March 31, 2016 Danger Danger Rock Southland Ballroom Raleigh, NC 3-26-16 w/ Kickin Valentina
Formed back in 1987, New York’s Danger Danger is a band that has stood the test of time. Coming from a city that birthed such legendary acts such as KISS, New York Dolls, and the Ramones, the roots of Rock-n-Roll, Glam, and Punk were soon replaced by Hardcore Rock and Thrash Metal once the ’80s era rolled around. At the time, Glam Rock/Metal found a comfortable home out on the West Coast with most re-locating to the Sunset Strip to get their big break. Raised in the borough of Queens, Danger Danger decided to keep their hometown address in their quest to reach for the stars, and finally a demo landed them an album deal with Epic Records resulting in their self-titled release in 1989. An album that spawned a series of memorable hits, Danger Danger broke the top 100 on US charts and soon found themselves on tour with KISS, Alice Cooper, Extreme, and Warrant.
Continuing on with Screw It! in 1991, the band now even struck the attention of the Japanese market. With the Rock-n-Roll trends shifting toward Grunge, Danger Danger battled through the ’90s to release 1995’s Dawn and 1997’s Four the Hard Way, but without lead vocalist Ted Poley. With Paul Laine doing a fitting job fronting the band for eleven years, Poley returned to the fold in 2004, a reunion fans had praised. While the band has sustained a share of changes along the way, fast-forward to 2016, Danger Danger is still alive and kicking.
With that in mind, Danger Danger still continue to perform live, and in 2016 have performed select shows to appreciative followers. First playing in Teaneck, New Jersey on March 25th, Danger Danger soon hopped onto Interstate 95 to head south to Raleigh, North Carolina to play at Southland Ballroom on Saturday, March 26th. A show presented by EveningStar Entertainment, the bill was affectionately called 2016’s Headbanger’s Ball and featured Running with Scissors, Hayvyn, and direct support from Kickin Valentina. An evening that was warm, cloudy, and wet, dedicated Rock-n-Rollers stood through the rain in a line halfway around the club to get a prime spot up front for what would be Danger Danger’s first show in North Carolina in twenty plus years.
Following the aforementioned Running with Scissors and Hayvyn, Kickin Valentina was the third band on the bill. Making the trip up from Atlanta, Georgia, a six hours south of Raleigh, the four-piece band with Rock-n-Roll attitude came ready to make some noise. Consisting of Heber Pampillon on guitar, Joe Edwards on vocals, Jimmy Berdine on drums, along with Chris Taylor on bass, Kickin Valentina formed in 2013, and in three years, have been performing around the USA. Signed on with Danish label Mighty Music/Target Group in 2015, they released their album Super Atomic and since been pounding the pavement to spread the word. Besides this show in Raleigh, they have seen sharing stages with Buckcherry, L.A. Guns, Faster Pussycat, Pop Evil, and Nonpoint, just to list off a few.
Coming to the stage around 10 PM, Kickin Valentina soon made their presence known to the crowd. Kicking off, Taylor, Pampillon, and Berdine gave off a minute-long intro, instrumental shred before Edwards’ entrance on stage and then went straight into the song “On My Side.” Those unfamiliar with the band, their style can be described as dirty, raw, bluesy, straight-up Rock-n-Roll with no add-on’s, just pure guitars, bass, drums, and singer. With that in mind, the guys performed songs off Super Atomic, including the first single, “Wrong Way,” the title track, “Super Atomic,” before going into “Some Kind of Sex.” A excellent live band, it is hard not to revel in their performance as they moved along.
Slowing the pace a little bit with their ballad from their 2013 debut EP, entitled “Alone,” they then moved into “Fist & Twist.” Nearing the end of their forty-five minute set, or so one would assume, Kickin Valentina warming up the crowd to bring on Danger Danger, the guys performed a newer track, not yet heard by the fans called “Devil’s Hand.” It was an incredibly rocking song, with eerily sinful sound, vocal wise, with a just as equal wicked guitar tone. Thereafter, they went into the song that introduced them to the music world, “Get Ready.” This was supposed to be the finale, as in done, finished, but the fans chanted, wanting more. Returning to the stage, appreciative of the crowd response, Kickin Valentina gave them what they wanted performing three more songs as their encore.
Between the musicianship they share, the gyrations, and energy of Edwards moving around the stage, the thumping bass and drums pounding, it is a 100% entertaining Rock-n-Roll show. Kickin Valentina has a few shows lined up in Washington, DC, Maryland, and the Pennsylvania area in late-April before heading off overseas to bring their Atlanta-Rock sound over to Europe performing shows with more to be announced in various areas of Germany, Denmark, Switzerland, and Belgium in mid-May.
To end the night, headliners Danger Danger began their set around 11:30 PM, after a couple special presentations and shout outs by the promoter to those who traveled long ways to be in attendance at this show. That band has not played the North Carolina area, as Poley stated, in 25 years. With that said, the lineup of Bassist Bruno Ravel, Drummer Steve West, Vocalist Poley, along with Guitarist Steve Brown of Trixter filling in for Rob Marcello were ready to Rock-n-Roll well into early Sunday morning.
Starting out with “Monkey Business” from Screw It!, Poley, Ravel, West, and Brown’s presence on stage showed the party was on! From there on, they continued on with “Crazy Nites,” “Turn it On,” “Under the Gun,” and “Don’t Walk Away” from their self-titled debut. Ninety-nine percent of their set list consisted of songs from Danger Danger’s first two albums, which no one would complain or have any objections to, allowing fans to reminisce back to their earlier days. Although, they did interject some later generation Danger Danger with the killer track “Hearts on the Highway” from their last studio album, 2009’s Revolve.
Despite minor technical difficulties, beyond the band’s fault, their fans knew word for word many songs, so when Poley’s microphone went out, he was totally covered by the fans and his bandmates to pick up the slack. In fact, Poley went up close and personal into the audience and sang with them, which is always a fan-beloved thing when one of their favorite musicians comes out into the crowd to interact with them. Moving forward, and technical issues resolved, they went into songs from their debut once again with “Feels Like Love” and then “Boys Will Be Boys.” Danger Danger were going well past the midnight hour, but it was a Saturday night and it did not matter to those still crowded up front watching the four guys have a blast performing more favorites such as “I Still Think About You,” “Don’t Blame It On Love,” and “Beat the Bullet.”
The night and performance were drawing closely to an end, but of course the band had to give the fans what they all so wanted to hear, offering up “Bang Bang,” which resulted in excitement as some were even dancing barefoot with their friends towards the middle of the spectator/general admission area. Finishing the main portion of their set with the delightful “Rock America,” they then took a small break before concluding the night with the very first single they ever released. This is the single that put the band on the international map, the one they dropped when they were only twenty-somethings, and of course that was the cut “Naughty Naughty,” followed by the classic words that follow in the chorus, “dirty dirty.”
Everyone in the audience had their heads moving, dancing to the rhythm of their music, and singing along to songs that they enjoyed so much from Danger Danger’s catalogue all those years ago. Rock-n-Roll is all about having a great time with having no care about the outside world. It is about taking away whatever nonsense one person is going through at that moment and just having a free-spirited good time with fellow Rock lovers. Watching everyone that packed the Southland Ballroom for not only Danger Danger, but all bands before them, proved Rock-n-Roll is food for the soul and will never die.