Ratt, crack and Jack

Oct 6, 1999 at 12:00 am


I’m coming out full guns – with the intention of alienating the culture-safe crowd right off the bat – by telling you straight away that Saturday night found me in attendance at Harpo’s for none other than Ratt, live in concert. I have no big names to drop here, other than the band members themselves, for who in their right mind would risk being seen at Harpo’s, where gummy, red, shag carpet is a testament to the club’s standing as wormhole to lost decades?

If there were any social climbers at the Budweiser-only bar, rubbing elbows with the throngs of teased-haired dudes in white high-tops and babes (of all sizes) falling out of their tube tops, they were successfully camouflaged.

That’s not to say that everyone banging their head that night fell straight out of an ’80s video. I was really quite surprised at the ratio: About 50 percent timewarpers, 40 percent ordinary cube-dwellers, and 10 percent cutting-edge hipsters slightly above the Majestic crowd in panache. (Could this be the almost imperceptible air of one who gives weight only to his or her own opinion?)

Of that breakdown, 99 percent of women fell into the timewarper category; good news for all – plenty of real men for the chicks, and no-brainer getting-laid odds for the guys.

Let me just say, to all of you who had covert thoughts of seeing Ratt, but didn’t dare breathe a word of such crap to your friends; your instincts were right on the money. You missed a night of complete captivation; a refreshing recess from day-to-day reality.

It’s impossible not to be entertained in the midst of our own ridiculous pasts, the stuff we’ve tried to block from our memory banks spread out around us like a holographic yearbook. The big, hairsprayed dos – on guys! Daisy Dukes with matching vests. Marlboro men cruising in packs. Combs advertising "tush" in stonewashed back pockets. And that’s just the audience!

Ratt, while musically evoking the ’80s, is actually light years past novelty value. You really have forgotten how good they are. Tight. Hard. Together. Fun!

If the background music of your life’s story never included Ratt, chances are it will. The band’s 20-year mark is upon us, making ’80s rock inevitably the next fad. Singer Stephen Pearcy’s updated locks and wardrobe are revealing a pretty Y2K-ready guy.

Preceded by a host of local bands, including Hemigod (who ranted about their 4-song limit and floor-level setup), Ratt didn’t take the stage until 11:30. Killing time with the guys, Ratt tour-guy Randy and I exchanged a look when Hemigod offered "one for all the ’80s fans in the audience." Who the hell else would be there?

Meeting Chlorine (touring with Ratt) was my unexpected privilege. If you’re not yet familiar with these Houston wonder boys (comprised of Mark Fain, vocals; Jared Mueller, bass; Chris Henrich, lead guitar; and Eddie Travis, drums), you will be. Not limited to hair-band followers, Chlorine is the epitome of star material: Original style, front-page good looks, and solid, talented rock and roll. They happen to be fabulously nice, as well, I discovered after their crowd-frenzying performance. Here’s one for the scrapbook, Jared!


A new form of hard-edged entertainment is coming to Detroit, promising to be the "crack" of comedy. Still gestating, we can look for the birth of The Cabinet, located at the Third Street Saloon near Wayne State, sometime this fall. The brainchild of Joe Latessa, Dustin Gardener and John Holtson (sharing various bigwig Second City credentials among them), this grassroots effort will bring a unique style of improvisational theater to Motown.

Focusing on the long form of improv established by the late great Del Close, The Cabinet’s performances will combine the styles of Chicago’s Improv Olympics and Annoyance Theatre.

Latessa says themes will center on cutting-edge social satire, "which means making fun of people," Gardener clarifies.

The ultimate goal of these equal opportunity offenders – aside from having a lot of fun – is to create a place where people can see the issues affecting their lives satirized on stage … and drink a lot, hopes Third Street owner Michael Briggs, who thinks "the partnership will be very enduring and prosperous."

Rumors of the huge talents interested in performing at The Cabinet are flying (such as Grant Kraus), and Rico Bruce Wade was recently spotted on location. Classes for regular folk interested in improv are available, as well. Check it out at thecabinet.home.mindspring.com.


WRIF hosted a "surprise" birthday party for Jack Daniel’s at the 7th House in Pontiac on Sept. 28. The surprise for the ticket-winner-only guests was the entertainment, kept under wraps until Marcy Playground appeared on stage.

A disproportionately large number of hockey-hairs (hey fellas, the ’80s called – they want their hair back) sucked down Jack specials, seeming pretty much ill at ease during Hemigod’s warm-up (yes, I somehow "lucked" into these locals twice in one week).

Greg Tackett of Monroe (call me!) rightly suggested the earsplitters get used to the words "local band" preceding their billings. But Marcy Playground was well worth the preliminary noise, of course, infusing the crowd with energy. Even CPA Michael DePoli of Troy turned enthusiastic groupie.

Lions No. 91, Robert Porcher, lent his considerable presence to the affair. MT marketing and promotions manager, scenestress Debbie Sipes, was collared and sleek, and garnered appreciative glances from the gents, including frontman John Wozniak, post-performance.

And for all the Jack consumed, I didn’t witness one fight.