Rocklanta Day Two (Part 2) Concert Review w/ Dangerous Toys, Kickin Valentina, Tyketto & more
HOPING THAT THERE’S A SECOND EDITION OF ROCKLANTA!
Date: March 30, 2019
Venue: Center Stage
Location: Atlanta, Georgia, USA
Organizer: Brad Lee Entertainment
Band Photos: Joe Schaeffer Photography
I’m going to pick up where I left off with the first part of my Day Two Concert Review. After realizing that all the VIP ticket holders’ food was long gone, I made my way back to my barrier spot and told Dawnell and Loriann of my plight. Dawnell noted that there was some snacks available for Elite VIP ticket holders and she was gone. In hindsight, I should have bought the Elite VIP ticket ($300 US rather than $200 US). Live and learn! In any case, before long, Dawnell made her way back to the barrier and offered me a few snacks that she had brought back for me. The snacks consisted of crackers with peanut butter and a little back of Cheetos. I must confess that I am somewhat of a picky eater and usually wouldn’t eat crackers or peanut butter. However, those peanut butter laced crackers tasted really good on this occasion. When you’re hungry, just about anything will suddenly taste a lot better. I can’t recall whether this took place after the Tora Tora set or the Lillian Axe one but I knew after having those crackers and mini bag of chips that I now had enough fuel in me to last at the barrier until the end of Dangerous Toys‘ set. Dangerous Toys were scheduled to be the second last band to take the stage and I have never been much of a Warrant fan so I was planning on relinquishing my spot to let someone more into that band have my excellent vantage point. In any case, thank you very much Dawnell for coming through for a man in need! Your gesture was much appreciated!
By now, people were starting to bunch up near the front of the stage and barrier. There just seemed to be more and more people looking for a little opening to get a little closer to the stage. Lillian Axe were another band that I had never got into back in the day. When I posted my Day One review, someone questioned how a Sleaze Roxx writer could not be into XYZ or FireHouse. The reality is that I “discovered” heavy metal music back in 1984 and for the next five years was discovering so many bands and great albums. It’s not like today where people can stream whatever album they want. If you wanted to hear an album, you either had to buy it (my funds were quite limited at the time) or find someone that had it and have it taped on a blank cassette. Groups were releasing albums every one or two years so there was tons of great music to listen to. Why listen to XYZ when I could listen to the brand new Ratt or Mötley Crüe album? And it’s not like if I was running a website or anything. I simply listened to the music that I liked the best at that time and gave a very limited listening audition to any new band that I would come across. I also recall liking slightly heavier music than bands like XYZ and FireHouse at the time. With my eventual involvement with the Sleaze Roxx site, I ended up going back to discover many of the bands that I overlooked in the past and that’s what made Rocklanta that much more enticing since there were so many bands on the roster that I had never seen.
What struck me right away with Lillian Axe was how there were some long-standing grizzled long haired members (guitarist Steve Blaze and bassist Michael Maxx) along with one member — guitarist Sam Poitevent — that looked so clean cut that he seemingly felt more like a young accountant than a member of the heavy metal band Lillian Axe. It was quite the visual contrast and that seemed a little odd for me. As I am writing this review, I note that Lillian Axe have an extensive discography with ten studio albums and are only one short behind Hardcore Superstar. Clearly, those two bands were the most prolific in putting out new material out of all the bands playing at Rocklanta. Lead vocalist Brian C. Jones was a photographer’s dream on this night with tons of long pauses while singing making him super easy to photograph. His voice sounded good. Jones was one of three singers at Rocklanta to cover a lot of ground walking into the crowd as well as the photographers’ pit (the other two were Hardcore Superstar‘s Jocke Berg and Kickin Valentina‘s DK Revelle). Lillian Axe‘s brand of classical laced heavy metal was fun to hear. I really liked the last track “Show A Little Love” that was played. Although I have never got into Lillian Axe, it was great to see the legendary guitarist Steve Blaze live and in person. In addition, it was clear that there were many people in the audience that were really into Lillian Axe.
Lillian Axe’s setlist:
01. Misery Loves Company
03. Death Comes Tomorrow
04. All’s Fair In Love And War
05. True Believer
07. Ghost Of Winter
08. Show A Little Love
Next up was the hometown Atlanta favorites — Kickin Valentina. The band has undergone a lot of changes since I first saw them play live at the Sleazy Slimey Sunday 3 in Hanover, Maryland, USA in early May 2018. Gone is the band’s long-time and original lead vocalist Joe Edwards after the latter bailed on the group just as it was about to head to play the Bang Your Head Festival in Germany back in July 2018. In addition, gone is Edwards‘ first replacement Brian Bezotte who apparently misled the rest of the Kickin Valentina guys on his availability when joining and who eventually quit after only five shows. Even though Kickin Valentina definitely experienced some line-up issues and uncertainty, it appears that they finally found their man and an experienced one at that in former Jetboy frontman DK Revelle.
