Some folks pay tribute to their favorite bands by shelling out for concert tickets and merchandise. Others may adorn their cars and homes with posters and stickers. Some go several steps further — they start a tribute band. Houston is awash with tribute bands that pay homage to the rock gods of yesteryear, and even a few that are alive and kicking. See the end of this article for an idea of just how many are playing this weekend alone, but for now, here are Houston’s ten best tribute bands. (Note: This list is in alphabetical order and is reserved for bands that predominantly pay tribute to one band.)
ALYSON CHAYNS/LEMON YELLOW SUN/THE NIRVANA EXPERIENCE/RUSTED CAGE
The grunge era spawned a handful of bands whose legacies live on to this day, so much so that they even spawned their own tribute acts. Alyson Chayns and the Nirvana Experience pay tribute to the bands from which their names are derived, even if Alyson Chayns named itself in a far more entertaining way. Meanwhile, Lemon Yellow Sun is a Pearl Jam tribute band that borrowed its name from lyrics in the hit single “Jeremy,” while Rusted Cage's comes from the Soundgarden song of the same name. Twenty-five years later, the grunge era apparently lives on.
Lead singer Teresa Cantu is really going all the way with the whole Pat Benatar thing. In addition to sounding almost identical to the '80s pop star, Cantu styles her hair and dresses as Benatar once did. The backing band is on point, and again, major props for the name (this will become a theme throughout this list). Benastar performs at 7 p.m. tonight as part of Deer Park's Summer Concert Series.
ELECTRIC LOVE TEMPLE
Some bands are creative in their naming, probably more so than most. This outfit got its name from what many consider to be The Cult’s best three albums – Love, Electric and Sonic Temple. The band’s live show is quite lively, and front man Juan Ramirez really sells it in mimicking Cult vocalist Ian Astbury.
THE FAB 5
Awarded “Best Cover/Tribute Band” in Houston five years running by the Houston Press, The Fab 5 take on Beatles tunes and do so just as well as anybody. Hell, not only does the group play hits such as “Come Together” and “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” they also play songs live that the Beatles recorded but never themselves played before an audience.
These two local acts (you can guess which bands they pay tribute to) are essentially archrivals, as evidenced by their social-media posts, which routinely call out one another. Of course, it’s all in good fun, as Foo Fakers and Weezhur are composed of the same guys — Drew Wynne, Jarod Frank, Phil Hodges and Sean Valant. In other words, you may one day catch Foo Fakers and Weezer on the same bill; just don’t expect the bands to share a stage for an “Everlong/Say It Ain’t So” mashup.
JUDAS X/JUDITH PRIEST
Your preference of these two Judas Priest tribute bands will likely depend on whether you want a more traditional tribute, or something a little different. Judas X represents the traditional version, and does so in a very admirable way, while Judith Priest features a woman (Deanna Haughey) filling in the Rob Halford lead-singer role. The bands do have one thing in common, however: So. Much. Leather. Judas X next screams for vengeance next Saturday, July 23, at Concert Pub Galleria.
It’s fitting that, of all the great bands that spawned tribute acts, KISS — a band that was most certainly not great — likely spawned more than anyone else. After all, this was a band tailor-made for imitators, from the novice musicianship to the outfits to the makeup to the over-the-top live show. Houston’s KISS ALIKE — composed of Parn Stanley, Jon Frehley, Blu Simmons and Justin Criss (one can assume those are borrowed stage names) — represents the quartet in fine fashion. They also play one awesome version of “Rock and Roll All Nite.”
Props to this Nightbird for getting its name from one of Stevie Nicks’s best singles. And props to them for serving a dual purpose in paying tribute to both Nicks and Fleetwood Mac. Take a look at this video – Brooke Alyson has obviously studied herself some Stevie Nicks stage moves!
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If anyone better apes Ozzy Osbourne than Ozz’s own Iggy Igbourne (Iggy Reyna), I’d like to meet that person. Plus, it’s quite impressive how the band — and, in particular, Igbourne — transitions through the entirety of Ozzy’s catalog. This is a band that goes from “Mr. Crowley” to “Mama, I’m Coming Home” to “No More Tears” in as smooth a way as one can possibly be expected to do.
US AND THEM
To call this outfit a tribute band almost feels like an insult. After all, any eight-piece band that has been going strong for more than 15 years can be considered a band unto itself, and Us and Them — named for a Dark Side of the Moon track — has done just that. Us and Them also covers the entirety of Pink Floyd's extensive catalog, so it's sure to satisfy even that group's most ardent followers.
Beetle performs at 7 p.m. tonight at the Continental Club, 3700 Main. Back In Black, VHT (Van Halen Tribute) and Think Lizzy perform 8 p.m. Saturday at House of Blues, 1204 Caroline. Boys Don't Cry and Marr Moz Experience perform 9 p.m. Saturday at Numbers, 300 Westheimer.