The Doors are either the band you got into during your pot phase or the band your dad got into during his pot phase, depending on the year you were born. I suppose they could even be the band your grandfather was into during his pot phase, but if that is the case, you are most likely watching 6 second videos, snapchatting, or doing basically anything other than reading 600 words about a Doors tribute band.
Whatever the case may be, fans going to see a Doors tribute in 2014 aren’t there to hear deep cuts. California’s Wild Child, on the east coast for the first time, seemed well aware of this, delivering the hits in a 90-minute set that didn’t feel lacking or bloated, even during a 9-minute version of “Light My Fire.”
A proper “tribute” to The Doors, of course, begins and ends with an impersonation of Jim Morrison. As opposed to say, a tribute to Pink Floyd, a band aping The Doors has to be concerned with both sight and sound. A look at the lasting legacies of these two groups from the same era highlights this. While Pink Floyd prepares for a release of new music in October, with David Gilmour at the helm and drummer Nick Mason tapping out a few whole notes alongside what will surely be an army of studio musicians, The Doors essentially ceased to exist after Morrison’s passing. Nothing without Jim Morrison can properly be called a Doors album, no matter what Ian Astbury or Scott Weiland thinks of the matter.
On Friday, Wild Child frontman David Brock certainly looked and sounded like the Lizard King, even if he didn’t always capture his volatile charisma. Brock took to the stage wearing a Morrison-esque frilled shirt, a cross, bell-bottomed jeans and boots. Dark brown shoulder length hair framed his face, which he puckered and snarled intermittently. His greatest strength as an impersonator is his voice, a deep and slightly raspy howl that did the trick on every song.
Perhaps the only disappointment was in Brock’s inability to properly pantomime Morrison’s chemically-fueled stage presence. Engaged but rarely overtly working the crowd of a couple hundred, Brock offered an impersonation that hinged largely on his looks and voice. During the final encore, “The End,” Brock performed a brief shaman dance under a strobe light, but otherwise, this Jim Morrison seemed content to simply croon. For my money, the next time I pay $30 to see a guy pretend to be a guy once portrayed by Val Kilmer, I demand more shamanism!
Though some tributes pay homage to bands still performing in some capacity, fans who want a Doors-like live experience will have to settle for “Wild Child” or the East Coast Doors tribute “Soft Parade.” Given Morrison’s explosive personality, perhaps this is for the best. Christopher Hitchens, when asked what George Orwell would have thought of America’s 2nd invasion of Iraq, stated that it is foolish to project an author’s opinion past his 100th birthday. It’s similarly fruitless to ask “what if” of a band that would be over 45 years into its career by now.
Ah, screw it. I’m going to speculate anyway.
At best, The Doors could have been another Rolling Stones or Aerosmith, churning out albums few people care about as an excuse to tour. I find this possibility unlikely and unbecoming. More probable, given that Morrison could barely bother with Densmore, Krieger, and Manzarek after a few years, is that The Doors, too, would have become a Doors tribute act, with Morrison as the sole original member, touring with guys half his age, paying homage to his former self.
Maybe it was better to burn out after all.
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