With the possibility that it may not return next year, the 10th Run for Cover benefit at the Black Cat, raising money as it does every year for Girls Rock! DC, became a must-do. Each year, a bunch of local musicians put together mostly one-off bands for a few songs and see who can come up with the silliest cover band scheme.
Though typically unable to stomach cover bands (or too much irony for that matter), there is an art to simultaneously trying too hard and not quite trying hard enough. A good crowd filled the main room, though not as close to sold-out as I had expected. I also spotted the first Jefferson Starship t-shirt I’ve ever seen in person, who were kind of a cover/tribute band if you think about it. In any case, after the kids in Silver Rush kicked things off with one original tune, here’s how the night went:
Going first in front of a long lineup is never an enviable task and the sound definitely wasn’t ready for the Velvet Underground’s brand of drone/skronk, but by the middle of the second song, things got better. Also, a 5th member of the band, some sort of high-energy cross of Nico and Andy Worhol folks around me thought, injected some levity into the set.
With some fine Roger Daltrey hair and the bass player wearing a skeleton outfit, CSI paid tribute to cocksure arena-sized exploits of The Who. They one-upped Falling Spikes’ 5th member concept when a briefcase-bearing gent walked onstage and broke out two double tamborines. Then, for closer Baba O’Reilly, a violin player emerged to take over the famous two-step coda.
The Hot Rock
We thought a Rolling Stones tribute might be coming, but contributor and fellow attendee Jeff Miller informed me that members of The Hot Rock were Run for Cover vets and that seemed a bit too obvious. Plus, I didn’t recognize the name of their 1998 album, so while never a serious fan of Sleater-Kinney, I appreciated the choice and the execution. Guitar heavy bands with no bass have always been a tough sell for me, though.
The See BS Orchestra
And then, everything changed. As they set up, we went through a number of different ideas as to what this was going to be. Was the BS going to be a Springsteen reference? Instead, it was the Letterman talk show (with host in suit) and the Orchestra band, but with Warren Zevon guesting for Paul Shaffer, an allusion to the hour-long show that was Zevon’s last TV appearance. In the back of the room, it was a bit hard to hear the stage patter and there seemed to be a lack of recognition of the idea. But I loved it. My favorite idea/act of the night. Even down to Dave asking for “Roland the Headless Thompson Gunner“. Ended in a werewolf attack, too. Silly and touching at the same time.
Germans don’t have a tremendous amount to be proud of in mainstream music, and the constant flack for terrible techno and David Hasselhoff doesn’t help, but our accents can be funny and the rock is direct. Therefore, no one can or should dump on the Scorpions. “Rock You Like A Hurricane” is a classic for a reason, “No One Like You” is underrated, and people probably forget how ubiquitous “Wind of Change” was in ’91. Solid set, great lead guitar player, appropriate levels of whistling.
At this point in the show, you start to really love the performances and wonder how the next will be better. Armed with both an excellent guitarist and keyboardist, as well as a drummer who was playing “vintage 60s fills” according to Jeff, The Roadhouse Dudes put on a Doors set that was only betrayed by their somewhat surprising song choices, covering two lesser-known songs in between “Roadhouse Blues” and “LA Woman.” While some might have been expecting Morrison to die on stage, the only casualty was the fake facial hair.
No real surprise expected here, except the set inexplicably began with two Robert Palmer rockers, “Bad Case of Loving You” and “Addicted to Love,” both of which provided tight counterpunches to the Dudes’ epic closer. With light-colored suit jackets in tow, the singer exited the stage and returned in an instant with an awful mop wig and Eddie Money’s trademark mumbling speech pattern. With a female backup singer sporting a lopsided spiky haircut that I can only describe as a “Half-Nebatar”, they closed with “Take Me Home Tonight,” which has in fact been covered in over-the-top fashion, both in hard rock and country circles. Can’t go wrong with 80s cheese though. It will last forever.
The one band I felt was out of place in the order, Judas Priest is a tough sell to keep people energized and moving. By this point, the crowd had thinned a bit as the show was over an hour behind posted schedule. Even with the schtick of pulling a lever and having a new lead singer for each song, the set dragged more than any other. It’s also hard to believe the poppy trio of “Another Thing Coming,” “Breaking the Law”, and “Living After Midnight” were ever considered heavy metal.
If there was any doubt who should headline the show, the passive aggression of Phil Collins and Peter Gabriel jockeying for control of a dozen-members Genesis onstage settled that question from the start. There’s little as exciting as the moment the drums kick in for “In The Air Tonight”, which opened the set. It’s a consistently rewarding moment even all these years later. Percussion heavy renditions of “Solsbury Hill” and “In Your Eyes” gave way to “Land of Confusion” which featured a guy with a Reagan mask floating through the crowd, before inflatable sledgehammers were dispensed for the big closer. Big time.
Overall, a great show. Hopefully, this wasn’t the swan song.