Harefest 6 Review – Canby Rock Festival

In a year pretty much void of summer rock festivals, Jason Fellman (J-Fell Presents) and Joan Monen (The Wild Hare Saloon) gave us what we needed; An outside, two-day rock festival.  Publicly referred to as the “Cochella of the Pacific Northwest,” Harefest 6 was a huge success and a bright shiny beacon for those of us who love 80s music and festivals.  In one of the most thought out, efficient, and pleasant festivals I’ve ever attended, the organizers of Harefest 6 did an outstanding job.  Parking was ample, the box office was efficient, there were plenty of bathrooms (and they were clean), the layout of the vendors was well planned, and the stage was enormous.  In addition to a misting station and free water, two of the coolest things they provided was an 80s hairdo station and a mock second stage.  Each band, immediately after their performance, made the walk to that second stage and posed for pictures with fans…and the lines were long!  Set changes, thanks to the team led by Lorenzo DeVargas, were incredibly fast and provided just enough time to grab something cold to drink.  The food stands catered to everyone…from chocolate covered strawberries and excellently brewed coffee, to beer/mixed alcohol drinks and pizza.  Daniel Bozyk did an outstanding job as MC, but what else would you expect from this well-liked local celebrity.  Security checks were fast, and I was happy to see them do a thorough job for our safety.  If you read the FAQ about the show beforehand on their website you were well informed on what you could and could not bring into the venue.  This was absolutely a class-act production.  Promotors for shows of all sizes should take a look at how this festival was organized; they would no doubt learn a few things.

Day one seemed to have an older crowd, likely because it was a work day.  Day two was massive and added a younger crowd to the day one attendees. Rumor has it that around 3,000 were in attendance.  The organizers of this event picked the perfect date, the perfect venue, and the perfect combination of tribute bands.

While all of the bands were true to their counter-parts, stand out bands for me were as follows:

Day 1:
Same Ol’ Situation (Motley Crue)
Andrew Greene pummelled the drums in true Tommy Lee fashion.  I was getting something to drink when they took the stage, and as soon as I heard the first beat, I hurried back to catch it all.  They were loud, they were tough, they were awesome!  Jon Abell as Nikki Sixx and Derrick Reader as Mick Mars were convincing.  I overheard someone say that this would be Steve Rohrbough’s last gig as Vince Neil, which is a shame, because he was great.  By far the heaviest rock/metal band of the day, they had the crowd fist pumping and head banging in style.

Steelhorse (Bon Jovi)
Shut your eyes, or don’t, and you WERE at a Bon Jovi concert, circa 198o’s something.  Jeff Buehner, Kevin Rankin, Brian McGroovy, and Bryan Harvey have conjured up the Bon Jovi doppelganger in this very true to form tribute band.  There were ballads, there were hits, there were girls…er ladies, up close to the stage, and pining for just a glance.

Stone In Love (Journey)
Kevin Hahn and festival promoter Jason Fellman, and their band of should be world-wide rockstars, are by far one of the best tribute bands in the world.  Singing Journey hits as good as (or better than) Journey, they are always professional, always energetic, always absolutely enjoyable.  They are truly, absolute perfection in what they do.

Day 2:
Motorbreath (Metallica)
In a stunning performance, and the heaviest band on the entire bill, Motorbreath was awesome.  For those who have never seen Metallica live, Motorbreath is a great substitute.  Motorbreath absorbed the persona and essence of Metallica flawlessly, aggressively, and perfectly.  I never tire of seeing them live.  Change their name, write their own music, and they would be international rockstars.

Barracuda (Heart)
This was my first time seeing this band with members from Canada and Seattle (the home of the original Heart).  Playing the most popular Heart songs, and to my surprise and elation, playing some very old Heart songs; They were phenomenal.  Breda Kashmir looked, played guitar, and did the trademark “Nancy kick” just like Nancy Wilson, and Donna Caruk sang and provided the stage presence of (and as well as) Ann Wilson.  The two women, as is the case IN Heart, were the focal point, and while the rest of the band WAS present on stage (and were musically great) the women absolutely overshadowed them.

Appetite for Deception (Guns N Roses)
“Appetite for Deception is the most authentic Guns N’ Roses tribute band in the world.  Period.”  This is a quote I see over and over in describing them.  I wholeheartedly agree!  In the greatly anticipated band of the night, Appetite for Deception blew me away…again.  They have the look, sound, attitude, and “Axle sway” of early GNR…without the “Axle attitude” he is/was notorious for (depending on which camp you are in). I actually saw people running to the stage from the vendor area when they began…beer in the right hand, fist pump in the left.

With local tribute bands and bands from as far away as Canada, Harefest 6 was a pleasure to attend.  The bands were top-notch, the organization was the best I’ve ever seen, band members were accessible to the fans, and friends were everywhere…both old and new.  As you can see from the two-day lineup, there was something in this festival for everyone.

The band lineup was as follows:

Day 1

Sonic Temple (Cult Tribute)
Same Ol’ Situation (Motley Crue Tribute)
Steelhorse (Bon Jovi Tribute)
Stone in Love (Journey Tribute)
Lovedrive (Scorpions Tribute)
Aerosmith Rocks (Aerosmith Tribute)
Grand Royale (Beastie Boys Tribute)

Day 2

All Fired Up (Pat Benatar Tribute)
Plush (Stone Temple Pilots Tribute)
Jukebox Heros (Foreigner Tribute Tribute)
Motorbreath (Metallica Tribute)
Barracuda (Heart Tribute)
Appetite for Deception (Guns N’ Roses Tribute)
Shoot to Thrill (AC/DC Tribute)
Unchained (Van Halen Tribute)
Ramble On (Led Zeppelin Tribute)

I always love writing about the non-expected wild incidents that occur at shows…and there are always one or two or six…  One notable episode at Harefest 6 was a drunk agro male who ran over to, and picked a fight with, a full garbage can…and security was right on it.  They diffused the situation and separated the man from his plastic sparing partner.  The funniest thing I saw was a young pretty girl who passed by me, put her hand to her mouth and threw up while still walking; she didn’t miss a beat. Immediately the vomit vanished underneath someone’s shoes, returning the pathway to to its pristine condition.

Pat’s Acres, the venue where Harefest 6 took place, was a perfect choice.  I cannot find any fault with anything in this much needed festival.  Having been to Harefest in the past, I can see that each year it grows exponentially.  Maybe someday, and likely soon, the organizers will have to rent out festival greens for 10,000 fans.

While I missed a few of the bands due to other obligations, and did not take advantage of the camping (which I heard was great fun), I thoroughly enjoyed Harefest 6 and am looking forward to what they have in store for Harefest 7.  I understand they are already in the process of planning for 2017 (and have even picked a date).  I highly recommend J-Fell Presents as an organizer/promoter and encourage everyone who loves 80s rock/metal to support Harefest 7.

For more information on Harefest 7 visit http://harefest.com.