Jul. 13—If you never got the opportunity to see Alice in Chains or Journey, don't fret. The next best sonic thing is on the horizon.
On Saturday, Leftapalooza — an all-day music event where tribute bands rock the stage — returns to Longmont. Capturing the same magic, sound and stage presence of a number of chart-topping acts, the lineup consists of talented imitators.
"Leftapalooza is a beloved Left Hand event, first established in 2010 and hosted right in the parking lot next to our brewery," said Ally Levise, Left Hand's digital marketing strategist. "It allows us to bring together talented bands and music lovers and to donate back to the community. Leftapalooza is near and dear to our hearts, and we're excited to host it in the Beer Garden for the first time."
Tickets to Saturday's event are $15 and benefit the Left Hand Brewing Foundation.
"The mission of the foundation is to support the communities where we work, live and play," Levise said. "The Foundation provides grants to local nonprofits to support their important work, in addition to providing aid for catastrophic events in our community — like the floods in 2013."
Left Hand has earned a reputation for throwing bashes to raise funds for worthy causes.
"Over the past 10 years, Leftapalooza has generated $190K in charitable contributions," Levise said.
The amount of diversity on Saturday's roster is certainly impressive. Music fans who came of age in the '80s can revel in the sounds of Fire and Ice, a Pat Benatar tribute band, and Halfway There, a group that embodies the essence of Bon Jovi.
Guerrilla Radio — a Rage Against the Machine tribute band based out of Fort Collins — will once again amp up the crowd this weekend. The group, known for high-energy sets, won 2019's cover band competition at the last Leftapalooza.
"We are honestly just excited to be playing again," said Jeremy "Jrock" Michael, singer of Guerrilla Radio. "Excited to see all of the talent and all of the great fans. Left Hand is awesome, they do a great job, and we are honored to return."
For Michael, like many kids coming of age in the 1990s and 2000s, Rage Against the Machine provided a rebel yell that just couldn't be silenced. Rapping about political issues and marrying those themes with insane basslines and thunderous drums, proved a potent combination.
"I was a huge Rage fan growing up," Michael said. "'Killing in the name of' had a profound effect on me. It was just so damn powerful. To watch grown adults, raising their middle fingers, and saying 'f— you I won't do what you tell me.' It's priceless, it's powerful, it's so needed in this current world climate, too."
While Michael and his band bring the music of Zack de la Rocha and crew to venues throughout Colorado and beyond, he has yet to actually experience a Rage Against the Machine concert in person.
"We had tickets to two of the new shows, they were initially canceled," Michael said. "They just played their first show in 11 years. Maybe we will get to one this run."
Another influential band of the '90s was Alice in Chains, pioneers of the Seattle grunge explosion.
"We have been following the festival for the last six years and have seen so many amazing bands perform," said Jon Kibble, lead singer of Rooster. "We applied a couple of times, but unfortunately didn't make it in until 2020 when everything shut down. We saw the lineup for that year, and it was epic and we were so excited to be a part of it. Our good friend Billy Bunting put our name into the ears of the right people before he had passed away. We are very excited to be able to share the stage with so many amazing tributes and our friends in the scene."
For Kibble, the angsty — yet poetic — offerings of Alice in Chains struck a chord.
"While I never went through the same situations that the band wrote about, the way that they expressed their emotions and thoughts resonated with me and my life," Kibble said. "They also have such beautiful arrangements between the melodies and the vocal harmonies, that musically was just amazing to listen to. I remember riding the bus when I was in middle school and listening to the album 'Dirt' on my Discman over and over, and I just loved every song on that album."
With lead singer of Alice in Chains, Layne Staley passing away in 2002 and original bassist Mike Starr passing away in 2011, Rooster is truly carrying the musical torch.
From Ten, a band that delivers Pearl Jam tunes to Steel Monkey, an act that plays the hits of Jethro Tull, the variety of groups playing Saturday is sure to appeal to many generations.
During the fest, fans can vote using QR codes placed throughout the venue. The band with the most votes will take home a $1,000 cash prize and receive an invitation to headline next year's event
"We are always excited to welcome back the previous Leftapalooza winner, so we're stoked to see Guerrilla Radio again," Levise said. "That being said, Leftapalooza is always filled with surprises and amazing music, so we can't wait to enjoy some cold beers and performances by all of this year's bands."