August 21, 2018 Janet Gardner Rocks Revolution Music Hall Amityville, NY 8-17-18
For decades, strong, powerful, and supremely-talented women have reigned at the forefront of Rock. Gifting the universe some of the most iconic songs in music history, legendary female artists such as Ann and Nancy Wilson of Heart, The Runaways, Pat Benatar, and Lita Ford all played vital roles in revolutionizing Rock music, showing a male-dominated industry that women can and will rock just as hard, if not harder, than the guys. Changing the game, these amazing ladies indeed paved the way for future artists – everyone from Gwen Stefani of No Doubt to female rockers of the modern era like Lzzy Hale of Halestorm.
In recent years, not only in music, but women of all talents, from politics to sports, have been celebrated for having an influential impact on their craft. Speaking of celebration of girl power, on Friday night, August 17, 2018, Amityville, New York’s Revolution Bar & Music Hall hosted an event called Girls That Rock – starring Vocalist/Guitarist Janet Gardner of the acclaimed, all-girl, Hard Rock/Glam Metal band Vixen. A first for the aptly-named venue, Revolution’s Girls That Rock places a shining light on all-female or female-fronted bands. Ceremoniously, Revolution chose a perfect headliner in Janet Gardner of Vixen, whose story proves girls are just as dominant on stage as the boys.
Giving you a little backstory on pioneer rocker Janet Gardner, she grew up with music in her blood. With a mother who performed as a church organist, Gardner went on to learn the skills of guitar and piano along with singing in school choirs. Then, in 1981, Gardner joined Los Angeles, California’s Vixen as Lead Vocalist/Rhythm Guitarist and by 1988, alongside Guitarist Jan Kuehnemund, Bassist Share Pedersen, and Drummer Roxy Petrucci, Vixen released their eponymous debut album on EMI Records, soon soaring up the Billboard charts thanks to smash hit singles “Edge of a Broken Heart” and “Cryin’.”
A highly-acclaimed album, Rolling Stone magazine listed Vixen as one of the Top 50 Greatest Hair Metal Albums of All-Time. Deserving of such accolades, Vixen was soon praised as “The Female Bon Jovi,” and not only did the band relish in commercial success, Vixen pretty much became the first all-female Hard Rock/Glam Metal band to achieve as much success, if not more in some cases, than male peers like Mötley Crüe and Poison.
Two years following the release of the band’s sophomore album, 1990’s Rev It Up, Vixen sadly disbanded due to musical differences. From 1997 through the 2000’s, Vixen reunited with various lineup changes, continuing to tour and release new music. In 2012, Jan Kuehnemund planned to reunite Vixen’s classic lineup, however, sadly, Kuehnemund was diagnosed with cancer and tragically she passed away a year later. In her honor, Gardner, Pedersen and Petrucci vowed to carry on as Vixen, which they most certainly have!
Which leads us to present day where Vixen is very active and so is the lovely Janet Gardner, who is out on the road in support of her 2017 self-titled solo album. All that in mind, as Long Island fans congregated upon Revolution, an air of electricity captured the room as this was no ordinary night. No, the sole purpose of this event: to showcase an undeniable fact – Girls Rock! So let’s get into the show.
Supporting the local music scene, all four opening slots feature bands homegrown from Long Island. Taking the stage first, hailing from Lindenhurst, New York, Sharp Violet – Liz (Vocals), Jessica Sapphire (Guitar), Alli (Bass), and Jasmine (Drums) – are a proud all-Riot Grrrl/Punk Rock band who fearlessly carry the flag for female empowerment. Influenced by notable Punk acts like Bikini Kill and The Distillers, Sharp Violet opened a high-spirited set by injecting a dose of “Caffeine” into the lively crowd, garnering a rousing ovation from the start. Pepping-up the growing crowd, to intro the next tune, Liz confessed the song is about her two favorite things, “Boys & Candy.” Slowing it down, for the next tune, Liz let it be known, the sly “Black Widow” is an ode to sexy spiders, before the fun continued on “Jess Song.”
Channeling Debbie Harry of Blondie, Sharp Violet slammed on the gas, covering the Punk legends using the “Telephone” before getting into a “New York” state of mind. Closing the set, Liz explained the final number, “Domino Effect,” is all about Harvey Weinstein. Here, Sharp Violet do more than perform a song: these amazing women take an unwavering stand against sexual harassment. A compelling performance, Sharp Violet turn up the volume and give a voice to those too afraid to speak out. Exiting the stage, Sharp Violet were graced by a rousing ovation after nicely warming-up the hometown crowd. On the rise, Sharp Violet are a fun, energetic, and talented band with a bright future – so don’t miss out when Sharp Violet rolls into your town.
