’80s in the Park – Florida Style


Put all your hope in some dreams – throw it to the wind, let it all begin

– KiLLeR DWaRfs

I love that song lyric. I’m actually somewhat obsessed with the song it comes from: Doesn’t Matter by Killer Dwarfs. As the singer said before they played it this past weekend: “This is a song about hope.” Being the eternal optimist and consummate dreamer of things to do and be and places to go and see, this song speaks to me. It has that magical musical mood moderating ability – which is of course one of the main reasons we all listen to music in the first place. Whoever wrote the melody surely had the lyrics – or vice verse – in mind because they are a match made in heaven.

If I were in high school I would have the lyrics written all over my notebooks and book covers, just like I prominently paraded a variety of philosophical Rush and REO Speedwagon’s Keep Pushin’ on my stuff in 1981 (see my old post about REO). Stuff like:

There comes a time in your life
You have to stand up and fight
Get behind what you believe
Get a grip on what you see
There’s a chance you just might get it right

-KiLLeR DWaRfs

80sinthepark info band page

So when I saw Killer Dwarfs and the rest of the cool line up for this ’80s in the Park three-day festival: Kix, LA Guns, Femme Fatale and a lot more, and that it takes place about a three-hour drive across the state from the Tampa Bay area, and that the hotel was on the beach, I was in. I booked shortly after the Monsters of Rock Cruise – a lot of cruise pals were going too. I am not one to pass up a concert/beach/friends combo weekend.

The festival is in its second year of existence (I think), and takes place in Melbourne, Florida. The week before the show we had a close eye on Hurricane Danny and Tropical Storm Erika – both were possibly heading that way – but we lucked out. Of course there was rain because after all, it’s Florida and it’s summertime. 

I hear this event was a mud fest last year – so this year they moved the main stage from a local park into the Melbourne Auditorium, and added an outdoor side stage and vendor tents in the parking lot area (I bought jewelry, of course). This all worked out well until the rain hit Saturday night right before Slaughter – and it didn’t appear to be stopping at all on Sunday.

Melbourne Auditorium view from the back
Melbourne Auditorium before the crowds

The Melbourne Auditorium was about a 10-15 minute ride away from the hotel but that didn’t matter at all because we got to stay at the beach. Even though this also doesn’t matter at all, upon entering the venue it seemed, well, gymnasium-ish – it seemed to lack, how can I put it – rock-n-roll atmosphere. This crowd is used to dive bars and sleazy rock clubs and feel at home in them, or arenas and amphitheaters. So, well, LA Guns performing in a gymnasium just didn’t really seem right. But once the bands started playing and the fans all came in, a new vibe began to permeate the place and we infested it with proper rock venue energy. It was fascinating how that worked!

On Friday we got there in time to see Cult Revolution, a Cult tribute band, on the outside stage. They were solid and had one of those tribute band sound-alike singers. They were actually one of the two bands my husband, who can be stingy with the praise, liked best – them and Kix, who he had never seen before. I’m ashamed to say that given that I’ve seen them like 8047658925 times (j/k but seems like it). 

Cropped Firehouse at 80s in the Park
Firehose…errr, I mean Firehouse. Thanks to the guy in about Row G for the comment I just stole.

We watched Asia next and all I can really say is they sounded fine – and the place had filled up good.

When Firehouse came out they finally kicked up the crowd. They opened with my favorite Firehouse song – Shake & Tumble – which happens to be the only Firehouse song I own – and which rotates regularly in my workout folder. The best part was this 250 lb. guy in front of us who knew EVERY song and proceeded to air sing into his fist, air guitar every solo, and air play the drums. I love to see people get into bands like that – it was awesome. He sat down during Love of a Lifetime – I wasn’t sure if it was in protest of the power ballad or because he needed to catch his breath. Firehouse managed to keep up a pretty good energy. The singer sounded good and could almost hit all the high notes.

80s in the Park flyer Wicked
No, this isn’t from my old scrapbook – it was a local band flyer on the seats at the venue. Ah, ha.

Afterwards they had some bands back at the hotel and there was some good socializing going on. There were local bands playing but I didn’t seem to catch all of their names (bad rocksandy). I recall one band had outrageously heavy reverb and a drunken woman was in serious flash mode in front of the bass player. In the “it’s a small world” category, a guy from the band Nova Rex stopped my bff Randee and said “I KNOW YOU” and proceeded to say that her band (Matrix) played with his in 1985 (yes, freaking 1985) at Fern Park Station in Orlando, and also remembered her from Studio City (in LA) in 1995. DUDE,  I wish I had those memory banks.

Partial Oceanview room at Crowne Plaza Melbourne Beach
Partial Oceanview room at Crowne Plaza Melbourne Beach

Saturday started out as a lovely day at the pool for this lucky girl – good company, a beautiful ocean breeze, a cuppa coffee then a bloody mary. I love a pool at the beach with a waitress – what a great combination ;o). Most show-goers and bands were staying at the oceanside host hotel. It reminded me of a mini-Concrete Foundations Forum back in L.A. in the early ’90s (something for another blog someday) with all the rockers crowding the lobby and bars and conference rooms-turned concert venues. 


Nova Rex at 80s in the Park
Nova Rex

First band we caught on Saturday was Nova Rex, but we only saw the last two songs – I’ve noticed they play around Florida so I’ll have to go see them again sometime. They sounded pretty good and I wish I had got there a little earlier to see more.


