RIKI RACHTMAN’S CATHOUSE LIVE FESTIVAL AT IRVINE MEADOWS, CA
AUGUST 15, 2015
Riki Rachtman put together a Cathouse reunion party that was a day of reminiscing and revelry in celebration of an era that is long gone. The Cathouse operated as party central for those in the Hollywood rock scene from 1986-1993. Do some basic math and that’s 22-29 years ago! A lot has changed in rock, Hollywood, and in the lives of those who went to the Cathouse. The same goes for the festival attendees. The day was very hot and very long. The lack of shade was physically grueling for many who were dressed in black, denim, leather, and other clothing more suitable for a night out partying at a rock club. Despite the conditions the crowd was spirited and exhibited loyalty to some of their favorite bands. It was a great opportunity to turn back the clock to a time of youthful overindulgence and living, even if just for a day.
The festival consisted of 25 bands on two different stages. They rocked hard during their short sets and verbalized ample appreciation and gratitude towards their devoted fans, the crazy times of yesteryear, and for still being able to relive the past on this special day. Most of the bands barely resemble the original lineups with notable singers of that era such as Stephen Pearcy (Ratt), Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), and Tom Keifer (Cinderella) playing with session musicians, taking away some of the allure of the original lineups. Despite that, the bands put out full effort and their fans sang along word-for-word to their old classics.
One of the highlights was the revolving main stage that would begin to spin, moving the current act out of sight as they still played. Then the next band would come into view and start their set. There were many bands and time was limited so the quick turnaround was a great solution and a special treat for the crowd as the acts blended smoothly during the change. It was evidence that all of the musicians were gracious and collaborative, indicative of a group party/reunion.
The main stage culminated the event with the music of popular radio and MTV favorites; Ratt, Dokken, Skid Row, Cinderella, and Extreme. Extreme was an odd choice as “headliners” as they never played the Cathouse, their origins are on the East Coast, and their progressive funk rock is in a category all to themselves. They weren’t the most popular band of the day, but they showcased superior technical proficiency and chemistry, and appear to be performing better that at any other time in their career. They only played one track from their first album which is the closest to the hair metal sound, but Extreme always seems to go along their own path and unique way of operating.
The closing act was Gilby Clarke’s (Guns N’ Roses) All-Star Jam featuring Ace Frehley (Kiss), Michael Starr (Steel Panther), Sebastian Bach (Skid Row), Nuno Bettencourt (Extreme), and others. They jammed hard to close out the day and were actually mid-song when the stage started spinning them away from the audience. The power was abruptly cut at 11:30pm due to a local ordinance/curfew. It was a fitting end for a rock n’ roll party, play hard until someone shuts you down. It’s also fitting because the festival’s era of music endured a similar fate as the decade of the 90’s arrived, along with the popularity of Grunge and Metallica. At least for one day, like Riki said to the crowd, it felt like 1986.
Thanks to Riki for orchestrating this one day trip down memory lane.
Photos by Johnnie Crow