Fleur the Kiwi
Leather pants, tattoos … and guyliner were in full evidence at the Key Club on Sunset Boulevard last Saturday night, for the 2nd annual Rockers Against Cancer benefit concert. For six solid hours, the club reverberated with singing, driving, shredding guitars and body-thrumming drums and bass—and, of course, those vocals, from full metal scream to provocative power growl.
The event was a fundraiser for cancer research, organized by Hollywood Sherriff Productions and sponsored primarily by the Cancer Research Foundation and Kind for Cures. From 7 p.m. to almost 2 a.m., a nonstop (except for about 10 minutes per artist for equipment changeover) lineup of bands rocked the stage. To wit:
Openers: White Lie, Rogue Stallion, Stonebreed, Octane Mob
Headliners: Hollywood Hustlers, Leatherwolf, Mandy Lion, Lordz of Rock
White Lie kicked off the party with their old-school blend of hard-driving melodic rock, as the venue slowly filled with people dressed mostly in black, with an abundance of tattoos and well-worn band shirts. Rogue Stallion strode onto the stage next, bringing a youthful shot of heavy metal with a Latino flair, and a song written especially for the event: “Band of Brothers.”
During the break between the first two sets, I strolled downstairs to check out the merchandise, which was competing for attention with the bathrooms, in and out of which a steady stream of people flowed. Manning the Stonebreed table all by his lonesome, guitarist David Eggers remarked, “I told Carlos [Cruz] I’ll do this all night. I might as well do this as anything else. Plus I get to talk to the fans.”
But he didn’t get to stay there long, as Stonebreed was up after Rogue Stallion. Stonebreed’s an old favorite of DGT&G, and it was great to see them play live again, after more than a year. Carlos Bates Cruz (vocals), Steve Sampson (guitar), Don Broadway (bass), Chris Torrey (drums), and the aforementioned David Eggers bring tons of energy to their Southern-style blend of good old-fashioned hard rock—and got the crowd rocking with them!
Octane Mob charged out next, with their 20-year-old drummer, Alex Nuñez, who lives for metal and wields the sticks like an old hand. Brett Octane’s searing guitar and Steve Slaughter’s thundering bass drove the band’s brand of heavy metal, with Eddie Octane’s vocals ranging from gutteral growl to power scream. Eddie also uttered my favorite line of the night: “Here’s a little ballad called ‘Destruction Is Near’.”
By this point, the party was getting into full swing. A buzz pervaded the room as the first of the heavy hitters took the stage. The Hollywood Hustlers, a 10-member rock ‘n’ roll supergroup, brought not only the event’s theme song, “Rockers Against Cancer,” but also the stunning heavy metal electric violin of Armand Melnbärdis, and closed with a trio of Dio songs (see set list, below).
Leatherwolf then took the stage, with their distinctive three-guitar Triple-Axe Attack. The full original lineup had been slated to perform, but internal differences led to frontman/guitarist Mike Olivieri and drummer Dean Roberts being joined by two guitarists and a bassist whose names we unfortunately didn’t get. Despite the short notice, they did a fantastic job of creating the full Leatherwolf power metal sound. Olivieri explained why the band was there, despite the last-minute upheaval: “We’re always up for playing for a good cause. Whenever anybody asks us to do something outside of ourselves, we always say yes.”
As the night wore on and the place filled up, the ratio of corset-encased, upward-thrust breasts to faded band shirts and black leather increased. As was appropriate for a rock concert, many of those breasts were pressed against the stage, so the performers could fully enjoy them.
And they were just in time for the seductively deep and dark sound of Mandy Lion, led by the rhythm section of Jimmy Bain (Dio, Rainbow) on bass and Lez Warner (The Cult) on drums, with Roy Z (Halford, Bruce Dickenson, Judas Priest) and Toni Aleman bringing the heavy metal guitar. As he sang, Mandy moved his body—shoulders, hips, torso—in fluid undulations that kept the women in the front row gazing upward with shining eyes and lustful grins.
The headliner finale was Lordz of Rock, another supergroup, featuring Robin McAuley (MSG) on vocals, Robert Sarzo (Hurricane, Ozzy Osbourne) on guitar, Phil Soussan (Ozzy Osbourne, Billy Idol, Vince Neil, Johnny Hallyday, John Waite) on bass, Myron Grombacher (Pat Benatar), superb on drums, and Teddy “Zig Zag” Andreadis (Carole King, Guns N’ Roses, Chuck Berry, Bo Diddley, Alice Cooper) on keyboards. As might be expected from such a lineup, the quality of the musicianship shone. They opened with a couple of Ozzy Osbourne tracks—”Crazy Train” and “Shot in the Dark.” Sarzo had trouble with his guitar at the start of “Shot in the Dark,” so for a little while we were treated to a rather cool version of the song with just bass, drums and keyboards. And then Sarzo came back and the energy again shot through the roof.
Throughout the night, each band noted that almost everyone has been affected by cancer in some way, and many spoke of someone they had lost to the disease or who was fighting it right now—a sober reminder of why we were all there.
As of last night, $5,000 had been raised, and counting, including the proceeds of a raffled guitar donated by Schecter. It also includes $500 raised and donated by Stonebreed in conjunction with Jill Sampson and Reservoir Dawgs Sanctuary. From the stage, Stonebreed issued a challenge to all the other artists to equal or better their contribution. No word yet as to whether any of the bands have risen to the challenge.…
Hollywood Hustlers set list:
Violin intro by Armand Melnbärdis
[Bobby Blotzer on drums]
The Ocean (Andrew Freeman on vocals)
Rock Candy (David Victor on vocals
Lack of Communication (song by Linkin Park; Andrew Freeman and Carlos Cruz on vocals)
[drummer change to Lonny Pasillas]
Rockers Against Cancer (written and produced by Ira K. Black; sung by Andrew Freeman and Carlos Cruz)
Bark at the Moon
Tomorrow Never Comes (Joe Retta on vocals)
Long Live Rock ‘n’ Roll
Hollywood Hustlers lineup: Ira Black (Lizzy Borden, Metal Church), Andrew Freeman (Lynch Mob, Offspring), Marten Andersson (Lizzy Borden, Lynch Mob), Lonny Pasillas (Eminent) and Carlos Bates Cruz (Stonebreed), with special guest appearances by Bobby Blotzer (Ratt), Chuck Wright (Quiet Riot, House of Lords), David Victor (Boston), Joe Retta (Sweet) and heavy metal violinist Armand Melnbärdis (Rob Rock, Vio7)