Cover Bands have been around for quite a while, but were originally thought of as second-rate entertainment for weddings or Bar Mitzvahs. These groups had the reputation as not being able to come up with their own songs, and people often ignored them to go to the original band’s shows instead. But with cover bands like Me First and the Gimme Gimmes and Richard Cheese breaking into the mainstream, audiences are starting to have a change of heart.
Not only are people beginning to realize how talented some tribute artists are, some believe that going to see a cover band is almost as good as the real thing. For one, going to see a cover act is only a fraction of the cost of going to see an internationally acclaimed band, not to mention that they usually play more intimate bars and clubs as opposed to being crammed in to a crowded stadium or arena. The Belly Up Tavern in San Diego is a prime example of a mid-sized venue where people can see a wide range of cover bands while enjoying moderately priced drinks and having a ball.
Amateur acts usually have more to prove than artists that have a major label contract, and the energy coming off the stage at these smaller venues can be seen electrifying the audience out of their seats and onto the dance floor. 80s cover bands like Young Guns can treat the audience to a wider range of songs than one original band could, and since they only play the hits, you never have to worry about them skipping your favorite song and playing any of their new crap.
And part of the fun is judging the musicians on how well they copied the original band’s style and image. Total Distortion’s (a total Social Distortion cover band, in case you needed any help) front man, Don “Ness” Vercelli, has a voice and stage presence very similar to that of Mike Ness, and the only thing they add to their faithful cover songs is a hell of a lot of energy. An even though female cover bands like Misstallica and AC/DShe may not have a lot of physical similarities to Metallica or AC/DC, they can definitely rock the songs better and harder than most guys can.
Of course, the most popular reason to go see a cover band instead of the original is when the original band is no longer around; whether its due to a break-up or an untimely death. While there will never be another Johnny Cash, the cover band Cash’d Out is a great substitute; with more energy than even Cash had in his later years and a lead singer (Douglas G. Benson) that looks and sounds like The Man in Black’s illegitimate child. And while there’s fewer and fewer Ramones each year, going to see Hey! Ho! Let’s Go! will always remind us of the awkwardly awesome stage presence of Joey Ramone and help us relive the early years of punk.
Many of these bands are currently touring the US, so check out their tour schedules and see what other cover bands perform in your town. They might not be the bands that blew the world away with their original songs and style, but they’re all talented musicians who work hard to entertain audiences with the music that means the most to them.