Even though Aftermath couldn't stay for all of Wednesday's Chickenfoot show due to an early-morning flight, it wasn't especially difficult to discern what was going down. "We're selling a lot of tequila tonight," Aftermath's favorite bartender told us; at $9.50 a shot, maybe the recession really is over.
Apparently, that meant Sammy Hagar and friends did not drink all the agave in Houston, although he told the crowd that his band and openers Davy Knowles & Back Door Slam certainly tried on their night off the previous evening. Chickenfoot sounded like they might have had a shot or two before bounding onstage themselves.
Hagar, Joe Satriani, Michael Anthony and Chad Smith could have been guest-starring in a classic-rock episode of Star Trek; surely there is some alternate universe out there where Chickenfoot has been together since Hagar made that album with "I Can't Drive 55" on it.
The song titles may have been unfamiliar, but the archetypes certainly weren't - the Surefire Single (a damn good "Avenida Revolution"), Power Ballad, Semi-Acoustic Blues, Stomping Zeppelin Knockoff, Hard Boogie, etc. Whatever the music may have lacked in originality - Chickenfoot's lyrical notions tend toward titles like "Soap on a Rope" and "Sexy Little Thing" - the quartet more than made up for it with sheer gusto.
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Smith and Anthony made a formidable drum-and-bass duo, providing plenty of rhythmic meat for the songs' figurative bones, while Satriani didn't seem like he was slumming at all. Chickenfoot's bluesy riffs and lock-and-load power chords are obviously a little elementary for someone of his ability, but he attacked them with relish and adorned them with all sorts of fancy fretboard filigree - and yes, he even played with his teeth at one point.
Hagar, meanwhile, was a congenial, rakish master of ceremonies who gets over as much on his natural charisma as his songs. He, Satriani and Anthony spent as much time bro-ing down onstage as the multitude of over-40 dudes in sleeveless shirts and haircuts straight out of Cops did. Which was a lot.
Of the songs Aftermath heard Wednesday, only opener "Revolution" transcended its origins as the fruit of a friendly jam session. Mostly, Wednesday was a friendly jam session. Was it cheesier than the entire state of Wisconsin? Absolutely. But it was also pretty fun, in a Kemah Boardwalk sort of way.
Now pass that Cabo Wabo over here, please.