On Saturday I walked through the Horseshoe Casino, past the cacophony of slot machines, and into the Whiskey Roadhouse. The crushing sounds of Save the Hero, a local hard rock act from Omaha, kicked off the soundtrack of the night. When I got a decent view of the stage, I was even more impressed by their being a trio. I have always been impressed by three-member bands like ZZ Top, Green Day, or Rush who have the ability to unleash a full sound that doesn’t compromise in depth. If you’re in the mood for live, high-octane rock in the Omaha area, go out and see Save the Hero.
Hailing from Atlanta, The Swear brought femme fatale rock and roll with strong undercurrents of lyrical songwriting. Elizabeth Elkins brings to mind Patti Smith with her raw energy working in tandem with the narratives the songs evoke. It is no easy feat to transmute one’s emotions and observations into hard-edged rock laced with just the right amount of pop sensibilities that allows the songs to stick.
Skid Row, being one of the titans of the late eighties, early nineties scene, presented some challenges not only for themselves, but for yours truly. For them, there was the challenge to prove that they “still got it” after nearly thirty years present within a constantly shifting industry and the parting of ways with Sebastian Bach, whom many believe was integral to the band’s success. For myself, there was the challenge to connect with the heavy current of nostalgia of the night since their second album, Slave to the Grind, was released a year before I was born. The title track to that very album kicked off their set. As one of the youngest members of the audience, could I connect with this band?
Yes. And it was easy.
To really enjoy the night involved disconnecting from myself a little bit in favor of a vicarious view of the band from the perspective of the audience. Their radio hits were the only songs familiar to me, but it was the enthusiasm that the crowd exhibited during these moments that impacted me the most. Of course their two most popular ballads, “Remember Yesterday” and “18 and Life,” would invoke nostalgia, but one of my favorite moments of the night was closer to the end when they broke into “Youth Gone Wild” and everyone absolutely lost it. Some of the audience who had an almost serene composure couldn’t help but move. This was nostalgia rushing to the present.
Reminiscence and nostalgia was not limited to the audience. There was a moment when bassist and founding member Rachel Bolan addressed the audience and talked about their origins in New Jersey; this was followed by them launching into a Ramones cover. I love it when famous musicians unabashedly display their roots, or perform them in this case.
As a fellow guitar player, “Snake” Sabo and Scottie Hill’s extended, dual guitar solos brought a smile to my face. If you’re gonna have high-caliber musicians in your band, you might as well set them loose on the audience.
I know I have emphasized nostalgia in regards to Skid Row’s performance, but that particular energy was unavoidable. Not only for themselves, but the audience as well.
Their show at the Whiskey Roadhouse was their last set of the year, and I do hope they return to the road soon with ZP Theart on vocals. The singer of Dragonforce fame expertly covered the range and just radiated joy the entire time. Emblematic of the crowd itself.