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Tuned In: Head cases

Die-hard fans and groupies flock to hair band's shows

 by Katie Kelberlau  published on Thursday, March 24, 2005


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"Let's get some energy," the singer screams into the microphone.

The lights go dim as bassist Steel Wulffe steps to the front of the stage and plucks the first few chords. A chorus of screams ripples through the crowd as the band plays a rollicking version of Ozzy Ozbourne's "Crazy Train."

It is Wednesday night at the Library Bar and Grill on Mill Avenue, and Metalhead is playing to a full house primarily made up of inebriated men.

Metalhead is a cover band dedicated to playing the favorites of the 1980s hair metal era. Their playlist includes Motley Crue, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, White Snake, Poison, Ozzy, Van Halen, Warrant, AC/DC and Guns 'N Roses, and the other coiffed legends of power rock.

"We've seen 'em all -- we saw 'em back when they could all walk," lead singer Lucky says.

At the Library, Lucky pumps up the crowd.

"We say metal, you say head," he shouts as he chugs from a bottle of Stolichnaya Vodka. Guitarist G-String steps to the front, staring intensely at an attractive young woman near the front, flicking his tongue suggestively and tossing a guitar pick at her chest.

With regular shows throughout the week, Metalhead is a full-time job for its members, who have to learn new songs and keep their playlists fresh and fun.

Not only does Metalhead play the songs, but they also re-live the lives of the '80s icons.

"We portray every good and bad iconic thing about that time period -- the drinking, the sex, the hair, the outfits, the music -- all of it. It's a real guilty pleasure," says Lucky during a break between sets.

With a long, flowing blond wig, his lanky build and ripped jeans with a "lucky" patch placed near his crotch, Lucky brings back the look of Guns 'N Roses frontman Axel Rose. Drummer Tommi Legg wears striped pink spandex pants at every show. Wulffe, the bass player, has rugged good looks and dons tough black leather with spikes.

G-String fills out the quartet with his glorified ski pants, pink undershirt and shimmery scarf-belt.

Moving to the front of the stage, G-string, Lucky, Steel and Tommi break into Def Leppard's "Pour Some Sugar on Me."

"From my head to my feet," Lucky roars into the mic, while G-String points not-so-subtley at his crotch and then toes. A girl in the front row grabs G-String's lacy belt and rubs it on her neck. She moves over to Lucky's pants leg and starts pulling it down while she rubs his back pockets.

"Yeah, we've got groupies," Lucky acknowledges with a smile in the band's break room.

Tommi, who is re-applying eyeliner for the second set, pipes in.

"The three of us all have girl groupies, and G-String has male groupies," he says, while the whole band laughs. G-String actually is the most popular member among female fans.

He is known for his guitar pick- throwing antics, and he has perfected his aim to land the picks directly in his target's cleavage.

"If you throw a pick away, and it comes back at the end of the night, that's a good indication that you are going to get some," G-String says.

"That is what we love," Lucky says, chugging a Red Bull. "It's that blatant, retarded sexuality of the '80s."

"Yeah, G-String tries to get the women," Tommi says, imitating G-String's intense, melting stare. "You see him pointing at a couple girls like, 'You, me, her.' "

Unfortunately for the band, this Wednesday at the Library has brought out a veritable sausage factory with very few women in the crowd. It's an eclectic bunch, a combination of nostalgic, aging mullet-wearers and young people.

An older woman with a giant perm wiggles and shakes to the tune of "Cherry Pie," while a young man with a Bud Light in hand moves to the front for a boisterous sing-a-long to "Hot for Teacher." A tall, long-haired gentleman with a T-shirt sings along passionately to "Sweet Child of Mine."

Eric Stanek is a bouncer at the Library. He says Wednesday is by far the biggest weeknight for the bar.

"It is a different, but really good crowd," he says.

Metalhead plays weekly shows at the Library in Tempe, Martini Ranch in Scottsdale, and City Limits in Tucson. They also have occasional shows in Albuquerque and Salt Lake City. All their fans meet and converse at www.metalheadrocks.com, which hosts groupie chat forums.

On the forums, fans discuss the night's show, band outfits and all things related to hair metal. On the Martini Ranch forum, one chatter raves about Lucky's "hot outfit" and another thanks the band for rocking her pants off. Metalhead's fans are a die-hard bunch.

"We just saw a void out there," Lucky says. "There was nobody doing this, and people love it."

"Plus," he adds. "We are cool as hell."

Reach the reporter at katherine.kelberlau@asu.edu.



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