Big City Nights at 80s in the Park
Big City Nights – watching from a shady side area. I swear I saw someone else wearing the Dee Snider wig the day before…

Next we watched Big City Nights, a Scorpions tribute band, from a shady area outside. The bumblebee spandex were a nice touch. I waited and watched for quite some time but didn’t hear them do my favorite Scorpians’ song, Loving You Sunday Morning. Wow, the Scorpions had a lot of hits. It was high-hot-afternoon and I felt the need to leave in search of another Stella before LA Guns started.


LA Guns at 80s in the Park
LA Guns

LA Guns started the real show. Tight as usual but not as “at home” jamming out like they were at the Cathouse Live at Irvine Meadows a few weeks ago. Makes sense and doesn’t matter at all – they rocked. Phil Lewis reminisced about the mud from last year and seemed to understand and appreciate the prom-like venue, and then the band proceeded to spray the place with the final shot of LA smog or whatever it was that was needed to completely transform the venue. Oh, and Randee pointed out to me the guitar player was from a band we saw on the Motley Cruise in 2008 called Endeverafter. He’s a fantastic fit for LA Guns.

Dirty Looks at 80s in the park
Killer Dwarfs at the outdoor stage – I’m still baffled why they weren’t on the indoor stage!

Killer Dwarfs was up next – but for some bizarre reason they were on the smaller outdoor stage. They had a big crowd and did an awesome set, including, of course, Doesn’t Matter. I’m clearly not the only one who loves that song. I saw them a few years ago on the MOR Cruise and once again rocked out to songs from the Dirty Weapons CD (of which I had to buy the physical CD since I couldn’t find them on iTunes, boohiss). I need to go buy some more of their music as well. This is another one of those bands I re-discovered on Sirius XM Hairnation…I sooo love finding “new” old music. Good show, good show. I’m looking forward to seeing them on next year’s MOR Cruise East.

Kix 80s in the Park

And finally, Kix. As always, amazing show. This may be a bold statement but no matter what you think you cannot totally disagree: Steve Whiteman is the best front man ever. The perfect mix of rhythm and beat and a wiggly-shaking-bouncing ball of energy – along with hilarious commentary, and of course, spot on vocals. He made a wtf commentary about MTV – I agree, I miss music television. He’s just ALWAYS feeling’ it and it’s going back and forth 100%. Simply put, Kix emits and elicits that positively fun and carefree music we remember from when life was simpler and music was about having fun. They’re always really good, but I particularly enjoyed this show – I think ‘cuz they were clearly enjoying themselves and we felt it. Although – I really wish they’d let me contribute to their set list. I really want to hear a few songs in particular, like Cool Kids. How come they never play Cool Kids? I also think it would be fun to hear them do something from the Rolling Stones, like Shattered or Start Me Up. 

Atlantic Ocean in Indiatlantic, Florida
Atlantic Ocean in Indiatlantic, Florida

When we got back to the hotel that night me and the girls decided to go down to the ocean in the moonlight – that was actually a highlight of the trip. Absolutely spectacular – the surf was warm and it was like a dose of meditational inspiration. I highly recommend checking out a beach on a full moon evening.

We drove home Sunday morning so I missed the Sunday shows, but some friends stayed and they said it was still a good crowd. They also reported that Lita Ford was “really good.” I missed her on the MOR Cruise because she got on the boat late and ended up playing when I was on an excursion. I also somehow missed Femme Fatale on the cruise and at this venue.  I’ll have to remedy that somehow.

It was, as always, an interesting crowd – different than west coast crowds. Many traveled to the show from other east coast cities – our friends from the MOR Cruise came in from Boston. A great weekend with great people. Would I go again? Yes. Support live music! It’s all good for everyone and for the universe in general ;o)

Below is an article from the promoters of ’80s in the Park that is pretty cool reading if you have a minute. They’re right – finding new music is different now – it’s an interesting perspective that reminds us of how we used to find and support music in the ’80s:

80s in the Park pg 1

80s in the park story p2

80s in park vip bracelent

80s in the Park ticket
Not really a lot when you consider all the bands – support musicians!

LA Guns t-shirt

aldo nova shirt
Boy do I have a funny Aldo Nova story from 1983-84-ish that I’ll have to relay sometime. Ha. I love the “Subject” album.

4 thoughts on “’80s in the Park – Florida Style

  1. Another great review by RockSandy! Wish I could have joined you. Both our Grant’s have finally seen Kix, took us long enough!

  2. Best.Post.Ever!! I loved reading this review, your writing is just plain fun to read 🙂 Loving that hotel room view – you chose great pics for this post. I LOVE that “what we did for music” flyer. I want to plaster it everywhere lol. I hope you do write a post about Aldo Nova. Three words: 1- Bagel, 2&3- Hair Spray. Haaahahahahahaaa! Are you reading this Brigette? Hi Tami!!

  3. One of the “Secret weapons” of KIX is the backup harmonies from their drummer Jimmy Chalfant. Together with Steve Whitman, they recreate the KIX vocals perfectly on stage. I need to get their last album, don’t I? — I can’t believe KIX opened for G’NR at the Troubadour in 1986 on their Midnight Dynamite tour. I knew Midnight Dynamite back to back and rocked to every song and the place was EMPTY. They were able to speak to us for a long time at their dressing room. G’NR weren’t even signed and the all-female rockers FELINE was in between them. I didn’t even care for G’NR back then. I thought they were kind of screechy. I’ve come to appreciate them more as of late.

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