I spend a lot of time thinking about what it means to be a fan.
Between Deadheading it around the country for bands at times, or writing drivel for hours late into the night waxing poetic on the way a riff made me feel, or interviewing other hardcore fans of bands…the fan experience is still a familiar mystery to me.
I’ve seen 2 tribute bands in my day- both Led Zeppelin related- and through these experiences I have formulated that the tribute band and the fan that goes to see a tribute band are at the extreme end of fan adoration. Imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, right? The tribute band is rife with stigma: does it delve into karaoke, is it impersonation-esque and thus sorta creepy, are they frustrated musicians that couldn’t make it with their own music, or are they simply having fun, even grasping at the dream spawned from the grossly miscast yet steeped in reality feature film Rock Star?
Way back in the year 2002, I saw Aerosmith and Stone Temple Pilots play the now defunct Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Selma, TX. I had a lawn ticket; I was a college kid and all I ever got back then was the cheapest seat. That was back when just being there was enough…I mean, these were two bands that I loved growing up. The rock bands in my magazines were so exotic; I didn’t belong anywhere near them. “Now me and my loser friends are gonna head out to buy Aerosmith tickets…” It had rained for days, and just stopped right before the show. The lawn was, as you could imagine, a muddy mess. People created a natural slip-n-slide, and the rock ‘n’ roll heathens created a messy activity to compensate for the ants performing on stage. I had noticed there was a thing that looked like a stage to the left of me in the lawn. Imagine my surprise when, halfway through the Aerosmith set, the whole band runs up the aisles of the amphitheater and performed “Dream On” and some other song I don’t remember right there in front of me. I mean, I was practically standing next to Joe Perry…I’m pretty sure he even looked at me. And with two songs up close to one of America’s greatest rock ‘n’ roll bands, I never looked back…and hence began my days of always being in the front.
“Say you’re leavin’ on a seven thirty train and heading out to Hollywood…”
It had been a long time since I’d been to the Whisky. Actually, it had been a long time since I’d been to the Sunset Strip. The place was packed for Draw the Line, and the floor was spotted with assorted cameras and lights to accommodate the fact that the whole thing is live for the AXS show The World’s Greatest Tribute Bands. It has taken a while to get used to the presence of AXS at shows that I go to; but it is fun to get texts/tweets from people who see me rocking out at these shows.
Draw the Line are so authentic that they are from Boston as well. It is immediately apparent that they have a lot of fun doing this; they brought great energy to the room and the fans on the floor seemed well-convinced they were at an actual Aerosmith show. My friends in bands who have played this very space to lesser crowds would lament the fact that this is a more direct route to success. Through the course of the set, I was reminded of how many huge songs Aerosmith have. Remember back in 1993 when we rallied around the TV when a video starring Alicia Silverstone would premier from Get a Grip? Can you imagine that ever happening again?! AS IF!
There were costume changes and equipment changes; trademark moves and on par sounds. I was standing in the rafters cursing the ’60s and ’70s rockers who got to see all of the amazing bands play this very space back in the day. Aerosmith appears to have played two back-to-back dates at the Whisky in December of 1973. 40 years ago! FECK. Luckily getting lost in songs like “Pink” and “Sweet Emotion” and “Cryin'” helped the sting. For “Janie’s Got a Gun” I had to laugh because that song has always haunted me. It’s JaMie…
With nearly an hour set and nearly all the hits, Draw the Line succeeded in their mission and at the very early rock ‘n’ roll hour of 9pm at that.