25 YEARS OF JAMMIN’
Dates: July 20 to 23, 2016
Festival: Moondance Jam
Location: Walker, Minnesota, USA
Reviewer: Darren with Metal Headz Media
There is a little town in the northwest part of Minnesota named Walker. Every year they have a three day music festival called Moondance Jam. The first official Jam was held in 1992, which makes this year’s Moondance Jam the 25th anniversary, and what a party they threw. My wife and I have been rocking out at this festival since 2013, and this year was no exception.
Pre-Jam Party on July 20, 2016:
We arrived on Wednesday. For those who buy camping and concert tickets for all three days of the festival, there is a “pre-jam party” on Wednesday. They had three bands set to play on the main stage starting at 7:00 pm.
The first to come out was a regional band from the upper Midwest named Mountain Ash, playing classic rock and deep album tracks. These guys are regulars to play the festival and are always solid and sounded good. Next up was a combination of two bands — The Fabulous Armadillos and Collective Unconscious. When they play together they call themselves Take It To The Limit: A Tribute To The Eagles. They do a very good job with the Eagles stuff. The highlight for me was when they sang “Seven Bridges Road.” Their harmony was spot on. To close off the evening was “Killer Queen,” featuring Patrick Myers as Freddie Mercury. This group is actually from England and have been performing as Queen since 1993, and this was their first time playing a show across the pond here in the USA. Patrick Myers looks incredibly like Freddie Mercury and he sounded very good. The whole band looks like all the members of Queen and they put on a very good show. However, if you’re into concerts and music, and if you’re taking the time to read this (I assume you are), then you know the difference between American and European audiences. Myers was trying to get us to jump up and down, sing along to the guitars, and clap like they do at Wembley stadium audience. Well, it didn’t go over here as well as it does over in England and I think he was a little thrown off by this. Nevertheless, it was still a fun show and if you get a chance, check them out.
Day One on July 21, 2016:
3:00 o’clock Thursday is the official start of the festival and the first national act to hit the stage was one of my favorites — Firehouse. C.J. Snare sounded amazing along with the rest of the band consisting of Bill Leverty on guitar, Michael Foster on drums, and Allen McKenzie on bass. I have seen this band several times throughout my concert going experiences and they have never disappointed me.
Firehouse live at Moondance Jam 2016:
Firehouse live July 21 2016 Walker, Mn
5:00 o’clock was another ’80s “hairband” — Kix. I was never really into this band back in the day, but I was still interested to see them. Unfortunately, it was very hot and humid that day and after seeing Firehouse, we decided to get out of the sun and into air conditioning. We were able to hear the Kix show while we were eating in the Lazy Moon restaurant. They sounded good and the crowd seemed to be enjoying themselves. We made it back into the festival area to hear them play their last four or five songs. What we thought in the saloon was correct, the crowd was really enjoying the show. Steve Whiteman had them singing and dancing along to “Blow My Fuse” and “Midnight Dynamite.” The rest of the band sounded very tight. I will be seeing these guys again in September and I will definitely be watching the whole show next time!
Kix playing “Don’t Close Your Eyes” live at Moondance Jam 2016:
7:00 o’clock was time for Chevelle. They played a 10 song set, starting out with “Ouija Board” and they ended with “Comfortable Liar.” Their set was good, but nothing spectacular. They came out and sang their songs, which the fans of the band enjoyed. That is the bad side of music festivals. Sometimes you sit through a band that you know only a few songs, if any. I do however like to see the bands I’m not familiar with because sometimes they can make you a fan. This is the case with a band I’ll be talking about later.
9:00 o’clock was Bush. They came out strong with “Everything Zen.” This is another band I have never really gotten into. However, they did a nice job of mixing in their popular songs, which helped keep the non-fans interested. The two original members, Gavin Rossdale and Robin Goodridge, and the rest of the band sounded solid. Unfortunately, the stage show was a little flat. In my opinion, having a big screen behind the stage playing the video to the song that the band is playing on stage is kind of unimaginative. If I wanted to watch their videos, I’d search for them on YouTube.
