A beautiful 90 degree sunny day painted the perfect background for the Sirius XM Hair Nation Festival at Irvine Meadows on Saturday September 17. Hair Nation Festival featured two stages with 22 bands that included some of the biggest names in the late 80’s and early 90’s Hair Metal/Glam Metal scene including L.A. Guns (with Phil Lewis and Tracii Guns), Lita Ford, Slaughter, Faster Pussycat, Brett Michaels, Vince Neil and MANY more. Not only was this an epic event due to the lineup but it was also a bittersweet day for many Southern California concert goers as this was the last time many of them would attend a show at Irvine Meadows as the venue is to be demolished at the end of this concert season (end of October) to make room for condos and houses.
The day kicked off promptly at 2:00pm as The Aviators – the Hair Nation Battle of the Bands winner – kicked things off on the main stage to begin the 9 hour music marathon. Up until 7:00pm bands played all day long on both the small general admission festival stage out in the courtyard and the main stage in the amphitheater. 80’s hard rockers ODIN kicked ass on the festival stage early in the day as many in attendance had not seen this band in over 25 years while the Bulletboys turned things up a few notches on the main stage late in the afternoon. There was never any waiting for set changes on the main stage as there was a rotating stage that had one band finish and the next out immediately; this made it difficult to choose a time to make a beer run or take a bathroom break.
There was lots of hairspray, spandex and leather out in the crowd as the vibe of the 80’s and the Sunset Strip was definitely in the air on this day. In addition to the music there was a vendor village, band meet n greets and a VIP lounge.
A HUGE thanks to Sirius XM, SGE, A12 Entertainment, Live Nation and all those involved in making this event happen – all did a fantastic job!
Hair Nation Festival performances:
The Aviators | Tuff | Vain | Britny Fox | Junkyard | Enuff Z’Nuff | BulletBoys | Vixen | Faster Pussycat | Lita Ford | Slaughter | Yngwie Malmsteen | Kix | Bret Michaels | Vince Neil
Electric Hounds | Odin | Gabbie Rae | Circus Of Power | Bango Tango | Pretty Boy Floyd | LA Guns
Hair Nation performance highlights and photo galleries:
Fresh off the end of Motley Crue in 2015, Vince Neil continues to carry the Crue torch as he has been touring as a solo act throughout 2016 playing predominantly all Motley songs during his set. The infamous front man hit the stage and belted out “Dr. Feelgood” as he delivered a string of Motley Crue hits from all phases of their existence. Although Neil seems to struggle a bit with hitting all the notes, his band makes up for it in energy and stage movement. If they looked familiar you were paying attention as Dana Strum on bass, Jeff “Blando” Bland on guitar and Zoltan Chaney on drums are also members of Slaughter who were just on stage 3 hrs earlier.
Vince Neil ended the night with a triple threat of Motley’s biggest hits – “Kickstart My Heart”, “Girls Girls Girls” and “Wild Side”. A great way to end this momentous festival of music.
Probably the most fun set of the entire day was Poison front man Bret Michaels. Michaels had the entire crowd in the palm of his hands as he delivered a high energy set with a huge smile on his face the entire time. Playing all Poison hits except for a cover of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s “Sweet Home Alabama”, every song was a massive sing-along. The entire amphitheater was lit up with cell phone lights as he sang “Every Rose Has it’s Thorn”. Michaels voiced his sadness for the fact that Irvine Meadows was closing as he stated he had tons of memories playing the venue with Poison. The set ended with “Nothing but a Good Time” and that is exactly what was had by all – a GOOD TIME.
Certainly one of the highlights of the day was Kix delivering a high octane set of all their hits. Vocalist Steve Whiteman delivers as high energy of a set as he did back in the late 80’s. Whiteman along with the remainder of the band cranked out hit after hit as they often came together center stage to rock out in unison. “Blow my Fuse”, Midnight Dynamite” and “Cold Blood” sounded better than ever on this night.
