Metal Shop: Step back to 1986, when hair bands ruled

Metal Shop

It’s OK to shout “Freebird!” at this show.

Rock ‘n’ roll’s most glamorous era will be celebrated when Metal Shop makes its annual appearance in the Crystal Bay Casino’s Crown Room. The band celebrates the hair-metal revolution by recreating a genre-defining concert from 1986.

Lead guitarist Ziggy Chipotle will be in the white hot spotlight.

“As a guitar player, it’s a challenge,” he told Tahoe Onstage. “It definitely tests your skills. I grew up loving that music so it’s really cool to try recreate it. … The sound in the Crown Room is just amazing. It’s definitely one of our favorite places to play.”

When concertgoers enter the Crown Room on Saturday, Jan. 7, they will step back in time.

Remember the ‘80s? That’s when the dreadlocked duo Milli Vanilla was a sensation, and the president said, “Read my lips.” Austria’s artistic contribution to the United States was a bodybuilder-turned-actor, Arnold “I’ll be back!” Schwarzenegger, and the singer Flaco, who, in a precursor to rap, rhymed German lyrics over a synthesizer in his No. 1 hit song “Rock Me Amadeus.”

A Texas blues trio that wore long beards became mainstream stars when it sang about “Legs.” And a popular movie, “Back to the Future,” outlandishly predicted a time when kids ride Hoverboards, the Chicago Cubs are World Series champions and a snarky hotel-casino tycoon is the leader of the free world.

For high schoolers, it was when metal shop was an easy elective class and the band at the prom was going to be a rocker.

Desmond Starchild and Ziggy Chipolte weigh in on the scene.
Desmond Starchild and Ziggy Chipotle weigh in on the scene.

Today, Metal Shop is a band brand. There are about a half-dozen throughout the country, including the one from the San Francisco Bay Area, which was formed in 2009 and will play Saturday at Crystal Bay. The bands’ music, wardrobe and choreography are the same, but the musicians make each Metal Shop unique.

“Just like in the ‘80s, Motley Crue was wearing makeup and there were other bands who were wearing makeup but no two of them sounded the same or looked the same,” Ziggy said. “Everybody had their own personality and that’s what’s cool about this. We each have our own personalities.”

In the 1970s, Twisted Sister, KISS, Def Leppard and Van Halen set the stage for hair metal bands that were formed in the ‘80s, such as Motley Crue, Poison, Guns ‘N Roses, Ratt, Skid Row, Cinderella, Bon Jovi and Warrant.”

Metal Shop celebrates songs by those bands, along with other groups from the decade that include Pat Benatar, AC/DC and Led Zeppelin, Ziggy said. “It’s rock and not just focused on that particular (hair metal) genre.”

While it was a seminal period of rock music, popular music in the ‘80s was diverse.

Love ballads frequented the top of the Billboard charts in 1986. The No. 1 song in the first week of January was Lionel Richie’s “Say You Say Me.” Other top songs from the year included “How Will I Know,” Whitney Houston; “True Colors,” Cyndi Lauper; “On My Own,” Patti LaBelle; and “That’s What Friends Are For,” Dionne.

Campy songs to reach No. 1 were Huey Lewis and the News’ “Happy to be Stuck with You” and The Bangles’ “Walk Like and Egyptian.” And the post-disco era featured synth-pop bands with top singles played on FM radio: Mr. Mister, “Kyrie;” Bananarama, “Venus;” Pet Shop Boys, “West End Girls;” and Madonna, “Papa Don’t Preach.”

Metal bands received most of their radio play with ballads. Boston’s “Amanda,” Starship’s “Sara,” Heart’s “These Dreams” and Bon Jovi’s “You Give Love a Band Name” each reached No. 1.

“A (Metal Shop) member from a few years ago said it must be hard for me to write the set list because every song is an end-of-the-night song,” Ziggy said.

“The band does its greatest hit for the encore to end the show on the highest note. That’s what our set list is. Giant hit after giant hit. Every song in the set list is an anthem. Some shows, the audience has hands in the air singing every chorus that we play and screaming the whole time.”

  • Metal Shop
    When: 9 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 7
    Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
    Cover: free

ABOUT Tim Parsons

Tim Parsons
Tim Parsons is the editor of Tahoe Onstage who first moved to Lake Tahoe in 1992. Before starting Tahoe Onstage in 2013, he worked for 29 years at newspapers, including the Tahoe Daily Tribune, Eureka Times-Standard and Contra Costa Times. He was the recipient of the 2011 Keeping the Blues Alive award for Journalism.

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