Next on the bill, though advertised as Sweet June, within a day or two of the show, the band changed their name to Walk On War. A Long Island band, Walk on War is fronted by Vocalist Amanda and deliver a chill, laid back Alternative Rock vibe. As more Long Island Rock fans entered Revolution, Walk On War opened with “Cry Cry Cryin” as they emulated some pleasing vibes with songs like “Fucking Crazy,” “Doll,” “Good Girl,” and “Made of Stone.” Closing out the most different set of the night, Walk On War offered two more numbers, “Fire,” and “Hush” before saying good-night. Overall, Walk On War is a refreshing band for fans of ’90s Rock.
In the third slot, TG Company Band – Vicki Dingman (Vocals), Roy Birkbeck (Drums), Fred Mazza (Bass), and Tony Gutierrez (Guitar) – are a Long Island Blues Rock, Hard Rock, and Classic Metal band, formed in 2012. Performing some of the most well-known songs in Classic Rock and Metal, TG Company Band played cover tunes like Judas Priest’s “Living After Midnight,” Dio’s “Holy Diver,” and Iron Maiden’s “The Trooper.” On the most classic side, the band included the two most loved eras of Black Sabbath with Ozzy Osbourne era “Fairies Wear Boots” and Ronnie James Dio era “Heaven and Hell.” Lastly, TG Company Band played Led Zeppelin’s “Immigrant Song” and bid farewell to the crowd.
Playing direct support, Long Island natives, cover band Notch 45, is fronted by female Vocalist CJ Forrester alongside Guitarist Brendan Kelly, Bassist Dan Kelleher, and Drummer Tom D’Esposito. A talented singer, Forrester shined on Pat Benatar’s “Heartbreaker” and Blondie’s “Call Me.” Paying homage to some great female artists, Notch 45 brought some different tunes to Revolution performing Pink’s “Who Knew,” Alanis Morissette’s “You Oughta Know,” and Lita Ford’s “Kiss Me Deadly.” Closing out a pleasing set, Notch 45 delivered Led Zeppelin’s “Rock and Roll” to end an entertaining performance. As good tribute bands are hard to come by, Notch 45 is surely worth checking out.
Ready to party hard via some good old Friday night Rock music, members of the crowd hurried to grab a last minute drink as they got ready for the main event of the evening. In true Rock form, the Revolution house lights went down, highlighting the stage lights as Janet Gardner’s band took the stage consisting of Bassist Anthony Gemignani, Janet’s husband, Guitarist Justin James, and Drummer Richie Rivera.
Touring in support of her killer debut solo album, 2017’s Janet Gardner, the vivacious Janet Gardner took the stage to a burst of cheers as the band kicked into action on songs like “If You Want Me” and “Your Problem Now.” Alive in pure Rock-and-Roll madness, Gardner showed-off immense vocal talent and a knack for writing and performing classically-woven Rock on “Hippycrite” and again on a head-banging cut, “The Grind.”
A good cover, Gardner was all smiles performing Cee-Lo Green’s “Fuck You” and got the crowd’s hands clapping for the thrilling “Rat Hole.” In a more somber moment, Gardner spoke fondly about her dad’s last moments before performing the memorable “Candle.” Not to be forgotten, Gardner’s band deserve immense credit as the guys crushed it on all numbers like the melodic “Lost.” Feeding Long Island’s hunger for some Vixen, Gardner announced she has sung the next song about a million times, Vixen’s biggest hit, “Edge Of A Broken Heart.”
Eating up the Rock ecstasy, the crowd loved how Gardner entered the floor, becoming one with her audience, and letting the fans sing-along with her for a super fun performance. As the set came to an end, one last number which stood out amongst all the rest, on a glitzy “The Good or the Bye,” Gardner and company proved why the legendary songstress was chosen to headline a show of such importance – because she rocks! Thanking the crowd, Gardner was forever grateful to the Long Island faithful who offered her fond cheers of support after a blistering set of old school and modern Rock decadence.
Not to anyone’s surprise, Gardner tore into Revolution, smashing Amityville with a passionate and electrifying set. Backing her up, Gardner’s band of rocking musicians were a well-oiled machine, allowing Gardner to drive home each riveting performance. If you are a fan of Vixen and great Rock music, do not miss Janet Gardner’s solo show. Gardner will also be touring with Vixen for some select shows this year, including coming back to Long Island when Vixen plays The Space at Westbury on November 10, 2018. All this said, Revolution’s Girls That Rock was a success!
Photo credit: Andrew Fiero Photography