Yngwie Malmsteen is one of the premier guitar virtuoso’s in metal music and has some of the fastest fingers in the business and he proved that on this night in Irvine. But his performance just did not quite seem to fit into the flow of things as after Lita Ford then Slaughter who took the crowd into crazy mode, the GA pit in front of the stage and most of the lower section emptied out during Yngwie’s set as most took advantage of this time to grab a beer, take a bathroom break or just hang out and not seem very interested. Not to mention some technical problems with the guitar God’s guitar/amp, his set was NOT one of the more memorable moments of the day for most.
It’s been awhile since Slaughter have played in Orange County and they sure delivered on this night. You don’t get more of a pulverizing performance than from Slaughter especially bass player Dana Strum and drummer Zoltan Chaney – two of the most intense and active performers in the business. Mark Slaughter sounded right on and even made his way out to the lower Orchestra section to engage with the fans and take a few selfies while continuing to sing.
The reigning queen of rock n roll, Lita Ford proved once again that she is still worthy of that title as she and her killer band consisting of Bobby Rock on drums, Marty O’Brien on bass and Patrick Kennison on guitar ripped through a 35 minute set that featured The Runaways “Cherri Bomb” and her duet with Ozzy Osbourne “Close My Eyes Forever” with Kennison singing Ozzy’s part as Lita strummed away on her double-neck guitar. Even though it was two days before her official birthday (September 19), Eddie Trunk brought out a cake and sang Happy Birthday along with the thousands in attendance – a GREAT way to celebrate.
A touring machine over the last couple of years, Taime Downe and Faster Pussycat brought their sleazy, sex and booze brand of rock n roll to the main stage and played a killer set that had Downe in his trademark captain’s hat and puffing his cigarette throughout the show while their young, stallion of a guitarist Ace Von Johnson ripped up his guitar solos while stomping across the stage. Always a fan favorite, “House of Pain” is played while Downe sits down on the edge of the stage to get up close and personal with the front row fans.
All female glam rockers Vixen gave the male fans in attendance a visual treat as they blasted through their set showcasing their collaborative and individual musical talents. The band consisting of Janet Gardner, Roxy Petrucci, Share Pederson (the core group of Vixen’s most popular time) along with Gina Stile is at the peak of their game delivering a fun filled set that included “Edge of a Broken Heart”.
The Bulletboys took the stage and immediately took the energy level up a few notches as vocalist/guitarist Marq Torien was in fine form as be belted out his lyrics and delivered some scorching guitar licks. The band brought out all the stops as they had three backup singers and even brought out a horn section. These guys continue to be at the top of their game backed by the thunderous drumming of Shawn Duncan.
Led by vocalist/bassist Chip Z’Nuff, these rockers still deliver a quality show after 30 years. With his trademark large sunglasses Chip Z’Nuff remains the only original member of this underrated band as they got the best fan reaction from their two hits “Fly High Michelle” and “New Thing”.
Junkyard hit the stage hard and pounded out 30 minutes of punk infused rock n roll led by the energetic performance of gritty vocalist David Roach. The band didn’t let the mid afternoon heat slow them down as they ripped through such hits as “Simple Man” and “Hollywood”. The band may look a bit older but still rock like it was 1988.
Britny Fox hit the stage except one thing was missing – their singer/guitar play Tommy Paris who was MIA for about 10 minutes. Guitarist Chris Sanders decided to take this time to entertain the crowed by smashing a few guitars onstage until Paris appeared. Once the band got rolling they played an abbreviated set that included their huge hit “Girlschool”.
Playing a rare show, one of the former kings of the Sunset Strip club scene of the 80’s, ODIN got the side stage ROCKIN early in the day with a 30 minute set of kickass guitar driven metal. Featuring Jeff Duncan of Armored Saint and his brother Shawn Duncan of Bulletboys, this band still sounds as relevant as ever. Songs played included “12 O’Clock High”, “One Day to Live” and “Judgement Day” immediately brought you back to the magic of 80’s metal.