Buckcherry is one of those acts that burst onto the scene with a sneer and a song at the tail end of the 90s. The music scene that the band burst onto was transitioning between that flannel-clad grunge era and the burgeoning nu-metal era. At the time, only a few acts still carried the torch for the excess and debauchery of the 80’s LA hard rock scene, but with the band’s breakout single “Lit Up” the band proved hard rock still had a loyal audience. The band rapidly climbed the charts, and Buckcherry was touring the world with Lenny Kravitz and AC/DC, even taking the stage as part of the infamous Woodstock 99.
After the success of “Lit Up”, the band’s debut eponymous album also saw “For the Movies”, “Dead Again” and “Check Your Head” released as singles. However, none of those tracks managed to achieve the same success as their breakthrough single. The band returned to the studio to record their sophomore album Time Bomb, an album that was mostly panned, aside from the fiery single “Ridin’”, a track that cracked the Billboard Top 10. Unfortunately, the band opted to go their separate ways.
That is until 2005, when Josh Todd reformed the band, bringing in Stevie D. to play guitar alongside a handful of other players who are no longer current members of Buckcherry. Not long after, the band returned to the studio to record 15. The album was viewed as a return to form for the band, as that album contained the wildly successful “Crazy Bitch”, “Sorry”, “Next to You” and “Everything.” This album garnered the band invites to open for KISS and to play as part of Motley Crue’s Crue Fest.
In the years that followed the release of 15, Buckcherry has released an additional 7 studio albums, a live album and an extended play single entitled Fuck (where all song titles include Fuck). Buckcherry recently released their 10th studio album titled Vol. 10. At the end of June, the band embarked on their most recent Canadian tour, which took the band through the Maritimes, and up through Ontario. But on June 29th, 2023, the band hit the Marquee Ballroom stage in Halifax.
Surprisingly, this was not the band’s first foray into Atlantic Canada, having played in this very room, back in October 2021. On this night, the band brought along a talented pair of local Halifax acts: Diamond City and Dali Van Gogh. First on the bill was Diamond City, a talented four-piece rock act, who recently won the third week of the Rising Surge Battle of the Bands with their brand of early 2000s Can-Con rock (think Finger Eleven, 3 Days Grace meet Alexisonfire). It was a set that exceeded the band’s place on the bill. Rest assured that I will be making sure to check this band out again as soon as possible.
Next up was Dali Van Gogh, hot off the heels of their big ECMA win for Loud Recording of the Year. This was the band’s official homecoming show, and the tightly polished foursome put on one hell of a show. From Rachelle “Rocky” Moreau’s powerhouse vocals and work on the illustrious keytar to the frenetic shredding from the band’s guitarist Issac Kent. Holding down his side of the stage was bassist Lance Hicks, who looked to be having the time of his life laying down these juicy bass licks. Then last but certainly not least was drummer Johnny Moore who was providing the unrelenting bombast from the back of the stage. Can’t wait to see DVG again down the road.
With the openers having riled the room up, it was time for the lights to dim one more time. Josh Todd, Stevie D (Guitar), Kelly LeMieux (Bass), Francis Ruiz (Drums) and Billy Rowe (Guitar) took their places on stage and promptly launched into their breakthrough hit “Lit Up”. Clad in a leather jacket and leopard print bandana, it was evident that those would not last long under the stage lights. Sure enough, after working through the opening handful of songs (including “For the Movies” (which I had totally forgotten) and “Ridin’”), the Buckcherry frontman shed the jacket and bandana.
The band’s stage configuration was interesting as Stevie D. worked stage left, while Kelly and Billy held down stage right, all the while leaving plenty of room for Josh to roam. The charismatic frontman rarely stood still, at points adding additional percussion with a tambourine, and others dancing or strutting across the stage.
It was roughly the mid-point of the set when Todd shed his final layer and revealed his tapestry of tats that adorned his upper body, including the iconic King of Hearts back tat. At this point in the show, you could see the sweat being generated. Between songs, Todd remarked that this room was magic, and this writer couldn’t agree more. There was an air of camaraderie and joy in the air, which was no more apparent than when Stevie D. made a concerted effort to pass a pick to the gloved gent at the edge of the stage, and the congratulatory cheer that went up when the handoff occurred.
On this night, the band was less concerned with showcasing their latest record and spent the night regaling the Haligonian crowd with a set list that was loaded with the band’s best-known material. Even after those key cuts echoed throughout the Marquee Ballroom, the band’s recent single “Good Time” sounded as sharp and vibrant as the band ever has. Buckcherry left the stage briefly after closing the main set with the fan-favourite “Crazy Bitch” before returning to play “Feels Like Love” and a cover of the Bryan Adam classic “Summer of ‘69” (both of which appear on Vol. 10).
This wasn’t a band phoning it in on the back nine of their career, but a band continuing to showcase that Hard Rock spirit is alive and well. The petulance of youth may have faded a bit, but that Sunset Strip spirit still burns bright within Buckcherry.
Dali Van Gogh