There were multiple reasons for Buckcherry and fans to celebrate Friday night's gig at the Aztec Theatre:
- The concert marked the band's 300th show on its Confessions tour.
- It marked a homecoming for drummer Xavier Muriel, who was born in the Alamo City.
But by relegating the former reason to a quick mention by vocalist Josh Todd and the latter strictly to an unfurling of the Texas flag by Muriel (see slideshow above), Buckcherry kept the primary cause for partying to the bare basics -- putting on a good Rock N' Roll show.
The concert took place during the middle of San Antonio's annual city-wide Fiesta festivities, but it wasn't an official Fiesta event. That was a signal that the advance tickets sold of 500 -- a figure acknowledged by the Aztec's media relations spokesman -- was not truly indicative of a typical South Texas Buckcherry crowd. For example, Buckcherry played to several thousand while headlining the 2012 Fiesta Oyster Bake at St. Mary's University (SAMME coverage in blue at bottom). And with this year's Fiesta being increased to 18 days from the usual 11 days so as not to conflict with Easter, there was no shortage of partying options to be had around the city Friday night.
But Buckcherry's ability to rock and party in its own right cannot be questioned. And the enthusiastic patrons on the general admission floor, plus those standing in the two lower-level sections and stationed in the upper balconies, ate it up.
Given the milestone of No. 300 and the abundance of solid songs on the Confessions CD, it was surprising that Buckcherry only played two tunes from that album: "Gluttony" and "Water." And those were not unveiled until the middle of the 80-minute set. But opening with 1999 track Lit Up is never a bad choice, and that provided the perfect fuel to an evening that was about to heat up.
The night began with a pair of bands that couldn't have differed much more in style from Buckcherry's. Direct support act The Virginmarys evoked sounds and images of a college music punk/alternative band, and not just because the singer resembled Green Day's Billie Joe Armstrong. First opener Exilia was touring in support of its sixth album. Frontwoman Masha and her band roared and played their hearts out for roughly 30 minutes to a crowd that was unsuspecting given that Exilia was not listed on tickets or on any advance promotional material. But the group won over its share of fans, particularly those who met them at the merch table and wanted to get more familiar with the members.
Buckcherry's most recent visits included not only the 2012 Oyster Bake but also a December 2009 date opening for KISS at the Erwin Center in Austin. Neither the family-friendly Bake nor opening-arena slot for the long-time legends afforded complete freedom for Buckcherry in terms of songs played or stage show. As a result, Friday's headlining slot, while smaller in numbers than those gigs, provided the chance to hear raunchy tunes Porno Star and encore closer Too Drunk (see setlist in slideshow). For the finale, Todd donned an N.W.A. hat and playfully stumbled around the stage in all his topless tattooed glory. All members, including fill-in bassist Kelly Lemieux -- currently replacing the departed Jimmy Ashhurst -- genuinely had a good time playing alongside one another, bantering with fans and rocking out to tunes spanning their career.
Credit the group for not being predictable by saving its biggest smash single, 2006's Crazy Bitch, for the end of the night. Rather, the tune ended the regular portion of the set prior to the two encores and included a lengthy jam session. That came after Todd introduced the song by regaling the audience with a history lesson of sorts regarding men, women and the natural act of copulation -- with a vulgar twist, of course.
If you left after the song thinking that it marked the end of the show, think again. Buckcherry unveiled a forthcoming song for its first encore, entitled Say F--- It, which Todd announced will be part of a new EP in June.
Although personal favorites such as So Far, Next 2 You, Broken Glass, and new offerings Sloth and Envy were omitted, Buckcherry mixed things up fairly nicely from previous San Antonio shows.
More importantly, it was good to see that the band hasn't allowed the mega-success of Crazy Bitch to result in the type of nowhere-to-go-from-here-but-down path that has befallen other big-hit groups. Buckcherry's three recent albums, in particular Confessions and All Night Long, gel well with its older music and help ensure that the guys have plenty of material that more than complements their most popular song, as opposed to fans waiting impatiently for them to play it.
As long as Buckcherry continues to churn out solid tunes and express the type of enthusiasm doing so that band members displayed Friday, there should be plenty more nights where they can go all night long. If you're a fan of rock music and lively performances, that can only be a good thing.
For more of the SAMME's Buckcherry coverage, click on the "Suggested" links in blue below. For a November 2009 interview with guitarist Keith Nelson, click here.
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