Tribute Fest 2017: A Thanksgiving Hangover Cure

I’m sitting in the corner of the Lucky Dog, a bit overwhelmed, eating some popcorn and sipping a cold beer. I’m not nervous, not really, but I’ve never actually been inside the Lucky Dog when it is this packed. I am hoping I can properly maneuver my body throughout the crowd as the night goes on without spilling my beer on anyone or, you know, falling down. I suppose I should have known it would be this crowded; it’s only two days after Thanksgiving and everyone is home for the holidays. A lot of these people seem to have attended Tribute Fest at the Larcom Theater, which is just wrapping up at the time of this writing.

Tribute Fest was put on by Round Table Entertainment, a small live entertainment production company headed by Joseph Slepoy, who you may know as the nice man in charge of booking the bands at Spotlight (and the guy who first told me about Joppa Road). It has become clear to me over the last couple of months that those involved in the Beverly bar and restaurant scene are a pretty close family. The people at Soma know the people at the Lucky Dog and everyone knows the old crew from Spotlight. So as you can imagine, Tribute Fest itself was also pretty packed. It was also a damn good show.

It should be noted I was perhaps not in the best condition to be covering a concert. Being in a post Thanksgiving haze and having to deal with the more undesirable side of the family was of course an issue, as was my work schedule and just plain old fatigue. Regardless, I sauntered on into the Larcom earlier tonight, and I heard the dirty, grungy (yet sweet), sounds of Stone Temple Posers blasting from the stage. I made my way through the old movie theater style lobby and took a seat with my friend (let’s call him Steve) as that familiar feeling of bass shaking my entire body engulfed me.

Stone Temple Posers sound exactly like Stone Temple Pilots. I realize that’s an easy way to compliment a cover band, but I’m hard pressed to think of another tribute act that sounds that close to the source material. I mentioned that I could hear these Posers from the lobby. If you told me it was straight up just Stone Temple Pilots playing, I would have believed you. If you woke me up this morning in my aforementioned haze and said “Hey man, Stone Temple Pilots are playing the Larcom tonight!,” I would have: A. forgot that Scott Weiland had tragically passed, B. asked you what that Larcom was, and C. asked you for a coffee. I would also need to ask you why Scott Weiland looks so different now once I actually sat down to watch Posers play.

With STP finishing up, Steve and I begrudgingly left our seats and walked back to the lobby. The Larcom has all the charm of an old sketchy movie theater from Gotham City, and I mean that in the most affectionate way possible. I received information via text message that my other friend (let’s call him Kyle) has arrived. Kyle just hosted a party the previous night which we called Nipsmas. Nipsmas featured three pinatas completely full of nips, which we all whacked with foam bats (guaranteeing we could get a lot of hits in). I cannot explain the bliss I felt beating the shit out of that Minion pinata. Kyle was disheveled, shaking, and smelled of Mcgillicuddy’s Menthol Mint.

Back at our seats, Joseph Slepoy comes out again to introduce the next band. They were put together in a week and they cover Rage Against The Machine. They were named Raise Your Fist, and they were very loud. The loudness made for uneasiness among the likes of us, the post-Nipsmas crowd. While I was a fan of the lead singer’s voice and fashion sense (Dick Tracy t-shirt), we really needed to leave our seats. Once more we entered the lobby. Someone complimented me on my t-shirt, I talked to Russ from Joppa Road/Japanese Cowboys (Russ was wearing a silky black robe and carrying a stuffed dog), and then Kyle almost fell down for reasons unbeknownst to me. I could hear Raise Your Fists playing Snakecharmer and Killing in the Name Of. Rage is a pretty hard band to emulate, but these guys seemed to do a pretty good job. It’s also not a bad time for a Rage cover band, given that the world seems to be ending and all that.

Japanese Cowboys were up next. Only in Beverly would you see a Ween tribute after a Rage Against The Machine tribute. I could see Russ hiding the dog for, well, whenever he wants to use it for whatever reason he brought the damn thing. Japanese Cowboys is a band comprised of members of Pink Talking Phish, Caspian, and Joppa Road. A supergroup formed for the sole purpose of covering Ween really appealed to me, and their setlist was pretty inspired. Gabrielle and I Can’t Put My Finger On It were my favorites, and it turns out that stuffed dog was for their Fluffy performance. Fluffy is a silly song, even by Ween standards, so if I were to pick a song from their setlist I wanted them to use that specific prop for, that would be it.

Stuffed dog not pictured

Another visit to the lobby. Another conversation with Russ. Kyle told me he feels like a “shakey boy” and wanted to go for a walk. Larcom is right next to La Victoria, an amazing taqueria, but neither of my friends really wanted food. It was a cold night, but still pretty pleasant. You catch snippets of interesting conversations walking around Beverly at night. Lots of little gems like “I can’t believe that fucker fucked up” and “I have had, like, SO much sex lately.” We went around the block and then had one final visit to the Larcom, catching the tail end of Moby Dick, a Led Zepplin cover band. I don’t know a whole lot about Zeppelin (shameful, I know), but Moby Dick made me want to listen to a whole lot more of Zeppelin, and I would say that’s probably a good sign for a cover band. The guys in Moby Dick looked a bit younger than the rest of the bands tonight, and it was clear they were all super talented people. I hope to see them again in the future.

Cocaine Tongue was next. Cocaine Tongue is the best name for a band, ever. I’ve heard about them for what seems like decades now. I don’t know how long they’ve been doing this, but apparently there’s a huge market for a Guns n’ Roses tribute act on the Northshore. Though I’m not the biggest “G and f’n R” fan, I could appreciate how entertaining this band was. All of Axl’s dance moves were perfectly emulated by the frontman, and the guy who was supposed to be Slash may have just been Slash for all I know. Steve took off while Kyle and myself wanted to walk over to the Lucky Dog before it got really packed.

Too late. The Dog is stuffed head to toe with humanity. At least everyone seems to be having a good time. I go up to the bar for one more beer before I call it a night. Kyle is still in the corner eating what looks to be an illegal amount of popcorn. I thought that asshole wasn’t hungry. I grab my beer, tell the bartender I hope he can get some sleep tonight, and then I turn around and, of course, bump into someone. My beer, of course, spills all over someone else’s jacket. We make eye contact.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.”

“It’s…fine.”

“I feel like an asshole, it’s just so crowded in here — ”

“It’s…it’s only a little bit.” He looks at his jacket. It’s not a lot, but it’s more than a little. “Don’t worry about it.”

I squirm back over to Kyle.

“We need to get out of here,” I say. “Things are getting shakey.”

“I’m a shakey boy,” he says yet again.

The concept of a large show consisting entirely of cover bands from various genres sounds like a hard thing to pull off, but I’d say everything went exceptionally well. I feel like this was maybe an important night for some people; maybe they’re going to be seeing people they haven’t seen in awhile, maybe they have to go out and play with a band they’ve never rehearsed with, maybe they took an old hometown fling to a concert.

Or maybe they’re hallucinating from too many nips.

Regardless, I was happy to see people enjoying themselves tonight. I hope Round Table does something like this again soon.