SSMF 2011 House of Blues, The Viper Room, The Roxy, The Key Club

The Sunset Strip, West Hollywood, California
August 18, 2011
Words and Pixs by Victoria Joyce

It’s Thursday, August 18th and the 2011 Sunset Strip Music Festival officially opened with an awards ceremony at the House of Blues.  Motley Crüe is this year’s recipient and honoree –  Mick Mars, Nikki Sixx, Tommy Lee and Vince Neil. Umlaut required. 

West Hollywood Mayor, John Duran declared it “Officially Motley Crüe Day” in his blue jeans and Our Lady of Guadalupe tee shirt from the stage of the House of Blues. He’s a rocker. Duran told tales of sneaking into the clubs back in the day. Cute, but this big kickoff was mostly going to be speeches. Snooze. 

Ray Manzarek, professional Door, walked on stage and said a few words about drugs, The Whisky and played “Light My Fire” and “Riders on the Storm.” Ray looked and sounded kind of uncomfortable. We’re guessing not a big Crue fan, but his playing was gorgeous. He congratulated the Motleys and thanked the fans. Next. 

Author, Neil Strauss (Motley bio: “The Dirt”) read from his book and misidentified The Cit of WeHo for the city of LA. We started to squirm. Next. Dane Cook when came out we found an exit. We had places to go and bands to see. Every club on The Strip had special shows all week in running up to the big Saturday street shut down. 

We got to the Viper not a moment too soon, just in time for The Veronicas. Platinum blonde and raven black, these two front women are stunning. Slender little things in painted-on black bondage dresses with mega-voices and razor chops. The sidemen on guitar and drums have bright, candy-apple red hair like Bozo, ‘cept sexy. The effect is wicked, vicious Pop Punk. Blondie giving Britney a beat down as the Donnas look on and laugh. Aussie twins, Lisa and Jessica are out to conquer the rest of the world so hide and watch. I have never seen the Viper so packed. Sold out! You could NOT move. 

Got to The Roxy in time for Goldenspell, a jangly, folk-rock alt-something quintet. Keyboard player in a Mod dress and beehive hairstyle trading riffs with a bearded falsetto lead singer whispering existentialist lyrics. Very Silver Lake. 

We ditched the Roxy’s headliner, Nico Vega for Uriah Heep, who were playing up the street at The Key Club. I know, tough choice. The Heep, who hit the scene in ’69, were selling out shows when Vince Neil was still watching Sesame Street. You know, that new kid’s show. 

Metal Trivia: Uriah Heep’s first album was called “Demons & Wizards,” inventing that whole dark, Goth, mystical magic, Dungeons & Dragons thing. Someone had to. Still crazy after all these years, The Heep released their 23rd studio album last year, “Into the Wild.” Hitting the stage of the Key Club, silver-haired and quick to the mark, it was a giggle to see Uriah’s fans with fists raised and delighted to see them on stage in LA once again. A cult in Europe, Uriah Heep is huge and sells out shows in the Czech Republic and Germany. Lots of castles in those countries. 

We walked from one end of The Strip to the other and saw 20-somethings, 30 something’s, 40-50-and-even-60-somethings rocking it out at The House of Blues, Viper, Roxy and Key Club proving that  “Does it rock?” is a more pertinent question than “lemme see your ID.” 

Four clubs in one night was a personal best. Damn, I need a Cliff Bar.