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By Jacqueline Monahan
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Monster Circus Resurrects Rock at The Hilton

Think long hair and head bangin’ have seen their day?  Me neither.  Rock might take a stroll to the far end of the pier once in a while, but it will always be around, thanks to die-hards like those found in Monster Circus and their devoted fans.

The Hilton Theatre, once host to no less a Las Vegas icon than Elvis Presley, and currently featuring Barry Manilow in a nightly crooning session, is the scene of the twice-a-month cluster of days (Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 11:00 p.m.) that bring a booming Big Top (think hair) to Sin City.

Debuting on March 19, the 75-minute, screaming, horn-inducing (index and little finger extension), gyrating go-go-girl, fire breathing (and spitting) pyrotechnic sideshow (with real side men!) turned up the volume on a stage flanked by two giant video screens, and an undulating audience eager to relive their misspent youths.

Featuring musicians with formidable rock credentials, the Monster Circus (MC) band is comprised of bassist Rudy Sarzo (Dio, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot, Ozzy Osbourne), drummer Fred Coury (Cinderella), guitarist Bruce Kulick (KISS), guitarist Tony Montana (Great White) and frontman/lead singer John Corabi (Mötley Crüe sans Vince Neil, and Ratt).

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Dee Snider (2nd from left) with Monster Circus
Photo credit: Denise Trucello

This is an all-star cover band, playing some of the greatest hits of which its members have been a part.  Renditions of KISS’ “Shout it Out Loud” and AC/DC’s “Back In Black” flowed into Whitesnake’s “Is This Love?” and Judas Priest’s “You’ve Got Another Thing Comin’”.  Aerosmith’s “Dream On” had the added attraction of two female aerialists lifting and spinning themselves on white floor-to-ceiling fabric, making perfect geometric figures with a triangular knee or arm bend in the air.  They also performed in tandem on a solitary silver ring – every circus has to have at least one.

Frontman Corabi traveled the main stage and an upper platform to flirt with once-in-a-while dancers who kept the beat with their hips and hands in costumes that went from chaps to spangled bras to black spider webs of slinky, suggestive temptation.

Corabi also interacted with the crowd, pointed out a female flasher (Mardi Gras style) and picked out a male guest to play Guitar Hero onstage.  At a median age of 55+, the band members have been around the block a few times, but, like their genre, seem to stay eternally youthful.  With a uniform I call either “Civil War Corpse” or “Victorian Shabby Chic”, the musicians sported tight, black denim britches, military dusters, faded, formal waistcoats, and skull logos on t-shirts and belt buckles.  Biker boots and tattooed skin peeked out from areas that cloth didn’t cover.  Some women in the audience had shorter hair than these guys.  I was in my element.

A light show and occasional pyrotechnics erupted throughout the performance.  Flames and sparks flashed in rhythm, while the Ringmaster, a satanic-looking skinhead, spat flames of his own and juggled guitars before setting one on fire and balancing it on his chin.  No wonder he’s hairless.  A creepy clown overlooked the proceedings from both video screens with a monstrous leer on his unsettling face, exhorting the activities into even wilder territory from a mouth that looked intentionally dubbed for maximum macabre madness.

An amazingly buff, bleached-blonde Dee Snider, his black-denimed ass sporting a skull on each cheek,
took the stage for a four-song set, revving up the crowd with his Twisted Sister anthem, “We’re Not Gonna Take it.”  The audience, already pumped from Corabi & Co. went into amplified overdrive, many standing with raised arms ending in “horns”.  Ozzy Osbourne’s “Crazy Train” followed, with the nearly- manic Snider belting out a respectably wild rendition, exhorting the audience into a writhing mass of amateur vocalists.  Twisted Sister’s “I Wanna Rock” kept the momentum going, with AC/DC’s “Highway to Hell” rounding out the headliner’s performance.  Snider maintained that he‘d single-handedly transform any “Fanilows” to “Dee-ciples.”
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During a Las Vegas Sun interview Snider has been quoted as saying “I think Elvis would be repulsed and disgusted, (by Monster Circus) I’d have to shake him and remind him that, dude, there was a time that people were repulsed and disgusted by you.”

The most provocative performance of the evening came with MC’s rendition of Van Halen’s “Hot for Teacher”.  The dancers, dressed in scanty schoolgirl uniforms, used poles, both north and south ends, that had nothing whatsoever to do with geography.  Not exactly Cirque du Soleil; more like Circus o’ Lay.

Two additional, six-night engagements of Monster Circus will take place April 16-18 & 23-25; and May 21-23 & 28-30. These additional shows will feature other rock legends at center stage (yet to be announced).

If Monster Circus proves anything it’s that rock is eternal, circuses are indeed entertaining, and you can’t have an authentic one without freaks.


