Benny’s Lost 80s Bash concert review – SRC Arena, Syracuse, NY 8/2/14

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Although I have never posted a concert review on Syracuse Nostalgia before, I thought Benny’s Lost 80s Bash would be a good place to start. For one thing, it took place in Syracuse (at the SRC Arena at OCC), and for another, it was a nostalgic 80s show. So, it seemed appropriate.

Tickets for the Bash were given away for free at local Geico locations a couple of months before the concert date of August 2, 2014. All proceeds from the event, which included parking fees, merchandise, donations, and concessions went to the Carol M. Baldwin Breast Cancer Research Fund. We also found out during the show that, other than travel expenses, none of the bands were paid for their performances.

The doors to the venue were supposed to open at 4pm. However, when we arrived at 4:15, we found a line of a couple hundred people waiting to get in the building. People were complaining about having to wait so long, and were fearful that it would start raining. People were also getting hungry and had to use the bathroom. We saw several people (probably illegally) go into the port-o-potty behind a fence that was in a construction area. We also saw a couple people get tired of waiting and leave the line. At about 4:50pm, we were finally let into the arena.

After a visit to the concession stand to get some typically “nutritious” concert food and then to the merchandise stand we took some seats in the bleachers on the side of the arena. The venue was not full by any means, but it was a good sized crowd. I’m bad at estimating these things, but I would guess there was about 1,000 people there, give or take a hundred or so.

The first performer was advertised as “Christopher Anton of Information Society”. I did some research about all of the bands before the show. I found out that Christopher was not the original singer of Information Society. He joined the band in 2006 and was replaced by the original singer in 2008. So, he did not exactly fit the 80s theme of the night. As it turns out, his band was a melting pot of 80s musicians. The drummer was from the band When In Rome, and the saxophone player was from Oingo Boingo. Christopher also started what became to be a trend of the night, playing 80s hits from other bands. Here the band plays When In Rome’s “The Promise” –

The next band up was Animotion.

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Both original vocalists Astrid Plane and Bill Wadhams seemed to still be having fun on stage after all these years, which made for a very enjoyable performance. Vocally, they sounded great but something seemed to be missing from the band’s sound. It was soon apparent that it was the lack of a bass player in the band. The mustachioed keyboardist tried to cover up for this, as did the saxophone player (they again had the Oingo Boingo saxophonist playing with them). This was strange because, according to their Wikipedia page, Astrid was married to their bass player, Charles Ottavio. The mystery was solved at the end of their set when Astrid announced that she was recently divorced. The band also kept up the night’s trend of playing songs made popular by other 80s bands. Animotion played Human League’s “Don’t You Want Me”, claiming that “everyone thinks this song was by us anyway”. They ended their set with their hit, “Obsession”.

Next up was Dramarama, who had a much heavier rock sound than the first two pop bands.

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Dramarama was the surprise hit of the night, despite being the one band with which the crowd was least familiar. I would have to guess that they had more people gathered close to the stage for their performance then any other band that night. Singer John Easdale was the one artist I saw that came out to the merchandise area to sign autographs, take pictures, and talk with people. Other artists may have done the same, but I did not see them. Here they perform their hit from 1985, “Anything, Anything” –

Following the surprise hit of the night, was the surprise let-down of the night, Tommy Tutone.

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In this article, I’m going to refer to Tommy Tutone as the singer, although I know that’s not his name and it’s officially just the “band’s name”. To me, that’s about as silly as Darius Rucker from Hootie And The Blowfish getting angry when people call him “Hootie”. Come on, you’re Hootie. And Tommy Heath is Tommy Tutone. Anyway, Tommy and his band were very disappointing. His voice sounded awful, and the band was very sloppy. They all seemed very disinterested in being there. They also kept up the night’s trend of playing other band’s hits. They played a Tom Petty song so badly I could barely tell what it was, and they played another southern rock song so poorly that I couldn’t remember what it was right after they played the song. During their performance I kept thinking of a skit from the show “Will & Grace” where the character Jack is in a restaurant and yells “Shut UP, Patti Lupone!” at the Broadway star (see what I mean here). Anyway, I kept thinking, and saying out loud in Jack’s voice, “Shut UP, Tommy Tutone!”. They ended their set with their hit “Jenny (867-5309)”, which was also barely recognizable. I’ll spare you from having to see a video from this performance.

Before the next band performed, we were greeted by a surprise appearance by Stephen Baldwin. It was very nice that he came out to support his mother’s cancer charity, but he wasn’t that great at being a hype man. You could tell he was a bit uncomfortable talking on the stage.

The next band to perform was Naked Eyes.

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Naked Eyes was originally a duo consisting of Pete Byrne on vocals and Rob Fisher on keyboards. Rob died in 1999 at age 42. Pete reformed Naked Eyes in 2005. Musically and vocally, they sounded great. I just thought most of their songs, aside from their two hits (“Promises, Promises” and “Always Something There To Remind Me”), were a bit dull. At least between them and Tommy Tutone we got a chance to sit down and rest our feet. Here, from our seats in the bleachers, is the band performing “Always Something There To Remind Me”.

The headliner of the night, as far as I was concerned, was A Flock Of Seagulls.

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Consisting of only one original member, Mike Score, Flock sounded incredible. Missing was Mike’s infamous hair-do, replaced by sunglasses resting on top of his head. No, it wasn’t that bright in the arena. The band had a lot of energy and was definitely a crowd favorite but, unfortunately, played a very short set. This was probably due to the whole show starting about an hour late. They were so good, I taped three songs from Flock’s set.

All in all, it was a very fun night for a great charity and I hope the Lost 80s Bash will return next year!

Oh, wait. Am I forgetting someone? Oh, yes. Benny Mardones was the actual headliner of the night. However, we left after A Flock Of Seagulls. I’m sorry, I’ve never been a huge Benny fan. Also, since the show started later than planned, it was getting quite late and I had to work early the next morning. I would like to thank Benny for putting together such a great show though! It’s very rare that we get such a show in Syracuse, so hopefully this tradition will continue!

HAM
August 3, 2014

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2 Responses to “Benny’s Lost 80s Bash concert review – SRC Arena, Syracuse, NY 8/2/14”

  1. Aaron Says:

    Ham doesn’t skip a beat in his review, unlike some of the songs from the evening.
    The added background information about the bands and their performers was very interesting and pertinent to their actual performances. While if I had paid a lot of money for tickets, I would have been pretty disappointed with a few things from the evening. However, like most people there, I got my tickets for free. So with that said, and the fact that virtually no one was there to actually profit from any of the money made that night, as Ham mentioned, all proceeds went straight to the Carol Baldwin Cancer fund. I was very impressed with the kindness of every person that showed up to make that night happen! Thank you to every performer that took time out of their lives to help benefit others! Overall the evening was still a big success. There were a lot of friendly people enjoying themselves, reminiscing about the ’80s, drinking, eating, watching the kids dance and play, and enjoying the company of friends from the past. With a little more advertising and word of mouth, I can see this Bash being as popular as the K-Rockathon in years to come! Thanks for taking us back to those lost ’80s !!!

  2. Kurt Says:

    “with a little more advertising…” lol, what a joke. Syracuse is absolutely horrible for advertising live shows. There have been so many times I’ve heard about a band playing that night that I would have loved to see….if only I had heard or read that they were going to be in town. Unless a band is playing at Turning Stone, you probably won’t hear about anything well in advance.

    Brian and Aaron, I’m very sorry I couldn’t make it out to this event with you guys. The stars didn’t align right for me that night. Next year, though.

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