Marking a decade at The Deck, FakeFest features the largest assembly of top tribute bands you'll find anywhere
Once in a while the marketing minds whose job it is to kindle the public's interest will come up with concepts that far exceed any expectations for success.
Such is the case with FakeFest, which started a decade ago as a fun way to kick off the summer at The Deck at Trump Marina without draining the company budget too dramatically. It's since become a blockbuster gala that helps get hundreds in the summertime spirit. The weekend-long slate of eight highly touted tribute bands converge at Trump Marina starting this Friday evening, June 26, along with throngs of adoring fans who hardly seem fazed by the fact that they're not seeing the real McCoy.
"When we started it we wanted to treat it as a festival-type atmosphere -- sort of like Woodstock without the mud," says Bill Schmal, director of entertainment for Trump Properties. "It's really a huge kick-start to the summer. It was a brainchild of Steve [Gietka, vice president of entertainment for Trump Properties] and I, and at the time it was a very simple concept where we were sort of re-theming Trump Marina to the 'wild side' image. It was definitely more of an imaging thing at that time. We didn't think that it would become as popular as it did."
Many of the faux groups that wowed the crowds in years past are returning. Schmal says he'll sometimes bring in new acts from year to year to help keep things fresh, provided that the new bands have stellar status on the tribute-band circuit. That's certainly the case with B Streets, a well-reputed Bruce Springsteen tribute band making its FakeFest debut with two sets on Saturday. Others new to the scene include AC/DC impersonators Live Wire (Saturday), Police impersonators Invisible Sun and Jimmy Buffet tribute group Parrot Beach (both Sunday). Veterans returning are All Things Dookie (Green Day, Friday), 2U (U2, Friday), Runaway (Bon Jovi, Saturday) and Separate Ways (Journey, Sunday).
Each of the eight bands performs two staggered, 50-minute sets on one of the three days. Since the sets are relatively short, and since the fans primarily want to hear the songs that put the real bands on the proverbial rock 'n' roll map, the tribute bands deliver the hits. It is the replicated sound that matters more than anything, obviously, but Schmal says some of the groups make efforts to mimic the look of the groups they're covering as well.
"Sometimes it's a little bit of both," says Schmal who, like Gietka, has been with Trump Properties for 25 years. "Separate Ways' lead singer really has the [Journey frontman] Steve Perry look down, but then the Police band [Invisible Sun], while they sound excellent, their lead singer doesn't necessarily look like Sting."
Besides the fact that it's a bargain (a minimal cover charge may apply at certain times), fans find tribute bands appealing, says Schmal, largely because the tributes stick to the material everybody recognizes, which is not always the case even with the original bands. Many originals use a concert setting to debut new material or perform the more obscure songs that don't always get a lot of radio airplay, which can be frustrating to those fans who show up expecting to hear the hits (rocker John Eddie, a sensational musician who'll play The Deck on July 4, wrote a song that touched on that tendency called "Who the Hell is John Eddie?").
Probably in the same way a casino revue show casting legends of the past can still fill showroom seats nearly 30 years after it debuted, and retro nightclubs with ’70s and ’80s themes have been outdrawing many of their contemporary counterparts, FakeFest remains a super-popular, three-day summertime musical event 12 years after it started.
“Jersey people wouldn’t go see an Elvis act in Vegas more than once or twice, but our people have followed us for 30 years."
“The Heartbreakers have had so many hits we could play five hours and everybody would know all the songs.”
Fakefest is happening Friday through Sunday, July 8-10, at The Deck at Golden Nugget (at A.C.’s Farley State Marina). As has been the trend from year to year, all the bands playing Fakefest — and paying tribute to the classic rockers of yesteryear — are top-shelf.
Trump Marina will once again present its annual FakeFest on The Deck from Friday, June 25 through Sunday, June 27.
Margate’s Music Revival
Clancy’s By the Bayfest
A ‘Haven’ at Golden Nugget
Life in the Laugh Lane