On Scene: Lez Zeppelin at the Free Summer Concert Series


Lez Zeppelin at the Free Summer Concert Series

This spring, the Bonnaroo Music Festival announced its summer lineup, which included all-girl tribute Lez Zeppelin.

Somewhere in an oddly misguided reading of that news release, a wire editor at The Associated Press decided that surely, the Bonnaroo folks had overlooked a copy error - that surely, though they were listed well below all the other headliners, the living members of the real Led Zeppelin must be reuniting to play the festival.

Steph Paynes, guitarist and founder of Lez Zeppelin, finds the mistake hilarious.

And although seeing her band certainly is not seeing the real thing, Paynes and company pack enough confidence to put on a killer show, which they did at last week's Free Summer Concert Series.

Sure, the set felt a little short. And the "Whole Lotta Love" finale plodded on a little too long through its middle portion. But Lez Zeppelin is worlds beyond just about every other band in the tribute game, and their Zep covers are the only even-close-to-acceptable imitations I have heard.

That's because Paynes is a spot-on guitarist and lead singer Sarah McLellan can wail almost as outrageously as Robert Plant. Both are supported with equal vigor by Lisa Brigantino on bass and Helen Destroy on drums.

Much of Lez Zeppelin's stage presence comes from the ownership each band member feels for her somewhat dubious task of impersonating a 1970s legend of hard rock, and of playing songs everyone knows.

In a phone interview a couple of weeks before the show, Paynes said it would be impossible for her to pick a favorite Led Zeppelin song.

"It would be like picking which child you like best, even though they're not my children. Though when we play them, it feels that way," she said.

Her enthusiasm and dedication for the music comes across clearly on stage - and that's the main reason it's hard to explain the seeming lack of audience response July 25. There were plenty of people up close to the stage, rocking out to the songs they loved the best, but everything farther back lacked the energy of the previous week's show.

It doesn't make sense, because the girls in Lez Zeppelin do an awesome job. But the vibe was hard to ignore: This band just didn't catch people the way Michael Franti did.

Even so, "Heartbreaker" rocked.

- Margaret Hair, 4 Points


ThreeJobs 8 years, 8 months ago

'it's hard to explain the seeming lack of audience response...everything farther back lacked the energy of the previous week's show"

Simple: It was a distorted, overpowering, mess up on the hill. Louder was NOT better because all that carried was the BASS. Might tell future groups to sound check up the hill and resist the standard idea that driving the bass to the max just doesn't make it on this site.


nondescript1 8 years, 8 months ago

You two should have been up front , it takes confidence to play with that kind of volume, what they lacked in not actually being Led Zep they made for with confidence. I thought it was really good fun.


ThreeJobs 8 years, 8 months ago

"it takes confidence to play with that kind of volume"

No it doesn't take any confidence. Quite the opposite actually. There is a lot of truth to the saying "if you can't play good, play LOUD!"

Really can't judge if they were any good or not because all that BASS overwhelmed (make that COMPLETELY obliterated)everything else at our vantage point.

Sound check up the hill recommendation stands. If it passes there it will pass the front rows too.


jeep 8 years, 8 months ago

t/j the sound man/ woman is control of turning the sound up so you can hear the best that can it can be.(in (in there def ear) the best place to sit is next to the sound booth/ granted there was no sound booth /the sound m/w was on stage you are right . first time I did'nt not see a sound booth . the thing is -go to the mosh pit with ear plugs(to see the band) then go back by the Beer tent to see your friends, the band only turn's it up for there own stage sound


MtnWarlock 8 years, 8 months ago

Ok, I agree about the sound however, the gals did alright in my opinion! Yeah, it wasn't like the "Song Remains the Same" tour at Madison Square Garden, NYC 1979, where Plant, Bonham and Page were at peak. But what the heck, it was free! Friends and neighbors are always good and the beer was cold! The memories of old are "all" good. May Led Zep live forever! Have a good day!


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