This weekend, at a racetrack in Canby, close to 3,000 people will camp out to watch the pretenders.
Chrissie Hynde won't be there, but there will be a facsimile of Axl Rose, a faux Steven Tyler and a poseur Pat Benatar.
Now in its sixth year, Harefest is the annual summit meeting for the Pacific Northwest's tribute scene. In that time, the gathering has expanded from a de facto high school reunion in the parking lot of the Wild Hare Saloon into a legitimate two-day music festival, a fact that, for some, is probably a bit astonishing.
But if you ask founder Jason Fellman, one should never underestimate the pull of nostalgia—or the rock 'n' roll equivalent of musical theater.
"On one level, it's not dissimilar to going to see West Side Story," he says. "You're going to see people playing characters and singing songs they didn't create."
According to Felmanl, who drums in Journey homage Stone in Love, tribute acts shoulder a greater performative burden than the acts they're portraying, which can often satisfy an audience just by showing up. "If the originals want to take a few high notes off, no one would blame them," he says. "Tribute bands are expected to be album-perfect."
So, how exactly do they live up to those expectations? We asked four of this year's Harefest performers for their secrets.
Ramble On (Led Zeppelin)
"If you're Jimmy Page, your guitar chops must be stellar, but tempered by a low-slung guitar and the performance peppered with shots of Jack Daniels. And change the look. Not every show should be modeled after the 1973 Madison Square Garden performance." —Steve Adams (Jimmy Page)
Grand Royale (Beastie Boys)
"Kirby Jefferies, who portrays MCA, will go as far as having a few extra cigarettes right before we go on to emulate the unmistakable gravelliness that Adam Yauch had in his voice. We do costume changes on the fly during the set—everything from the average Adidas track suits from the 'Fight for Your Right' video outfits to our own custom-created 'Intergalactic' outfits." —Justin Enger (Mike D)
Appetite for Deception (Guns N' Roses)
"Although Axl isn't known for his 'time management,' I insist on never being late. I get my band where they need to be to get the job done. I become 'the dictator.' I'm not always popular with the band, but some tension amongst its members gives it a more authentic feel, as far as I'm concerned." —Mark Thomas (Axl Rose)
"Heart is still playing, so we keep it retro and let them do their current thing. We take [fans] back to the beginning, where the magic really started, which was the '70s and early '80s, with the bell sleeves, hanky dresses, spandex and hair styles in the videos. Facial expressions, vocal inflections, phrasings and appearance are important to the overall presentation, or you are just a cover band doing a lot of Heart." —D.L. Car (Ann Wilson)
SEE IT: Harefest is at Pat's Acres Racing Complex, 6255 S Arndt Road, Canby, on Friday-Saturday, July 15-16. $40 Friday, $45 Saturday, $75 two-day pass, $100 with overnight camping. See harefest.com for complete schedule.