By Andrew Bansal
Nov. 30th 2011, The Avalon, Hollywood CA: Drop In The Bucket, a non-profit organization that works towards building water wells in the African country of Sudan, put together a benefit concert to raise money for the cause last night, and the Avalon in Hollywood was the chosen venue. A few hours before the event, I was given a schedule of performances. I was very much familiar with a lot of the artists listed, not so familiar with a few. It was an intriguing line-up. Quite often, charity-based events are done with the right aim and spirit, but end up being poorly organized. Well, this particular event not only catered to a great cause, but it also lived up to my expectation as far as the actual concert was concerned.
The evening was started off at 8.30 PM with a musical comedy routine by The Lampshades, featuring Kate Flannery whom many might know as Meredith from the TV show The Office. It was an interesting beginning to proceedings, something I normally wouldn’t get to see at the events I go to on a nightly basis. The humor was mainly based on irony, and even though the audience was largely made up of rock fans, they gave this duo a decent response.
After their 20-minute set, Henry Rollins, the host for the evening, came out and gave an introductory speech on Drop In The Bucket. From that point on, he came out to speak between acts. There is no doubt in my mind that the right host was chosen for the event. He not only did a great job at making everyone aware of the supported cause, but also created excitement for each act that followed by telling us about his personal experiences with that particular artist.
Eagles Of Death Metal frontman Jesse Hughes came out next with his solo act Boots Electric and did a 20-minute set. While the music was entertaining, it was a little too funky for my personal taste, and Hughes’ constant callouts to the “ladies in the house” did nothing but attract annoying drunk chicks who rushed to the front row, in the process pushing aside everyone who came in their way. A good performance nonetheless, and this was another act I normally wouldn’t have gone to see.
Henry Rollins came back out with a story about the Stooges reunion involving bassist Mike Watt, and a little background on Kira Roessler who played bass for Black Flag at one point. This served as the perfect introduction for “Dos”, the duo of Watt and Roessler, as they next hit the stage, and performed for what turned out to be a fascinating 15 minutes. I had never seen a band that consisted of nothing but bass. It was probably the most weird thing I had ever seen. Both of them were using the tiniest of amps, but they were scorching their instruments. Kira also did vocals on the 2nd song. “We’ll end it on a vicious note”, said Watt before they did their final song, and vicious was absolutely the right word. As soon as they were done, they garnered a big round of applause and said goodbye.
Rollins was back, this time telling us a story about when he first heard Slayer’s Reign In Blood album with producer Rick Rubin. It was a hilarious story, but this one dude kept shouting “Slaayyyeeeer” at the top of his voice and I couldn’t hear much of what Henry was saying. Anyhow, he introduced Dave Lombardo on to the stage. For me it wasn’t a surprise to see Lombardo at this event, but it sure was a surprise to see who he performed with. It was with an electronic artist who goes by the name Kraddy. To his credit, Kraddy got the audience on his side right at the start of the set by saying, “I’m not a rock musician, but I’m a metalhead. I don’t play instruments, but I create electronic music on my computer. So please don’t hit me!” When they started playing, I was amazed by how unique, yet how heavy it was. But obviously the Slayer-yelling dude didn’t get it, and kept shouting, “Fuck computers! Play music!” Eventually someone told him to shut up and back off, which led to a huge fight that did not subside until the venue security intervened. Coming back to the music, I really enjoyed it. It’s great to see a member of a band like Slayer branching out and doing stuff like this. Lombardo’s drumming and Kraddy’s electronic music complemented each other brilliantly. He even put on his version of Sabbath’s “Iron Man” which was the highlight of the set. In fact, as weird as it sounds, this set makes me want to check out some of his music. All in all, this was the single most interesting piece of the entire event.
Rollins reappeared, and gave us a story about his experience working with Corey Taylor on the West Memphis 3 release. Having worked around his solo tour just for this event, Corey Taylor casually took the stage among loud cheers from the crowd. Scott Ian walked up to join him, and the cheers grew louder. Stone Sour drummer Roy Mayorga and Taylor’s performing partners Christian Martucci on guitar and Jason on bass completed the first line-up of this all-star jam. They started out with the KISS song “Calling Dr. Love”. Next they played Black Sabbath’s “Fairies Wear Boots”. All members did a fantastic job at it, specially Corey on the vocals and Christian on guitar. It was undoubtedly the highlight of the night for me.
They did nine more songs in this immensely enjoyable performance. I enjoyed pretty much all of it, except for two songs that I could have done without, Foo Fighters’ “Everlong” and Alice In Chains’ “Would”. Those songs didn’t deserve to be in a set that consisted of songs by Sabbath, KISS, Priest, AC/DC, Ozzy and Van Halen, but that’s just my personal opinion. But besides that, it was pretty special. Just to be able to see John 5 shred on three Van Halen songs was a treat in itself, and the combination of Corey, John 5, Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo performing Priest’s “Heading Out To The Highway” was also a memorable moment. No rock covers set is complete without AC/DC, and sure enough, they did “Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap” and “Walk All Over You”. Scott Ian left the stage for the last two songs and Dave Navarro joined John 5 instead, as they ended the night with “Crazy Train” and “Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love”.
With the exception of Scott Ian and Dave Lombardo who obviously play in Anthrax and Slayer respectively, I’m not a fan of any of the bands these other musicians come from. Not a fan of Slipknot, Stone Sour, Rob Zombie, and Jane’s Addiction. But, I loved what Corey Talyor, John 5 and Dave Navarro did last night as individual musicians. They did justice to each and every song they played in the set, and came across not only as skillful professionals but also as genuine fans of the music they were paying tribute to. Everything was carried out perfectly, and it sets the benchmark as far as all-star jam events go. I would like to point one just one negative aspect of the event though, the audience turnout could have been a lot better. The event wasn’t really promoted and talked about a whole lot, not sure why.
Overall, a fun-filled evening, done for the right reasons and executed to perfection.
Corey Taylor on all songs, Scott Ian on songs #1-#9
1. Calling Dr. Love (KISS)
2. Fairies Wear Boots (Black Sabbath)
3. Everlong (Foo Fighters)
John 5 enters
4. You Really Got Me (Van Halen)
5. Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap (AC/DC)
6. Walk All Over You (AC/DC) (Corey Taylor on guitar, Christian Martucci on vocals)
7. Unchained (Van Halen)
8. Would (Alice In Chains)
Dave Lombardo enters
9. Heading Out To The Highway (Judas Priest)
Dave Navarro enters
10.Crazy Train (Ozzy)
11.Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love (Van Halen)
Please help out this great cause and visit Drop In The Bucket’s official website for more info on the organization.