Let's be honest. South Florida is not exactly a great market for rock music, and when you couple that with the fact that South Florida is the virtual dead end of the United States, a state that is spotted with other equally shitty rock markets, and
takes 8 hours to traverse, well, you probably wouldn't risk touring here either.
However, with all of the musically themed cruises departing South Florida's ports lately, we have enjoyed a rash of one-off and somewhat random shows recently that would (most likely) not have made it down this far otherwise.
Friday night, guitarist and songwriter Gilby Clarke -- best known for his time in Guns N' Roses and for being a part of the hit CBS reality show, Rock Star: Supernova -- made a stop at Seminole Casino Coconut Creek for an intimate set of burning guitar solos, songs about prisons in Tijuana, and motorcycles. All that is good and fundamental to rock music. Though Clarke is best known for the above, it should be mentioned that he was also a member of the legendary MC5 for a bit, and has a production credit for the Bronx second full-length, an album that made just about every "best of" list in 2008.
The thing about swagger-borne rock music is that it can only really be as good as the crowd. Surely, the burden to shake the place loose is laid squarely on the shoulders of the performer -- of that there is no argument. However, sometimes the vibe just ain't happening, and a low volume lounge in a small casino isn't exactly the ideal venue for this type of thing.
That said, Clarke and his trio did everything they possibly could to provide the small crowd with a taste of the seemingly forgotten fun side of rock music. Clarke, armed with a battered Les Paul, cranked his rollicking music through a pair of Marshall stacks while punctuating things with his lightning salvos of shredding blues-infused guitar solos. The sound was not unlike what Guns might have sounded like with a more relaxed singer at the helm.
Clarke appeared to be in great spirits, obviously enjoying the performance, and even bringing up guitarist David Jacobs of local opening act Steady Freddy to jam on a few Stones covers, including a fun run-through of "Dead Flowers." As expected, the G'N'R tunes were the highlight for most of the crowd, particularly "It's So Easy," which had the highest energy sing-along of the evening. The set also featured a cover of Cheap Trick's "Surrender" and a Supernova track or two rounding out Clarke's originals.
Rarely -- if ever -- has it been said that a show might have been better at a place like Ft. Lauderdale's Poorhouse. But this was kind of the case on Friday. Clarke and his band were great, but despite their efforts, the crucial energy exchange that makes for a really memorable show was missing, and we happen to think sleazy rock music is more fun in a sweaty bar than a clean lounge, ten feet from a cluster of slot machines.
Personal Bias: Guitar-nerd. Kindred spirit in my adoration of the Mick Taylor era of the Rolling Stones and Zemaitis guitars.
The Crowd: Affliction T-shirts, poorly-fitted blazers, and guitar shop employees.
Overheard: "Wait! This isn't the guy from the Butthole Surfers!"
5550 NW 40th St., Coconut Creek, FL