Time: A nonspatial continuum in which events occur in apparently irreversible succession from the past through the present to the future. Over 20 years have passed since most 80s metal bands were in their heyday, but you would never know it by talking to some of them. It seems that many of their egos were somehow frozen in suspended animation and they have failed to realized that time has marched on without them. Bang Tango is NOT one of those bands. Past: At the pinnacle of their career (’89-’92), Bang Tango toured in support of some of the largest arena rock bands of the day and adorned the covers of nearly every metal magazine on the planet. Present: To hear lead vocalist and original band member Joe Leste’ talk about himself now, with humility and a self-deprecating humor is quite refreshing to say the least. He understands the band’s current status and seems…not content, but certainly appreciative of the fact that he has been able to make a living in the music biz for the past 20+ years. Future: to be determined…
Hanging out with the boys in Bang Tango in their backstage dressing room at Malone’s in Santa Ana, is kind of like chillin’ with old friends at a backyard kegger. No pretenses no egos. As they indulge themselves on catered food and a bottomless cooler of beer, they are loose, relaxed and more than approachable. Throughout the course of their pre-show ritual, their agent continually parades in a bevy of fans for autographs and photo-ops, all of which the members take in stride and in fact, seem to truly appreciate.
The current line-up of Bang Tango consists of Leste’ (vocals), Scott LaFlamme (guitar), Lance Eric (bass) and Trent Anderson (drums), all of whom are accomplished musicians in their own right, which is clearly evident when you see them perform live. Playing a blend of classic BT songs and a smattering of new tracks from their latest release, Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt, their energy and enthusiasm captured and held the audience’s attention throughout their 80-minute set. Starting the show off with Ready To Go, Attack Of Life and Love Injection, Leste’ attacked the vocals as though it was his first time singing them and his Tyleresque voice seems to get only stronger with the passing of time…and medicinal marijuana. His rapport with the audience is a testament to the veteran singer’s years of experience on the road and his wit and humor was not lost, even on a club-full of drunk to semi-conscious rock fans.
Over the years, Bang Tango fans have come to expect a bass line that not only rattles your teeth, but shakes your ass and Eric flawlessly lays down the trademark heavy groove that defines the Bang Tango sound and does the classic tracks proud, particularly on Don’t Stop Now and Untied And True. Together with the other half of their rhythm section, Anderson, they do an exceptional job showcasing their phat bottom end on the groove-laden Live Life off PWITBB, which is reminiscent of Psycho Café era Tango. And Anderson’s timing and beat on the T. Rex cover, 20th Century Boy shows that he’s solid through and through! Suffice it to say, these two are tight, heavy and held down the fort with exceptional fortitude.
One of the more pleasant surprises of the night was guitarist, Scott LaFlamme. Not that I was expecting anything less from him than the others, but I believe that a good guitar player is far more impressive to “watch” rather than just “hear.” And LaFlamme is certainly fun to watch (never mind the fact that he was wearing a RadioScreamer T-shirt). His blue Les Paul is nothing short of an additional appendage of his body as he effortlessly shreds through solo after solo. From the bluesy Attack Of Life to the fret flying Bring On The World he approaches each with the proper amount of vigor, tone and emotion and “feels” the solos as much as he “plays” them.
The band rounded out their set with the AC/DC classic, Highway To Hell and brought down the house with their fan favorite, Someone Like You. After the show, all the guys stuck around to talk with appreciative fans, take photos and sign autographs, making sure that everyone got Banged!
Future: With a “good” new album out, Pistol Whipped In The Bible Belt and concert bookings year-round in clubs and festival events, will they get a second crack at the bigs? They say, “you’re only one hit away from being a star,” let’s see if it’s in their stars.
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