Quiet Riot was the first heavy metal band I ever heard, aside from, I guess, Kiss. For a second-grader intent on scaring his mother, the seductive rape rock of “Cum On Feel the Noize,” packaged in an album showing a mental patient in a hockey mask on the cover, QR had all the answers I needed. Fuck my times tables. Their videos had angry juvenile delinquents pounding on the walls of asylums, stuffed in straightjackets, and screaming out against the status quo — all the Ah-has and various flocks of gay seagulls stinking up my ghetto blaster in the early ’80s.
As their popularity among metalheads grew, however, ridiculous-looking frontman Kevin Dubrow couldn’t make an ass of himself, backstab his bandmates, and undermine the group’s credibility quickly enough. Appearing on MTV regularly, wearing hip hugging blue shorts and a headband to enunciate his funny afro, Dubrow pulled what could now be considered a George W., engaging in bizarre comic routines, and squandering all the global good will that was being heaped upon the band circa 1983. His big mouth overwhelmed any music they were putting out. Quiet Riot never recovered.
So here we find them today. Closing out the annual My Waterloo Days festival in my where-the-shit-is-that? hometown. I grew up across the street from the outdoor “venue” that Quiet Riot played Saturday night. Oh, had this concert taken place when I was 8 and could invite the band back to my house to smoke a cigarette in the garage and leaf through my dad’s stack of Hustlers. But alas, it’s 25 years later, that house is torn down, I live in a trailer outside of town, and Quiet Riot can’t draw 10% of the crowd they did in those days. Hell, maybe if I’d offered that aftershow party Saturday night, they’d have taken me up on it. I’m sure my mom could’ve whipped up a hot meal. For all of us broke motherfuckers.
But enough about my kickass sad childhood.
The show started with the familiar opening riff of “Metal Health” but in a cunning twist the song ended up being “Put Up or Shut Up” from QRIII. Dubrow looked like an old Steven Tyler, hobbling across the stage, pointing at some of the girls in the front row, telling them to do stuff they didn’t do, and asking us if we “like it hot and wet?” I yelled out that I did. And I gotta say, for all Dubrow’s character flaws, he is a showman and can whip a crowd of miserable, gutted town, Joe You-Think-You’re-Better-Than-Mes into a frenzy. There were even kids crowd surfing.
The band churned out a collection of Billboard 300s, “Slick, Black Cadillac,” “The Wild and The Young,” most concentrating on a central theme of going crazy or losing control in some capacity. Predictably, we dealt with a couple songs off their new one, Rehab, one of those albums released by Last Grab Records or whatever, but for the most part, QR stayed with safe material ganked from Slade. And as you can imagine, “Cum on Feel the Noize” and “Metal Health” were milked like cows, and the band didn’t play that bullshit where they put them somewhere in the middle of their song set, to be, like, mature. Hell no, they closed out the show the right way — with their hit songs in succession. Every demographic group in the vicinity was called to separately chant out the choruses, “Now, all the black people!” culminating in the senile old folk that stuck around after the day’s events singing out, “We like Roy!”
Anyway, I’d like to thank whatever city official put this event together. No, I’m serious. I live in Waterloo, Iowa This isn’t big-city mecca Cedar Rapids; we don’t live the bustling yuppie life that takes place in Davenport. When Quiet Riot comes to my town, businesses close, and crank gets cooked.
So thanks, QR — it was real. It was fun. But it wasn’t real fun.
(Banali is still a kickass drummer, though!)