I met the guys in ZO2 a few years ago when they had opened for KISS and as I have mentioned in past reviews had already known of their members previously from their work with either KISS tribute bands and the Trans-Siberian Orchestra. I really enjoy their sound as it’s a solid and grooving Hard Rock that we don’t always get a lot of exposure to these days and the time is right for such a vibe in the Rock world to return in full force. The guys have been very busy over the last year as they had been the stars of their own scripted reality program called “Z-Rock”. The show is a comedy series on IFC (or the Independent Film Channel) and on this show we follow the guys who are on their own quest for Rock stardom at night while performing at kids parties during the day as the “Z-Brothers”. “Z-Rock” follows the bands misadventures and the colorful characters that they encounter along the way. The cast includes the real life Z Brothers David and Paulie, Joey Cassata, comedians Lynn Koplitz, Jay Okerson and the one and only Joan Rivers. It’s a show that you either loved or hated as a fan of the band and that is where we have some good news and some bad news. The good news is that if you loved the show you will be happy to know that it is returning for a second season and the bad news is that if you hated it, well, it is returning for a second season.
PiercingMetal had the chance to be at the 2nd Season Premiere gala that was being held at Webster Hall this evening and while this was open to the public, there was a lot of confusion about how one could actually obtain tickets. Some told me that a contest was being held so they could get in and this was achieved by emailing the band and telling them why they should be in the venue, and then others told me that it was open to the general public for the small sum of $10 while a third group said that the whole shebang was free. Either way, the doors were open for 8pm and the first episode was going to be aired and then followed by a performance of the band and as we made our way inside the club there was already a nice group of people in place for the event. They started it off with a bloopers reel that was rather good and showed us a number of shenanigans that occurred as the guys filmed the second season of the show. The clips featured the likes of Steel Panther, Dee Snider, John Popper from Blues Traveler and even Mini-KISS. I am generally on the fence when it comes to blooper reels but this was one that amused me and it was a good lead in to the second season premiere of the show. All photos in this article were done by Peter Parrella (copyright 2009) so please don’t use them without contacting us first.
Immediately after the bloopers had warmed us up we got treated to an earlier presentation of the second season first episode. It would air on the cable network later on this evening but we would be seeing it before anyone else. You might be wondering what happened during it and surely I am not going to spoil it for you but I will be able to safely say that the season takes place shortly after the close of the first season and the band is totally disillusioned with their lot in life. They cannot get gigs as either the Z-Brothers or ZO2, their manager has left them for another group and let’s just say that the romance department is not doing so good either and to top is all off – the members are forced to do various real jobs to earn their keep. Clearly, all seems lost in the world of ZO2 and to see how they attempt to rise from the ashes once again you will have to watch the show. While the show airs tonight and we are writing the commentary afterward you readers will be pleased to know that the IFC channel continually airs the previous episode before the new one and also offers several blocks of episodes which should easily allow you to catch up.
Comedienne Lynn Koplitz who plays the part of Dina came out next to warm up the crowd before the band came out and while she is funny on the show, I was not personally a fan of the way she did her stand up routine this evening. It was one of those “hey you look like I should pick on you” types of things were she scanned the audience for people to help her along with the material she was doing. This might have been better in the confines of a comedy club but it was clearly lost on the diehard ZO2 fans. Someone heckled her from the back and Koplitz railed insults at her in reprisal. People need to remember that most comics know how to deal with that sort of thing so watch out, especially if you are in the front and can be easily focused on.
Jay Oakerson was up next. On the show he plays the part of Neil, a manager of the club where the band plays regularly. Oakerson’s line of comedy was along the same lines as Koplitz’s but the best tale he told would be about the bands hosting a “Rock’s Hottest Mom” contest recently. The contest featured the band members and Constantine Maroulis of the Broadway hit “Rock Of Ages” and Sebastian Bach, solo artist and well-known former front man of Skid Row. Oakerson would introduce the band and now the real fun would begin and by my guess there were a good couple of hundred people in the venue now.
After their opening number of “Isolate”, the stage was handled to perfection as Paulie told the crowd that they originally had wanted to do this event downstairs in the part of Webster Hall that is called The Studio. He said that the reaction to their gala was so great that they needed to do it in the main venue and that was great for them as a band in all honesty. From there he asked us if we wanted to hear some new material and with the rousing yes from the audience we were treated to two new tracks in “Painted Lady” and “Red Line Highway”. These new tracks come from the bands newest CD entitled “Casino Logic” which was available for purchase this evening as well.
The band would do their staple number “If You See Kay” with its great story intro and that had the audience really singing along. I had to admit that I really liked those couple of new numbers that were delivered and feel that if the rest of the album is like this that it could just be the recording that breaks this band into the big time.
Paulie introduced keyboard player Benny Harrison who has apparently played with everyone, and while that was really cool the true surprise came when he also introduced singer Steve Augeri. It’s been awhile since we have heard from the singer, and my last time around was when he had been a member of the legendary Journey. It was nice to see him onstage again and belting out some vocals. The song would be “Show Me” which is also a new track and on the “Casino Logic” CD. Apparently Steve also appears on the CD which I felt was awesome. Welcome back Steve, we have missed you.
Oakerson came back out and said that there was another guest who was a legend in the music world and this was how the presence of Marky Ramone was made known. They would play “Sedated” together and Jay would sing as opposed to Paulie or another member of ZO2. I had to say that I was not crazy about his voice but this was a party and everyone was singing along anyway which made it something that didn’t matter very much.
The title track of the previous album was delivered with “Ain’t It Beautiful” and this is a grooving tune that had everyone moving. As the song drew closer to its end Paulie stopped and said, “should we do it”, and then they broke into the theme song from the program before returning to the finale of the song. They were really on point tonight and while Joey Cassata was pounding on the drums, bassist Dave Z was mugging it up for all of the ladies in the front area. I had to say that they were tighter than ever as a band and really giving their fans and friends one hell of a show.
The guest stars continued to come out from the side stage as the guys introduced John Popper from Blues Traveler. During the first season Popper played a regular part as himself, and while he sometimes seems as though he is out for the band, he is pretty much a self-serving character. Think of one of those not quite hero and not quite villain roles. Popper would perform his Blues Traveler hit “Runaround” with the guys and also offer up a little bit of harp which he is a true master of.
It seemed as though that the night was drawing to a close as Paulie announced how he wanted to sing instead of play the guitar and for that he would bring out Eddie Ojeda from Twisted Sister. Remember that Eddie’s band mate Dee was in the first season and also made an appearance with him in the debut episode that we just watched a little while ago. They would also bring back out Steve Augeri and Benny and Marky and the comedians and together they delivered a truly rousing “We’re An American Band”. It was a great finale to a very fun night.
The second season premiere showed some promise and went over well with those present tonight. I am hopeful that we will find a little bit more of their music presented on the shows as opposed to the brief tastes we got the last time around. The show tonight was really excellent and delivered a lot of cool surprises that I don’t think many of their fans expected. I thought it was great to have a Ramone in the house and even John Popper doing his thing, but I felt that the best of the surprises was the return of Augeri who so many people loved in the Journey vocalist role. He is back to recording music and I look forward to hearing it. I also look forward to big things coming for the guys in ZO2. They know how to entertain, and they know how to put on a show and as you watch them you will see that there is nothing phony about them. Good luck guys, we shall be following your adventures once again.
Set List Performed:
2. Painted Lady
3. Red Line Highway
4. If You See Kay
5. Show Me
6. I Wanna Be Sedated
7. Aint It Beautiful
8. Z-Rock Theme
10. We’re An American Band
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