If you can't catch Journey or the other old-timers on tour, Cuyahoga Falls’ Rockin’ on the River has you covered. The 25-year-old concert series hosts some of the nation’s best tribute bands for free jam sessions on Friday nights through August. After hours of rocking out in the office and carefully comparing the pretenders to the originals, here are our favorites. Check out the rest of the summer lineup at rockinontheriver.com
June 17, zosoontour.com
We won’t argue with Rolling Stone, which named Zoso the No. 1 Led Zeppelin tribute. It’s tough to capture the mystique of Robert Plant, one of rock’s most iconic vocalists, but at least lead Matt Jernigan has Plant’s look and body language down. Add spot-on guitars and drums in songs such as “Kashmir” and “Immigrant Song,” and you have a show that sucks you in and drops you right in the ‘70s.
July 8, almostqueen.com
A lot of credit here goes to lead singer Joseph Russo as Queen’s Freddie Mercury. He puts power behind Mercury’s vocals, but it’s really his theatrics and stage presence that help capture the spectacle of the real deal. The entire band gets bonus points for the guitarists’ enviable ‘80s locks and its ability to keep up the energy in the band’s marathon “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Plus, Russo’s Freddie ‘stache gets an A+.
The Atomic Punks
July 29, theatomicpunks.com
This nod to Van Halen’s David Lee Roth days has to be one of the best tributes going. Frontman Brian Geller’s tight pants, knack for gyrating and smug strut make it easy to mistake him for an actual ‘80s rock god. And you only need to watch the band do “Runnin’ with the Devil” to see why even original Van Halen bassist Michael Anthony has joined the Punks on stage to relive the VH experience.