The thing about tribute bands

Posted by Kim Leonard

I’ve never been huge on cover bands. It’s always been, “Like, okay so you really like Journey that much, bro?”

That all changed pretty recently when my husband started dragging me along to the tribute band shows at Warnors. I had rolled my eyes, but the idea of a kid-free night out was a pretty huge incentive to get me to watch some guy parade around as Angus Young from AC/DC.

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Warnors Theater lobby, PACKED.

The theater was packed. People were seriously everywhere. I clued in that there must be something to this whole tribute band business. We took our seats and Bonfire took the stage by storm. Instantly I was swept up in the familiar AC/DC classics and dancing and throwing my fists in the air.  That’s when I got it. These musicians have to be good to be in a touring tribute band- as good as the originals they’re mimicking. They have to have the energy, the look, and great Scott, the talent, to be able to pull this off.

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Led Zepagain at the Warnors

I wasn’t even born when Bon Scott died. There’s no way I could know what an early AC/DC concert was like, YouTube and rockumentaries on Hulu and Netflix don’t really cut it. Heck, I wasn’t even really big on AC/DC, save for the karaoke gem, “You Shook Me All Night Long” which isn’t even Bon Scott! After seeing Bonfire, I can say my Spotify playlist has grown. For my husband, who *was* of age to enjoy pre-Brian Johnson AC/DC in real time, the show was filled with nostalgia. One of our friends, also a major AC/DC fan, was ecstatic that they were so good. She was seriously bouncing in the aisles!

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Me and Bon Scott. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

During intermission, as they prepared us for Led Zepagain, I found “Bon Scott” in the lobby. Realizing an actual selfie with Bon Scott would involve some grave digging and law breaking, not to mention it would be totally gross and inappropriate, I jumped on the opportunity to get a shot with Bonfire’s tribute Bon. Admittedly, I was a little starstruck.

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Spinners is the sponsor of the tribute shows at the Warnors.

Led Zepagain was just as great- as a beginning guitar student,  I kept my eye on “Jimmy Page” as he flawlessly and effortlessly performed songs that at this point I can’t even fathom playing, and I went home with a brand new respect and major love for tribute shows. While I would never ever balk at seeing the actual bands (you know, that is if they’re still touring), it’s cool to get a time-capsule performance of what these bands were like in their prime, at the top of the charts.

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Check out that set! Epic!

When my husband asked if I wanted to go to the next concert in the series, there was no coercion necessary to get to out of the house. It was Aeromyth and Fan Halen (can you guess who they were paying tribute to?) and I realized I had found another reason to love these bands- as a former roller derby skater, punny names rule my world.

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The real thing? Close enough for me to fangirl out on!

So long story short, Aeromyth rocked. “Steven Tyler” was nearly indistinguishable from Steven Tyler, except you know, there’s that whole “cool grandma” meme now for Steven Tyler. So that sets them apart.


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And I’ll admit it, I totally rushed the stage. I was taken in by the ruse, and I’m totally okay with that. Fan Halen was next and I was blown away.

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…and where can I find those tiger pants?

Again, my age has gotten the best of me, so have been alive mostly for the Van Hagar era, I never even had a crack at seeing David Lee Roth with Van Halen- my parents took me to more Raffi concerts than rock at that age. I never got the allure until I saw fake David strutting around and jumping off of every surface he could find. I spent a lot of time staring at “Eddie Van Halen” as his hands flew up and down the neck of the guitar, and then went home and googled “tapping like Van Halen” and had my “I can only play Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” mind blown.

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If I could have a change of heart about tribute bands, you can too! And there are two great chances coming up- Brit Floyd will be at the Saroyan on Sunday, August 2nd. This one will be amazing- light show and all! Don’t go in thinking you have to be a die hard Pink Floyd fan to enjoy it, I didn’t even think I liked Van Halen before I saw Fan Halen and now I’m finding myself going back and watching all the concert footage and documentaries I can get my paws on. (I am still, however, ambivalent when it comes to Sammy Hagar.)


On August 22nd, Spinners will have the next in their series of tribute shows at the Warnors with Caravanserai, a Santana tribute and Strange Days, a tribute to The Doors. If these two are anything like the others, you can anticipate more authentic-to-the-original rock n roll.


Have fun and look for me, I’ll be the one taking selfies with all of the musicians I can find and trying to pass it off on Instagram as the real deal! Let’s face it, Tribute Bands are some strong next-level performance art, and I can’t even deal. See you there!


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