For further information:

Las Vegas Hilton
3000 Paradise Road
Las Vegas, NV 89109
1-800-222-5361
www.lvhilton.com/Play/Calendar/Ongoing-Entertainment/Monster-Circus

Tickets are $39 - $66 (VIP package available for $86).

 

 

Heavy Honey Generates Buzz at The Farm

 

Photos courtesy of http://www.myspace.com/heavyhoney2

“We are a combination of Hippie music…and Heavy Metal music.” So declares Heavy Honey founder, songwriter and charismatic front man/lead singer, London Mace.

The band performed an eight-song set on April 1st to an enthusiastic crowd at The Farm, a popular all-ages venue on South Rainbow Blvd.

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Despite the ironic concert date, this band is no joke. There’s immense talent here and a real understanding of rock and heavy metal genres. Heavy Honey works as a powerful unit in which the members thrive on creative energy from one another as well as shared performance energy with the audience, ultimately generating an electrifying live experience.

Accompanying Mace onstage were fellow “2H” members Reagan “Hollywood No” Pfifer, (female lead vocalist), Trey “New York Gun” Winrow on drums, Sean “Vegas Outlaw” Steele on guitar, and the band’s newest acquisition, bassist Natalie “Tokyo Fire” Dunn, formerly of Chosen, Begotten, and Barbie Gone Bad.

 

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Although the band does some covers (AC-DC’s “Sin City”, The Cult’s “She Sells Sanctuary”), they really excel at Mace’s original compositions, illustrating the fact with “Soul Selling” and “Play in the Dark” off of their first album, 2007’s “God Bless the Fearless Lover”. “Angels and Camaros”, from 2008’s Maiden America, rocked the house into an appreciative frenzy as did the awe-inspiring “Predator”, “All 2 You”, and “Cheech ‘n Chong”.

 

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Mace and Pfifer’s vocals, sometimes haunting, sometimes fierce, intertwine and complement each other and can be described as “rock-operatic”; pure clean notes that reverberate, able to can morph into expertly controlled wails.

Winrow not only keeps up a driving percussive rhythm, but pounds out a playing style that has been described as “Bonhamesque”, making even novice listeners sit up and take notice.Dunn’s musical precision and Steele’s wild-child theatrics invite audience participation, promoting an interactive give-and-take with enormous appeal.

With a following that includes over 10,000 myspace fans, 2H’s appeal reaches nostalgic boomers/gen-Xers as well as millennials new to the sound. The “Heavy” in their name comes from pounding rock riffs, urgent and punk-tinged; a multi-colored light show made them seem other-worldly on this night, adding to their already considerable allure.

A track from 2008’s Maiden America album, entitled “The Ring”, is currently being played on French, German, and Belgian radio, and the band’s first single, “Soul Selling” is popular in Denmark. An international tour is planned for the summer of 2009.

Heavy Honey continues to play locally, having performed at such disparate Las Vegas venues as The Rox Club, Puff, House of Blues, The Freakin’ Frog, and The Cheyenne Saloon, among others. They’ve also appeared on Matt McClure Live, an indie L.A. internet show, and have been featured in Vegas Rocks! Magazine; most recently the band won Fusion Productions and the Beauty Bar’s Battle of The Bands. Most impressive: They’ve only been in existence since early 2007.

Inspirations come from classic rock icons such as The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, David Bowie, U2, Iron Maiden, and Black Sabbath as well as more contemporary bands like Velvet Revolver, Black Label Society and Buckcherry.

 

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Melodic may sound too gently descriptive, but it helps to experience the power with which the lyrics are delivered. There’s an excitement generated by this musical sledgehammer, which nails the genre in all of its past glory while establishing a new, original sound that sets its own standard. You listen to Heavy Honey with a kind of recognition, as if remembering a type of rock that moved you to the core back in the day but are now discovering once again, updated and ready for aural explosion.

Like a wild ride at a metal carnival, it’s apparent that this group has fun onstage, the power of their instruments and vocals enmeshed in a creative, turbulent marriage, and we are fortunate to be at the reception.

Words are inadequate; you must experience them live or at least banish the quietness by blasting one of their resonant missiles (CD’s) into your eardrums. Catch Heavy Honey in rotation on COMP 92.3.

You won’t mind this Mace in your face.

About The Farm:The large industrial space is bare but for the featured stage; a mixing board/sound station is planted in an opposite corner. An expansive spectator area suitable for pontaneous mosh pit creation takes up the most space and a solitary sectional sofa to the right side of the stage that might seat up to eight people. “All ages” is a literal fact here. You might see an infant in a stroller or a senior seated in his rolling walker, right next to a senior in high school. There’s no smoking and no alcohol and the place closes at 11:00 p.m. It’s all about the music and this venue provides a plentiful harvest. For further information: http://www.myspace.com/heavyhoney2
The Farm 5597 S. Rainbow Blvd.Las Vegas, NV 89118
www.myspace.com/thefarmlv

 

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