There are tribute bands that perform as a full-time profession and convert it into a profitable business, even as their goal remains to pay homage to the original bands. Then there are bands that do the same thing but keep in local and fairly underground.
Southern California’s premiere Metallica tribute band, Damage Inc., falls into the latter category. This band has been going strong for more than four years, playing shows in and around Orange County at places ranging from the House of Blues to weekend swap meets.
Right from the beginning, their motive has been to honor their favorite band. Invariably, their shows have been free, and they still are.
They recently got chosen to be on AXS TV’s World’s Greatest Tribute Bands series. They took the stage at West Hollywood’s Roxy Theater on May 20 to show their wares to the packed house — plus the millions of people hooked onto the live broadcast.
Unlike at the Doors tribute show I reviewed a few weeks back, the crowd for Damage Inc. didn't need encouragement or prompting from AXS TV hostess Katie Daryl. Damage Inc. have a fan following that’s already loud enough to be appropriate for such an occasion. Their fans had gathered in huge numbers, many of them making the drive from OC to Hollywood, and they were all waiting to witness the band’s 60 minutes in the spotlight.
Despite the fact that this band isn’t the full-time profession of any of the members — including vocalist/guitarist Christopher Knight, his brother and bassist Kevin Knight, guitarist Chris Brightwell and drummer Tone DeCorte — their A-to-Z mastery of Metallica’s material has always amazed me, and this was their chance to revel in a celebration of their passion.
Even though they get into several of Metallica’s "deep cuts" in their regular shows, they kept the set list extremely standard at this show, keeping in mind the prospect of playing to their largest audience ever and being sensitive to the tastes of the mainstream Metallica fan. They busted out "Enter Sandman," "Wherever I May Roam" and "Fuel" to start and settled into a nice groove thereafter.
Other than the fact that Chris Knight happens to resemble James Hetfield, Damage Inc. don't focus on the appearance aspect of Metallica as much as they do on the music. They were able to nail every single part of the older material, including the nuances the original band brings to their live shows, which also showed how thoroughly Damage Inc. have studied Metallica over the years.
The performance was faultless, and each member expressed the on-stage mannerisms required to pay a fitting tribute to Metallica. Chris Brightwell and his Kirk Hammett signature guitar seemed a match made in heaven, as he gelled brilliantly with his three bandmates. The fans loved every minute of it and — rather surprisingly — followed the protocol of "no moshing."
Granted, the set list was an overload of Metallica’s popular songs, but Damage Inc. compelled everyone to enjoy the show regardless. I'd like to thank them for not including "Sad But True" and "The Memory Remains" in the set.
All in all, it was a tremendous performance by Damage Inc., completely deserving of the national TV spot.
- 01. Enter Sandman
- 02. Wherever I May Roam
- 03. Fuel
- 04. Master Of Puppets
- 05. One
- 06. Fade To Black
- 07. For Whom The Bell Tolls
- 08. Seek And Destroy
- 09. Creeping Death
Andrew Bansal is a writer who has been running his own website, Metal Assault, since early 2010, and has been prolific in covering the hard rock and heavy metal scene by posting interviews, news, reviews and pictures on his website — with the help of a small group of people. He briefly moved away from the Los Angeles scene and explored metal in India, but he is now back in LA continuing from where he left off.