Thursday, March 6, 2008

A Sabbath tribute band almost as fun as the real deal

Posted By on Thu, Mar 6, 2008 at 12:53 PM

ozzy_osbourne.jpg
A loving parody of this crazy old man
Tribute bands, by nature, tend to suck. That’s because they’re largely composed of guys who’ve given up trying to write their own music, so they’re now dressed like chubby, 43-year-old versions of Nikki Six. Okay, so they can be fun and nostalgic, offering the younger generation a chance to experience what it would have been like to see The Beatles or Zeppelin – if those bands ever played to 30 people at the Rib Fest. To the hip set, they also offer a form of “I’m in on the irony” mirth. Plus, there are things more beautiful in life than getting hammered at a Poison tribute show… After all, with enough Rolling Rocks, even a fat straight guy can sound just like Rob Halford. But there are also tribute bands that defy the laws of gravity -- acts like the Black Sabbath tribute playing at Akron’s Matinee on Friday, March 7. I saw this nameless act last spring, when I was resentfully dragged to the Matinee. I didn’t want to watch a bunch of geezers rape the perfection of metal’s godfathers. But then something happened. The band was good – fucking good, actually. I was impressed. And I wasn’t even drunk. While the band’s costumes leave much to be desired, singer Nate Dray’s Ozzy Osbourne get up is kinda endearing. Dray’s Elvira wig and cheap jewelry may be a campy wink at the Prince of Darkness, but his vocals are dead-on and even chill inducing for being an obvious parody. Same goes for the rest of the group. It’s no easy task to play Bill Ward’s beats perfectly and with the same intensity, nor is it easy to shred like the master, Tony Iommi. But the band – composed of members of local bands like Beast, The Library Is On Fire, and Hell’s Information – plays its set artfully, imbuing each song with an energy that makes you forget you’re watching empty pastiche, and allows you to let go and even pump your fist to their amped rendition of “War Pigs.” At times, I even found myself fooled into believing that I was actually listening to the real thing. And, I swear, I wasn’t drunk. It also helps that these guys aren’t taking themselves seriously, just having a laugh while nailing some of the songs that inspired them to write music in the first place. If mimicry is a form of flattery, then Black Sabbath should be blushing from ear to ear. So if you’ve got nothing better to do this Friday at around 10 p.m., I highly suggest you check them out. – Denise Grollmus

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