It’s fitting that I saw the Sunset Strip-inspired musical, “Rock of Ages,” just a few days before catching Buckcherry’s set at North Tonawanda’s Gratwick Park, because the debauchery and hedonistic lust for life’s most squalid pleasures measured about the same for both experiences.
Although they didn’t form until 1995, Buckcherry embraced an era of music defined by excess and rapacious sexuality, while putting their own edgy imprint on a style many critics felt deserved to go out with the morning trash.
Their lyrics celebrate the “sex, drugs, and rock and roll” existence to the hilt, so those who attended yesterday knew full well what type of evening they were in for. Why certain cretins felt the need to subject small children to this, I’m not entirely sure, but let’s move on.
What separates Buckcherry from the cornucopia of sleazy hair metal outfits is that they are exactly what they claim to be. Rather than coming together as a manufactured glam product, singer Josh Todd and the guys are straight out of Los Angeles in a way that the Poisons of the world were not.
Their thirst for the limelight was evident in songs such as “All Night Long,” “Oh My Lord,” and “Lit Up,” as Todd’s voice sounded as charmingly coarse as ever. He may have an unorthodox vocal approach, but he hits every note hard, and never compromises his artistic integrity.
Lead guitarist Keith Nelson ripped through the fretboard with ease on “Rescue Me” and “Whiskey in the Morning,” and solidified the band’s resonance as a lean, mean hard rock machine. He’s not the flashiest player, but he makes his 2006 Zematis disc-front scream bloody murder throughout.
When the band kicked into the 2006 smash, “Crazy Bitch,” the crowd produced its loudest moment of the night, which says something about what direction the show was heading in.
Do women secretly wish they could be the type of licentious vixen described in the song’s verses?
After hearing Todd’s description of what he believes a “crazy bitch” is, I would think that most women wouldn’t want any part of that, but the reaction of the band’s female constituents told a different story.
Regardless, Buckcherry wrapped up the set, and Sunday night, in aggressive fashion.
Opener Fuel struggled with the swirling winds over the Niagara River during most of their set, but “Shimmer” and “Hemorrhage (In My Hands)” delighted the crowd nonetheless. Singer Brett Scallions was a bit gravelly at the start, so the band definitely wasn’t as polished as they should have been.
Not too shabby for a free show.