Story and photos by Matt SchwenkeA loosely strung patch-work from the fabric of Alice In Chains, The Cult, Slash's Snakepit, and Danzig models what is now the Cardboard Vampyres-- Jerry Cantrell, Billy Duffy and Chris Wyse, Eric Dover, and Bevan Davies, respectively. As the band slowly rose from rock's crypt at Summerfest, there was a buzz of anticipation in the crowd to hear and see this monsterly creation. But slowly, as if the sun was rising, that buzz melted into a puddle of cover songs.
While there is no denying the musical ability of these rockers, a set-list of covers takes no creative risks, especially when the covers are not even rearranged. Though the range of covers spanned an interesting mix of rock (The Beatles' "Helter Skelter," Motorhead's "Ace of Spades," and Aerosmith's "Draw the Line"), it was an unimpressive display of creativity from musicians who used to be in very unique bands. One couldn't help but feel reminiscent when the guitar lines of the Alice In Chains tunes "Would" and "Man In The Box" came screaming out of the speakers; however, when Cantrell put down his axe and began to sing Iggy Pop's "I Want To Be Your Dog," the feeling was much different.
This band has all the elements to make a great rock'n'roll band-- lead singer Dover can sing comfortably in a wide range of styles, Wyse on bass and Davies on drums are a powerful combo, and Cantrell and Duffy can shred up a guitar. If the vast stew of creative energy between them can be stirred, then there is still hope. If not, this will become what most cover bands are-- a cheap novelty.
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