By Vicki DiAddezio, Photographer and Gillian DiAddezio, Journalist, Rock At Night Orlando Correspondents
Venue: Melbourne Auditorium, Melbourne, Florida–August 25th – 28th , 2016
August 25-28, 2016 provided Melbourne, FL with yet another year of great music at “80’s In The Park”. While the fourth annual fest was completely inside this year due to the threat of thunderstorms in the area once again, nothing was stopping the music from being louder than ever inside the Melbourne Auditorium. Headliners for the weekend included Stryper, Quiet Riot, Femme Fatal, and Great White. Along with great music at the Melbourne Auditorium, this year 80’s in the Park once again touted nightly after parties and special VIP poolside performances at the sponsoring hotel, the Crowne Plaza. We were unable to attend on Friday night, however Rock At Night was there on Saturday and Sunday to cover the rest of the fun.
Although EMN (Every Mother’s Nightmare) and Pretty Boy Floyd were forced to cancel their sets on Saturday due to travel issues, the festival went on with Kenny McGee performing in their place. Other bands that rocked the stage on Saturday were Mystery, Ted Poley, and Stryper.
All the way from Melboune, Australia to Melbourne, Florida, Mystery is a young band that proudly displays the fact that they are the “youngest rock band to ever tour the world with three consecutive years of international tour dates”. The band is composed of 19 year-old Rocky Ravic (lead vocals), Ozzy Koshi (guitar), and Vinnie Parma (drums). Even with the added challenge of being the first band of the day, the energy and personality that the young men brought to the stage was undeniable. Toward the end of their set, “The Art of Gene”/Gene Simmons impersonator Tony Thornock joined the band on stage for their rendition of the KISS classic, ‘Rock and Roll All Nite’. At the conclusion of their set, Ravic broke three guitar stings and wildly swung his guitar around following a cover of ACDC’s ‘T.N.T.’ Mystery’s new Album, ‘From Dusk Til Dawn’ is now available worldwide, and although no new tour dates are currently listed on their website, keep an eye on their website http://mysteryrocks.net/ for future information.
With EMN and Pretty Boy Floyd absent from the lineup, Kenny McGee stepped in and kept the crowd rocking. We missed McGee’s acoustic poolside performance, so it was nice that we were able to see him perform with the full band. With long blonde thin braids, a bright purple scarf, and a cool swagger, Kenny McGee and his band commanded the crowd with some 80’s southern rock that just made us want to dance along. You can check out more about McGee at http://www.kennymcgee.com.
The next band to grace the stage with gusto was Ted Poley, who had most of the audience on their feet throughout the set. With red stars all over his outfit, and multicolored balloons floating around the audience, Ted Poley’s performance was very entertaining, to say the least, as well as humble. Ted continuously thanked everyone for being there, including the sponsors, and he also thanked Sirius and XM radio for “forever keeping two of his songs alive”. Ted told the audience that a portion of proceeds from his merchandise sales go toward animal shelters, which is very endearing, especially in the world of rock n’ roll. The set ended with Ted running around the audience and standing on chairs while he sang to the crowd. He then brought a person in a giant shrimp costume onstage to play guitar with them. Overall, Ted Poley had a great performance with wonderful energy, and the night was ultimately better because of it.
Stryper was the final band to take the stage on Saturday night and they ended the night as only a true 80’s band could. With all original members (Michael Sweet, Robert Sweet, Timothy Gaines, and Oz Fox) and a killer yellow and black-striped getup, this certainly was a not-to-miss performance as the band’s “Fallen” tour winds down. Stryper is certainly the heaviest-metal-type Christian band I have heard as of yet, but they were also the most spectacular. The entire audience was on their feet for the duration of the performance, and I also enjoyed watching a little boy in the audience jam out on air guitar throughout the set. CDs were thrown out to the audience during the show, and there was minimal silence, if any, between songs. The quick velocity, enormous energy, and uniformity of the group made this performance undoubtedly the best one of the entire weekend for me. Stryper is set to complete their “Fallen” tour, and will jump right in to their “To Hell with the Devil” tour on September 29 in Atlanta, Georgia. For more information about the band, and to purchase tickets, please visit http://www.stryper.com/index.html
Sunday evening was composed of Jack Starr’s Burning Starr, London, Femme Fatale, and Great White.
