• Wed. Jul 24th, 2024

The Bones and Stay Tuned – An 80s Rock Invasion at Vamp’d!

Stay Tuned and The Bones played Count’s Vamp’d on Saturday, July 6, 2024.

There’s rarely a weekend I don’t venture to Count’s Vamp’d. That’s because there’s no finer house of rock and roll in the city of sin, and July 6 featured two bands rocking the Sin City stage. One I’ve seen before many a time, and one I’d never seen but was certainly curious about!

The Bones kicked off the evening. Seriously, I’ve reviewed these guys so many times that I’m running out of new things to say about how much I enjoy their sets… but I’ll go see them rock the stage every chance I get, so they’re clearly doing something right (despite their frontman’s constant claims to the contrary). Vocalist/guitarist Patrick Vitagliano remains a character at any venue he rocks, performing originals and stripped-down punk-ified versions of a wide variety of other tunes. The band also includes Armored Saint guitarist Jeff Duncan, as well as bassist Sean Koos and drummer Daniel Margasa.

What The Bones have been doing for years is as entertaining as ever. Transforming pop songs and what the group dubs “the worst songs ever written” and transforming them into stripped-down punk-ish anthems is as fun now as it’s ever been. From Modern English and The Cars to Meat Loaf and Kim Wilde, nothing is safe from Pat and company. They constantly brag that their shows are time you’ll never get back, but let’s face it. I don’t want that time back. I enjoyed myself, no matter how much they say otherwise. The group’s originals are just as good, and blend in perfectly with the covers.

The second act of the evening was Stay Tuned, who had never heard of prior to this evening of rock and roll being announced. I live for 80s hard rock and heavy metal, so this sounded like an intriguing show. While 80s hard rock/metal is probably my favorite genre of music, I won’t deny that I do dread seeing bands perform these songs live; so many groups that fall under this umbrella are drowning in backing tracks and predictable setlists, not to mention questionable stage attitudes. So, how would the boys in Stay Tuned measure up?

The first thing I noticed about these guys was their look. These guys went all-out to make themselves look like children of the 80s who stepped out of a time machine. A hilarious spoken-word prologue even introduced the band as such, filling the role of time travelers bringing 80s music to the present. Their on-stage antics and energy were tough to match; I see many great bands rock the stage at Vamp’d, but it’s not often I see one this animated!

I always dread bands like this because they run the risk of descending into a state of self-parody like Steel Panther has; that band spends more time telling explicit X-rated jokes for shock value than they do actually playing any music. I’m happy to report that, while Stay Tuned does make the occasional wisecrack, it never overshadows the music. More time was spent rocking than talking, and that’s a good thing. I’m glad to see a group putting enthusiasm into these songs; many of the original artists are well past their primes and simply “phoning it in” these days.

The setlist featured a pretty good variety of tunes, which were the 80s hard rock/metal fare you’d expect, with selections from groups like Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Poison, Ratt, Twisted Sister, and Def Leppard. And yes, I admit, there were a few tracks I’ve heard covered to death I don’t ever need to hear live again, but they at least made them fun. They even threw in a few artists that didn’t quite fit this theme/era completely, including Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Alice in Chains, and Michael Sembello, with the group performing the latter’s “Maniac” from the film FLASHDANCE. Interestingly, some of these songs wouldn’t have been out of place in a set by The Bones, who opened the show.

There’s also the issue of backing tracks that often arises with bands like this. While there were clearly some tracks used for keyboard parts in tunes like “Maniac,” I can’t honestly discern in the band was using them elsewhere. Early in the set, the guitar disconnected, and during that time no guitar was heard coming over the speakers, so that would imply the band wasn’t utilizing them for the “core” instrumentation and vocals. I have no problem, for example, if a band utilizes them for things like keyboards/orchestral elements if a band lacks the means to perform those elements live. Regardless of what the case was here, I enjoyed myself.

I only have two minor complains with an otherwise stellar and fun-filled show:

First and foremost, if you’re going to cover the biggest and best hard rock/metal bands of the 80s that fall into the whole “Sunset Strip” era and scene, there needs to be at least one Quiet Riot song in the set!

The other thing I will say is that the opening prologue introduced the concept of the band being time travelers… but the show didn’t build on this! At one point the group began introducing themselves talking about their history, including their formation in middle school in the 2010s. If you traveled to the present day from the 80s, you wouldn’t have formed at middle school in the 2010s. If you’re going to utilize this gimmick, go all out with it! There’s so much potential here… confusion about modern technology like cell phones. The fashions people wear nowadays. The people present in the venue. Perhaps they could’ve brought their 80s technology to the present with them. This gimmick would practically write itself if the band would fully realize it and go all out with it!

I had a great time at Vamp’d at this gig. What The Bones do will never get old; their combination of stripped-down punky covers and original tunes blends together as well as ever. And Stay Tuned was entertaining as hell, with a great look and animated band members who brought this stuff to life as few other groups do. For fans of 80s rock, both bands are worth your time.

Live photos by Taylor Carlson for ZrockR Magazine 2024 – All Rights Reserved.

By Taylor T Carlson

Taylor T Carlson Assistant Editor/Senior Staff Writer Taylor T. Carlson was born August 17, 1984, and has called the Vegas Valley home his entire life. A die-hard fan of classic rock and metal music, Taylor has been writing album and concert reviews since he was 16 years old, and continues to do so, having done well over 1,000 reviews. He is also a fan of video gaming and cinema, and has reviewed a number of games and films as well, old and new alike. His thorough and honest (some would say brutally honest) reviewing style has won him the respect of hundreds of music fans and musicians alike, both local and abroad, and the ire of just as many others. Despite being one of the youngest attendees at classic hard rock/metal shows around Vegas, he is also one of the most knowledgeable, having gained the unofficial nickname of “The Eddie Trunk of Las Vegas.” In addition to reviews, Taylor has written and self-published three books on classic hard rock bands, and is a regular participant in rock and roll trivia contests. Taylor also holds a masters degree in special education from the University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV), and has appeared on the hit History Channel television series Pawn Stars. His dream is to be able to one day make a living from writing music books and reviews.

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