Editor’s note: Almost exactly a year after Aerosmith performed at Lake Tahoe, lead singer Steven Tyler told radio personality Howard Stern that the band will have a farewell tour in 2017. Here is the Tahoe Onstage review and photographs from the July 3, 2015, concert at the Lake Tahoe Outdoor Arena at Harveys.
On July 4th weekend, everything gets a little more louder and grandiose around South Lake Tahoe. Crowds swarm the beaches, an armada of boozy vacationers tool around the lake and high-rollers pack the casinos and clubs looking to score big on the craps tables and dance floors. It is America’s birthday and Uncle Sam is looking to go hard. For such a big party, only an act as larger than life and flashy as the United States itself would fit, which is why Aerosmith was a great choice to play Harvey’s Outdoor Arena last night, July 3, to blow out the festivities.
The crowd had traveled from all over, from Santa Rosa to Sacramento, to take in the scenic Tahoe coastline with one of the pillars of classic rock music. Pairing outdoor live music with vacation sensibilities is a staple for a lot of people’s summers in Tahoe and Aerosmith’s show full of big riffs and arena theatrics proved why it can keep people coming back for more.
Celebrating America with a flare only they know how to do, brothers in arms Steven Tyler and Joe Perry rose from floor at the front of the stage clad in black, leather pants and vest and loose white shirt (Perry) and bedazzled, American top hat and jacket (Tyler) amidst steam, lasers and excited applause from the capacity crowd. It was a classic, over the top, arena rock move but the effect worked to perfection and the band roared into “Let The Music Do The Talking” with a hooked audience.
As the band tore through songs “Love In An Elevator,” “Crying” and “Jaded” right in a row, it was shocking to realize just how long Aerosmith has been producing hits and how much its music has become engrained into the American culture at large. The band’s eponymous debut album arrived in 1973 and the Boston rockers have churned out monster hits in the ’70s, ’80s, ‘90s and into the millennium (Tyler’s recent stint on “American Idol” certainly helped the band remain in the public domain over the past couple years), all the while dealing with substance abuse and interpersonal turmoil at different times throughout. Furthermore, songs like “Sweet Emotion” and “Walk This Way” are as iconic to rock as BBQs and fireworks are to the Fourth of July.
Going through the rock and roll gauntlet of drugs, alcohol and decades of hard touring has its weathering effects on every band who makes it that far, but Aerosmith showed it has aged relatively well. Tyler posed and gyrated in front of cameras and over his signature scarfed mic stand with a machismo rarely seen in men his age, possibly for good reason, but nonetheless fun. During the muscular “Last Child,” he draped an American flag from the crowd around him and skirted around like a tipsy Uncle Sam. His energy was impressive and his iconic screeches still had some pipes behind them, though with less steam pulsing through.
Before launching into deep cut “Draw The Line,” Tyler even mentioned how at his age he was just getting used to slowing down, though he immediately followed that by saying he was definitely going to jump into the front row and bring the party to them at some point (he did not). No matter what his age, you’ll never be able to take the frontman out of Tyler.
As for the men behind Aerosmith’s big riffs and rhythms Perry, bassist Tom Hamilton, guitarist Brad Whitford, drummer Joey Kramer and keyboardist and backing vocalist Buck Johnson pumped the music into the screaming crowd with passion and emotion. Perry paced across the stage with the swagger fitting of his elder status among rock guitarist and delivered solid solos on “Living On The Edge” and “Rag Doll” all the while throwing in power stances and windmill haymakers at his guitar. He even took the lead on the blues number “Stop Messin’ Around” and it seemed he had the most fun revisiting the type of music that inspired the genesis of Aerosmith’s sound.
Kramer proved to be just as much as a showman as Tyler and Perry and assumed the spotlight on his emotive drum solo that included a section where he flung his sticks into the crowd and banged on the skins with only his hands, to some of the more uproarious cheers from the audience.
Aerosmith did show signs of its age though, most notably in the fact many songs were played at a gear slower than the originals. Set closing “Walk This Way” had clearly lost some of its crack over the decades and Perry’s guitar slurred all over the place in the song without finding its crispness.
“Dream On” and “Sweet Emotion” sent the band off in theatrical fashion, with the former featuring Perry soloing on top of a Tyler’s white piano at the front of the stage, and the latter including a bass solo intro from Hamilton and a neon face-painted Tyler sending out Burning Man attendee vibes to the arena.
All in all, Aerosmith is a marquee band that proved Friday night why it has earned its name in lights. It threw a birthday party in Tahoe that was as American as it could get. It was big, loud, glamorous and did whatever the hell it wanted.
Harveys Outdoor Arena
July 3, 2015
Let The Music Do The Talking
Living On The Edge
Toys In The Attic
Stop Messin’ Around
Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing
Draw The Line
No More No More
Dude (Looks Like a Lady)
Walk This Way