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June 27, 2002
The Season Ticket - Simi Valley, CA

Susan Salva
Contributing Writer
F8 (picture by Susan Salva)

F8 [Fate?] struck the Season Ticket bar in Simi Valley, California as the rock band fronted by former teen heartthrob sensation Leif Garrett made the heat rise both sweltering inside, and out of the postage stamp sized club. The club, less than packed, came to support drummer Chuck Billings, from Simi Valley. The audience made up primarily of bikers, their chicks, and suburban housewives hoping for a kiss or an autograph, crowded the tiny bar. The fans smoked illegally, and kept the bar maids on their toes.

Garrett sporting his familiar blue bandana [we all want to know what’s going on under there?] wanted to abolish his cookie cutter clean image opting to rock the house. Unfortunately, the club monitor-less gave F8 a horrible mix. Bass player, Darrell 'D' Arnold was so loud, and upfront, that he drowned out new lead guitarist Ryan Wrath. Garrett constantly complained about how much they “Sounded like Shit.” But regardless, they played on delivering a solid set. The tunes were heavily inspired by notable frontmen like Ian Ashbury of The Cult, and Robert Plant of Led Zeppelin two of Garrett’s heroes.

Nothing totally original happing with F8 who have derived their name not from the tornado warnings, but rather an odd twist of fate when Garrett looked down at a seat number, and it read F8. The double meaning makes it more illusive. The music, with the lead guitar Ryan Wrath barely audible, was a mix of paisley inspired rock songs, and crunchy Alice in Chains Seattle grunge. Leif unaffected by the bad sound continued singing in an attempt to negate his former Teen Beat past, and capture his audience in the same manner as all other successful rock star frontman have – by being loud, rebellious, and irreverent. And he seems to be thriving. But is this a facade?

Leif’s checkered past, whether it has to do with him dealing with life as a teen heartthrob, having a substance abuse problem, or trying to reconcile a non-existent father son relationship is now being replaced by his aggressive vocal style, and his self-confidence in his accent in the world of rock ‘n’ roll.

“Love is Giving Me More,” a seemingly new tune to the set, is a paisley themed popish tune, which started off the gig, and got the already existent fans, and soon to be fans, into motion. “Don’t Walk Away from Me,” was up next. A hot rocker slowed it down as Garrett sang the bridge, and then kicked it back into action. He was heating up the dance floor, as girls with their brand new boobs danced together on the tiny dance floor directly in front of him, and the band.

Shifting gears, F8 digressed into a cover version of Buffalo Springfield's 1967 song, “For What it’s Worth,” reminiscence of the hippy movement. Garrett slid right into gear finding a way to make this covered-tune his own. While projecting a defiant attitude in an effort to camouflage his squeaky clean persona, he assumed a rock star stance, and made the audience believe it whole hearty. Gone were the days of him responding to other people’s input.

“Sacred Ground,” in this song where the drums are balls out loud, but not drowning Garrett. The band members were a good combination of musicians. It was unfortunate that the sound sucked so much. But of what you could hear was often out of tune in spots, if that matters? “I Can’t Take It,” is a song that is more of the same. Nothing too original happening here. Sounded like pop music, and could be a rock anthem. That’s not so bad. A lot of talented musicians know how to incorporate rock anthems in their set to expand their fan base. It worked for KISS.

Periodically, Garrett would smoke a cigarette, even though it is against the law to smoke inside a building in California. He would also say something like, “Let’s go smoke a bowl,” regardless of his past drug abuse. All in the name of irreverence, and rebelliousness.

“Jesus,” this song Leif prefaced by stating, “Hopefully, no one out there is super religious,” a song he described the tune as “My Take on What the Fuck is Going On,” referring to the craziness in the world, and in world affairs. Garrett asks in this tune, “Where is Jesus? Who is He?” questioning where can a person find comfort in these troubling times? And does Jesus exist? If so, why can’t he resolve these horrific problems we are currently facing.

“Still I Wish,” (You Could be Just Like Me), this song discusses his anger, and resentment at his father for leaving him at an early age, and abandoning him throughout his life. Through out this song it sounds like he is still very angry with his father, and has not resolved issues that still persist between him, and his dad. He literally blames his father for his “shitty life,” and doesn’t appear to have reconciled this dilemma.

For the most part Leif Garrett, and his band F8 are entertaining. It’s really cool to watch someone who was controlled a good part of his life by someone else, now be in command of his life, and doing exactly what he wants to do in his own volition. He is an inspiration to anyone who hasn’t been able to control his or her own destiny. He has suffered tremendously, but has been able to rebound, and do things his way on his time. When they’re in town, go check them out.

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