It’s 11 o’clock and the headliner for Thursday night was Godsmack. This was the only show they had scheduled so far this year. They did not disappoint. By the time they got to the third song of their set — “Awake” — they had the crowd eating out of their hands. Sully Erna was spot on with his vocals and the stage show was everything expected at a rock show. The only bad thing that could be said is their set was a little short. I’m probably just disappointed because they didn’t play “Batalla De Los Tambores.” If you don’t know what that is, look it up on YouTube, especially if you like drums. But I digress, when they started the song “Whatever,” the crowd was going nuts and trying to form a mosh pit. It wasn’t going very well. I’m not sure if it’s a “Minnesota nice” thing or what, but the mosh pit became a group of people running in circles, even with the help of Sully trying to tell us how to mosh! Anyway, they ended the night with “Something Different” and definitely left us wanting more!
Mosh pit during Godsmack‘s set at Moondance Jam 2016:
Day 2 on July 22, 2016:
3:00 o’clock on Friday: The lineup had changed because Rick Springfield had to cancel due to a scheduling conflict. All bands got moved back one spot in the line-up, so we started off with Jet: A Wings Tribute. Now, I had just seen Paul McCartney last May, so watching a tribute band perform his songs didn’t interest me. The people that went to the show however said it was very good. If you don’t get the chance to see Sir Paul McCartney, maybe this is your next best thing.
5:00 o’clock brought us Foghat. They have only one original member, and that’s the drummer Roger Earl. They came out of the gate full throttle with “Fool For The City,” played a nine song set that ended with “Slow Ride.” Very entertaining, and Bryan Bassett is in the band and is best known as a member of Wild Cherry who had the hit “Play That Funky Music.” He is a very good slide guitar player and sounded incredible. Charlie Huhn of Ted Nugent fame and Greg MacGregor rounded out the line-up. Good show! Check them out if you get the chance.
7:00 o’clock was Little River Band. Even though there is not a single original member in the band, they did an excellent job on the harmonies that made LRB famous. There was a little hiccup that wasn’t their fault. The power went out eight songs in, halfway through “Help Is On The Way.” After about 15 minutes, the power was back on and they came back out and started up right where they left off, and finished off strong with their biggest hits — “Cool Change,” “Lady,” and “Lonesome Loser.”
9:00 o’clock: Loverboy. If you are a diehard fan of Loverboy, then you will like them live these days. If you were kind of a fan and have never seen them live, now is not the time to start. Although the band sounded very good, Mike Reno has a little trouble singing the songs these days. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing except his vocals have been the backbone of their songs and it is kind of disappointing to hear the crowd do most of the singing.
Loverboy playing “Everybody’s Working For The Weekend” live at Moondance Jam 2016:
Moondance Jam 2016 – Lover Boy – Everybody’s Working for the Weekend
11:00 o’clock was time for the newly elected Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductees Chicago. I have always been a Chicago fan, probably because I played trumpet in high school and I love listening to a great horn section. This was my first time seeing the band live, and I wasn’t let down. They started off with songs I wasn’t very familiar with, such as “Alive Again” and “Wake Up Sunshine.” It was about 45 minutes into their set when they brought out all the chart toppers. From “Saturday in the Park” to “I’m a Man,” and from “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” to “Beginning” — it was a non-stop musical history of a band worthy of their induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
Saturday was going to be a special day because I was fortunate enough to be on the guest list for Queensrÿche. More on that later.
Day 3 on July 23, 2016:
The 3:00 o’clock band was the all-female AC/DC tribute band Thund-Her-Struck. They are a very fun band, and if you’re an AC/DC fan and have not seen these girls, do it! They play both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson songs. Tina performs as Angus Young, she does a very good job at both playing the music and running around on stage in a strong imitation of Angus‘ moves. Dyna sings both the Bon Scott and Brian Johnson stuff very well and interacts with the crowd to get them singing and dancing to the music. Stephanie plays the drums in the style of Phil Rudd, Diana is Malcolm Young, and Andrea is Cliff Williams.
