Dokken With An Aerial View
By John Foxworthy
Photos by Jim
December in Salt Lake City is usually filled with
the sound of winter horse and buggy rides, the occasional waft of sweets baking in
specialty shops and Christmas carols playing lightly through outdoor speakers atop many of
the light posts all over downtown. On this night, however, the excited chatter of Dokken
fans anticipating the band's first stop here in years aptly fused with holiday spirit and
the hoards of sports fans migrating to the nearby Delta Center to see the Jazz get their
butts kicked by the Miami Heat.
As we walked towards The Velvet Room at Shaggy's
from the parking lot, a member of the crowd behind me commented on the bright yellow and
black Pittsburg Steelers coat I was wearing, comparing them to the Broncos ... didn't
those guys just get steamrolled by San Diego yesterday?
Jimmy Felt and Tim White
The outside of the venue was very misleading, being
a historical cement storefront and probably built sometime in the 1880s. From the door
there was a long, dark hall that opened up into a spacious floor area with two bars and a
fairly good-sized stage. We took our seats towards the back by the waitress station where
we could get a great view of the whole scene. '80s Rock played over the house P.A. and one
couldn't walk more than 10 feet without encountering a mullet or some form of ratted
hairstyle. The entire crowd barked out "Bang you're head!" along with the Quiet
Riot playing over the speakers.
About 15 minutes before the opening band, Aerial, took the stage, I was
introduced to their lead singer, Mike Hernandez. He was extremely friendly and completely
supercharged ... I knew then that these guys would do a hell of a job priming the crowd
for Dokken. I talked to Mike for a few minutes, getting their web address, band member
names, set list and his email address. He then disappeared into the crowd as he headed
back towards the stage.
Suddenly the entire room was doused in a piercing
violet light from the modest par can rack hanging behind the stage. Aerial burst into
their first song of the set, "The Right War," which Mike announced as a brand
new song during the intro. They had incredible energy. Hernandez was all over the stage,
interacting with his band mates and giving much attention to the audience while Tim White,
Aerial's bassist, sported a permanent smile that almost radiated it's own stage lighting.
Aerial: Jimmy Felt (guitar), Ivan Jay (drums),
Mike Hernandez (vocals), Tim White (bass)
The next song, "Hot Summer Nights," seemed
to be a crowd favorite. They sang the chorus as Mike held the microphone out over them.
The first round was a little weak and Hernandez walked towards the back of the stage with
his head down, only to return and scream at the crowd, "I didn't like that one! We're
going to do this again, so let's get it right this time," and get it right they did.
The place erupted in a thunderous round of "Hot Summer Nights!"
Meanwhile, Tim White played his bass, leaning over
the crowd with his fret hand draped over the top of its neck and throwing guitar picks
into the audience. Lead guitarist, Jimmy Felt, jumped into a scorching solo ... as a
matter of fact, all of his solos were scorching. While he didn't exert the same
hyper-energy as the rest of the band, it was obvious that he was very focused and it
really came through in his performance.
Song number four was a rocked-out version of Nick
Gilder's 1978 classic, "Hot Child In The City." This really got the crowd going
and everything became a blur of bobbing heads and bouncing band members. After the song
was over, Tim raised a cup of beer in the air prompting the crowd to toast to the right to
Rock and Roll. His long, brown hair over his eyes and his brilliant, near perfect, smile
got me to thinking, "Doesn't this guy kinda look like Eddie Van Halen?"
Mike constantly referred to his bass player as
"Timmy Champagne," which was good for a laugh from the crowd every time he said
it. At this point, he began to just talk to the audience, thanking the bar's staff for
doing a great job, introducing the band and announcing that Garage Radio was in the house.
Afterwards they launched into another very energetic set of songs, of which I wasn't able
to catch the names, but they were real crowd pleasers.
Finally it was time to wrap up, but not before one
more song. Mike spoke to the crowd about idols and how when he heard this tune in 1965, he
thought it was badass and he paid a tribute to the late Johnny Cash in the form of a
"Metalized" version of "Folsom Prison Blues," while the mirrored Disco
ball on the ceiling projected little white specks of light all over the hall. They thanked
the crowd, who was cheering at an insane decibel level, and the Velvet Room staff again.
Tim yelled over his mic that we'd be "rockin' with Dokken" and they began to
clear their equipment off of the stage.