Burning Starr was composed of Jack Starr, Ned Meloni, and Kenny Rhino Earl, along with special guest Darin Foxx, the singer of Who Was I. Kevin Burnes, former guitarist of Dokken, also played with band for the set. I was very pleased to see that the drummer sang a lot during the songs that were played, which something you do not see too often in bands, unless only as backup vocals. At the end of the performance, the band performed a debut of a new song off their album, “Stand Your Ground”.
London hit the stage next, with lead singer Nadir D’Priest wearing a see-through mesh shirt and extremely sparkly blue-purple sequined pants (which were so awesome that everyone wanted the pants for themselves). This was the only band to utilize maracas and a tambourine, which was a nice change up from the usual. London can sometimes be seen as a transition band, due to the success that members often find once they branch out to other ventures, but current members are Nadir D’Priest (lead vocals), Brian West (bass), Chris Sanders (lead guitar), Alan Krigger (drums), Ronnie Pena (guitar), and Tony Cavazo (bass). D’Priest took a wild run around the audience during one of their songs, which grabbed everyone’s attention as they tried to figure out where he was.
Femme Fatale, “one of metal’s favorite bands” was up next, and I enjoyed them on stage even more this year than I did last year. These seven rockin’ chicks blow everyone out of the water when it comes to empowerment in female rock music, and I did not see a single soul in the audience that looked unpleased. Lorraine Lewis (lead vocals), Courtney Cox (super fierce Guitar), Nita Strauss (Guitar), Nikki Stringfield (Guitar), Janis Tanaka (Bass), Athena Bass (Drums), and Katt Scarlett (Keyboard) kept the energy pounding and the music shredding as the L.A. group performed the night away. I was a little saddened by the fact that their set was not as long as all of the other bands’, but that didn’t make it any less entertaining. Lorraine noted that she recognized a lot of the people in the audience as Facebook friends, which goes to show how much she cares about their fans. Their album, “One More For The Road” is out now; to find out more information about this fierce band, visit http://fnarecords.net/index.php/femme-fatale.html or their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/ILoveFemmeFatale/?ref=page_internal
Great White was the last band on Sunday night before the after party, and they brought 80’s in the Park 2016 to a close with a knockout performance. The band came out on stage following lines from the movie “Jaws”, which is something I found very humorous and they ended their intro with the phrase, “We’re going to need a bigger boat”. The band produced a strong sound, and seemed to be having a wonderful time up on stage. Great White is composed of Terry Ilous (vocals), Mark Kendall (guitar), Michael Lardie (guitar), Audie Desbrow (drums), and Scott Snyder (bass). They cranked out their set with hit after hit and gave a stellar performance of, “Save Your Love” toward the end of the set. Throughout their set they kept the audience jamming. Great White has been around since 1977, and even with band member changes in 2011, the group has not lost its cool. Band founder Mark Kendall was still as present as ever, along with veterans Michael Lardie and Audie Desbrow. When there is longevity in a group such as this, the classic hits will never fade away, and the band will keep many of their older fans for life. Great White’s upcoming tour dates include fairs, festivals, and the ‘Monsters of Rock Cruise’ in early October of this year. To find more information about the band, including ticket sales, please visit their website at http://officialgreatwhite.com/ .
80’s in the Park is an annual multi-day festival in Melbourne, Florida that encompasses the Melbourne Auditorium and the Crowne Plaza Ocean Front hotel. The event is sponsored by Platt Hopwood Attorneys at Law, R & R Productions LLC’s “80’s In The Sand” (to be held in Punta Cana, Dominican Republic November 11-18, 2017), We Rock For Autism, 98.5fm The Beach, Crowne Plaza Hotels and Resorts, Victory Casino Cruises, and more. Next year’s event is already scheduled to be a hotel-only event, which they are calling “80’s In The Park: Rockin’ Hotel”. It is slated to be held September 22-24, 2017, with all the bands, after parties, and VIP events hosted at the hotel only rather than having to travel back and forth between venues. For more information about next year’s festival, and to buy tickets, please visit http://80sinthepark.wix.com/80s2 .