Middle to late last year I made the three hour trip to the Chicagoland area to check out The Winery Dogs, by myself. I had the album and I loved it. I tried to get friends of mine to put the record on but they'd never get around to it or they'd say it wasn't their thing because they were emo or hardcore (or one of the millions of sub genres we label our rock music with) fans. As soon as I'd mention that one of the guys was from Dream Theater, another from Mr. Big and the other guy had a cup of coffee in Poison they'd want nothing to do with the amazing band I was trying to present them with. Then I saw The Winery Dogs live and i thought that my friends need to see this live to understand it.
When I found out that The Winery Dogs were literally playing two blocks from my house I called a couple of my friends up and asked if they'd come with me, I want to turn them on to another style of rock music that wasn't simply three chords and no solos. To my surprise both of them were on board. They had done a little research on their own. One of them said, 'they're not my style of music, but I hear that the bass player masturbates his bass.' To which I responded, 'all three of them fuck the shit out of their instruments when they're playing them.'
I was extremely excited my friends were open minded enough to give The Winery Dogs a shot. Then the doubt started to creep in, what if they don't like this, can we still be friends? As soon as the show started and they busted into "Elevate" my worries left me. I was in Heaven. There was this energy that came out of their amps that made me forget that my friends were there, it made me forget that the Blackhawks were getting their ass kicked by the LA Kings, it made me forget that my leg was killing me. All of the sudden i was just apart of the music. There was no way they or anyone for that matter was going to watch this and say this was stupid.
The Winery Dogs are made up the virtuoso's Richie Kotzen (Guitar/Vocals), Billy Sheehan (Bass Guitar/Backing Vocals) & Mike Portnoy (Drums/Backing Vocals). When you watch these guys play, you don't know where to look on the stage so you take a step back and watch the entire stage. Your focus is constantly changing. It's like the Cirque Du Soleil of rock music. One song after another your head is just spinning while at the same time being engulfed by the energy. There was no lull in the set, even the mellow songs grab ahold of you and don't let go.
The highlight for me and what I can only imagine was the rest of the crowds as well was Billy Sheehan's bass solo that morphed into "You Saved Me." As soon as Billy took his right hand and played the low end of the riff off "You Saved Me" the audience was given collective chills. Portnoy and Kotzen walked back on stage and it looked as if they had the same feeling too. Song after song, note after note, solo after solo The Winery Dogs owned Moline, IL. If Rascals Live ever brings another band that even competes with how good The Winery Dogs were tonight, I want to be there, because that will be a great show. This was a perfect show. Some phrases that ran through my head during the show included, 'Holy Shit,' 'Jesus Fucking Christ this is amazing,' 'How do they do that,' etc etc.
As my friends and I were leaving the show they were quiet, as was I. Finally I said, 'I hope it wasn't too boring.' They responded with, 'Are you kidding me, there was never a moment that I was not entertained. That might be the most talented band I've ever seen live.' It's definitely the most talented I've ever seen live.' The only complaint they had was that Mike Portnoy was wearing a The Winery Dogs shirt to which I reply, 'shut up hipster.' If you haven't seen The Winery Dogs, there are few shows worth more than the price of admission, but this is definitely one of them. I want everybody to experience this band, even if it's against their will, because The Winery Dogs are something special and I feel blessed that I've already gotten to see them twice within a year.
BYLINE: Bob Zerull is the Managing Editor of Zoiks! Online. He writes pop culture commentary, does interviews with bands, and reviews music and stand-up concerts. He also administers Zoiks! Online's Facebook page. Follow Bob on twitter at bzerull. Email Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org.