Rocktember Day 3 Grand Casino Hinkley, Minnesota 9/8/18
Day three started out with Minnesota’s own Hericane Alice. A staple here for much of the 1980s. I would put them in elite class with other local rock bands Obsession, Paradox and Dare Force. They played almost all original music including some brand-new songs. They mixed in a couple of covers as well including Golden Earring’s “Radar Love”. Bruce Naumann is a great front man. The band plays to the audience and really understands what it takes to work a crowd and get them started for a full evening of music.
Next up was Phoenix-based band Tuff. I was aware of them but did not know them all that well. I was a little hesitant at first not knowing what to expect but they won me over very quickly. Led by singer Stevie Rachelle who is also the lead vocalist for Shameless, also knew how to work the crowd. One of the things I was very impressed with is how happy they were to be there. I really appreciate bands who want to be performing in front of a live audience. I know that may sound strange, but I’ve seen enough shows where I think to myself why are you even here? Tuffwas a lot of fun and I hope I can see them again.
Fourth on the bill was Autograph. You may remember them for their big radio hit “Turn Up The Radio”. I’ve never been a big fan of this band because I felt they never had an identity and thought their lead singer was a real dork. But this is not the Autograph of old, they’ve turned into a really great band. With the addition of their singer Simon Daniels and some cleverly written newer material, they have created something really cool. Don’t judge them on their one-hit, it could be one of the weakest songs they perform. My personal favorite is “My Girlfriend’s Boyfriend Isn’t Me”. If you get the chance to go and see them do. If you like straight ahead rock ‘n roll that’s high-energy, I would recommend this band.
Next in line, Lynch Mob. This is a band that I had never seen before this year. I know they’re very popular especially with fellow musicians because of their incredible guitar player George Lynch. They’ve gone through several different singers over the years and seem to a found one now that really suits their style. His name is Nathan Utz and he’s very entertaining. I think one of the things you need to be a successful rock band is to have a strong front man. The songs are there to though, they have a great set with songs that are very melodic and lots of loud guitars and solos. It’s the perfect mix for a rock ‘n roll fan. The other members in the band are Sean McNabb on bass and Scotty Coogan on drums. He also plays with Ace Frehley. It was the first time they had performed together in almost 2 months and you would’ve never known it. From my point of view, they sounded fantastic.
Second to the last bnd was Queensryche. Again, another band I never really cared for. I know I’ll probably get flamed for this, but I don’t think that Geoff Tate is really all that good. Plus, he’s too much like an opera singer for my taste in rock ‘n roll. They brought in Todd La Torre in 2012 and I think he has helped to make them unstoppable. Every time I see this band, I like them a little more. He adds something special to the songs that takes it beyond the original versions. Their newer music seems to fit right in with the classic Queensryche sound. They are in my opinion one of the best sounding live bands I’ve seen. For those of you people who are hard-core Queensryche fans that doubt this band because Geoff Tate is no longer there, I think you’re making a huge mistake by not getting out there and supporting them. The highlight of the night for me was when they performed “Empire”.
Headliner on night three was Tesla. This is the first time I’ve ever seen them live I believe. Every once in a while, you just miss bands for whatever reason and Tesla is one of them for me. So is very excited to see them for the first time live. I’ve always liked the songs of theirs that I knew. They worked their way through all their classics like “Little Suzi” but also incorporated a lot of their newer music and deep cuts. They had large screens behind them and a cool platform for the drums. The visual presentation matched the musicianship which made for a wonderful evening of music. Another great sounding band with really well-written songs. How can you not like Tesla?
Review and photos by Tommy Sommers