Rock The Bayou – Sammy Hagar, Lita Ford And More Rock Day 2


August 31, 2008

Joey Guerra of HandStamp has written the following report on Day 2 of the Rock The Bayou festival. Photos of Day 2 can be found at

Sammy Hagar parties like a rock star

Sammy Hagar likes to do things big. His headlining set Saturday night at Rock the Bayou was exactly that — a full-on rock spectacle and the first performance so far that seemed worth its own admission price.

Extended video played before Hagar’s appearance, mostly advertising his Cabo Wabo chain of nightclubs/restaurants. It was overlong, indulgent and complete in tune with the show’s mood.

A red curtain dropped to reveal Hagar and his band. People screamed and played air guitar and stood on seats. The crowd suddenly seemed bigger. It was easy to be swept up in the vibrant mood.

“Here we are again in Houston,” Hagar said. “I am happy to be back in this town for about the 100th time in my life.”

He also had a party — literally — happening on the mostly red stage. A huge throng of fans stood on risers just behind the band, clicking cameras and sipping yard margaritas. They looked like some sort of drunk choir.

Girls in bikinis stood just to the side, gyrating near a grass hut. One walked onstage and brought Hagar a large blue drink.

It was like a PG-13 Kenny Chesney or Jimmy Buffett concert — only a lot less annoying.

Hagar initially seemed an odd choice for RTB. There’s the Van Halen connection, but he’s not really glammy or gimmicky. But it worked. Every song — I Can’t Drive 55, I’ll Fall in Love Again, Straight to the Top — incited a full-on sing-along. Hagar’s own scratchy screech of a voice was a nice fit for Led Zeppelin’s Black Dog.

It was, despite my better judgment, fun.

Lita Ford, finally

I’m not sure what my fascination is with Lita Ford. I honestly haven’t thought about her in years, and even when I have, it’s relegated to maybe two songs. I know her history is longer and richer than that. But whatever.

Still, I was oddly excited to see her perform. And the fans were happy to see her, too. They hooted and hollered throughout her zippy set. And there were more than a few catcalls.

Ford is much stronger vocally now than she was in her heyday, and she looks great. She strummed a Stoli Vodka guitar before switching to a lipstick red instrument. She quibbled a bit about the sound early in the set, but quickly hit her stride. A trio of male players backed her through anthemic tunes Hungry, Falling In and Out of Love, Black Widow and Can’t Catch Me.

She closed with her biggest hits — an Ozzy-less Close My Eyes Forever and, of course, Kiss Me Deadly. (My RTB partner says it’s like 10 songs mashed into one. Think about it.)

There’s one more item I can check off my life list.

Great White roars again

Let’s just get it out of the way. There were no fireworks, of any kind, during Great White’s set. There, that’s done for now. (More later in an interview post.)

Musically, the band is in good form. Singer Jack Russell still has the bluesy crackle in his voice that carved a unique niche for the band — even if he looks completely different. (He had a facelift in 2006.) He danced and gyrated across the stage throughout the set, and it enthused the crowd.

Recent tune Back to the Rhythm fell in line with the band’s nostalgic sound. And of course, Once Bitten, Twice Shy proved a set highlight. Nah, nah, nah …

Ambre Lake gets real in Houston

Rock chics are a given at this kind of thing, so it was fitting — and a kicky surprise — to see Ambre Lake show up early in the day.

Reality TV (and Bret Michaels) fans know the name. Lake was the winner of Rock of Love 2, Michael’s VH1 dating show. I’m proud(ish) to say she was my favorite Rockette from the beginning.

OK, full disclosure. I was totally excited. It was pretty awesome to see her in person.

She was sweet, a little sweaty and here to introduce L.A. band Blacklist Union (not a favorite of Sara’s). RoL2 has afforded Lake a slew of new opportunities. In fact, TMZ scooped her up on site to interview headlining acts Great White and Lita Ford.

“I’ve been truly blessed,” Lake said. “So many people were drawn to the show.”

She also had only kind words for former flame Michaels. The pair lasted 10 months — a reality-TV lifetime — and are still great friends.

“I love him. I can’t say enough good things about him. He will always have a piece of my heart,” she said.

“It was honest and pure and wonderful — and I cherish him always.”

Britny Fox talks Girlschool

Britny Fox’s Girlschool is one of those classic, slightly naughty/cheesy ’80s videos you always wanted to watch but were afraid would come on when your parents were in the room. (Van Halen’s Hot for Teacher is another.)

The group ended its RTB set with the tune and still has fond memories of the plaid miniskirted clip. (So does Andrew Dansby, who I dedicate this post to.)

“We always knew that was going to do well as a video. Sex sells, obviously,” says bassist Billy Childs.

“Something I’d really like to see — and I wish I could, I don’t know what ever happened to it — there was a (racier) cut they weren’t allowed to air. If anybody out there has ever seen that or knows anybody that has it, I would love to see it.

“That would’ve been a truly great video.”

Metavenge unleashes its fury

Houston band Metavenge’s first of two RTB sets boasted an astonishing amount of power. (The band also performs Monday.) Vocalist Anthony Cruz Jr. led the quartet through a barrage of fiery originals that were clearly influenced by Metallica. It was a ferocious, unrelenting sound.

Cruz has the intense eyes and steely stage presence of a true rock player (and knows when to turn on the subtle charm). It’s impressive to see a young band gain so much ground in such a short amount of time. And even better when they deserve it.

Dodging a Bullet and Cock(pit) rock

I tried, really I did, to keep an open mind during BulletBoy’s main stage set. But vocalist Marq Torien’s made it a challenge.

His wails through the band’s catalog wasn’t exactly a pleasant sound. Not horrible, but just unnerving. Maybe it was too early in the day. It got worse as I got farther away, a screeching, nails-on-a-chalkboard echo.

He told the crowd it had been a rough year, mostly due to his “bitch ex-wife” who won’t let him see his children. (Cue uncomfortable silence.) Then he ended his set by encouraging everyone to live in “love, empathy and forgiveness.” I don’t have to point out the irony.

More enjoyable was all-female band Cockpit, who is playing every day of the festival. The L.A. quartet riffed on Joan Jett and was equal parts cheese and cheesecake, in a fun way. (“Ladies and gentleman, remain in an upright position,” quipped rail-thin vocalist Linda Lou.) It resulted in a big crowd of mostly smiling males. Hey, whatever works. To be fair, though, the music was appropriately fierce and on-point.

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