30 Years of Skid Row: Sebastian Bach at Ramona Mainstage
There is only one true singer of Skid Row and his name is Sebastian Bach. Baz, a name he is commonly called by friends in the metal community, is celebrating 30 years of Skid Row’s monumental debut self-titled album. In 1989, this album sold over 50 million copies, a sum that is unheard of in 2019. These guys became certifiable rock stars and icons of the era with this album and as a fan of heavy music from metal, to hardcore, to glam, I am and will always be on Baz’s bandwagon…the Bazwagon if you will….
I tried to see Sebastian Bach for years but every time he booked a show it would either be too far from LA or I had made other plans. With this tour, I made the decision I couldn’t miss seeing him again, even if it meant driving from Los Angeles to Ramona, California, a quiet town tucked in between Orange County and San Diego. All this the night before I was planning to spend three days and nights camping in the desert for Desert Daze but I figured sleep came second to Skid Row and this was the chance to prove my rock fandom.
From the moment he joined Skid Row, it was obvious Baz was born to be a rock God. From the looks, to the impeccable voice and stage presence, this guy could not be denied if given the spotlight. 30 years later, he’s a veteran of his craft. His voice hasn’t withered and his banter is hilarious. You can tell he’s performed for every kind of audience all around the world, small, large, American, foreign, you name it.
Ramona Mainstage is clean and quant and was sold out, filled with incredibly excited casual rock fans, extreme metal heads, townies, teenagers, and old folks.
The set began with “Tornado”, the finale of Skid Row but also the perfect transitional song to begin a set with. Afterward, he played the Skid Row song “Forever” after which he began the debut album from start to finish. This album features everything from ballads, to groovy rock and roll, hokey but fun 80’s metal, and American hard rock classics. The three major singles from the album were such a pleasure to hear. “18 and Life” was the song that catapulted the album and band into mega-stardom. Originally, the label wanted them to release “I Remember You” instead of “18 and Life” as the album’s 2nd single. The band understood though, every group that followed the formula of heavy rock song first, ballad second, became a flash in the pan. This would not be the fate of Skid Row though.
“Youth Gone Wild” was an absolute banger, back then and still to this day. People used to go absolutely ape-shit when that song was played at the bar, throwing drinks against the wall and having glass shatter all over the floor. Now, audiences are a bit more tame but the song remains just as wild.
“I Remember You” pulled at the heart strings of every member of the audience with dedications going out to fallen rock stars like Vinnie Paul and Rick Ocasek. After spotting a Veteran in the audience, Baz dedicated the song to everyone who died defending this country and Ramona Mainstage gave him a huge applause.
Throughout the show, a compilation of photos from Sebastian’s past would stream on screens he had on stage. These photos showed Sebastian with various rock stars he mingled with throughout his life. After seeing all these pictures, you come to realize Sebastian lived out rock history, rubbing elbows with the all greats who recognized him as one of their own.
Following the album, he encored some of the most awesome songs off of Slave to the Grind, Skid Row’s followup which went super heavy and fast and separated them from the rest of the 80’s bands as an edgier metal force. Beginning with “Slave to the Grind”, then “In a Darkend Room”, he finished the encore with “Monkey Business”. My only wish is that he played “Wasted Time” another epic song off that album.
All in all, Sebastian Bach exceeded my expectations and made the show worth the sacrifices I made to attend. I want to leave this article with a suggestion though. Whoever’s booking Baz in venues like Ramona Mainstage or the Whisky should consider taking him to venues meant for younger audiences. Venues like 1720 or Echoplex. Skid Row inspired multiple generations of musicians, I could see Baz headlining a show with emo bands all over the bill and then having them join him onstage for some kind of epic finale. I bet with the right bands on the bill, Sebastian wouldn’t have to be relegated to these sorts of “old rocker” venues.
Word by: Rob Shepyer