5:00 o’clock, Blues Traveler came out and played. While they were on stage, I was in the back stage bar waiting to meet up with Eddie Jackson of Queensrÿche. I did hear a few songs they played and was able to see them on a flat screen TV they had in the bar. From what I saw and heard, they were pretty good. They did a cover of The Charlie Daniels Band‘s “The Devil Went Down To Georgia,” with John Popper ripping up Charlie Daniels‘ fiddle solo on his harmonica. They also played “Run-Around” and “Hook.”
7:00 o’clock was time for Queensrÿche. I did meet up with “EdBass” backstage but it was a quick “Hello” because he had to get ready for the show. I have been lucky enough to see and hang out with these guys four times now in the last 10 months thanks to my friend and brother in law, Steve Albright, who also writes concert reviews. They came out to thunderous drums played by Scott Rockenfield while video screens introduced the band as they came on stage one by one. They then broke into the song “Guardian” off their latest album Condition Hüman. It was a 13 song set that had the crowd singing along to their classics including “Operation: Mindcrime,” “Empire,” and of course “Silent Lucidity.” The show ended with “Screaming In Digital” and “Eyes of a Stranger.” After the show we went back to see the guys. The first person we saw was Parker Lundgren, and it is kind of cool that we have met them enough times that he recognized me and came over to say “hi.” We talked for a few minutes, and he was very personable. Next we ran into Michael Wilton who came over and talked for several minutes, and let us take pictures with him. We walked over and talked to Todd LaTorre for a bit, and after that, we stopped and talked to a couple of the Thund-Her-Struck ladies, Dyna and Stephanie, who were having a good time. While we were talking to Dyna, the 9:00 o’clock band walked past us on their way to the stage.
Queensrÿche‘s playing “Silent Lucidity” live at Moondance Jam 2016:
The 9:00 o’clock band was Sixx A.M. Like I said, as I was talking to Dyna from Thund-Her-Struck, I looked past her and saw some people wearing make-up and dressed like crazy rock stars. It only took but a second to realize it was Nikki Sixx, DJ Ashba, James Michael and Dustin Steinke. They had their female singers, Amber Vanbuskirk and Melissa Harding, with them and they were all on their way to the stage. I didn’t want to approach them while they were on their way to rock it up, so I just watched them walk by and said to myself “Damn! Wish I could have said hi.” I said thanks to Dyna for letting me take a picture with her and headed out to watch the show. This is the band that I mentioned earlier that has the ability to make the casual listener a true fan. They put on a hell of a show. From the opening song “This is Going To Hurt,” to the last song “Life Is Beautiful,” this band was gaining more fans with every song they played. Some songs had the crowd screaming and jumping, and other songs had the people standing with their jaws dropped because they couldn’t believe the incredible music they were hearing. All around it was a very good show.
Sixx:A.M. playing “Rise” live at Moondance Jam 2016:
The 11:00 o’clock band was Boston. They started out promising with the classic “Rock And Roll Band.” Unfortunately, the band got only three or four songs in when some severe weather made its way to the festival and they had to quit. The band and the festival organizers were hoping they would be able to come back and finish the show, but sadly that wasn’t able to happen.
Boston playing “Piece Of Mind” live at Moondance Jam 2016:
Boston – Peace Of Mind – Moondance 2016
If you love listening to live music, especially outside, Moondance Jam won’t disappoint. The whole weekend is a celebration of rock music. Besides all the national acts on the main stage, there are local and regional bands playing all day on three stages located in various locations. The staff and volunteers are very helpful, organized, and always have a smile on their faces. Kathy Bieloh and her family do an outstanding job putting on this festival every year. It is billed as the “Camping and Jamming event of the summer” and I, along with the 20,000 other jammers, would have to agree.