Fifteen seconds into Sebastian Bach's set, I leaned over to Seattle Weekly freelancer Travis Ritter and said: "This is already the greatest show I've ever seen." Bach, the former Skid Row frontman, was still every bit the handsome blond he's always been, with a little California stoner flavor taking the place of the more metallic edge he once possessed. Dressed in leather pants and leather shirt, Bach flipped his hair around, squealed, and pulled off a slew of amazing microphone whirls, à la Roger Daltrey. While some might have viewed Bach's theatrics and stage command as a bit cheesy coming from a performer whose commercial zenith occurred 16 years ago, for this late-'80s metal buff, it was a dream come true.
Skid Row's self-titled debut in 1989 was one of the first cassettes I purchased with my own cash (alongside Bon Jovi's New Jersey). Within months I'd worn it out completely, the J-card was thumbed to shreds, and I thought I was the baddest little 9-year-old on the planet when "18 and Life" blasted out of my boom box (though I had no idea what the hell the title meant). But, being 9 years old, I never got to see Skid Row in its prime—so last Sunday night's opening slot at Everett Events Center was every bit the fulfillment of my childhood dreams.
Ripping through a set boasting major hits like "Youth Gone Wild," "Big Guns," and "Here I Am" Sunday night, Bach and his band completely brought the arena down with their pop-metal classics. Bach's over-the-top singing technique was still spot on, though I can imagine him needing the nodules sandblasted off his vocal chords at some point. He made plenty of references to Everett, saying they'd been waiting to play the town for 10 years. Later, he mistakenly referred to Everett as Seattle, but quickly covered it up with a goofy "or Everett, or wherever the fuck we are. I don't know where I am, man."
However, something was pure about his flubs, and it kept them from veering off into Spinal Tap territory. Bach was genuinely amped to be onstage, and was treating the arena as if it were simply a big nightclub. When he launched into power ballad "By Your Side," he encouraged the crowd to hold up their cell phones instead of their cigarette lighters and make YouTube videos. "I wanna see the whole place filled with those little blue screens," he said.
But, as is the case with most acts opening at arena shows, Bach's main purpose was to pump the crowd up for the headliner, Guns N' Roses. I was elated at the prospect of seeing Axl Rose run out onstage, arms swinging to "Welcome to the Jungle" and "Night Train." But the reality was like waiting 10 years to see an uncle you idolized as a kid, only to have him show up bloated and lazy, an empty shell of himself. 'Twas a shame, because watching Bach was like seeing an uncle you didn't hang out with too much, only to realize much later in life how much ass he kicked.
Opening Act is a weekly look at a band you didn't go to see, but saw anyway—because they played before the band you went to see (and were maybe even better).