Last Thursday night, right about a week ago this very minute, Rhea mentioned it in passing: “You know, all of my Aero-friends are going to see Buckcherry someplace out on Long Island tomorrow night.”
“We can go if you want.” I like Rhea’s Aero-friends. By this point, they are in fact my Aero-friends too, but referring to them as hers in that last sentence flowed a bit better. Writing-geek semantics aside, I mostly offered this to be nice; while I certainly didn’t mind the thought of going, I was fairly certain that she’d decide she’d rather not schlep all the way out to the Island on a Friday night, and that was okay, too.
“I’ll tell you how I’m feeling tomorrow.” I told her that would be fine, and wrote the whole thing off in my head. In fact, I didn’t remotely give it another thought until the next afternoon when, while at work, my Blackberry chirped its little new-text sound: “we are SO going to Buckcherry tonight if you’re up for it.” Well, I’ll be damned: surprising for sure, but the kind of surprise that makes you smile…and makes you glad you wore that D Generation t-shirt under your work clothes, just in case you need to make like an aging-rocker Incredible Hulk on the way home from your day job.
Several hours and several traffic jams later, Rhea and I found ourselves parked around the corner from the Paramount in Huntington, New York. It’s a weirdly-located venue – a mid-sized rock hall seemingly plopped randomly in the middle of a town that’s far more Scarsdale than Bowery – but one that I quickly became a fan of. It’s well-designed, sounds great, and boasts the least dickish security I’ve encountered in many a moon. Rhea works her magic in no time, scoring us two tickets for $20 total. We meet up with our friends and head inside while the first opening band is on. They’re a bit too Nickelback for my tastes, but they’re at least competent; the kind of decent local act that towns are always better off for having.
About twenty minutes or so after they finished, I found myself face to face with the one and only James Durbin. You can ask “who?”, it’s alright: he was the “rock guy” runner-runner-up from last year’s American Idol. His opening slot was a bizarre spectacle: first off, there was his band. Each musician was a perfect stereotype: mohawked drummer, long-hair bassist, and so on. It was like a Playmobil Rock Band set come to life, and it was as mesmerizing as it was stupefying. As for Durbin himself, he was exactly as he was on American Idol: likable, sincere, reasonably charismatic and, unfortunately, not even slightly talented as a singer. I begrudge a kid who gets to live – and clearly enjoy – his dream absolutely nothing, but Durbin simply couldn’t stay on key if his life depended on it. His entire set can be perfectly summarized by his performance of Ronnie James Dio’s classic “Rainbow in the Dark”: Durbin’s spoken intro to the song about Dio and his influence on him was clearly heartfelt, and the song itself is inarguable, a true metal classic. I wanted to like it, but the second Durbin let out the first of his astoundingly pitch-deaf screams, I found myself pushing my earplugs in as far as they would go. Still, the kids – and I do mean kids; the entire area in front of the stage was packed with under-eighteens for Durbin’s set – clearly heard something I didn’t in his performance, and good for both him and them. There is nothing wrong with young people wanting someone closer to their own age to identify with, rather than listening to an old fart like me moan about how an even older fart like Dio did this sort of thing a million times better. You know what the best thing about being as young as Durbin and his fans is? You’ve got a lot of time in front of you to learn, grow, and improve. I wish all of them the best of luck with that in all sincerity, even if I must admit I hope I don’t have to hear Durbin sing again anytime soon.
Once Durbin was done, the kids receded to the back and the aforementioned old farts congregated near the barrier. I’m on the positive end of the neither-here-nor-there spectrum with Buckcherry, actually: I enjoyed their first two albums, but haven’t been quite as taken with the slicker, more formulaic material they’ve recorded since reforming around the middle of the ‘00s. Within about five minutes of their taking the stage, all such critical thought was thrown aside: having fun in the moment with my beloved Rhea and our friends that we don’t get to see nearly often enough was far more important than what Will the Critic had to say. The band was entertaining, their performance both professional and enthusiastic, and so what? The friends were absolutely first rate, and if the loud music made us all feel a bit more like those teenage James Durbin fans than we do in our day-to-day thirty-something lives, then what more does it need to be? Sometimes, just being a soundtrack to a great evening is more than enough. There is absolutely nothing wrong with seeing a very good party band on a fun night out, and that's exactly what Buckcherry are and what they needn't apologize for being. For those about to rock, Buckcherry salute you, and vice-versa.
Folks, sometimes you’ve gotta go where the day takes you. If the day takes you to some nowhere town on Long Island to see a hard rock revival band and a third-place American Idol, don’t just assume that there’s going to be nothing there for you and make excuses to stay home. Times well worth having sometimes happen in the unlikeliest places – like a rainbow in the dark, as it were.
|So, yeah, I'm not sure why (a) I'm in the center of this photo, (b) why I'm not looking at the camera, and (c) why I'm not the one wearing the Cheap Trick shirt in it. I am sure, however, that Kris' eyes don't look like that in real life.|