Like tofu, pleather and Kidz Bop records, cover bands aim to provide an enjoyable substitute to their popular original counterparts.
But unlike tofu, pleather and Kidz Bop records, most cover bands have to withstand a career-long barrage of short-end comparisons, and oftentimes survive without respect or support from their musical peers.
Yet despite the odds, the number of cover bands has grown exponentially in recent years. They’re bolstered, perhaps, by witnessing the more popular cover acts touring both nationally and internationally. But as the talent pool increases, so does the ever-widening gap between them.
To help steer you in the right direction this summer when playing the album just won’t do, here are some of DiscoverSD’s favorite cover bands and tribute acts:
The Big Lewinsky
Founded by former members of the Red Not Chili Peppers, this local quintet isn’t cover-monogamous. They tackle a broad range of ‘90s acts from Ice Cube to Alanis Morissette. Catch them at Park & Rec on Aug. 5.
For more than a decade, these multiple San Diego Music Award winners have brought the Man in Black back to life on a nightly basis. In recent years, fabulous musician/singer Nena Anderson has joined the band on tour as June Carter Cash. Head up to San Juan Capistrano on July 8 to see them play at The Coach House.
The Mighty Untouchables
Featuring Padres organist Bobby Cressey, this large collective of musicians and singers cover an impressively extensive range of material from AC/DC and Stevie Wonder to Katy Perry and Celia Cruz. You can see them for free on July 8 at Carlsbad TGIF Concerts in the Park.
Electric Waste Band
After 27 years of covering the Grateful Dead in San Diego, it’s possible these talented characters believe they ARE the Dead. NBA all-star/San Diego Dead Head Bill Walton might think so too, as he recently sat in with the band at the Ocean Beach Street Fair. Catch them onday nights at Winston’s.
Local siren Rebecca Jade is just one of the great vocalists in this all-live dance band that cover decades of dance floor hits. On July 16, they’ll be playing a free show at Viejas Casino’s new outdoor stage.
Started when local band Rookie Card played Weezer’s “Blue Album” for a Casbah benefit, the senior-inspired Geezer actually played with their namesake in 2008. Adam Gimbel (Cover Me Badd) continues to infuse the band with humor and long ago opened up their repertoire to include songs from all of his favorite bands. Catch them at the Music Box on July 16.
While not based in San Diego, there are a ton of other cover bands that frequent the area. Red Not Chili Peppers, Queen Nation, The Petty Breakers, Abbey Road, Tainted Love, Dead Man’s Party, Wild Child, Super Diamond, and GayC/DC make plenty of local stops.
Even Karl Denson’s Tiny Universe has gotten into the act, doing tribute shows to the likes of Prince, The Beastie Boys, The Rolling Stones, and Run-DMC in recent years.
Scott McDonald is a writer, on-air personality and consultant with 15 years of experience in the San Diego music scene. He has interviewed hundreds of artists, from the legendary to the underground, for print and television. Follow McDonald and his melodic musings on Twitter @eight24_ or Instagram @scotteight24. Send your music musts to firstname.lastname@example.org.