Just because the BulletBoys will always be known for their debut music video released at the height of MTV's heavy metal era 25 years ago doesn't mean the '80s glam band from Los Angeles hasn't put out kick-ass heavy rock music since.
Those who bothered to show up for Thursday night's free show at the Tequila Rock Bar on the premises of Backstage Live saw as much first-hand. They saw that the BulletBoys are more than just the "Smooth Up In Ya" group. And they saw that singer/guitarist Marq Torien -- the band's sole remaining original member -- will play for anyone, anytime, anywhere.
Rocking a 60-minute set mainly comprised of songs from their self-titled 1988 debut album and latest all-original studio effort -- 2009's 10 Cent Billionaire -- the BulletBoys put the emphasis on rocking out and having a good time.
The attendance that barely bushed 60 fans was 100 percent a sad commentary on the state of metal in San Antonio, not on the BulletBoys or support acts Stone Senate, Prophet Within and Chankla (did we mention the show was free?).
Moments after opening with 10 Cent Billionaire's "Born To Breed" and segueing into the debut's "Hard As A Rock" and "Hell On My Heels" -- the latter with its "1, 2, f--- you" beginning -- Torien shared his band's plight with the crowd.
"We haven't gotten paid, we didn't get rooms, but there's only one reason I drove eight hours to play for San Antonio, one of my favorite places in this country to play," Torien said. "And that's to play for you people." As the cheers subsided, Torien added, "I'm not chicken----. I don't leave people hangin'."
Considering the BulletBoys were in Dallas the night before, which is only four hours away, Torien exaggerated slightly. But he could be cut some slack given that his passion for rocking out no matter the crowd size, and making a living after all these years in an industry that continues to struggle, is admirable. Of course, it may have helped just a tad that Torien told the fans on two occasions, "You guys kicked Dallas' ass last night." So what if he probably said the same thing to El Paso about San Antonio after leaving our fair city. The point was well-taken.
So from there, to paraphrase fellow '80s glammers Poison, it was nothing but a good time. Torien, guitarist Nick Rozz, bassist Chad MacDonald and new drummer Davee G launched into classic diehard favorites "Kissin' Kitty," "THC Groove" and their cover of The O'Jays' "For The Love Of Money" along with other newbies "Road To Nowhere" and "Wasted" (see my video at bottom).
Quintet Stone Senate brought their brand of bluesy and loud hard rock to the Alamo City for the first time from their native Nashville, Tenn., and quickly won over the crowd. Having opened up for the BulletBoys since Jan. 2, singer/guitarist Clint Woolsey and his bandmates were more than gracious on several occasions for playing here and genuinely enjoyed making some new fans. Songs such as "Dreams" and "Love's A Disease" gave those in attendance the jump on any future shows this group may play here by turning them on to a band that you'd be glad to tell your friends, "Hey, I was there at this band's first San Antonio gig, and they're definitely worth checking out."
San Antonio's Prophet Within and Chankla got things started off. The former, a Christian group that plays frequently throughout the city, played several originals and ended with its customary cover of Alter Bridge's "Rise Today" (click on slideshow at top).
That all set the stage for the BulletBoys.
When "Smooth Up In Ya" kicked in to wrap up their set ending at 12:25 a.m., the tallest gentleman in the venue attempted to start a mosh pit. He was quickly grabbed around the neck and wrestled to the ground by a shorter, but stronger, individual who didn't exactly enjoy being pushed around. When order was restored and the song concluded, Torien asked the crowd if everyone was OK, adding, "Hey, I grew up in East Los Angeles. We don't need to fight. What this country needs is forgiveness, peace and understanding."
Again, point taken. But what San Antonio needs is some more devotion on the part of all metalheads and rockers to attend shows. Even if you stopped following a so-called '80s band several years ago, there's not much excuse when the gig is free.
Venues are not immune from doing their part either. Thursday's gig was advertised all along as taking place at Backstage Live, not at the diminutive Tequila Rock Bar next door. Further, according to a member of one of the opening acts, the bands were not made aware what time they were playing until arriving for unloading at 6 p.m. -- an hour before the doors were scheduled to open. They also counted on setting up shop at the much larger (stage and capacity-wise) Backstage Live rather than at the Tequila.
Thankfully, artists such as the BulletBoys have no problem putting all that aside to play no matter the circumstances. It's proof that, in turn, the metal scene could use more bands like them.
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