Cruefest Hollywood ~ 2012

Cruefest Hollywood 2012
Whisky a Go-Go
Hollywood, CA
By Lucky (SugarBuzz Hollywood)

Just when you thought it was safe to venture back to the Sunset Strip, degenerate rockers from destinations unknown blew into town for their yearly ritual of debauchery and diabolic acts.  Yeah, they get wild, and they get crazy, acting all lewd and irresponsible, when all the while they are secretly raising money to fight children’s cancer. It’s called Cruefest Hollywood and it is in its eleventh incarnate. We are talking an abomination here folks, no, not Cruefest, but cancer. More than likely all of us will lose a loved one to cancer in our lifetime; pray it’s not a child. Proceeds benefit the Skylar Neil Foundation.

I was behind my time, not getting to the club till after the doors had opened, the festivities begun. (My apologies go out to Snakehead for missing their set. Next time brothers! Thanks for being gracious enough to fill the opening slot.) I must admit I had a little trouble getting it up this year as it is against my vampiric tendencies to venture to nightclubs while the sun is still fucking shining. I do however; attempt to make an exception for this event.

Stashing the vehicle in the usual garage, I hit the Whisky to drop off the SugarBuzz Magazine donation for this year’s charity raffle. We have been a sponsor of Cruefest Hollywood since like year two I believe, and are committed to make show as long as the nice people that promote the event will have us. Hunger was gnawing away, so I hit Frankie and Johnnies for a combo slice and a beverage.  Then I made the crucial mistake of going to The Bow. For those whom may not know, I was the DJ at The Rainbow Bar and Grill for eleven years back in the day. Yeah, I got stories. Anyway, I ran into old friends and chatted way too long. Realizing my absent mindedness, I hightailed it, lickity split.

Breathing a sigh of relief, I escaped the rays and was consumed by the darkness of the Whisky a Go-Go. It took a moment to acclimate, to perceive the happening. Lo and behold some badass mofo’s were on stage kicking up a storm; it was on. White Lie laid down a set that was pure, honest and genuine. Rock and roll for the masses, tinged with blues, power, soul and unrivaled professionalism. Soaring soundscapes from guitarist Kevin Reyes (I’ll be stealing some riffs from this guy for sure) represent why this seasoned veteran has been a hot commodity in the music industry for years. Lead vocalist Tom McCrory is the consummate showman, with strong vocal delivery and the ability to make spectators feel like they are actual participants in the foray.  Turns out I had missed a portion of their set, so when they left the stage I was thrown off kilter. I needed more.

STONEBREED fired it up and mercy me I was amazed at the grit this band possessed. I have heard scuttlebutt of their prowess and damn, it is right on the money. I’m talking honky tonk shit kicking good times here folks. Hard to believe this band is from Hollywood as they would be right at home in oh, say, Alabama. Southern rock lays heavy in the presentation, as do flavors that some would call classic or arena. Vocalist Carlos Cruz lets the good times roll, possessing entertaining qualities akin to the likes of Jim Dandy, David Lee Roth or just about any of those crazy fuckers from Ram Jam. Fill my pool hall junkie jukebox with this bands tunes and it’s good times guaranteed. Warning: broken bottles and barstools may ensue.

Steven Talbot was back with his latest and perhaps greatest, The Gutter Boys. Steven has been a long standing performer, and supporter, here at Cruefest Hollywood, and damn it, the crowd loves him. His acts always are top-notch and aim to please. Musical madness reminiscent of Kiss, Montrose and early Van Halen kept the party lively. I especially took note of super frickin’ catchy “Calling All Girls”, as did the ladies in the audience. Stand-out guitar antics courtesy of Brian Abretske dazzled. A memorable moment occurred when special surprise guest B.b. Gunz joined the band for a killer rendition of a Motley Crue smash. B.B. really belted it out and we will be keeping an eye out for her in the future.

The Whisky was filling fast, and perhaps the next band had a hand in the draw. TUFF was back in action, although when have they not. TUFF hit the ground running back in the day, when The Strip was packed from The Whisky to Gazzarri’s with mile-high hair, spandex, and band fliers. They have outlasted and out shined many a band and lived to tell-the-tale. Representing the glory was original bassist Todd “Chase” Chaisson, whom got a nod from vocalist Stevie Rachelle stating that there would be no TUFF if it weren’t for Todd. Stevie was “in your face” as usual, a boisterous pleasure indeed. His over-the-top personality and knock out vocals make good show. Included in the set was one of my all-time favorites, “American Hair Band”. I mean, really, I can never get enough of that shit! A side note of interest: guitarist Staffan Österlind looked damn familiar to me. I’ve seen him and that Les Paul Custom before. Fuck, it was bugging me. Then I remembered, hey, didn’t he play guitar for Willie Bass at Cruefest Hollywood 2011? I do believe it to be so.

