Live Review: Camp Freddy - The Roxy, Hollywood
Fri, 09 May 2008 11:00:02
Hollywood's notorious for cover bands. In fact, L.A.'s premier cover band, Metal Skool, recently renamed Steel Panthers, have become the hottest Monday night attraction on the Sunset Strip. They sell out the Key Club almost every week with a set that spans everything '80s, from Journey to Poison. It's largely throwback shlock, but it's all good, because that's what the tourists want. Out-of-towners just love to get a slice of that legendary, RAWK decadence, and Metal Skool satisfies that hunger. Meanwhile, there's something for the natives. You know, the "Initiated," Hollywood elite that don't attend shows, unless a silk, sticky, backstage pass is waiting for them at the will-call window. All-star cover band Camp Freddy will no doubt impress them, but make no mistake, Camp Freddy's show is fun for everyone. How can you go wrong with rock titans Dave Navarro [Jane's Addiction, Panic Channel, Red Hot Chili Peppers] and Matt Sorum [Guns N' Roses, Velvet Revolver] hashing out classics? That's exactly what they did last night at The Roxy, during the second of five Thursday residency shows this month.
With every aspect of L.A. life, it's all about who you know, and Camp Freddy's members have famous Blackberry contacts to spare. Even though the core band of Donovan Leitch, Chris Chaney [Jane's Addiction], Billy Morrison [The Cult], Navarro and Sorum is undeniably slamming, the guests make Camp Freddy's shows special. Last night delivered once-in-a-lifetime collaborations that made even the backstage glitterati flash ZOOM!-whitened smiles. In the house were Slash, Jerry Cantrell of Alice in Chains, Steve Jones of The Sex Pistols, Mr. Motley Crue Tommy Lee and Chester Bennington of Linkin Park. The residency shows are all MC'ed by Mark Mcgrath of Sugar Ray and Access Hollywood fame. However, McGrath can't resist grabbing the mic and kicking out the jams alongside his pals. With high profile guest appearances and an incredible core band, Camp Freddy sent a shockwave down Sunset. It's the most "rock n' roll" covers show you can see. Even the fire marshals at the packed club couldn't take their eyes off the stage. A few even snapped some camera phone shots to bring back to the big red engine. Of course, they kept things in check, minus Slash paying zero heed to the "No Smoking" policy. Thankfully, some things never change.
Camp Freddy's really just a good old fashion rock show, showcasing more than a few songs everyone knows. The Cult's "Lil Devil" punched with a raw, jagged groove. McGrath took the mic and blazed through the song, emanating a classic, cock rock braggadocio. Meanwhile, Navarro shredded out the lead with blues sensibility and metal technicality. The best surprise came when Tommy Lee took over a drum kit facing Sorum and the two launched into a full-on drum duel at the end of the song. Lee flipped sticks and hit hard, facing off with Sorum's calculated, precise pummeling. Then Slash hit the stage and helped bring the house down. When the top hat-donning legend walked out, Navarro smirked. "Can someone please get Slash a guitar? Is that hard?" Appetite for Destruction classic "It's So Easy" brought everyone back to the gutter days. Duff McKagan belted out the bass line while doing a throaty and worthy Axl rendition. Slash and Navarro jammed together, volleying lead lines in a completely kinetic fashion that sparked energy from the stage. Both dominated their fret boards, bending notes and ripping through solos.
The three-song salvo that followed "It's So Easy" proved to be the night's most explosive. Linkin Park's Chester Bennington took the mic for Led Zeppelin's "Good Times, Bad Times." His signature wail brought the song into the 21st century, bridging the gap between now and then. Slash and Navarro bowed at the altar of Jimmy Page, playing each line with reverence. A raw and vibrant "Highway to Hell" followed, as Chester did his most faithful Bon Scott impression and Sorum bashed away at the timeless rhythm. Of course, our two favorite guitarists kept axeing out, not missing a beat or chance to blaze a riff. After the AC/DC homage, Chester asked, "You want to hear some fucking Guns N' Roses?" The crowd erupted, and the band launched into "Paradise City." The audience clapped in unison as Slash ripped through the opening with the same fire he had in the '80s.
At one point, Chester posed a question that resonated. "Do you have any idea what you're witnessing on this fucking stage tonight?" Everyone in attendance certainly did, and that's why they walked away all smiles. Whether they had passes or not, everyone got a little closer to the Strip's legend last night.