Postcards from the Pit: TESLA / Built By Stereo, Irving Plaza, 2/17/12
I waited 25 years for this show, and it was worth every minute. The experience was all the sweeter because I made new friends in the line, and they saved me a spot on the rail. So not only did I get to see a band I never thought I’d be able to see live, but I got to be up close and personal with them while I was at it. Best Valentine’s Day present I bought for myself ever!
Built By Stereo opened the show. They rocked as hard as they possibly could without falling off their chairs. I was especially impressed with their drummer, who brought some real power and pizzazz to their set. Here are some pictures of them:
And then it was time for TESLA. In the early ’90s they got lumped in with other “hair metal” bands largely, I suspect, because they had long hair. (And because early on they toured with Poison, Def Leppard and David Lee Roth.) But they really aren’t hair metal. They sit at the intersection of Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead – both of whom they covered at this show – and they have a much bluesier, jammier sound.
I got into them somewhere around the original release of Five Man Acoustical Jam (1990), and, while missed seeing them when they toured on that record, their covers of Lodi (CCR) and Signs (Five Man Electrical Band) were on a whole bunch of my high school mixtapes. They didn’t play Lodi at this show, but they did do a rousing rendition of Signs as the final song of the evening.
Before that they played a mixture of old and new material, including Hang Tough , Heaven’s Trail (No Way Out), 2nd Street, Better Off Without You and, of course, Love Song. The cover songs were Comin’ Atcha Live/Truckin’, which is a combination of TESLA and the Grateful Dead; Thank You by Led Zepplin; and I Love You, by the Climax Blues Band.