Kickin Valentina seem to be a regular feature of any substantive Brad Lee Entertainment event so it was no surprise to see Brad Lee introduce the band to the Rocklanta audience. Just like at Sleazy Slimey Sunday 3, Brad Lee‘s wife Angi Krempel was there as well standing in the photographers’ pit and at times with her back to the band like if she was singing to the crowd. Clearly, Mr. and Mrs. Brad Lee really like Kickin Valentina. And really what is there not to like? In the weeks prior, Kickin Valentina drummer Jimmy Berdine had communicated with me via Facebook that “we will come out swingin… that’s a promise.” Well, that’s exactly what they did and now they had a frontman that could really lead the band and connect with the audience. Now don’t get me wrong, I love Joe Edwards‘ voice and even give him a slight edge over Revelle in that department but there was no comparison when it came to their live performances. Revelle is a born frontman covering the whole stage, getting the audience to participate and generally being the social host that a good frontman is supposed to be. The way each singer handled Kickin Valentina‘s trademark song “Get Ready” illustrates the differences between the two in a live setting. At Sleazy Slimey Sunday 3 during “Get Ready”, Edwards tried to get the crowd to repeat some complex screams after him, which didn’t work out too well, while Revelle was able to get the Rocklanta audience to repeatedly scream the easy two words “Get Ready” with great success.
Kickin Valentina kicked off their set with a new song “Sweat” which is always a bit of a risky move since many people may not be familiar with the track. Nevertheless, it seemed to work for Kickin Valentina who seemingly had the biggest crowd of the day so far to see them play. Original Kickin Valentina band members — bassist Chris Taylor, guitarist Heber Pampillon and drummer Jimmy Berdine — seemed like they were all having a great time onstage. But no one seemed to have more fun than Revelle who covered the stage very well. My only pet peeve with Revelle was that he really seemed to enjoy singing while crouched down on one knee or sitting, and so much so that he must have spent 30 to 50% of the show in those positions. It was great for someone like me that was near the front of the stage but likely not as good for someone who was further from the stage. All the songs played were good ones with the highlights for me being “Turn Me On”, “Street” (more on that very soon), the three new ones (which also included “Easy Rider” and “End Of The Road”) and the set closer “Get Ready.” I was surprised that “Wrong Way” and the ballad “Crazy” were dropped from the set but I guess that they had to make room for the three new tracks. Just like last year during Sleazy Slimey Sunday 3, Brad Lee came on stage to help sing the chorus portion of the song “Street” while Revelle went into the photographer’s pit and had Brad Lee‘s wife Angi help him sing the song.
Overall, I was very impressed with Kickin Valentina and if it wasn’t for Hardcore Superstar, they would be right up there for top performance of the two-day event (stay tuned for Sleaze Roxx‘s upcoming rankings of the Rocklanta band performances from first to last). I am really looking forward to Kickin Valentina‘s upcoming new album and hope that it gets recorded and released sooner rather than later.
Kickin Valentina’s setlist:
02. On My Side
03. Turn Me On
04. Devil’s Hand
05. Eat And Run
07. Easy Rider
09. Roll Ya One
11. End Of The Road
12. Get Ready
I knew that Tyketto were going to be celebrating the 25th year anniversary of their second album Strength In Numbers (1994) by playing quite a few songs of that album. I don’t think that I had ever heard any songs from that album but it didn’t really matter as I knew that Tyketto were a good live band and frontman Danny Vaughn has a great voice and is a good entertainer. This would be my third time seeing Tyketto play live after the M3 Rock Festival in 2015 and 2018. Obviously, Tyketto had their share of diehard fans as I met one woman who had travelled from the Netherlands to see them play at Rocklanta! Given that I wasn’t familiar with any of the songs from Strength In Numbers, I have to say that I liked quite a few of them on a first listen. The best song of that lot had to be the title track, which was likely the “heaviest” one from that album.
Vaughn had some fun stories to share including when they were staying at a Motel 6 where there are two levels with an outdoor “veranda” or balcony (or whatever he called it) to access the second floor. Vaughn spoke about how he loved getting up in the morning, getting out of his room and looking out from the “veranda” to a sea of cigarette butts in the parking lot. He also spoke how he woke up one Sunday morning and looked down from the “veranda” to see someone cleaning his gun (yeah, his gun!) on his car. Welcome to the United States of America! Vaughn laughed as he advised the crowd that he went right back into his room! I was actually really enjoying Tyketto‘s set until Vaughn made a couple of “faux pas.”
