Live Review: Crüe Fest 2
Mon, 03 Aug 2009 10:49:08
Exactly two decades ago, Mötley Crüe operated on hard rock with Dr. Feelgood.
Feelgood remains a classic, and the fearless Sunset Strip foursome's performance of the entire album at Crüe Fest II in San Bernardino only further cemented the record's immortality. It's really comforting to see that the Crüe are still deft with a sonic scalpel even after twenty years.
Fire, booze, girls and more fire are the ingredients for any successful summer rock show, and Crüe Fest II had all of them in spades. This year's installment should be exemplary for other summer festivals. Mötley Crüe, Godsmack, Theory of a Deadman, Drowning Pool and Charm City Devils churned out anthemic, beer-drenched hard rock to a raucous greater Los Angeles audience.
The Crüe's stage setup resembled a hospital, nodding to the Feelgood album artwork. They hit the stage with the urgency of Satanic EMT's ripping through "Dr. Feelgood." The song's massive chorus echoed through the night, as every voice in the house repeated the refrain. Tommy Lee bashed away the song's unforgettable groove flawlessly, while Mick Mars slid through the solo seamlessly. Nikki Sixx oozed the same undeniable "cool" that's made him an icon as he fired off that distinct low-end. At the head of the operating table, Vince Neil nailed every single note; his voice carrying the song's mayhem and majesty. "Slice of Your Pie" and "Rattlesnake Shake" sparked lots of grinding and grooving from the two dancers on stage. Both songs could still easily set off any strip club in the world. "Kickstart My Heart" roared like a finely tuned engine. At one point, Tommy grabbed the mic and joked, "I want to invite you all back to my dressing room so we can get naked and crazy." That's when the classic crowd flashing started. Lee didn't seem to mind. He just asked for "One big group hug."
It's true that all you need is love, and Mötley Crüe got a lot of it from the crowd. They shouted along to "Don't Go Away Mad (Just Go Away)" without missing a beat. After "Time for Change," Mötley ran through classics "Livewire," "Shout at the Devil" and "Wild Side." New cut "The Saints of Los Angeles felt just as earth shattering as the classics dud.
Godsmack sent equally overpowering sonic shockwaves through the venue. The Boston metal marauders' set was like a one-sided prizefight. The quartet achieved pure rock n' roll perfection, pounding out hit after hit. Sully Erna, Tony Rombola, Robbie Merril and Shannon Larkin didn't need much production to beat the audience into submission either. A simple skull backdrop, a drum riser and some well-timed pyro gave Godsmack a Vulgar Display of Power-era Pantera feel.
However, Godsmack stand alone.
From the bass rumble of "Straight Out of Line," Erna and Co. captured a raw fire that few bands these days have. Erna ignited the crowd on the chorus, sparking the day's first massive sing-a-long. His voice channeled Layne Staley, but Erna added his own grit and gusto. Shannon Larkin remains one of the most epic percussionists alive, holding up unforgettable rhythms while flailing his arms and tossing sticks. Rombola's wah-wah solo sounded pristine as the sun set.
"Realign" crushed and cackled with controlled chaotic distortion. On "Awake," Erna's pain and passion bled through the melody all at once. Larkin kept flipping the sticks as Erna let out a bellow at the song's end. Erna went on to preface "Enemy" saying, "I want to send this song out to every cocksucker that's stabbed me in the back!"
There's no doubt whoever those bastards are, they felt it! During "Keep Away," Godsmack jammed out, improvising and showing just how talented they are. They even dropped in Pantera's "Walk" for "The boys in the pit." Now, Godsmack had taken a minute off, but it didn't sound like it from the energy or intensity level on stage. Erna did address breakup rumors though announcing, "We're here this summer to tell you that all those rumors are bullshit! We're alive, healthy and getting along better than ever!" Rip-roaring new single "Whiskey Hangover" only illuminated that fact.
"Voodoo" allowed for an awe-inspiring drum jam between Larkin and Erna. Then Godsmack capped off a perfect set with their breakout single, "Whatever." It was the last upper cut to knock out the crowd—proving how powerful these Bostonians are. They took over the West Coast with a little bit of fire and a whole lot of metal.
Crüe Fest II was fittingly rounded out by Theory of a Deadman's infectious radio rock, Drowning Pool's undeniable metal anthems and Charm City Devils' gutter bravado. Everything you need for a hot summer night, including a good old fashioned beatdown from Godsmack and a little love from the Crüe.