Hairball ready to rock Aberdeen

Hairball’s fiery homage to ’70s and ’80s rock has grown as it stretches into its 19th year.

“I always liked a lot of explosions and light shows — a full experience. We’re just kind of doing what we’ve always been fans of. We make the show as big as we can,” said Happy, lead guitarist of Hairball. “The only difference now is I’ve got a licensed pyrotechnician instead of a coffee can.”

The Minnesota-based band pushes the definition of tribute as it embodies the likes of members from Def Leppard, Guns N’ Roses and KISS in both sight and sound. Hairball brings its show to the Odde Ice Center Saturday with locals Vital Signz opening.

The show alone is hard to contain. One member’s wig started on fire in February in Sioux City, Iowa, as he donned full KISS makeup and attire. A viral video shows the brief mayhem while other band and crew members extinguished the flames, but not the energy.

“Our insurance is always up to date. This band pays more in insurance than our wardrobe changes,” said Happy.

The members also don’t let a low-grade fever or twisted ankle slow them during their 120 to 130 shows annually, from coast to coast. If someone isn’t having a good night they might change up a setlist to lessen the night’s intensity. Ultimately, all Happy has to do is make a mental picture of a new potential fan and his ills fall away.

“I usually think about somebody who’s seen me a bunch of times and talked one of their friends into going to see the show,” Happy said. “Go lay it out there on stage. You have the pyro, the show, the intensity — it’s amazing how many aches and tummy aches just disappear.”

“Be there, don’t hear about it” is a favorite slogan of the band. As it packs venues and sells out shows, it seems more and more folks are taking that challenge to heart. It’s not hard to do when the discographies Hairball is pulling from and pulling off quickly conjure up high school or college memories or serve as the audio backdrop for countless advertisements.

Happy is quick to admit that tribute bands covering infamous hairbands and arena rockers at their peak is nothing new. But if you haven’t heard a crowd in anticipation of rocking down memory lane go pin-drop quiet before unfurling into a collective guttural cheer, then, yeah, you need to hear it for yourself.

“We didn’t write this book, we’re just reading it louder than anyone else,” Happy said.

Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race to feature post-race rock experience with Hairball

A high-voltage arena rock show fueled by Monster Energy is coming to America’s Home for Racing on May 18. Following the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Hairball – an acclaimed group of performers who specialize in 1980s hair metal music – will electrify the speedway’s infield by mixing spectacular pyrotechnics with a first-of-its-kind, post-race concert experience.

Known for their unique, over-the-top rock performances hearkening back to chart-topping entertainers like Van Halen, KISS, Motley Crue, Queen, Journey, and Aerosmith, Hairball will put the perfect finishing touches on a night when racing star power meshes with the raw power of electric guitars. The band – whose concerts include elaborate costume changes and can feature up to 20 performers – brings arena rock to outdoor venues through extravagant mixes of rocking songs, fire, smoke, giant video screens and true-to-form stage presences.

The 60-minute concert will take place in the infield between Turns 1 and 2 and will get underway once the smoke clears from the 35th running of NASCAR’s wheel-to-wheel, Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star tilt among superstars like Jimmie Johnson, Kurt and Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano.

“It’s only right that the biggest all-star event in sports will have the biggest prime-time entertainment before, during and after the Monster Energy NASCAR All-Star Race,” said Charlotte Motor Speedway Executive Vice President and General Manager Greg Walter. “When you factor in pop stars like AJR performing our pre-race concert for a millennial crowd and a wild, post-race rock performance from Hairball for my generation, we’re going to have the best show for fans – no matter if they’re three years old or 103.”

BURNING HAIR DOESN’T STOP HAIRBALL’S “PAUL STANLEY” FROM PLAYING

Hairball guitarist and singer Bobby Jensen didn’t let a little thing like having his head nearly consumed by flames stop him from rocking this weekend.

As you can in the video below, a spark hits Jensen (who was performing in full Paul Stanley costume and makeup) just as the band starts playing “Detroit Rock City” by Kiss. The fire quickly and dangerously moves across his hair and over his head, as a bandmate attempts to douse the flames, then signals for help. Two members of the stage crew quickly extinguish the fire – and Jensen doesn’t miss a single chord or lyric throughout the entire ordeal.

“I live an Evil Knievel kind of life, so if I’m on fire a little bit, I don’t care, that’s just part of the fun,” Jensen explained during a quick phone call with Ultimate Classic Rock. “I knew I was on fire right away, and that wasn’t a wig, that’s my hair. It was really nice and foofy before the show, now I have a much better Alice Cooper cut.”

Despite a previous stint in Kiss tribute band Strutter, and 15 years in Hairball, Jensen says nothing like this has happened to him before. “But we always prepare for it. That’s why you didn’t see me freak out. I have 100% faith in my guys that they’ll get to me and put me out. So I just thought, ‘I’ll sing to everybody while I’m on fire.'”

The video has apparently already made its way to the real “hottest band in the land,” who promptly reached out to make sure Jensen was OK. “My friends in Kiss got a hold of me already, and asked me if I was alright. They saw the video, they said ‘hey are you OK? F— man, you just stood there and kept on singing.” Like I said, our guys are pros, we’re around the pyro all the time. It’s not anything that I’m really fazed by. It got a little warm on my head, and some of it’s burned off, but it still doesn’t look bad. We’re OK and the fire marshall was cool, and we’re all licensed and insured and everything’s done properly.”

It seems the only thing he’s got to worry about now is a possible “burning hair” gimmick infringement lawsuit from Gene Simmons, who first accidentally set his own mane on fire at an early Kiss show on New Year’s Eve of 1973. In a 1999 online chat, the God of Thunder estimated his hair had caught fire “six or seven times” while performing his on-stage fire-breathing stunt over the years.

Hairball, who bill themselves as “a bombastic celebration of arena rock,” have been performing together for nearly two decades now. Kiss is only one of the bands they pay tribute to at each show, as “the stage becomes an entirely new rock concert before your very eyes countless times throughout the night” while they perform classic hits from artists such as Van HalenMotley CrueQueenJourney and Aerosmith.

“Everything changes within like two songs. We’ll do a couple of Kiss songs, and then I bail and the other singer comes out as David Lee Roth and does a couple of Van Halen songs.” Jensen explains. “Then we’ll come out as Journey, and it rotates like that all night, to Bon Jovi, to Alice Cooper.. all kinds of craziness for every character. And everybody that we impersonate has played with us. We’ve played with Kiss onstage, and Alice Cooper and Dee Snider. Vince Neil’s played with us many times. It’s fun, because all the guys that we impersonate love us. That’s a good feeling to know that we’re doing it right and honoring it right.”

Hairball will hit the stage again Feb. 15 in Enid, Oklahoma. You can find out when they’re coming to your town at their official website.