First off, Vaughn suggested to everyone to put their cell phones down so that they could enjoy a “moment.” He went on to state how he did not understand how people could spend an entire concert recording it and asked the crowd if anyone actually looked at the video footage that they took at a concert. There seemed to be a resounding “yes” answer but Vaughn dismissed that stating that no one would have time to do that. Now I rarely videotape any songs at a concert but certainly take photos and usually try to write down the songs that were played on my phone. However, Sleaze Roxx does benefit from people filming songs throughout concerts as I can usually find at least a video of one song on YouTube of just about any concert that I attend. It seemed to me that Vaughn was insulting whomever was taking video footage of a concert and viewing it afterwards on the basis that they had no life (since they had time to view the video footage). I think Vaughn‘s intentions were good but he ended up coming across as a little arrogant with that last comment that no one had time to view the video footage afterwards.
In addition, before Tyketto launched into their last song “Forever Young”, Vaughn noted that he was still rocking at 57 years old (he looked to be in great shape) and he wanted everyone in the back to get off their seats for one song. It’s true that a lot of people that were in the seat sections surrounding the general admission area were seated throughout every band’s set. However, it’s really their choice to do so. In any case, it did not seem that Vaughn got the reaction that he wanted as I heard him (don’t forget that I was right at the front) saying likely in frustration something to the effect of “Get the fuck off your ass.” That did not sit well with me and was in sharp contrast to how Dangerous Toys frontman Jason McMaster addressed the Rocklanta crowd. In any case, Tyketto put on a fun set but those comments from Vaughn towards the end of the band’s set kind of tarnished what I was about to consider a great set.
01. Inherit The Wind
02. Meet Me In The Night
03. All Over Me
04. Catch My Fall
05. Ain’t That Love
06. Why Do You Cry
08. Rescue Me
09. Strength In Numbers
10. Standing Alone
12. Forever Young
I was very excited to see Dangerous Toys as I have been a fan of theirs ever since the release of their debut album. The band seemingly only play in the state of Texas so it was a real treat to be able to finally see them play live. I have interviewed three of the five members (Jason McMaster, Scott Dalhover and Paul Lidel twice ) over the last few years so you just know that I really like this band! I was curious to see how they would be live as I had never really looked at much live video footage of the band and didn’t know what to expect from frontman Jason McMaster. The Broken Teeth, Ignitor and Dangerous Toys frontman turned out to be a bit of a comic with some at times jokes that bordered a little bit on the crass side. The best way to describe Dangerous Toys in a live setting is like if you had been hit by a Mack truck. The band started off fast and heavy, and simply never let up. It felt like I had been run over by a Mack truck at the end of their set.
McMaster was quite funny with his simple and sometimes crude jokes. The singer made some passing but subtle references to KISS on at least two occasions with the expressions that he was using. McMaster thanked the crowd repeatedly. He noted at one point how much the band members appreciated that they were able to play songs from 30 years ago time after time. McMaster joked about what the song “Sport’n A Woody” was about and how he did not want to say which body part that the song was referring to. He advised the crowd that the last song of the night (“Scared”) was dedicated to Alice Cooper and that anybody that was not going to see the shock rocker live was just dumb. It was very cool to see McMaster giving tribute to his heroes that way. At one point, McMaster changed jackets from a really nice white one with no sleeves to a sleeveless jean jacket with a Dangerous Toys patch on it. Bassist Mike Watson then jokingly asked McMaster for how long that he had that jacket. As many of you may know, the Dangerous Toys line-up is still the same bunch of original guys except with the one new member being Paul Lidel who joined 25 years ago! In any case, it as nice to see Watson banter along with McMaster.
Dangerous Toys delivered a no frills, take no prisoners, type set sprinkled with humour from McMaster. The singer even advised that the group had a sort of ballad but surprisingly, it was the guys who knew the lyrics better before the group launched into “Queen Of The Nile.” I had read in the past that McMaster‘s voice wasn’t great live but I thought his voice sounded quite good. The background vocals sounded really good, which is not surprising considering guitarist Paul Lidel is a fine lead vocalist himself and currently fronting 99 Crimes who happen to be releasing their debut full-length album today (you can order it via Perris Records — trust me, it’s an awesome album). Before the third last song, McMaster advised that Dangerous Toys had a “special surprise for you tonight” (before joking that he was going to turn the mike over to Ace Frehley — there’s one of the KISS references) as they were going to play their first new song to an audience in over 25 years! Dangerous Toys are currently working on a new studio album and if all the tracks are going to be of the caliber of “Hold Your Horses”, we are in for a real treat.
