What I hope to accomplish in this series is to analyze, compartmentalize and paint a clear picture of the phenomenon of the Cover Band as career from an anthropological view point. I am not an anthropologist, or an apologist of any sort for that matter and I guess that's what qualifies me. That and my desire/knowledge of music and its extension of the human spirit - I'm fascinated as much as I'm confused by the idea of a professional cover band - and in complete anarchy of the idea of a Tribute band - one who performs solely as another more established band - hence the term tribute.
Is this just musicians cosplaying? What is it?
Some of these groups are doing more than just performing the music - their dressing up and putting on a real show together and taking it on the road as a professional & legit act. Some are doing it in tandem while the original act is also touring and doing it better, younger and doing big business.
If you check the concert calendars of venues around town, you'll find a night or two dedicated to cover or tribute acts: bands paying homage to specific bands or the eras that birthed them.
The appeal to fans is pretty straightforward: Nostalgia, curiosity & well...fun.
These tributes bring bands that have broken up back together or the spirit of musicians that have passed away back to life. People wanna hear songs that remind them of their youth.
In this installment we take a deeper look at Fan Halen, one of the most popular & successful tribute bands in the game & hands down the best Van Halen tribute I've ever seen.
Full disclosure: Over the past 5 years I've gone on to see the mighty Fan Halen over a dozen times & have become good friends with it's members but that is separate from why I find this band so facsinating.
Fan Halen - February 9th 2012 - House of Blues - Dallas, TX
Perfect timing as just a few days after the long-awaited release of the new VH album, here comes a high-profile, touring tribute band from California called Fan Halen, that thankfully is a tribute to the David Lee Roth era. I've seen a few of these higher profiled VH tribute bands that are making a go full time at it like the Atomic Punks and Hot For Teacher but this was the best I have seen. Alot of these tribute bands either go for the look and sound terrible or vice versa but these guys have it all down pat & look & sound great.
Singer Ernie even has David Lee Roth's speaking voice between songs down perfectly, they were awesome. You ever notice how none of these tribute bands acknoledge the Sammy Hagar stuff? That's not a coincidence. They even covered the new single Tattoo
Jack FM's 4th Annual Throwback Festival - June 14th 2014 - Gexa Energy Pavillion - Dallas, TX
How could I possible take on this endeavor without including extensive coverage of an event billed as the "World's Largest Tribute Festival", being held right in my own backyard of Dallas?
I had worked for months to secure all the necessary permits & credentials to film the performances & conduct the interviews during the festival.
Much thanks to Davies & crew at Gexa for giving us unprecedented access to the festival and were so accommodating to our needs.
This is just the print version focused just on Fan Halen, for print coverage of the entire festival, check it out here.
And we shot so much video footage, not just of this performance but many other of Fan Halen for a special video project soon to be released.
Don't forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel here so you can catch all the footage & bonus material.
After seeing them play smaller theatres & clubs I wanted to see how they would do playing a giant venue of over 20K screaming fans just like the mighty Van Halen back in the day & these guys more than rose to the occasion. Their production & stage mannerisms emote to a stadium full of people & to get to see the numbers match the show was a real treat & a testament to that these guys are the real deal when it comes to performance.
Santa Fe Springs Swap Meet - April 25th 2015 - Santa Fe Springs, California
I was out in California for a myriad of different business reasons which you can check out here & here.
Perfect opportunity now to see Fan Halen do their thing in their own backyard this time.
Being from California & extolling that Southern California vibe is crucial to the Van Halen aesthetic & impossible to separate from the band's juju. A VH tribute band from Belgium in this case just wouldn't work. Few bands have ever represented where they were from more accurately that Van Halen so I was exciting to complete the research by seeing FH do it Cali style.
At a swap meet in the burbs, but you would have thought it was the 4th of July downtown LA as they perfectly captured that Ice Cream Man aura that's kept Van Halen's music blaring from pickups and camaros all summer long since the late 1970's.
After the show, I was invited out to Ontario to singer Ernie's pad for a fun Summer backyard party complete with one of the most impressive spreads of food from his girl Emily that I've ever seen. Other than the memorable meal & amazing hospitality was it was the first time I'd seen Ernie without his David Lee Roth gear & wig on. These guys are so good, I had somehow suspended my disbelief to the point that I had either forgotten that it was a getup or just simply convinced that he always looks like that haha. Good times.
Aug 22nd 2015
Monsters of Mock @ Gas Monkey - 630pm
w/ Fan Halen
Just that very day I had received an advance copy of the definitive VH pre-fame biography Van Halen Rising by my friend Greg Renoff & eagerly brought it the gig to show the guys in Fan Halen that were even more excited that I was (& mockingly threatened to separate me from the book haha).(see below)
Van Halen Rising Release Party - October 10th 2015 - T Boyle's Tavern - Pasadena, CA
As I mentioned above, my friend & author Greg Renoff had just penned one of the most anticipated tomes of the year (& for VH fans, maybe ever). FINALLY someone was pulling back the curtain on one of the most grossly undocumented chapters of such a high-profile band EVER. We enjoyed having Greg as our guest on TrickyKid Radio in advance of the release of the book & now it was time to celebrate it's release - In Pasadena no less where VH was born, with Fan Halen. I'll let Greg's press release do the talking here:
In 1977, Eddie Van Halen complained to the Los Angeles Times that Pasadena's popular dive bar, the Handlebar, had refused to book local favorites Van Halen more than once because the owners didn't like Van Halen's "rowdy fans."
Well, it's 2015, and to celebrate the release of Van Halen Rising, I'm inviting a select group of fans of my book to a party at the former Handlebar, T. Boyle's Tavern, in Van Halen's hometown of Pasadena. We'll gather at T. Boyle's on October 10, beginning at 8PM.
My party co-conspirators and I have a full night of music and fun in the works, including a performance by the fantastic Van Halen tribute band, Fan Halen. That night, they'll be taking us back to Van Halen's early days by blasting through the setlist Van Halen performed on their 1978 World Tour.
After Fan Halen finishes, some legendary San Gabriel Valley rock musicians will take the stage until last call, playing tunes that helped make the seventies hard rock's greatest era. As we get closer to the party date, I'll be announcing the names of the talented musicians who will be performing for us."
As you can see above, this maybe to my knowledge, the only time my name was on the same guest list as Brothers Van Halen Eddie & Alex.
This was an extremely special one-of-a-kind evening that you were well aware of his historical significance the entire night. Culminating with Fan performing with original Van Halen bassist Mark Stone!
Start of Summer Party - May 6th 2017 - Gas Monkey Bar & Grill - Dallas, TX
The most recent time I caught up with the mighty Fan Halen was at the beginning of Summer 2017 for a perfect outdoor party to kickoff a great season.
They truly live up to their title of The World's Most Authentic Van Halen Tribute & you should definitely check them out when you get a chance. Stay tuned for a webisode on Fan Halen over at TrickyKid TV!