The rumble of DC4 shook Hollywood to its very foundations. The band features the might of Odin and the ferociousness of Armored Saint. How so you ask? Well DC4 features members of both said bands, so in a sense, DC4 is a fucking super-group. Plunging the people into fist clenched mania; the purveyors of mega-rock pretty much mutilated the masses. Razor sharp dead on delivery the master general would envy. Ruffian ringleader Jeff Duncan brought the hammer down while guitarist Rowan Robertson gave an expose in rock. Rock solid plunder from drummer Shawn Duncan held it together and drove it all home.  Songs to sink your meat-hooks in included selections off of their latest and perhaps greatest “Electric Ministry” that is a true testament to tone.

According to the program it was time for the “All-Star Jam” that spotlighted some rocking big guns cranking out some recognizable classic tunes. Hitting it up included (but not limited to): Jack Russell (Great White), Jeff Duncan (Armored Saint, DC4, Odin), Phil Sandoval (Armored Saint), Rowan Robertson (DC4, Dio), Alan Krigger (London, Ike Turner, Giuffria), and a guy that absolutely stunned us all by the name of David Keckhut. All in all it was a powerhouse presentation. Jack Russell didn’t miss a step while rocking the mic. The guy has certainly done his time in the rock and roll front line trenches and paid a lifetime of dues for a license to rock. The men from Armored Saint/DC4 provided the steam for the freight-train out of control.  A hot shot of pure adrenaline courtesy of David Keckhut whom hit the stage and blew us all away with an rendition of a Ronnie James Dio classic. The entire set was a rapid-fire bombastic blitzkrieg. 

Ok, before we proceed, it is that time again for some SugarBuzz shout-outs: Nick Culves, Suzy Wilson, Kirk “Hippy” Akers, Derica, Cat (Whom couldn’t make it to the show but was instrumental in recruiting sponsors), Tara Lyn, Casey Millikin, Rachel Connor, Janice Marie, Scott Sanchez, Rock N’ Write, Freekshow, Joel McGoran and many many more. Whether you are Cruefest Hollywood staff, fans that make a yearly pilgrimage or just Sunset Strip regulars whom showed for the cause, you are all hardcore in my book. As Jack Black so eloquently stated, “You ain’t hardcore, unless you live hardcore.” Much love and respect, you people are why I keep coming back year after year after year after year.

The late night hours were upon us, but the show was just getting started. Hollywood’s very own London revved the machine. London has a storied legacy as the group that featured more future rock stars in their ever rotating line-up than any in the history of time. Nikki Sixx, Slash, Blackie Lawless, Lizzy Grey, Izzy Stradlin and countless others all were members of London at one time or another. One incarnation seemed to stick and weather the storm and that is the line up we saw tonight. I’m talking Nadir D’Priest, Sean Lewis, Brian West and Alan Krigger. London is an amazing concise unit, as vital today as oh so long ago.  Nadir looks like a rock star.  Scratch that, he is a rock star. He is a powerhouse performer who brings it time and time again. Brian West, who first joined London in the mid eighties, power surged the set, while Krigger lambasted. Guitarist Sean Lewis was dead on and made an impression. Even though I have seen Sean play this stage before, this time will be his stand out jam in my mind. London has a great song catalogue, super stage presence and are go getters to boot.

It was somewhere around the One O’clock hour when SKINMASK descended to take control of the psyche and industrialize our minds. Insanely creative full facial makeup created a certain intimidation factor. I didn’t know whether to run and take cover or get drawn in and mesmerized. I chose the latter. A smorgasbord of stylized sounds ranged from high to low blending in a most unusual way.  Vocalist Andre Lazaro lulled us into a false sense of security just when the enforcer, bassist Christophe Liglet, pelted us with bombastic sonic booms. FossFace combined textured tones and outright noise to create some oddly melodic mayhem. Huge illuminated signs projected the words “Skin” and “Mask” adding futuristic imagery to the visual portion of the experience, and what an experience it was. SKINMASK is not to be missed!

A thunder of silence befell, as the stage was broken down, the crowd diminished. The charity raffle had just a few minutes to proceed before the club literally shut its doors tight. Much to my delight I was actually one of the winners this year, in fact I won a bunch of stuff! I shared the bounty with some, and kept the rest. Nick commented from the stage, “No wonder they call him Lucky!”  Thanks to all who donated this year. I said my goodbyes and see you next years and I was off like a ghost into the night. Cruefest Hollywood 2013 is only 46  some odd weeks away. Be afraid, be very afraid.