Rock’n The Valley featuring Hessler, The Last Vegas, Trixter, Warrant and Skid Row. July 13 and 14th, Pecatonica, Il.

Rock’n The Valley featuring Hessler, The Last Vegas, Trixter, Warrant and Skid Row. July 13 and 14th, Pecatonica, Il.
July 16, 2012 | By | Reply More

Rock’n The Valley featuring Hessler, The Last Vegas, Trixter, Warrant and Skid Row. July 13 and 14th, Pecatonica, Il.


Rock’n the Valley took place this past July 13 and 14th and lasted 48 straight hours, featuring over 50 bands. To begin with, in order to put this show in perspective, a word must be said about attendance at recent events in the northern Illinois/southern Wisconsin area. Cheap Trick played a few weeks back to a less than capacity crowd, another area festival was also under attended and unfortunately this event was no different. Ticket prices deescalated from 45 dollars to 22 dollars before the event was just labeled a free show on the final day Saturday. Even as a free event, the attendance was still far less than the organizers, bands and vendors expected. Understanding there’s a crap economy in the area and lots to do in the summertime, an event featuring the headliners at this show still would normally draw a much bigger crowd in many areas. You can’t complain about the lack of things to do in the area if you don’t get out and support the bands that do come through town.

Chad Cherry of The Last Vegas, first night, photo by Michelle Parks

That said, the bands and audience that came out made the best of it for the most part. I certainly didn’t catch all of the acts but Friday night headliners The Last Vegas were fantastic. They went on again before the final acts on Saturday and both times played with tremendous energy and swagger. The band has instantly hooky material and has made sincere waves worldwide, garnering respect and loyalty within the hard rock world. If you’ve seen them live you know why. There was no band on the bill other than Skid Row that could match the raw power they brought to the proceedings and the guys played like they were in front of 30,000 fans. A great deal of their set was comprised of new songs from their soon to be released album “”Bad Decisions” which is even better than their last album “Whatever Gets You Off” (produced by Motley Crue’s Nikki Sixx). Vocalist Chad Cherry has obvious stage presence and the new material went over just as well as the songs they’ve gotten airplay with like “I’m Bad” or “Loose Lips”. There is something real and honest in the DNA of The Last Vegas because even when performing a lone cover song like “School’s Out” they were blistering and organic, so much so that it seemed drummer Nate Arling literally channeled original Alice Cooper drummer Neal Smith. You absolutely have to go see the band when they come to your town.

 

Hessler kicking ass at Rock'n the Valley

Hessler kicking ass, photo by Michelle Parks

I caught another Chicago band called Hessler who played early on Saturday. The band already has a pretty devoted following, many of whom showed up early in the hot sun to see them, which is pretty impressive to begin with. They’re led by vocalist Lariyah Daniels, a stunning blond Polish import (she’s also a fairly well known model) who is a lot more than she appears to be at first glance. Honestly, prior to this amazing live show, I will admit to having seen more of the band as opposed to actually hearing them so it was shocking to hear how incredibly powerful and guttural her vocals were. At various points they sounded like classic WA.S.P. being fronted by a young Doro Pesch. Hessler’s songs were memorable, their stage show was fun and over the top, but best of all there is something unique about each member and their individual performances. That, along with the songs, is what will keep this band rising steadily and help them be something more than just another band with a female singer. There is a hell of a lot to like about Hessler and they already have the energy and marketing smarts to keep rising so you’d be well advised to keep them on your radar.

Pete Loran of Trixter, photo by Todd Reicher

Pete Loran of Trixter, photo by Todd Reicher

The crowd that came to see the headliners certainly seemed to have a good time and the bands didn’t disappoint. Trixter was the first up after a long break between bands and the crowd responded very favorably to them, especially since most of them probably haven’t seen the band since their breakout hit in 1990, “Give It to Me Good”. Back then, the band was routinely labeled as a pin-up band but those in attendance saw a group that played with a lot of exuberance and no lack of technical skills. Vocalist Pete Loran still made the girls in the crowd sit at attention but to be fair, there were plenty of male rockers headbanging along with bassist P.J. Farley who went out of his way to entertain. All the songs from their “Dial MTV” era were represented as well as material from their latest album “New Audio Machine” before the Trixter guys gave way to Warrant.

Erik Turner by Todd Reicher

Erik Turner by Todd Reicher

There were shockingly people in the crowd who somehow thought Jani Lane was still singing in Warrant and apparently hadn’t heard that he was replaced by vocalist Robert Mason even before passing away. Regardless, there were a great majority of the crowd who turned up to see the hits and the band certainly delivered them, opening up with “Down Boys” and closing with “Cherry Pie”. The guys played the songs flawlessly, so much so that if there is anything to be critical about it’s that the performance seemed a little too calculated and clinical.The band has found a goldmine in Mason on vocals as he sings perfectly and also engages the crowd as a frontman should but perhaps too much of the burden to entertain has been placed on him. There were patches of the crowd paying lots of attention to many of the original members of the group but they really didn’t really take a moment to get personal or talk to the crowd like some of the other bands.

Jerry Dixon and Robert Mason by Todd Reicher

Jerry Dixon and Robert Mason by Todd Reicher

What they did do was kick ass for the most part, and the more recent “Sex Ain’t Love” seemed to go over just as well as the classic era stuff like “Machine Gun” or “Love in Stereo” during a pretty hard to beat setlist. If you’ve seen Warrant in the past it is clear that they are indeed focused and sound as good or more likely, better than ever before. Drummer Steven Sweet deserves special mention, he’s always been something of a secret weapon in the band, anchoring the drum kit while singing the vast majority of the background vocals perfectly and he was fantastic at Rock’n The Valley.

Mr. Scotti Hill, photo by Todd Reicher

Mr. Scotti Hill, photo by Todd Reicher

Johnny Solinger, photo by Todd Reicher

Johnny Solinger, photo by Todd Reicher

Skid Row was the final headliner and were amazing on every single level, most notably in terms of the level of energy they played with, which reminded me of the first time I saw them in 1991 opening for Guns N’ Roses. They opened with “Big Guns”, played every single hit you would expect (with the possible exception of “Wasted Time”) and really, really made it a point to connect with the very weary audience on a personal level. Vocalist Johnny Solinger and guitarist Dave “The Snake” Sabo stopped the show at various points to make personal, local references to what the Rockford area meant to them and Rachel Bolan did the same before taking a microphone turn to sing the Ramones classic “Psycho Therapy”. The band and their classic material was the perfect ending to the festival, people truly seemed to be pleased by how much Solinger had grown into his job and how the other guys were exactly as they remembered them. The band closed out the show very late with their original hit “Youth Gone Wild” and the best thing that can be said is that by the time they finished all of us in the crowd seemed to have a bit more energy.

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