The first thing one needs to know about guitarist and keyboardist Justin Zych is that he doesnt exist on stage.
His alter-ego, Ripp, however, a spandex-laden, hair spray-infused, 80s glam band artifact, plays for Cougar Hunter, a tribute band that recreates an era of hard rock and many applications of makeup for gigs across the city.
For Ripp and his bandmates, it will be a cinch to kick off Embassy Theatres fundraising tribute concert, Down the Line: Hard Chord. The band will be performing the works of fellow rockers, Mötley Crüe – or as Ripp says, Mötley Crüe-gar Hunter.
Everything is going to smell like Aqua Net, he says.
In its second year, Down the Line: Hard Chord spotlights the more aggressive music genres that may elude audiences during the often sold-out Down the Line concert series in February. Embassy technical director Rick Kinney worked with the staff to select five local bands to perform the music of well-known hard rockers.
The selected bands mostly write and perform their own music, from classic metal to the more shocking styles of horror punk, for their gigs.
Proceeds from the show go toward the theaters operation budget.
The Embassy is one of the most important assets and gems to the local arts community, Kinney says. Its all about working hand in hand to keep the arts thriving.
Along with Cougar Hunter, Big Money and Spare Change will be performing songs of Nirvana; Lurking Corpses will take on Judas Priest; RP Wigs will cover Rage Against The Machine; and Masochist will perform Metallica tunes.
Kinney, who plays the drums in local band Moser Woods, says hes been enjoying the process of bringing bands to the Embassy. This is his first year coordinating the concert.
I have been heavily involved with the music scene since I was 13 years old, and I have my band myself, he says. We play a lot of the local places, and its a lot of fun to call on bands that Ive seen and some that I know personally. Its a real honor to be able to present this type of music into the Embassy. Its just all-encompassing awesomeness.
Kinney says Hard Chord is partly directed at younger audiences who may think the venue doesnt offer events for teenagers and college students. Before the show, Sweetwater Sound will host an Open Jam event in the Indiana Hotel lobby, where people will be able to test out the latest in instruments and sound equipment. There will also be a free beer sampling from Five Star Distributing.
Barb Richards, the Embassys marketing director, says scheduling Hard Chord the weekend after Christmas was an intentional move to give young audiences something to do over the winter break.
However, Kinney says it also gives local bands a chance to perform in a theater with the Embassys acoustics and with high-quality sound equipment that he says is usually used for national music tours.
I think theres a big difference between a venue like this and a club. Some of these bands have never had a chance to play anywhere else other than a bar or an all-ages club, which is not to say thats a bad thing – thats where all bands start, he says. I think that its very important to expose musicians and their audiences to this amazing stage and amazing venue.
Cougar Hunter can attest to that. The band played on the Embassy stage in 2011 for the theaters Winter Breakout concert, and Ripp says he and the band are amped to be on stage again.
Its definitely awesome when you have a good, giant crowd, he says. The music out front sounds amazing, and we had a good time. We definitely expect to have another great time.