Big hair lives! Morphing from cover to cover

Aquanett at
Outback Lodge
Saturday, October 9

I've been meaning to check out '80s hair metal cover band Aquanett ever since they first started playing at Outback Lodge a short while ago, but last Saturday night proved to me that I should have started sooner.

Showing up an hour and a half early for the show, I made my drink last and chatted with a friend while the Outback sound system played a selection of music that seemed to be from another galaxy. I recognized only one band, Soul Coughing. Now, I don't consider myself a musically sheltered individual, but most of the hard-rock-laced-with-pop groups that drifted out of the speaker sounded like they came from another– notably more metallic– universe.

Though various wigged members of Aquanett had been walking around the club for some time before their 11pm start time, it was only when the group's five members took the stage that the majesty of the miraculous event began unfolding.

Four of the group's members– the lead and rhythm guitarists, the bassist, and the drummer– had adorned their noggins with long wigs of various shades, often accompanied by headbands, while the group's vocalist had, unless everyone was fooled by a very expensive nylon model, real, long-flowing locks.

"I wanna rock..." began Twisted Sister's hit of the same name, a song about, you guessed it, rocking when dorks (using '80s terminology) tell you not to. The group was pretty tight, not missing a beat, and the vocals were actually better than the original– although sung more in the style of Quiet Riot's Kevin DuBrow than Twisted Sister's Dee Snider.

But the important thing was the song got people up, dancing and headbanging with wanton abandon, some wearing Aquanett net shirts in various stages of cut-off fashion.

The group began their next number, the Scorpions' "Rock You Like a Hurricane," though the song's utterly forgettable verses had me wondering what the group was playing until the larger-than-life chorus came in. Singing backup vocals in the style of '80s pop/metal (background shouting in the same pitch) was the group's bass player, and when this combined with the echo on the singer's vocals, we witnessed an almost exact replica of the first two songs.

The crowd was, on the whole, a bit older than I've seen at the Outback before, I'd say early to mid-30s, bespeaking their youth during this music's heyday, but they were letting loose in a fashion that put their younger audience counterparts to shame.

I had some questions about the singer's age too– it seemed extremely possible that he had learned his technique, the utterly amazing ability to replicate the style, pitch, presentation, and even never-ending vibrato of the vocalist for whatever '80s act the group was performing, during an apprenticeship in a small act of similar musical mindset during that period.

Def Leppard's "Rock of Ages"– featuring a sizable amount of audience participation– Motley Crue's "Looks Can Kill," and Poison's "Every Rose Has Its Thorns" all rocketed off the stage as the evening wore on, and still the band continued morphing into whatever act performed the originals.

Their flexibility, especially the vocalist's was something to see, and I'm sure I'll be back again to relive the past.