Rumble on the Sunset Strip
When I saw the post for this event on Facebook, all I saw was “Dokken” “Lynch Mob,” and “Backyard Bash.” Were Don and George finally going to have the fistfight that we have all imagined for over 30 years? It wasn’t until someone pointed out to me that they were playing at different venues that I realized I would not be witnessing a Sexagenarian Slug Fest on Sunset.
But a chance to see Dokken and Lynch Mob on the same day was too good to pass up. So I extended my Labor Day weekend, booked transportation from Sacramento to Los Angeles, and headed south to 101-degree heat for the Sunday, September 3 shows. The Backyard Bash in the parking lot of the Rainbow Bar and Grill is a Labor Day tradition. This year’s lineup included Huntress, Bow Wow Wow, Bang Tango, Enuff Z’Nuff and the headliner Dokken.
The show started at 2 PM, when temperature on the Strip was already 97-degrees. I stood in the bar and watched some of the early bands. When the Annabella-less Bow Wow Wow took the stage, I left in search of a cool place to sit. I returned an hour later, in time to see the end of the Huntress set. But the last three bands were the draw for this crowd. Bang Tango put on a good set. Singer Joe Lesté sang the songs that made the band famous in 1987. Bassist Chip Znuff and Enuff Z’Nuff gave the audience the hits that they were waiting for, “Fly High Michelle,” and “New Thing.”
But Dokken was the Ruler of the Rainbow this night. These LA music fans, many who weren’t even born when Dokken rolled down the Strip in a video, sang along to every classic song. Don was in fine form, delighted to be playing to a hometown crowd. Wild Mick Brown was the driving force and ringleader for the festivities, encouraging visits to the bar and keeping the energy level high. Guitarist Jon Levin and bassist Chris McCarvill also appeared to be absorbing the energy of the audience. Don mentioned filming the video for “It’s Not Love” on Sunset in 1985. I didn’t know if the shows would overlap, so I left 45 minutes into the Dokken set. Also, the heat and the close proximity of so many people were making me light-headed. But before I left, I joined a lady at the bar for a rendition of “Alone Again.”
I wish that I had stayed at the Dokken show. The Whisky a Go Go was almost empty when I entered. Lynch Mob wasn’t going on until almost 11 PM. But arriving early gave me the opportunity to get a spot near the stage. I thought that I spied birthday boy and Lynch’s KXM bandmate dUg Pinnick, but he didn’t return my wave. I listened to three of the five opening bands, concluding with the Road Vikings from Oakland, California. Maybe I was too tired, but their homage to Erik the Red and his brethren didn’t resonate with me. Their theatrical set was interesting to watch, but by then the Rainbow show had ended and the room was getting packed. Even though I had been standing for almost 8 hours, I was determined to make it through this show.
Guitarist George Lynch never disappoints, and this show was no exception. Lynch belies the theory that you have to mellow out as you get older. Even though he will be 63 on September 28, George showed off the licks that make him one of the most admired guitarists in hard rock. Singer Oni Logan also sounded great, especially after he took off the cowboy boots that were hurting his feet. The barefootin’ Logan sang selections from the band’s new album “The Brotherhood,” as well as favorites from the legendary debut album, and other releases from the band’s long career. Bassist Sean McNabb, who had previously served time with Dokken, seemed more relaxed and animated with Lynch Mob. Drummer Jimmy D’Anda kept up the pace with a steady beat.
I was hoping that the band would pull out a few surprises, such as a KXM tune with Pinnick or even a number with the band’s original drummer, Dokken’s Wild Mick Brown. Some small part of me even hoped that Don would make an appearance to sing with his old nemesis. But some dreams are not meant to come true. By the closing song, “Wicked Sensation,” I had no feeling left in my legs. But the rest of me felt delight at seeing some of my favorite musicians on the street where they first experienced fame.
The next day, I was able to watch a video of the entire Dokken show. If I had remained for two more songs, I would have heard them do my favorite song, “Too High to Fly.” But regardless of my early departure, I enjoyed seeing the band for the second time this summer. I hadn’t seen Lynch Mob since they played in San Jose in September 2015, so getting a chance to see them up close was a special treat. There were no fights, duels, or stand-offs, just good music that rumbled along the Sunset Strip on a hot summer day and night.