Photos/Report: Sunset Strip Music Fest

 

August
20 found the streets blocked off and all things Crüe in effect, along with
Public Enemy, Bush and others.

 

By Jose Martinez

This
weekend saw the return of the fourth annual Sunset Strip Music Festival (SSMF),
celebrating all things raunch ‘n’ roll that takes place along the world famous Sunset
Strip. This year, local legends Mötley Crüe received the “Elmer Valentine
Award,” named after the passing of original honoree Elmer Valentine, one of the
founders and cornerstones of Sunset Strip venues The Roxy Theatre, Rainbow Bar
& Grill, and Whisky A Go-Go.

 

 

It
has been 30 years since the Crüe, singer Vince Neil, guitarist Mick Mars,
bassist Nikki Sixx and drummer Tommy Lee, burst onto the scene, laying waste to
any band that dared rival them in excess and complete abandon. During a
ceremony event at the House of Blues Thursday night, where Jack Daniels flowed
like water, the band was honored by guest speakers Ray Manzarek of The Doors,
who boasted of dropping acid to find the meaning of life; author and journalist
Neil Strauss; comedian Dane Cook, who treated his speech as a roast, joking,
“More people have heard Tommy [Lee] honk a horn with his dick than Theater of Pain; and The New York Dolls’
David Johansen.

 

 

 

During
the weekend festivities the band kept a low profile, opting to pass on an acceptance
speech and then skipped a party held in their honor Friday night, leaving right
after they walked the red carpet. But Saturday night, in front of 15,000 rapid
fans, half of the audience that attended last year’s outdoor festival along a
shut down Sunset Boulevard when Slash was honored and Smashing Pumpkins
headlined, the Crüe aptly let the music do the talking.

 

 

 

Earlier
in the day, fans saw sets by a slew of bands, including She Wants Revenge, Matt
& Kim, Mickey Avalon, Bush, and Public Enemy. While Bush delivered a
powerful performance of mostly its older catalog to the delight of shrieking
female fans, Public Enemy seemed to steal the show with its high-energy
performance or unrelenting rap songs that still seemed as volatile and relevant
as ever. Anthrax guitarist Scott Ian even joined the New York rappers on fan favorite “Bring the
Noise.”

 

 

 

Surprisingly,
without any fanfare or special introduction, Mötley Crüe stormed onstage and
jumped right into “Live Wire” and delivered a homerun performance in front of
its boisterous hometown fans. While singer Vince Neil’s vocals don’t hold up as
well 30 years later, and Mick Mars looks feeble and hampered, neither seem to
let anything stop them from hammering home a solid and powerful set.

 

 

 

 

The
Crüe’s show featured drummer Tommy Lee’s impressive “360” vertical drum roller
coaster, where the wild man drummer took multiple vertical loops during his
solo. Joining him for part of the ride was world famous DJ Deadmau5. The band’s
intense pyro even set off the fire alarm at the nearby Key Club, setting off
wailing alarms and forced the club to shut down its light and restart its
system, leaving festival attendees looking to dance after the Crüe’s
performance to stand idly by in the deafening darkness.

 

Sticking
to a greatest hits set, the band tore through faves such as “Shout at the
Devil,” “Kickstart My Heart,” “Home Sweet Home” and “Smokin’ in the Boys Room.”
It was a pretty spectacular sight seeing the Mötley boys back on their original
stomping grounds on Sunset Boulevard where they forever left their mark on the
scene, city and world.

 

 

 

 

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