Considering his role in the formation of the iconic Cathouse venue that served as the launching pad for a host of influential hard rock groups during the 1980s, it was only appropriate that Riki Ratchman recently hosted at the first ever Cathouse Live! Battle of the Bands at the Whisky a Go Go.
Thirteen bands would take the stage in the hope of landing two positions at the upcoming Cathouse Live! festival that will soon grace Irvine Meadows, California on August 15. The entire presentation was overseen by Rachtman, Paul Gargano from the extinct Metal Edge magazine, DJ Will from Hollywood’s KNAC and Danny Dangerous of The Zeros. These individuals had the difficult task of choosing only a pair of acts, in what was a memorable night filled with hours of aspiring talent.
Riki started the evening by welcoming the audience and commending those bands who had delivered early sets while the sun was still shining above the memories of the Sunset Strip. However, it was mentioned that this was no popularity contest; Riki, as well as the other judges, wanted to see originality and a band that grabs their attention.
Molly Vamp hit the stage with what the group themselves described to us as a “sound that is very simply and direct, catch and melodic.” Barring some apparent ties to the 1980s rock scene, the members of Molly Vamp left quite an impression on the audience and are bound to continue delivering their approach to crowds for the foreseeable future.
Introducing a sound that is a cross somewhere between 80s hard rock with post-grunge modern rock, Raven’s Cry boasted elements of the Hollywood rock guitar with harsh Seattle vocals. The band would explain to MEM that their writing process is largely centered around formulating rhythm guitar and then scatting around vocally with lyrics, and it was this same chemistry that had the full house roaring in approval.
Madysin Hatter draws heavy influence on the classic rock themes of the 1970s while still infusing choice parts of the hair rock sounds from the 80s. Although frontwoman and namesake Madysin Hatter says sometimes sits down with the intention of writing a song with a certain theme in mind ala an 80s-esque power ballad, most of the energy from their performance was clearly the result of an onstage chemistry that can’t be developed artificially.
While some the groups had a sound that was straightforward, others such as LA Story incorporated a sound that they consider “like a recipe… take a dash of Green Day, then add a smidgen of the Offspring, throw in some Foo Fighters and top it off with a spring of Motley Crue!”
Standing within the former were such acts as Scarlet Vice and The Hard Way, which stayed true to their individual roots even if sonically they were entirely different. The members of Scarlet Vice presented a blues rock sound with considerable emotion, whereas The Hard Way introduced catchy grooves, thundering drums, incredibly strong hooks, whiskey-soaked vocals and shredding guitars.
The remaining bands sat comfortably within the confines of hard rock and glam metal, which easily resonated with the veteran crowd. Stonebreed offered southern-influenced, high energy arena rock to the Whisky, while Rok Hollywood presented a set of original material in the vein of Whitesnake and Def Leppard. Faith & Bullets and 10 to Midnight similarly shared ties to the 80s with fresh interpretation.
Kelly Magila uniquely featured a sound that could be affectionately interpreted as the love child of Skid Row and Heart. Propelled by operatic vocals, grooving riffs and accelerating percussion, Kelly Maglia took the stage by storm with few apologies.
The night was filled with countless memorable moments courtesy of bands that could have all found a welcome spot on the Cathouse Live! bill, however it all came down to the arena rock themes of The Aviators and the rebel metal overtones of Swamphammer who will be opening the second and main stages, respectively.
Faith and Bullets
10 to Midnight
The Hard Way