Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Hairball - Act Three

I had the strangest dream recently, Friday March 8th, 2013 to be exact.  I had this dream about music but that isn't what made the dream strange.  I would chalk the strangest part of the dream to those that made an appearance, and they were some interesting ones.  Yes I could have opened up in therapy, to a psychiatrist or I could even bought a book on dreams, but what fun would that have been.

Ozzy Osbourne.  Billy Idol.  Blackie Lawless.  David Lee Roth.  Axl Rose.  Freddy Mercury and Prince?  Throw into the pot of soup that my mind is a sold out venue, screaming mullet wearers and lights, confetti and streamers and you will see how messed up that dream really is.  How fortunate was I when I realized that it wasn't a dream, it was real.  It was a chilly Friday night at the Mississippi Moon Bar in Dubuque, Iowa and each of those singers were there in spirit and image because of the band Hairball.

What is Hairball you ask?  Hairball is not something from a cat, nor is it something one may find in the dryer lint of an old "cat lady".  Hairball is the single best band that can meld all of the best bands from the "Generation of Hair".  I refuse to call the band a "tribute band", they are so far from that and such a description of the band is plain wrong.

What I love about this band is the fact that they have as much talent as every person and band that they are emulating.  I think the word "emulating" is a great word to describe "Hairball".  For those not knowing what the band does is perform those songs from the "Generation of Hair" in a unique way.  The band looks like any band really, they each look like a typical band except for the incredibly talented lead vocalists.  Each singer (there are multiple singers, three to be exact) comes out looking like the singer of the band they are playing as.  That is where the names I mentioned earlier came from, each of them appeared on the MMB stage in effigy (not effigy, rather in accurate detail).  When a man comes onto the stage looking like, acting like and sounding like Ozzy Osbourne, its definitely not in effigy.

I'm sincere when I tell you the man on stage passed for Ozzy, as did those appearing as Billy Id... I'm not naming all of them, its too vast (and I'm lazy).  I promise you their interpretation of these singers is amazing.  With the menagerie that is their stable of bands they portray and the costume changes, makeup applications and in some cases instruments they play would be terribly hard to accomplish, but they pull it off like they are the original artists.

Watching some complex artists be replicated so well is amazing.  As an example the same lead vocalist performed as Prince and then (later in the show) Freddy Mercury, how easy would that be?  Both performers are similar in importance to music, both are larger than life characters and both are completely different.  As Kris comes onto stage as Prince, he comes out costumed and performed a guitar change like something you would see at a Prince show and when you hear two of the most enigmatic Prince songs (Let's Go Crazy and  Purple Rain) being performed to an equally high standard, its extraordinary.  Not to mention the fact that the really freaky, acid trip looking guitar that Prince uses also made an appearance.

Lest we forget the aforementioned Freddy Mercury complete with the black and white Spandex bodysuit and after a brief interlude (a piece from "Bohemian Rhapsody") a full out assault (and wardrobe change) with the '80's styled Freddy Mercury (wearing the white jacket reminiscent of Michael Jackson's "Thriller" jacket) and "We Will Rock You" beating our ears into submission.  Wait, before I forget please accept my apology for talking about Mercury and Michael Jackson in the same sentence.  What Kris does with all of the characters he is emulating is really fun and really good!

I've seen Hairball on four occasions and every time they have thrown a new act to keep it fun me thinks (its actually three occasions, the first time I saw them it was all new).  When Bob appears on stage as Bret Michaels and performs like Michaels (right down to the hand gestures) its expected (I've seen "Michaels" before), as well as Brian Johnson (AC/DC) but I wasn't expecting Billy Idol!  Right down the the snarled lip and spiked hair, Bob transformed into Idol (it's the first time I've seen Idol) but when he came out in the persona of one Mr. Blackie Lawless I was floored.  BLACKIE FREAKING LAWLESS!  Great pick, and I LOVED that new wrinkle, and the choice of song (I Wanna Be Somebody) was perfect.  Have I mentioned BLACKIE FREAKING LAWLESS!  I would really love to see Bob perform "Blind In Texas", I think it would be a great song (hint, hint).

For the third member of the lead vocal onslaught, we find ourselves in the presence of one Mr. Joe Dandy.  Joe has firmly set his sights on several '80's rock headcases and legends all at the same time.  Tackling David Lee Roth (Van Halen), Vince Neil (Motley Crue), Axl Rose (Guns 'n Roses) and Ozzy Osbourne would probably put a lesser performer in ICU somewhere (there's enough mental illness between those performers to kill Freud).  Its controlled insanity and Mr. Dandy you did it like a pro!

Obviously there is so much more to this band then just three lead vocalists, there is the rest of the band (duh).  It should come as no surprise that the band is every bit as excellent as the vocalists but they are great!  From the insane Happy (guitar) to Colt Python (drums) and Freaky (bass) is the quintessential band with FEW rivals (I love these names of the Hairball ensemble).  When I mentioned to Happy how spot on with their performance he replied that there were "mistakes" but they were so far from obvious to make them as noticeable as a healthy meal in the South.  I would contend that the artists they emulated have "mistakes" too but are easily forgotten.

What I really find extraordinary is the fact that Happy plays all of these songs as if he wrote them originally.  This man has Eddie Van Halen, Randy Rhodes and Angus Young channeling through his fingers while he plays, he truly is incredible.  He has that feeling of greatness in the notes coming forth from the guitar.  Happy trust me you ARE that great!

What does one get when you find a bass player and a drummer that is so intensely good that it feels like they have been playing together for thirty years?  You get the backbone of Hairball (Colt and Freaky) what else?  These two are the driving force of the band that takes us back into the '80's.  The driving bass and drums that were prevalent in that era live once again, great job!

Hairball has an interesting effect on those watching them perform.  You can see the man with the bald spot of a monk act like that mullet he used to sport has grown back.  You can see the calm, demure woman pop back into the girls in the video for "Girl School".  The years that passed seem a blur and we are transported back to those days.  For any band to be successful they must be the best at whatever it is they are trying to accomplish.  Hairball has set their sights on being the best representation of the music of the "Generation of Hair" and they have succeeded.

While I struggle to remember what I did last Monday, its incredible that "Hairball" made all of those "hair memories" flood back.  Music can do that if we let it, and maybe we should.  Yes bygone memories usually seem much better than they did as they happened but who cares?  Music and memories are intertwined into the fabric of each of us, regardless of age.  Reflecting back on the dream I had on Friday March 8th, 2013 wasn't that strange.  If anything that dream may have been a microcosm of a time past, one where music can trigger those emotions from so long ago.  I loved every moment of reflection that came back that night and perhaps one day I will think back at "Hairball" with the same smile and happy memories.  Great job guys!!

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