I GOT RATTARDED ON 4/20
Since Ratt’s awesome Infestation release party took place at The Key Club on Sunset Strip, the birthplace of hair rock, one could conclude that nostalgia was inevitable. And probably intentional. Even knowing that, it still was easy to get choked up at the sight of Ratt guitar stud Warren DeMartini partnering on a harmony solo with a tall, blond guy. That hasn’t happened since cordless phones were invented and late guitarist Robbin Crosby hadn’t yet been ravaged by hard drugs.
And even though Ratt’s setlist relied on early singles, the event was firmly rooted in the present (contrary to my pathetic wishes). For one thing, there were a ton of 4/20 revelers, and the hot rock chicks present eschewed the timeless appeal of a loose florescent tank top for complicated tattoos and blinding douchewear. But honors for loudest outfit go to the singer, as it should be, as Stephen Pearcy was rocking leather pants that I guess become jeans at the knees.
In other ways, Pearcy was perplexing: though the band sounded hyper-charged by the vocals of second phase bassist Robbie Crane and that new blonde guitarist Carlos Cavazo (ex-Quiet Riot), Pearcy was, um, conservative with his energies, grunting wrong choruses (“I Want A Woman”) and neglecting even the mid-range (“Lovin’ You Is A Dirty Job”), never mind upper register stuff (“Wack Off Communication”). Again, Crane and Cavazo to the rescue.
Pearcy might also enlist his bandmates for stage banter assistance; those guys were pure chuckles in the pre-show photo tent. While fans buzzed around the photographers, they seemed to merrily acknowledge that their big shows no longer pull in a high-profile guests (unlike Steel Panther, whose awesomeness might’ve enabled the Infestation‘s big budget promotion). Someone in the band joked, “Yeah, we’re excited — Dana Strum is here!” and then, covertly, “He wrote the album.” At that, I burst into conspicuously loud laughter, but was bailed out by Crane’s continued goofery. (The fucked up thing? I spent the rest of the night looking for Strum so we could talk Slaughter. Dana, call me!) Anyway, it was one big guffawfest in the tent, so why not replicate that onstage before Pearcy can kill momentum between songs with his inept declarations?
But even the bimbonic singer couldn’t seriously injure the set, which was highlighted by late old Ratt (the deftly haunting “Nobody Rides For Free”, “I Want A Woman” with that brilliant middle section and staggering outro) and pumping Infestation tracks (“Last Call”, “Eat Me Up Alive”). It was during these songs that tempos never sagged (seriously, “Slip of the Lip” was exhausting), and where Pearcy’s don’t-give-a-shit performance could best be propped up.