Tesla with American Dog Live in Kansas

Tesla with American Dog
The Cotillion Ballroom
Wichita, Kansas
July 3, 2014

By Jeb Wright

American Dog Set List:
Shitkicker | Carnivore | Dirty Fun | Stuck in the Mud |Human Garbage Can |The Real Nitty Gritty | Beaten, Broken, Etc. | Boozehound | We Ain't Gonna Not Get Drunk Tonight | Neanderthal |Who's She Killing

Tesla Set List:
Break of Dawn | I Wanna Live | Hang Tough | So Divine | Heaven's Trail (No Way Out) | Mama's Fool | Into the Now | MP3 | The Way It Is | What You Give | Summer's Day | Signs | Love Song | Gettin' Better | Modern Day Cowboy | Little Suzi

Cumin' Atcha Live


Tesla is hitting the road promoting their amazing new release titled Simplicity, which is a return to their classic sound. On this night, Wichita was treated to the band premiering one of the songs from the album, “Break of Dawn” live for the first time.  Before we get to their set, however, we must talk about the opening act, American Dog.

These guys are from Ohio.  Band leader, bassist, composer and vocalist Michael Hannon was a shudda/cudda/been from the glory days of the Sunset Strip Hair-Bands of the 1990s.  He was a dog of different breed then, as his band Salty Dog damn near made it big.  Just as they were picking up steam, Grunge came along and made bands like Salty Dog history.  Fifteen years ago, Hannon put together American Dog and began cranking out some of the best Midwestern American garage-rock this side of The Godz. 

Hannon and company have released a new studio album, titled Neanderthal, and it’s the pick of the litter of their catalog.  The band featured several songs from the new album, including the killer title track.  This song is a true ‘70s throwback, with shifts in tempo and old school pentatonic soloing. 

Where Tesla is a great band, skilled, polished and even a little soft and sweet for the ladies at times, American Dog is a greasy, grimy, loud belch.  They are also tons of fun. 

Who doesn’t love songs titled “We Ain’t Gonna Not Get Drunk Tonight,” “Carnivore” and “Who’s She Killing,” all of which are from the new album. 

They opened the set with a tune custom-made for Wichita titled “Shitkicker” and then added in “Boozehound,” “Human Garbage Can” and “The Real Nitty Gritty” from their past.  Two more new songs, “Dirty Fun” and “Stuck in the Mud” were also received well. 

It took a song or two for Wichita to figure out the band.  Once they saw it was straight-ahead rock and roll delivered by a long haired dude in a Starz T-shirt, the real rockers in the crowd took notice and dug in. 

These guys are good, solid, clean American fun…well, maybe not clean, but tonight’s show was rated PG for sure.  American Dog is like a fine pilsner, they get better with age…err maybe that’s a fine wine, but these Dogs don’t drink wine (maybe Mad Dog 20/20)… beer is the beverage of choice, both on and off-stage. They left the stage with a job well done!

Tesla then took the stage and opened with a song from their new album, Simplicity, which had never been played before on stage.  “Break of Dawn” proved from the very start of the show that this band was proud of their new album. 

All be told, Tesla trotted out a total of three new songs.  “So Divine…” is a killer tune with an infectious hook, while “MP3” is such a cool song it is sure to be a crowd favorite by the end of the tour.  In the song, vocalist Keith laments how Tesla has gone from the ‘phonograph record to the MP3,” proving Tesla has staying power, and is in it for the long-haul. 

Jeff Keith is a great front man.  He holds the crowd in his hands, and is smiling ear-to-ear whenever he’s talking in-between songs.  When he sings, however, he is a bit rough around the edges.  Singers have a tough time with ‘age’, and Jeff is still rocking it… but it may be time to take better care of the throat. Wait… has he always sounded like that?

Musically, the band is tight.  Drummer Troy Luccketta and bassist Brian Wheat lurk in the background but, as a rhythm section, that ain’t a bad thing.   They kept it solid and tight all night.  Troy amazes with the beats he can get out of such a small kit. 

Guitar-wise, Tesla is really The Frank Hannon Show.  Dave Rude is able to come and go, and throw a few solos in there, but the main-man on the stage during this night is Frank.  Before I kiss Frank’s ass any more, I must say Rude is a damn fine player, and he does his best to replace the only original member not in the band anymore, Tommy Skeoch.  Dave looks the part of a rock star and delivers big time.

Frank, however, is a true guitar hero.  On this night he played several guitars, mainly Gibsons and C.R. Alsips.  Whether he is cranking out the opening to “Modern Day Cowboy” or a bluesy solo in “The Way It Is” or cranking up some classic rock ala “Signs,” Hannon is note-perfect.  What other guitarist uses a Theremin as part of his effects arsenal? 

The set list included the aforementioned new songs, as well as many classics.  The crowd went nuts for the last four tunes performed.  “Love Song” began the end of the concert onslaught, as Rude and Hannon played the acoustic opening as a duet.  The song then kicked-in, and the crowd of concert goers were on their feet singing away.  “Gettin’ Better” is just a damn fine example of killer live rock and roll, while “Modern Day Cowboy” is a guitar hero metal slab of loudness. “Little Suzi” is just good old party-on-the-patio music, and the crowd were whooping and hollering the entire time. 

The band returned for an encore of “Cumin’ Atcha Live” that started off with Rude and Hannon jamming together, this time on the electric solid bodies. Again, these guys are good, damn good.

The band’s set list was interesting, as a few classic tunes were replaced by newer songs.  Not all newer songs were from Simplicity, however, as Tesla played a song each from their last two studio efforts.  “Into the Now” went over well, as did “I Wanna Live” from Forevermore

At the end of the day, Tesla is still writing and performing at a very high level.  They will continue to tour and make records and do their best to keep flying the flag for real rock and roll.