Held last weekend,
Aug. 26-28, as a nod to the city’s decadent glory days, the festival included
Smashing Pumpkins, Lemmy, The Head Cat, Semi-Precious Weapons, Fergie (!?!), a
tribute to Slash – and the return of the mighty Kix!
Text & photos by Jose Martinez
For the third year in a row, the Sunset
Strip Music Festival has celebrated the vibrant local music
scene with an oversized nod to the city’s decadent glory days. Last year the
powers-that-be chose to honor rock icon Ozzy Osbourne but this time around they
really got things right by honoring former Guns N’ Roses guitarist Slash.
Synonymous with the Sunset Strip scene, who better reflects
the attitude and energy the L.A.
club life represents than Slash? During an invitation-only tribute ceremony
Thursday at the House of Blues, friends and peers honored the guitarist. Hosted
by local DJ icon Jim Ladd, attendees relished the hour-long open bar before the
likes of Nikki Sixx, Lemmy, and Jerry Cantrell praised Slash.
Declaring Slash to be the “most celebrated guitar slinger of
all time,” Ladd, in his laid back style, kept the evening moving along while
Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx recalled the two musicians “killing a Jack
Meanwhile, Motorhead’s Lemmy Kilmister pointed out that Slash indeed “is British” (born in Hampstead
and raised in the city of Stoke-on-Trent),
adding, “I think he died once.”
While everyone praised the former GNR and Velvet Revolver
guitarist, Alice In Chains’ Jerry Cantrell shared a story about how he made his
way backstage at an early Guns show in Seattle
and handed singer W. Axl Rose an Alice In Chains demo. As he was walking away
he admitted he saw Axl throw the tape in the trash. Maybe that’s just one more
reason to love Slash.
As the City of West
Hollywood declared August 26, 2010 as Slash Day, the
guitarist confessed, “I’m speechless. I didn’t prepare a speech.” But in
typical Slash fashion he entertained before Lemmy and friends, including Slim
Jim Phantom of the Stray Cats, took the stage with his band The Head Cat. With Slash adding guitar on
“There’s Good Rockin,'” the band tore through some Buddy Holly, Johnny Cash,
and Ricky Nelson favorites.
Over the course of the weekend a slew of artists (from buzz
bands like Semi Precious Weapons,
to a band from back in the day like Rattlesnake Shake, to
newcomers like Hillbilly Herald,
to Adler’s Appetite featuring
former GNR drummer Steven Adler) and thousands of fans made their way to
several venues to see all kinds of rock bands, including a sold out show at the
House of Blues Friday night with late ‘80s favorites Kix.
According to guitarist Brian “Damage” Forsythe,
now also with Rhino Bucket, this marked the band’s first local show in nearly
“Our very first show [in Los Angeles] was at the Troubadour opening
for Guns N’ Roses before they even had their debut record out,” Forsythe
recalled. “We were first on the bill and it was crazy because there were a lot
of people to see us because we’ve never played here, and Guns N’ Roses were big
too, so the line went all the way out the door and around the block.”
With Kix frontman Steve Whiteman still scary fit all these
years later, while pointing out that everyone in Los Angeles wants guest list and VIP
privileges, it was entertaining watching a band still in peak condition making
sure their audience left satiated.
Saturday afternoon saw, for the second year in a row, the famous
Sunset Strip shut down to host a street festival where thousands besieged
landmarks like The Roxy Theatre, Whisky A Go-Go, and the Rainbow Bar &
Grill while makeshift outdoor stages featured sets by local favorites Steel Panther, Travie McCoy, Slash with special guest
Fergie, and headliners The Smashing
While you can question the Pumpkins spot on the bill, maybe
it was the organizers way of making sure this isn’t looked at as just a local
event, especially as last year saw a headlining set by Ozzy Osbourne, but the
Pumpkins aren’t a band with locals ties to the Strip so it did seem out of
place. But either way, it was a blast and welcome treat to listen to Billy
Corgan’s feedback wail through Sunset Blvd.