Tribute to Tributes

Are tribute bands a good thing ? Well yes, why not, there is room for everyone in the music community isn’t there? So where does it all come from? You can date tribute bands back to the 60’s with the likes of “The Buggs” who paid tribute to” The Beatles”. I can recall there been lots of tribute Groups coming from Australia like the “Australian Doors” and “Pink Floyd”, l think they did this because there was a drought of the real acts coming to tour Australia because of the great distance. Another reason for the starting of a tribute band is play the songs of the Band that ain’t around no more so people can experience and visualise what it was like. When I’m travelling around and looking at listings for a good night out on the gigfront, l’m almost overwhelmed by the amount of tribute bands that are out there, you can argue that there seems to be a saturation of this genre, it is very popular. From a musician’s standpoint this seems the way forward for the band that you decide to do, it helps if they are a well known act so you know that people/punters would be interested in coming to see you, as they will be familiar with the songs that you play, so therefore you have a potential money winning concept, not only are musicians on to this but so are the very promoters who seek out tribute bands to fill out their venues with. There is a downside in all of this as, does this out do the bands that write and record their own material, l guess so to a point and as l feel I’m about to enter into the realm of which is a better situation to which l don’t really know, it’s down to the individual musician, on what path they wish to continue if you were to sit on the fence then maybe both is a good solution, start a tribute band and then turn it into something different and unique if possible like what cover bands do when they want to break-in new original material. And here is another point, what if you do a mash-up which is when you not only involve one tribute but you attach this to another tribute situation, like for example the band GABBA who pay tribute to ABBA but also pay tribute to the Ramones by doing ABBA songs in the syle of the Ramones.
I have a tremendous respect for a band that wants to do a tribute to their favourite group, the extremes of learning not only the songs they choose to play but also to mimic how they are on stage, l once saw a band doing a Kiss tribute and not only were they dressing up like Kiss with all the make-up of the Spaceman, Cat etc… but the Gene Simmons guy was also spitting out fire now that’s dedication. I also have much respect for original bands who try their best to come up with the goods of great songs and individual styles, thank goodness bands still try to do this. However, l am not here to judge but merely to compare this phenomenon,
l mean in some cases you have a band that has been struggling to write their own stuff and then changed into a tribute because they can get half-way decent gigs” fair play”, it’s a tough world out there in musicland. On a lighter note l read that Metallica did this when they turned into a Motorhead tribute to celebrate Lemmy’s achievements though l doubt they would ever do this full time as they are one of the biggest bands out there. So to roundup, there’s got to be room for both original and tribute bands and also for bands who do cover versions of various artists, all l’m saying is please support Live Music and get out of the house.

Chris McDougall

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