The second day of the Monsters on the Mountain Festival kicked off with Rockstar Paint classes with artwork of Eddie Van Halen (and Alice Cooper the following day). (After seeing the results, I really wish I’d signed up for both!) Then sometime after Cody Parks and the Dirty South and Bad Marriage hit the stage, I slowly made my way to the venue after some much needed sleep and photo editing.
My first stop of the day was at the Pyromania Def Leppard Tribute Band show. Hot on the heels of covering Def Leppard at PNC Park’s Stadium Tour show, I couldn’t resist singing along to some of my all-time favorite songs again live. Plus, I knew I was going to be working at the photo experience with them later, and wanted to be sure to catch their set. The band features frontman Michael O’Mara, guitarists Brandon Paul (Lizzy Borden) and Neal Shelton, Patrick Jay McGrath on bass and drummer James Schultz. I was super excited that they branched out beyond the Pyromania album to include Hysteria favorites like “Pour Some Sugar On Me” and “Love Bites.”
Next up were Cold Sweat with Roy Cathey on lead vocals, Marc Ferrari and Erik Gammons on guitar, Chris McLernon (Saigon Kick) on bass, and Anthony White on drums. These guys all seem to keep busy with various projects, but when they come together, the chemistry is undeniable.
We saw Roy here in Pittsburgh with The Fifth last winter, and had just caught Roy and Anthony with their other band SteelCity in Philadelphia last month. But there’s more… when we chatted with Anthony on the mountain, he introduced us to another project entitled Generation Landslide. His band’s new album Ruling the Street Scene will soon be released by the Vanity Music Group. Interestingly, you’ll find Anthony fronting this band on lead vocals and guitar instead of hiding behind the drums with his microphone.
As he belts out everything from Union and The Scream to Motley Crue favorites, there always seems to be some type of distraction behind John Corabi. In the cruise atrium it was his son Ian Corabi mooning him from the elevator that one time, and last year the logo fun began with the interchangeable LCD backdrop at the inaugural Monsters on the Mountain.
I was only there to catch part of the fun this year, but the Lisa Frank rainbow unicorn had me laughing all day, especially given the history John had with my own little unicorn on the Monsters of Rock Cruise. Who would have thought that a grown man would have a mental breakdown over a little girl’s unicorn wig. And oh did she love to taunt him with it, she found her way upfront when The Dead Daises played Guitar Center later in 2018. He tried to keep his cool, but kept sticking his tongue out while singing in an attempt to scare her away. It has been a while since I’ve interviewed John, but his fear of unicorns will definitely be at the top of my list of questions (as for the other illustrations, I’m not sure I want to know the backstory there)!
Enuff Z’Nuff is one of those bands that I can never get enough of (pun intended). Their music makes me smile and their Beatles inspired Hardrock Nite album is what you’d expect from the band that was once called the ‘Beatles of the 80’s’. So from unicorns and rainbows to peace signs and smiles, the band played on with favorites from the Beatles and their own favorites like “The New Thing” and “Fly High Michelle.”
The boys from Texas just happened to be performing at the same time that I needed to prep for my photo shoot with Pyromania, so I knew that I couldn’t stay long… Luckily, my buddy Scott from Dangerous Toys found me on the street the day prior and was able to join us for a nice dinner to catch up (and eat my dessert). Being one of the few proud owners of a ‘deed to hell’, I couldn’t resist catching a few quick songs and a few photos before taking out my flash and setting up for that evening’s photo experience.
Had a great time working with Pyromania and just loved that they wanted to get their photo taken with our neighbors Queensryche before things got started. Even more comical was that they encouraged cruisers to yell Queensryche instead of cheese while posing for photos. Any shots of the bands from these photo experiences can be found archived at www.vipcruisephotos.com by year and band and downloaded for free. An awesome perk for all attendees!
I was able to sneak in some of Stephen Pearcy’s set following the photo experience and thrilled to see guitarist Erik Ferentinos back in action after a recent heart attack scare at the Picktown Paloza festival in Columbus, Ohio last month. Having last caught Pearcy from stage at M3 Rock Festival, the overcrowded pit offered up a totally different concert experience. I’d been warned that it was crazy, and my friends were right. It was the biggest gathering I’d seen so far at the festival, a great turnout for a Saturday night.
Needing a pick me up, we took a break and unfortunately missed Cheri Loope and a good bit of Stryper in an effort to visit The Crazy Mason Milkshake Bar that had been calling to us since arriving in Gatlinburg, and while not crazy enough to go full hog with a mason jar, we did sample an insanely rich cookie dough treat before returning to the Convention Center for Queensrÿche.
It had been over a year since I’d seen a Queensryche show, so ice cream still in a dish, we got there just in time. For those who haven’t seen these guys in a while, the band now features Mike Stone on guitar along with Michael Wilton, and of course Eddie Jackson on bass, Casey Grillo on drums and Todd LaTorre on lead vocals.
The set covered a good bit of Queensryche history from classics like “Take Hold of the Flame” and “Queen of the Ryche” to Operation: Mindcrime favorites like “The Needle Lies” and “Eyes of a Stranger” and the video hits we remember from Empire like “Jet City Woman” and “Silent Lucidity.” For those who didn’t get enough of Todd on vocals, he could soon be found behind the drums for a special VIP performance upstairs.
So excited that I had the opportunity to catch some of soundcheck and the intimate set delivered by the dynamic duo of Jason Bieler & Jeff Scott Soto. Always entertaining, these guys had a little fun with their guest bandmates Toque’s Brent Fitz (bass) and Todd Kerns (guitar) and Queensryche’s Todd LaTorre (drums). While we do spend a lot of time shaking our heads and laughing hysterically when the banter starts, this set exceeded any expectations and was a true treat for VIP guests on the mountain. Harmonies were awesome, drinks were flowing, and everything seemed to go well until the drummer walked off stage?!…and for anyone who missed it, Jason and Jeff reunited the following day with more jokes, overalls, and hits for the general population.
Check out Day 1 Coverage here, and continue to day 3 for more coverage from the Mountain, check back soon and follow us @ThePureRockShop on Facebook and Instagram for more local show coverage including Buckcherry, Quiet Riot and Fozzy. Other recent festival coverage includes the 2022 Monsters of Rock Cruise and M3 Music Festival last May in Baltimore and Masquerade in Philadelphia this past July.
Want more from day two bands? Visit our archives for interviews with John Corabi, Chip from Enuff Z Nuff, Roy Cathey of Cold Sweat,Michael Sweet of Stryper, Todd LaTorre of Queensryche, and Jeff Scott Soto.