame." OK, so now two more problems. 1) The "real" drummer had walked off with one of the drumsticks, leaving Mark to beat the skins with the remaining stick and...his other hand (somewhere Rick Allen is laughing his balls off), and 2) The chorus' title lyrical phrase, "Fly High Michelle" is supposed to be sung by the backing vocalist...namely, Chip Z'Nuff. All said, the makeshift band did an OK job. Mark, the newly christened drummer, was having so much fun, that he was swigging from a flask in between drum beats.

While they're muddling through the tune, the wannabe drummer guy from the audience had creeped up the side ramp to the back of the stage and was "helping out" by searching for the missing drum accessory. A crew member finally poked his head from behind the curtain with the stick, handing it to Mark, who happily continued drumming with a full set of equipment. But the little drummer boy from the audience (who was actually a stocky, 40-something guy), remained at the back of the stage the entire time.

After "Michelle" was done, I guess Vie felt it necessary to go out with a bang, suddenly whaling away on the guitar with a familiar riff. He sang the beginning lines of 60's rock staple, "Wild Thing," although who can be sure if he was singing the actual words or just making it up as he went along. About a minute and a half into that opus, they finished up and Vie put the guitar down, flipped his pick into the air and bolted off stage. Mark the drummer also exited, leaving the lead guitarist-cum-bassist as the last one standing. He flicked off the amp and probably ran home screaming to his Mom.

Then, in what under the circumstances, can only be described as a fitting ending to this blistering set, little drummer boy from the audience, STILL waiting hopefully for his break, heaved his middle-aged ass onto the drummer's stool and began ripping away. Shouting to the crowd, "Thank you very much!" and "How about a hand for Enuff Z'Nuff?" as he enjoyed his Playstation moment in the sun for about a minute. As some crew members emerged, he thought better of continuing and disappeared back into the crowd...leaving the rest of us to soak up the shock and awe of another stunning 80's metal opening act.

Only in Vegas, folks.

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