Stephen Hines

Author of Hocus Focus, Valedictorian USA, and Crackerstacker

*Cerebral Spewings

Summer Rockin' '09

Posted on August 14, 2009 at 5:39 PM

My wife Missy and I just got back from the second real concert we?vegone to this summer. Before tonight, we saw an outdoor concert of avery talented, veteran classic rock cover band who, thanks theuber-conservative town where we live, had to play so quietly theaudience could hear themselves fart over the music. I?d name check theband here but I?m drawing a blank.




Afterthat show we saw a Motley Crue tribute band called Starry Eyes. No, I?mnot one of those people who clings forlornly to his mullet andspandex-adorned past. But I will always have a soft spot for Crue sincetheir Shout at the Devil album brought me back to heavier music andconvinced me to pick up the bass guitar. Anyway, Starry Eyes soundedgood and put on a great show (even if their lead guitarist lookedalmost as rock n? roll as someone?s dad).



The third band we saw was the fantastic Dayton area band Higgins Madewell. We've seen this duo many times, but if you've never heard of them, check 'em out on MySpace. Their primary lead singer, Erin Higgins, has one of the most powerful voices I've ever heard. As a friend of mine describes her, she sounds like Janis Joplin times ten. And the lead guitarist, Jeff Madewell, is a virtuoso musician who can play circles around most other pros. He's no slouch in the singing department either.





Tonight we went to a new venue in Cincinnati, OH (Riverstar Sports and Entertainment Complex) to see a band from Brooklyn, NY called ZO2. They are one of the best modern rock bands I've heard in a long time. Most of the modern rock that we listen to tends to be punk or experimental, but that's only because the milk toast crap that gets played on the radio is so generic and soulless that it makes us want to bazooka puke.


Let me backtrack and explain how we got interested in ZO2. This spring Missy and I saw a preview for a comedy on IFC (the Independent Film Channel) called Z Rock. At the time I was incredibly busy so I set the DVR to record the series until I had time to watch it. If you haven't heard of it, it's a show about a band that plays kids' birthday parties during the day and in rock clubs by night. It's loosely based on reality.


As soon as I saw the intro sequence to the first episode, I could tell that the stars of the show really knew how to play their instruments. Usually Hollywood is content to stick some schmucks onstage to lip sync and "play"  their guitars with the accuracy of me attempting to counterfeit U.S. currency with a box of worn out, stubby crayons and a ripped up, greasy grocery bag. Not so with this show. But honestly, after watching the first episode, I almost deleted the entire series before watching the rest. It wasn't horrible, but some of the acting (not on the part of the guys in the band) was horrible and the show was really rough. Fortunately I didn?t make thatfatal mistake. The show took an abrupt right turn into top-notchquality television in the gap between episodes 1 and 2. I got so hooked that I decided to dig around on the internet for this mysterious power trio called ZO2.


Low and behold, their tunes rocked like crazy and their tour schedule listed Cincinnati in August. I rushed upstairs and breathlessly told Missy that we had to go see them. After she finished laughing at me for running upstairs and gasping for breath,she admitted that the show had grown on her and that it sounded like fun.


Okay, back to tonight's concert at the Riverstar Entertainment Complex (a very fine new venue if I do say so myself). Three opening bands were listed on the ticket, but we were only subjected to the final two. I learned a long time ago not to trust club owners to put great local bands on bills with not-so-hugely-famous national acts. To describe the two bands we did see: one was a nu-metal band that obviously hadn?t heard that Korn wasn't the big thing anymore and the other? Well, their lead singer dressed like Scott Weiland and screeched like a bad Enuff Z'nuff impersonator. Their guitarist acted like he was back in the 80's but was a great musician with a strong voice. Too bad he didn't know how to set the EQ on his guitar amp. Eeek! The bass player should have been in the previously mentioned nu-metal wannabe act. And the drummer was really good. But, I digress once again.


When ZO2 finally took the stage, the crowd (which was small but, to their credit, very vocal and rockin') they ripped into "Isolate" from their second CD, Ain't It Beautiful? From there they pummeled us with a high-energy set that belied the size of the audience. A lot of bands get pouty and half-ass it when the place isn't packed, so I'm always impressed when I see a group that gets the fact that it's important to play as if it's a sold out stadium EVERY night. Paulie Z, the main lead singer and guitarist, is a phenomenal frontman who had the crowd eating out of his hand even before he'd strapped his Les Paul on or sung a note. The guy just has such a loveable, sincere, innocent charisma about him. He's the kind of guy who could get busted with his hand in the cookie jar but always get out of trouble by smiling sheepishly and shrugging. And his voice? Imagine Steven Tyler of Aerosmith mixed with David Lee Roth, and add a healthy dose of 70's blues and funk into the recipe as well. Paulie plays a wicked guitar, too. His riffs are amazing and his leads can really soar. On bass is his brother, David Z, who is a favorite with most ladies in the crowd. He basically (pun intended) looks like a male model who poses for romance novel covers. I try not to hold that against him. :) Anyway, David is a very smooth, fluid bass player who can also whip out some funky slap bass. Rumor has it he's toured with the Trans-Siberian Orchestra fellas, too. Oh, and David did a killer job on lead vocals when they played a cover of Rush's "Tom Sawyer". Joey Cassata is the band's drummer. He has more groove in his playing than most drummers I've heard in the rock world. The guy even makes boneheads like me dance.


After the show we hung around to pick up some merch. One of the ladies helping with the concert is part of the ZO2 street team for our area. She asked if we'd stick around and get a picture with the band for the site.


Paulie Z and mE



There were so many people swamping the band that I just had Missy take my picture with Paulie (and no, I'm NOT drunk or stoned! Missy took the picture when I was quoting a line from Z Rock to get Paulie to laugh.) after we chatted for a while. I asked Paulie if they were King's X fans and, before I could even explain why, he smiled and said that a lot of people ask them that. He hadn't heard of King's X until they (ZO2) had already recorded their first two albums. He did check them out and is now a huge fan, though, so that's cool. He saw Missy's Ramones concert shirt and told us about Marky Ramone's appearance on Z Rock. Apparently Marky didn't enjoy pretending to be an arrogant prick and kept apologizing to Paulie for cussing him out and flipping him off. Hell, most rock legends would do that without the need to follow a script. But it's nice to know that some Rock Hall inductees are still down to earth.


Well, it's almost 5 A.M. so I'm going to wrap up this blog and get some shuteye. After I give it a quick grammar Nazi check I'll post it. Check out the next episode of my podcast (The Albino Leperboy Show) if you want to hear ZO2.




Categories: Music, Life, Writing

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1 Comment

Reply Terry
10:40 PM on August 18, 2009 
Glad you got some memorable fun in before the fall grind begins!