Two years as an opening act for stadium performers like Motley Crue and Poison taught Warrant all the tricks to offering a bombastic arena rock show:
Offer periodic crowd-pleasing crude gestures.
Say things like “Don’t take (expletive) from anybody.”
Ridicule rap music.
Be socially aware — but not too much! (This is a rock concert, so stick with patriotism or censorship, and you’re safe.) And so on . . . Welcome to the big time, Warrant.
More than 5,000 fans attended a spotty and obnoxious three-band show headlined by Warrant at the Prairie Capital Convention Center Wednesday night. A musical hodge-podge, the concert was more spectacle than respectable.
Warrant’s two albums (“Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich” and “Cherry Pie”), both big sellers among mall-dwelling teenagers, have helped carve them a niche in the party rock market. They are boneheaded and proud of it.
As Warrant’s frontman and main writer, lead singer Jani Lane occupies center stage with mannerisms similar to those of David Lee Roth. He constantly exhorted the eager crowd to get rowdy, but his frequent and endless between-song banter would be more suitable for a fading Las Vegas ballroom performer.
Though popular “power” ballads have helped increase Warrant’s visibility, the Los Angeles-based band featured mostly accessible brass-knuckles hard rock. Determined to distance itself from “lite rockers” like Nelson, Warrant hammered away at its audience for most of its one-hour-and-40-minute show.
A number like “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” (which has nothing to do with the famous novel) may include a taste of Cajun music, but Warrant sticks mainly to conventional, hook-filled rock.
The sexist overtones of “Cherry Pie” and “Love in Stereo” may be lost on Warrant’s audience (more than half of which was female), but Lane also has written a handful of surprisingly sentimental love songs, especially the acoustic “Blind Faith.”
Could the guy who wrote “Thanks to you now I know/All my dreams can come true” also be the one who shouts “She’s my cherry pie!”? Warrant’s insufferably lengthy “Train, Train” and a midshow cover of Queen’s “We Will Rock You” served as nothing but filler Wednesday night. And Warrant’s stab at the blues was as close to the real thing as a McRib is to soul food.
Still, late in the concert, Warrant opened the show up by having Lane perform the group’s biggest hit, “Heaven,” from a platform in the middle of the PCCC. And, as a finale, Warrant had opening acts Trixter and Firehouse join them for a chaotic encore.
Indeed, Warrant delivers every absurd stage act — Lane mooned the crowd (what subtlety!) — that you’d expect from a tour called “Blood, Sweat and Beers.” While no blood spilled and the concession stands sold no beer, Warrant did sweat.
Wednesday’s middle act, Trixter, confirms MTV’s ability — on the eve of the cable network’s 10th anniversary — to create stars.
Thanks in large part to MTV’s airplay of its first two videos (“One in a Million” and “Give It to Me Good”), Trixter has sold more than 500,000 copies of its self-titled debut album. With a popular ballad, the sugary “Surrender,” creeping up the charts, the group is expected to maintain its momentum throughout the summer.
The band’s four members — whose average age is 20 — offer a heaping of Van Halen-flavored rock. Enthusiastic onstage (though antics like tossing a microphone stand seemed staged), the New Jersey-based Trixter could use plenty of seasoning in the lyric department.
“Me, I’m just a rocker,” sings frontman Peter Loran during the band’s most popular number, “Ain’t Got Much to Say.”
Regardless, 19-year-old guitarist Steve Brown wrote or co-wrote all of Trixter’s songs, so the band’s still in its infancy.
Starting 10 minutes before the scheduled showtime, first opening act Firehouse played a 40-minute set of thoroughly nondescript hard rock. Devoid of an ounce of personality, Firehouse’s music is instantly forgettable.
If not for the group’s recent radio hit, “Don’t Treat Me Bad,” the quartet’s material likely would be filling up record store discount bins.
Nonetheless, the audience responded to Trixter and Firehouse with unrelenting zeal.