Overall, Dangerous Toys put on a great set that exceeded my expectations. It was also cool to see Hardcore Superstar frontman Jocke Berg standing on the side of the stage taking in the band’s set. At one point, Berg got up on stage. I was really hoping that Dangerous Toys would ask him to play one song with them but that was not meant to be. In any case, Dangerous Toys put on a fun set and were clearly appreciative of their fans out there. I should also point out that by this time, the front barrier was super crowded as tons of people had politely asked to squeeze in including a very nice lady to my left (I unfortunately forget her name) who advised me amongst other things that she had taken Lidel‘s Facebook profile photo. Clearly, there were a lot of people on hand to see Dangerous Toys and it was super cool to hear everyone singing along loudly to the songs including the last one “Scared.”
Dangerous Toys’ setlist:
02. Take Me Drunk
03. Sugar, Leather & The Nail
04. Gimme No Lip
05. Bones In The Gutter
06. Ten Boots (Stompin’)
07. Queen Of The Nile
09. Sport’n A Woody
10. Hold Your Horses
11. Teas’n Pleas’n
By the time that it was time for Warrant, I was completely bagged and ready to go back to my hotel. I relinquished my spot on the front barrier to someone who would likely appreciate Warrant a lot more than me. This would be the only set that I would not be up front in the general admission area. I ended up sitting in one of the seats surrounding the general admission area. Like I previously indicated in my Day One review, there wasn’t a bad seat in the house so I still have a great view of the stage and for the first time the audience itself. Warrant were a major disappointment and I really wasn’t expecting that much since I am not much of a Warrant fan. I found the band’s performance to be rather flat and uninspired. The group definitely had the biggest stage set up, which seemed designed to celebrate the 30th year anniversary of their debut album Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich.
Warrant frontman Robert Mason kept asking the crowd if they were tired, which left the impression that the audience wasn’t into or reacting as loudly as he wanted. The crowd did seem rather flat as well as you can see from the video below of Mason trying to get the audience to repeat the words “Louder Harder Faster.” Mason at one point was chatting with his bandmates before stating something to the effect of “Let’s just play a few more” rather than have him address the audience. Perhaps he does this every time as I recall him doing the same thing when I saw him perform with Lynch Mob at the M3 Rock Festival last year. There was a bit of good news as this was drummer Steven Sweet‘s first show back after battling and defeating cancer. It was also guitarist Erik Turner‘s birthday as Mason pointed out.
I had never seen Warrant when they were fronted by Jani Lane but it seemed to me that his former bandmates just weren’t really into it and resting on their laurels from their past glory days. This was my third time seeing Warrant live with Mason fronting them and each time, I left disappointed with their performance. There is no question in my mind that Dangerous Toys blew them away on this night.
Warrant’s setlist (as per setlist.fm):
01. 32 Pennies
02. Down Boys
03. Big Talk
04. Sometimes She Cries
05. Guitar Solo
06. So Damn Pretty (Should Be Against The Law)
09. Cold Sweat
10. Sure Feels Good To Me
11. I Saw Red
12. Only Broken Heart
13. The Hole In My Wall
14. Louder Harder Faster
15. Blind Faith
16. Uncle Tom’s Cabin
17. Cherry Pie
After forcing my tired self to sit through Warrant‘s entire set, I ended running into new friends Jordan and Sandy as we were all exiting the venue. For those who read my review of Day One, the three of us hit it off quite well. Jordan suggested that we take a photo of the two of us together. Sadly, I was quite tired by then and I should have suggested that we get a photo of the three of us together but instead only got one of just Jordan and I. Sorry Sandy. I blame this mishap on my fatigue. I had also planned on seeking out The Great Southern Brainfart principal Don de Leaumont who I had run into between bands when I saw him in the photo pit. We have communicated via e-mail and Facebook over the last few years so it was neat to finally meet him in person. Unfortunately, my fatigue meant that I forgot to seek Don out and simply went back to my hotel for some much needed sleep. I was about to buy some snacks at the hotel but was offended by the ridiculously high prices (I think $5.00 for a small bag of chips or something like that) so decided to wait until breakfast for my next food intake. Stay tuned for the Sleaze Roxx‘s rankings of the Rocklanta performances from first to last, which will also include my overall views of the fantastic two-day rock festival that Brad Lee Entertainment (with Tribal One Entertainment) put on.