Thursday, November 29, 2012

Bang Tango - Halfway Jam

The era that was "Hair Metal" was full of bands that had been signed by record companies eager to make a buck.  Bands from the era varied from the unenviable position of "one hit wonders" to arena-worthy "mega hit" bands.  For many of the "one hit wonders", their fame faded, rather collapsed around them but some of them survived to play another day.  The three days of "Halfway Jam" and so many other music festivals provide those "survivors" with a way to bring their music to those that lived through the hair metal days as well as a new set of ears; their children.  For one of those bands, they did more than just "survive".

Bang Tango is one of these "survivors", but I think that label might be off a tad.  Certainly anyone from the "Era of Hair" remembers the band in some fashion.  The band was an enigma for me, I liked what I had heard but I never bought any of their cassettes or CD's (I didn't enter the CD craze until the late '90's, so don't judge me).  Using this computer (my computer, not yours) I dug through the chaff and went straight to the search for the band.

Its remarkable when one looks at the history of the band and realizing that the band, even with its addition to the rotation of MTV of "Someone Like You" (as was the case for many a band), that the band didn't acquire the accolades like Faster Pussycat, Warrant or many others in fame or notoriety.  I'm sincere when I make that statement as I have dug through the world of YouTube and other internet radio sources and I am blown away by their music.  This band had a really solid catalog of music and their musical talent was incredible.

With a funky bass and gravelly vocals, they should have controlled the FM airwaves but unfortunately the late '80's (they released their first album, Psycho Café in 1989) started the swan song that was the era of "hair metal" and its slow, painful demise.  The vocals of Joe Leste gave the music a voice that really could captivate the listener.  His vocals went from a mellow state (sounding somewhat like Ian Astbury) and then could reach this Axl Rose feel, it was extraordinary.

Hit the fast forward button on your cassette player and travel to Royalton, MN and the 2012 iteration of "Halfway Jam" and the appearance of "Bang Tango".  When the band took the stage I really knew absolutely nothing about the band, except for the song "Someone Like You" so therefore I had no idea what to expect.  What I got was an immediate desire to discover the band some twenty-five years later, as well as one great performance.

The vocals of Joe Leste are phenomenal, and despite the twenty-five years he hasn't lost anything.  Stage presence is always an important for a lead singer and Leste still fits that bill perfectly.  At one point in the show, Leste got off of the stage and began to wander through the crowd.  As Leste climbed back up to the main stage, he made the comment that pictures of his "skinny, little butt" and how the pictures might make it onto Facebook (I didn't check).

Joe Leste - vocals
© - 2012

Within the confines of this performance was a band that had quite the set of characters and really good musicians.  I have this inane "talent" of looking at people and comparing them to other people (I really need a better hobby) and as I looked at Lance Eric (bass), I immediately drew a direct comparison to another famous bass player (in similar looks and just as good as a bass player).

Lance Eric - bass
© - 2012

In my humble (and usually incorrect) opinion, this fine gentleman draws similarities to one Nikki Sixx (bassist for Motley Crue).  Not only do I see similarities to Mr. Sixx to his (Lance Eric) physical appearance but he is an accomplished and extremely talented bass player like Sixx.

Much like the importance of bass to attain that "hair metal" feel, the lead guitar is a requirement.  Whilst the bass provides the beat and drive of the music, lead guitar rules the day.  It always has, and probably always will reign supreme in that metal feel.  Great guitar players can be a dime a dozen, but unlike aforementioned "dozen", Scotty Laflamme is the quintessential, rare talent and in my eyes he should be considered as one of the best in his trade.

Leste (L) and Laflamme (R)
Often forgotten and yet every bit as important as bass, is the drummer.  Trent Anderson is that guy, the drummer.  Anderson was exceptional, he was energetic, demonstrative and beat the tar our of those skins.  What was remarkable was that unlike many drummers, you could catch yourself just watching Anderson.

Trent Anderson - drums
© - 2012
© - 2012
During their performance it became apparent that very little could stop this band from playing.  With storm clouds moving in, and a few flashes of very distant lightning, the band continued to assault those in attendance.  As the rain became nothing more than a simple little shower and then back to a humid afternoon, it was easy to ascertain the crowd and their enthusiasm.  The rain was a mere blip in a storied history of a band that was much more than just another "hair metal" band.

As we watched Bang Tango I realized once again what I missed in the world that was my youth.  Its with a certain amount of trepidation that I realized what I missed, thankfully I have atoned for my reprehensible behavior (that sounds serious doesn't it).  What I learned that hot and humid day was that Bang Tango is a band that should be added to the lists of bands you should see! Excellent show gentlemen, excellent show!

Bang Tango - (L - R) Lance Eric, Joe Leste, Scotty Laflamme, Trent Anderson (back)
© - 2012

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