Junkyard played Count's Vamp'd alongside opening act Kaos/Bender and the Traveling Trailer Park on Friday, July 30, 2021.
Back to Live Music!
What a long, strange year and a half it's been. Once a regular at concerts, so many of us had been out of the picture for so long on account of the pandemic still wreaking havoc on the world. Las Vegas was one of those cities hit hardest; largely because so much of the city relies so heavily on the entertainment world. That's meant no concerts, which needless to say has been a crippling situation for this rock and roller.
Fortunately, the always reliable Count's Vamp'd sprung into action. They've been holding concerts once more on Friday and Saturday nights, working towards the inevitable full-on recovery of Vegas' music scene. There have been several shows at Vamp'd over the last few months. With me having not been at concerts for quite some time even before the current pandemic in the world, I knew it was time for me to return to the music scene.
When I heard Junkyard was coming back to Vegas, I knew that would be a damn good show to come back with!
Returning to Vamp'd.
This was my first concert in two years. I'm glad to say that the venue and the scene have lost nothing. I'm hoping the momentum keeps up and we don't have to go back to any overbearing restrictions. Entertainment in Vegas is on the way back to where it once was, and nothing should derail that. Let's hope for full-on recovery of our Sin City music scene sooner than later!
One thing I do want to express satisfaction for with this gig (and other recent ones at Vamp'd) is the earlier starting time. I love Vamp'd, but my biggest issue with the otherwise stellar venue has always been later starting times; prior to the pandemic, it wasn't uncommon to have an opening band start after 10PM, and have a headliner take the stage just after 11:30 and not be done until around 1AM. This was murder on my sleep cycle. It made weeknight shows pretty much an impossibility due to my traditional-hours day job schedule. This gig, on the other hand, had the opening band start right around 9PM, and things were concluded before midnight. Let's hope this is the norm going forward (even an hour earlier than this would've been nice, but no complaints for progress!)
Kicking off the festivities for the evening was Kaos/Bender and the Traveling Trailer Park. Admittedly, a group I wasn't familiar with outside of the involvement of bassist Paul Cunningham/Paulie Walnuts/Fucko/whatever other names you've got for this guy. Fronted by a male/female pair, the group's rock sound wasn't entirely unfamiliar, but it's great to see that they were able to put a unique spin on things. Their set consisted mostly of originals, but also included a surprise more rock-driven cover of the Sheryl Crow classic, All I Wanna Do. The group's EP, THE MANIFESTO, was released back in 2019. After having witnessed this kick-ass quintet live and in person, I'll certainly be going back and checking that out! Everyone in this band was enthusiastic, getting the audience riled and enthused for the eventual arrival of headliners Junkyard.
When Junkyard hit the stage, the crowd (which was a pretty respectable size given current world conditions) was excited and ready to rock out. The group's debut album came out way back in 1989. Since then, their combination of sounds has made for some entertaining-as-hell listening. While the group may not quite have the same level of popularity as some of their contemporaries from their era, they've got a strong and loyal following, having given us classic hits like BLOOZE, ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD, SIMPLE MAN (not a cover of the Lynyrd Skynyrd song), and HOLLYWOOD.
The group's influences on their sound are numerous, making them sort of a "melting pot" band. The current lineup of Junkyard features singer David Roach, guitarists Jimmy James and Tim Mosher, drummer Patrick Muzingo, and bassist Todd Muscat (brother of Faster Pussycat founding guitarist Brent Muscat, who resides here in Vegas). Of the lineup that recorded the band's 1989 debut, only Roach and Muzingo remain in the group, although the quintet current assembled may be the group's strongest lineup yet!
This was not the first time I'd seen Junkyard at Vamp'd; I'd previously seen them play the venue in September 2018 with the same lineup. The positive experience of that kick-ass gig was one of the many things that encouraged me to make this my first "comeback" gig after an absence from the music scene for nearly two years (though much of that was due to a lack of concerts during the pandemic). I'm happy to say that results here did not disappoint in the least.
As I stated earlier, one of the best things about Junkyard is how diverse their musical sound is. The current incarnation of the band brings it on stage, with a sense of chemistry and humor which still doesn't manage to undermine their talent as a rock band. Frontman David Roach, clad in a patch-covered battle jacket, delivered throughout the evening, with a voice that can adapt to the fast, heavy, slow, and anything in between. The guitar duo of Mosher and James never lets up, and the Muzingo/Muscat rhythm section is one of the most underrated in rock. Not every classic band still brings it in concert, but the current version of Junkyard most definitely does.
These are guys touring and rocking venues because they're passionate about rock and roll and the music they unleash on the masses. They're most definitely NOT aging past-their-prime guys out for a paycheck (and believe me, there are a LOT of artists out there from the old days I could say that about...)
The setlist was an impressive one; based on the research I've been doing online, this was essentially an abbreviated version of the setlist they'd used in shows over the last couple of years (likely having to knock a few songs out of the running order to accommodate the time frame on stage and allowing for an opening act). All the popular songs were played along with a few deeper album cuts (the band has a bigger discography than people realize), though sadly ALL THE TIME IN THE WORLD was omitted. Aside from that one little omission, though, this was a great and diverse mix of music that did the job and then some. Based on the crowds and the enthusiasm of concertgoers, no one was disappointed.
Closing out the Night.
One of the real surprises of the evening was a guest appearance from Ace Von Johnson of LA Guns, who joined the group on stage for the last few songs. Jetboy singer Mickey Finn was also in attendance, though sadly didn't join the group in stage.
It's great to see Junkyard back out there doing what they do best. This was a fantastic night on which for this rocker to return to the music scene. Vamp'd is keeping the rock alive, and it's good to see there are additional nights of rock slated for the forthcoming months as well. Kaos/Bender's opening set was just as good, and they're a group I'll be keeping an eye on from here on out as well. Don't pass up a chance to catch either of these bands!
PHOTO CREDIT: All photos by Stephy Hayward for ZRockR Magazine - ©2021 All Rights Reserved