STmannerismsMoline, Illinois, June 25, 2010:  The Quad Cities of Iowa/Illinois held its first Tributefest in the streets outside the iwireless Center on the John Deere Commons area. Four bands that emulate famous bands performed, representing the Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, AC/DC, and Bon Jovi, respectively calling themselves “Satisfaction,” “Toys in the Attic,” “Hells’ Bells” and “Bed of Roses.” The bands kicked off at 5:15 p.m. with the Rolling Stones impersonators from Las Vegas playing to a sparse crowd and the groups played until midnight.

SteveTyler-Close-UpAs a first-time event, the crowd seemed to sufficient to call the experiment, sponsored by Budweiser, Hiland Toyota and Cumulus Broadcasting a success. Websites for the various groups proclaim them to be the “best tribute bands” for the artists represented, and, having stayed to see each of the four, I can attest that the Mick Jagger impersonator had Mick down (I’ve seen the real Rolling Stones 12 times). They were proclaimed by Las Vegas experts to be the “best” tribute band at imitating the Rolling Stones and perform under the name “Satisfaction.” I’ve seen another tribute band in Chicago with a much-older version of Mick at the microphone. This imitator, who took the stage wearing a white jacket, (which he soon took off in the heat), would represent Jagger of about 15 years ago. The Keith Richards look-alike had the hair down, but also Keith of 15 years ago, as the hair now is more white than black. It also appeared that the Keith Richards clone was playing bass guitar, not lead guitar, which is not the way it works onstage for the real deal.

STyler-closeupThe set list for the Stones impersonators also covered most of the songs any Stones fan would want to hear, for example: “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” “Let’s Spend the Night Together,” “Under My Thumb,” “Hey, You, Get Offa’ My Cloud,” “Time Is On My Side,” “Paint It Black,” “Tumblin’ Down,” “Shattered,” “Honky Tonk Woman,” “Start Me Up,” and “Brown Sugar.” Unfortunately, the promoters put the Stones on first, and the crowd was sparse at 5:15 p.m. I can say without equivocation that they were my favorite group, but that the others present seemed to prefer the “AC/DC” group from Winnipeg, Canada, who did throw themselves into the show with abandon. At one point, the lead guitar was carried into the crowd on the shoulders of another member of the band. I think that was about the point in time when some audience members, an older crowd generally, started dropping like flies and an ambulance was called.

steven-tylerThe Aerosmith band (pictured with article), who perform under the name “Toys in the Attic,” taken from one of the real band’s first albums, had a relatively good Steven Tyler impersonator (not the lips, but the mannerisms), but the Steve Perry guitarist, while very proficient, merely had hair (and lots of it.)

By the time “Bon Jovi” (Bed of Roses) took the stage, with the faux Steven Tyler performing some songs with them, we were ready to pack it in. The Jon Bon Jovi impersonator bears very little resemblance to the real deal (way too short). Plus, the first 4 songs the group sang were not immediately recognizable Bon Jovi hits (and I’m a fan, with July 31 tickets to the REAL Bon Jovi’s Chicago Soldier Field concert). This may have been due to fake Steven Tyler’s presence onstage, while “Jon” played keyboards in the background. The ½ hour wait that fans had endured also cooled off the white-hot enthusiasm that “AC/DC” (aka “Hell’s Bells”) had generated. (Too bad I only knew “All Night Long” and “Highway to Hell” from that heavy metal group.)

I felt sorry for the Stones, who got the shafted in being made to go first, which the announcer kept attributing to the bands having been staged in the order they first began. Ideally, Bon Jovi’s “Bed of Roses,” (much softer pop rock), would have kicked off the night, to be followed by the heavier (and louder) rockers. I think my ears were bleeding after “AC/DC.” We were about 2 feet from the speakers and the volume ramped up a great deal between the Aerosmith guys from Nashville (a 14-hour drive, they said) and the AC/DC performers from Winnipeg.

One complaint, from me was the message I got (via e-mail) the day before the event that made it sound as though I would “save” $4 by buying my tickets online, which I then did. The tickets “at the door” were $12, it said, whereas buying them online in advance they were $10. I bit, and I ended up paying $34 because of a $5.50 “handling fee” for EACH ticket, plus taxes that added to the final total, so my $10 ticket became a $15 ticket and, instead of saving $4, it cost me $10 MORE than if I had just showed up at the venue.

I told the “will call” people in charge of handing out the tickets that I felt this constituted false advertising of a sort; the unconcerned man behind the table said, “Well, you could have canceled out on the computer near the end.” True enough, but why send me the promotional e-mail at all, when it ends up costing you $10 MORE if you take advantage of what was billed as a “cost-saving” measure (which I unwisely did)? All I got for my comment was a long lecture about Ticketmaster. The only way this would have been a “good” deal was if I were traveling from a long away (I wasn’t) and wanted to make absolutely sure I got in. As it was, I learned a lesson about not paying attention to the marketing messages from iwireless Center in Moline.

Otherwise, a fun way to spend an absolutely gorgeous evening, with $3 bratwurst and hot dogs and $5 for a hamburger basket with chips, which was certainly reasonable. You did need to take your own lawn chairs (we did) and the sound from the huge speakers carried for at least 5 blocks.