Forget Karaoke: Here Are 10 of NYC's Best Live Tribute Bands

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You thought earnest, shameless tribute bands were just for Las Vegas, didn’t you? While New York obviously has a wealth of original music to offer, we’ve been thinking: singing along to live renditions of “Fat-Bottomed Girls” could in theory be a lot more fun than pretending to care about DIIV. It’s time to take a break from nodding to noise bands and take your pick from this fine array of tributes to the classic acts we all totally still listen to, even though we’ll only admit it at karaoke.

Ring of Fire Band (Johnny Cash Tribute)

Lead singer Michael Patrick started off in a Grateful Dead tribute band, but found that his voice was much more suited to singing songs by The Man in Black in his Ring of Fire Band. In 2007, they were part of the Pardon Johnny Cash Flower Pickin’ Festival, in honor of Cash’s 1965 arrest for picking flowers (and public intoxication) in Starkville, MS. They hail from central New Jersey, and you can catch them celebrating Cash’s birthday on February 24th at B.B. King’s.

Lez Zeppelin (Led Zeppelin Tribute)

This all-female tribute to Led Zeppelin have actually been making the festival rounds in recent years, appearing everywhere from Bonnaroo to the Voodoo Festival in New Orleans. In 2010, Lez Zeppelin recorded a full-album cover of Led Zeppelin’s 1969 debut, using equipment and instruments identical to those that appeared on the original record. That’s devotion. Lez Zeppelin are playing at the Highline Ballroom on February 8th.

Almost Queen (Queen Tribute)

How do you live up to a vocal god like Freddie Mercury? Practice, practice, practice! And be a Broadway veteran like Almost Queen lead singer Joseph Russo. It also doesn’t hurt to have band members who have toured with Thin Lizzy and Dee Snider. This writer sees an interpretive dance-a-long to “Flash” in her future. Almost Queen play the Highline Ballroom on February 22nd.

Appetite for Destruction (Guns N’ Roses Tribute)

Trivia time! Axl Rose impersonator/Appetite for Destruction lead singer Rob Pfeffer has a previous claim to fame as the voice of many of the song parodies produced by Dan the Song Parody Man for The Howard Stern Show. Plus, they’ve shared multiple bills with ex-GNR guitarist Gilby Clarke, so they’ve got the OG endorsement. Appetite for Destruction just played a live show at Sullivan Hall in November, so they’re bound to be back soon. When they do, we suggest their bassist leave his blond wig at home.

The Machine (Pink Floyd Tribute)

Full disclosure: this writer may or may not have seen this band multiple times in her home city of Poughkeepsie, NY. That being said, they’ve held up amazingly in the decade or so between then and now. In fact, Rolling Stone once claimed that the band “duplicates the sound and hits of Pink Floyd with chilling accuracy.” The Machine’s next gig near NYC is at the YMCA Boulton Center on Long Island, but if you don’t feel like making the trek, keep an eye on their tour page for an NYC date.

Girls, Girls, Girls (Motley Crue Tribute)

Girls, Girls, Girls, an all-female Motley Crue tribute band, have reportedly “taken the world by storm since their breakout performance at a New Jersey strip club in 2007.” We’re just going to leave that right there (and wish we could time-travel to 2007). They’ve also opened for Yeah Yeah Yeahs and joined Chuck Klosterman on stage as he read from his love letter to hair metal, Killing Yourself to Live: 85% of a True Story. But if you’re still not sold, perhaps their feminized Crue member stage names will sway you: Vixen Neil on lead vocals, Lucky Sixx on bass, Mercedes Mars on lead guitar, and Tawny Lee on drums. You can catch them on February 8th at the Canal Room.

Tramps Like Us (Bruce Springsteen Tribute)

Out of all the original acts listed, Bruce is obviously the most active and accessible performer, but sometimes you can’t scrape together $100+ for a ticket and you really want to yell “WHOAAA” with a bunch of other people. We get it. Luckily, there’s Tramps Like Us, “the ONLY tribute band to be endorsed by members of ‘The Springsteen Camp’ such as former producer and manager Mike Appel and the official Springsteen Radio Station: E Street Radio/Sirius XM.” Tramps Like Us also take on the admirable task of recreating classic Bruce concerts, song by song. On February 28th, they’ll relive December 15th, 1978 at the San Francisco Winterland Ballrom — but you can also catch them in New York a few weeks earlier.

Misstallica (Metallica Tribute)

Misstallica started as a side project of Queen Diamond (an all-female tribute to King Diamond/Mercyful Fate) and quickly outran its predecessor, leading to packed shows and a feature in The New York Times about all-girl metal tribute bands: “We’re only going to play ‘Creeping Death’ if you guys both take your shirts off during the ‘Die!’ chant part,” the bassist, Teddi Tarnoff, told a pair of particularly enthusiastic suitors. “Shirts off, and on your knees.”

The Rolling Tones (Rolling Stones Tribute)

Not be confused with “John Jay High School’s all-male a cappella group composed of some of the sexiest guys from John Jay,” with which they share a name, the Rolling Tones have also adopted stage handles to go along with their show. Do you want to pass up the opportunity to sing “Miss You” with Thick Jagger and Beef Taylor? No, no you do not. The Rolling Tones are at B.B. King’s on February 9th.

KISSNATION (KISS Tribute)

KISSNATION boast the hands-down best band member bios, truly mirroring their commitment to the cause. Exhibit A: “With his blood stained armor and thunderous axe bass, John is THE GOD of THUNDER. This Demon won’t stop till he’s satisfied and will slowly rob you all of your virgin souls.”

Bonus: While every band listed here is in possession of musical chops, we can’t say the same for their web designers. Still, none of their sites trumped what we stumbled upon in our research: possibly the best website ever.