First things first: at no point did our car get towed, relocated, or even looked at funny. Sorry, folks: not every Friday can – or should – turn into an epic saga. This Friday did find us back in Manhattan, though, this time to see an Aerosmith tribute band with some other old friends.
Perhaps the music snob in me should back this train up a little bit at this juncture. While it is very, very true that I grew up as a musiccus snobbus par excellence, I have learned to unclench in many big ways as I’ve gotten older. This is a good thing; it’s amazing how much more you can enjoy when you’re not so concerned about the alleged integrity of a style of music (that being rock ‘n’ roll and all of its various bastard children) that is often at its very best when it has none. As a result, my music collection now contains things I’d never have guessed that it ever would back when I was concerned with nonsense like indie credibility, etc, and my life is all the better and more enjoyable for it. You’ll never convince me that Poison are anything but worthless, even a reformed snob still has to have some standards, but re-embracing my love for Iron Maiden has been nothing but a pleasure. I mention all of this for a reason: there is no way in hell that a card-carrying music snob would ever be caught dead watching a tribute band. Having torn up my card some time ago, I said “what the hell” and decided to give it a shot.
To be completely honest, the music is really not even the half of it. I mentioned that we were going to see an Aerosmith tribute band, and I’ve also mentioned before that Aerosmith remains Rhea’s alpha-omega music crush. In her many years of fandom, she’s made a lot of fantastic friends; they met each other through their mutual love of Boston’s finest, but they’ve all become much deeper friends than that. When Rhea and I became an "us" all those years ago, I also inherited this crew, and I couldn’t be happier about it. It’s just a guaranteed, no bullshit good time when all these folks congregate, and I’m always thrilled to be along for the ride. Really, it hardly mattered if the band was any good or not.
I’m happy to report that Draw the Line, as they are known, were fantastic. Obviously, it would be too much to say that they’re probably better than the real Aerosmith at this point, but I will tell you this: if ‘70s Aerosmith is your bag, you’ll like Draw the Line’s set list better than the genuine article’s. In fact, they only hit on one post ‘70s tune: “What it Takes”, which is certainly one of the better ones at that. The Steven Tyler doppelganger has both the voice and the moves down pat, and the musicians know the material inside out. The end result was more fun than I’d possibly imagined; it should also be noted that the guys in the band were very cool themselves. Having met some of our crew before, they invited us down to their backstage area and kindly shared their rider haul with us. Given a choice between $9 beers and generously shared free beers, I think we all know which wins. Just a bunch of awesome, friendly folks who are very good at what they do. Also, in hanging out downstairs, we got to miss most of the fake Journey that came on after them; not a bad deal at all, folks.
And also a convenient segue. Here’s a fun fact for you all: the fake Journey contractually stipulated that the fake Aerosmith had to play before them; that they must be the “headliner”. Musically, this made no sense at all: while fake Journey boasted a fairly impressive fake Steve Perry, they didn’t have nearly the stage presence of Draw the Line. By any reasonable standard, the stage order should have been reversed, which begs the question: at what point do some of these fake rock bands begin to believe too much of the hype? Is fake Steve Perry’s need to headline a tribute to the real Steve Perry’s well-documented egotism, or does this guy believe in some way that he is, in fact, the reclusive former Journey singer?
Likewise, the fans: fortunately, most of the people in the house were just like my crew, folks who just wanted to dance and party to songs they love for a lot less than the cost of a large-venue ticket to the real thing. That’s a great way to spend a Friday night in the big city, actually. Alongside them, however, moved the more disturbing minority. A few seemed to simply be looking for a date of any sort; let us pause here to shout out one particular dude wearing an ill-fitting hoodie over various assorted failed-hipster mook-wear who looked as if he might shatter into powder if a woman actually approached him for real. Likewise, let’s present a virtual medal to the guy standing next to me who seemed to think of Jersey Shore as instructions rather than entertainment; his red-faced puke-run to the bathroom was easily one of the evening’s laff-riot highlights.
Beyond the individual characters, there was a small contingent of what I came to think of as tribute groupies, pitching leering woo and thrusted breasts at the band members as though they were actually the men they were portraying. It was a fascinating thing to watch, to try to internally decode. Were these women coming on to the actual performers on the stage that night, or were they coming on to Steven Tyler or Steve Perry? Were they actual groupies, or a tribute to groupies? Would they have slept with the guys in the bands, or were they simply playing a part in a performance, just like the men on stage? Does tribute Herpes actually infect, or does it vanish in the cruel daylight just like any other fantasy?
I don’t have the answers to any of these questions. Nor did I ever figure out whether the most prominent tribute groupie was actually born a man or not, but that’s another issue altogether. I’ll also caution you that thinking too long about any of the above might make your brain collapse into itself, so instead I’ll leave you with a recommendation. Should you and your friends possess even the slightest fantasy/reality line in your minds, and enjoy the music of ‘70s Aerosmith, I can guarantee you that Draw the Line knows how to bring the rock. If you’re the kind of person who enjoys having a beer or two and observing the wondrous range of humanity, then the amazing sideshow that comes with the great tunes is a hell of a free bonus.