TributeFest 2023 Brings The Best Out Of The Quad Cities
TributeFest 2023 was a non-stop rock and roll blast Saturday night at the Mississippi Valley Fairgrounds, featuring 6 bands performing one-time tribute sets. The Iowa building filled up fast and stayed that way throughout most of the night. By the time our headliner finished, TributeFest helped raise over $6000.00 for the community organization Seal Family Legacy.
TributeFest is unlike most tribute shows, because the bands that participate are generally working full night shows at venues around the midwest, but we ask them to pick a band they love and play only their songs for one set. It adds an element of excitement to the performance, and the bands put in a lot of additional work. They all volunteer their time and resources to help the night be successful. They really have to buy in to the idea because it takes quite a bit of preparation to change your setlist and image—but the talent and energy from these artists just jumps off the stage.
The crowd couldn’t wait for each band to start. The anticipation and enthusiasm were contagious, and the standing crowd of hundreds in front of the stage cheered, danced and really made the night.
QC Rock Academy band Anthropoid started the night with an energetic set of Metallica favorites. They were a huge hit because their talent and stage presence at so early on in their career surprised the crowd, and attracts the attention of even he seasoned professionals back stage. It was a great start to the night!
The next set paid homage to the band Motley Crue. The band Big Hair Mafia took the stage as Mafia Crue, a tongue-in-cheek kickoff and final show of their “World Tour.” It was fun to watch the guys in that band tear through some Motley classics. They even added the requisite backup singers/dancers (Thanks to Karie and Jen for temporarily jumping from their bands in Cedar Rapids.) Jon, Ray, Mo and Mike have been helping out TributeFest for years, jumping in with Bill Michaels—so it was cool to see them get to hammer out their own set this year.
Up next, a one-off group featuring Bill Michaels. Michaels gets to relive his glory days of High School Band, sitting behind the kit for Green Day Tribute “Green Bay” with Doug Brundies and Levi Craft. Mike Ritchie filled out the band, coming from behind the soundboard to play the bass. It’s always a highlight to see Michaels and the band he’s in come out and kick ass.
This year, because we had a military charity, SEAL Family Legacy, as our beneficiary, we paused the rock and had Brundies sing a beautiful rendition of The Star Spangled Banner after a presentation of colors. It was a very cool moment. Special shout-out to The Davenport Central Varsity Dance Team for helping out, they performed and they sold 50/50 and were RELENTLESS! Our 50/50 winner donated half of her winnings back, which was very cool.
The crowd also got to meet a Gold Star Family, and learn about SEAL Family Legacy, before we got back into the rock. The surprise of the night for me was when the members of Got Your Six, fresh from an appearance across the street, donned a few wigs and absolutely KILLED it as Grungebob Squarepants, a tribute to the godfathers of Grunge. They put together one of the best sets of the night, as a last-minute fill-in. Got Your Six, indeed.
The final two acts of the night could have easily carried their own shows, and they brought it for TributeFest. Wonkzilla’s Zombie Experience was a certifiable hit, and also like nothing before ever at this benefit. In full make-up and bombast, Zilla’s great musicianship brought the music of Rob Zombie to life, and the crowd as well. Seeing the fans of this band, and folks who had never before seen them all head-banging together was pretty cool.
Electric Shock, the AC/DC Show finished the night in frothy fashion. Johnny thrilled as usual with an extended guitar solo on top of the bar, and the band was spot-on.
All of these bands could have played somewhere Saturday night for pay, but instead came out to throw down for a charity gig. I can’t thank them enough. It reminds me how important it is to get out and see these bands, and support the places that they play regularly.
And speaking of volunteering, the stage, sound and lights were the vision of Mike Ritchie, who has offered his expertise since the beginning. He heard us talking about it, and immediately offered his help. And he did double duty since he also was part of Green Bay’s Green Day tribute. Ritchie Sound and Lights in Muscatine is one of the many pieces that make TributeFest possible.
And GT Sports in Eldridge donated Shirts so we could sell them and donate 100% of the price to SEAL Family Legacy. What a great night!
Check out the rest of the pics here, taken by the wonderful Roberta Osmers.