2024-07-22 3:51 PM

Tribute & Cover Bands Prove Popular in The Little City

For over 80 years, the State Theatre has been providing entertainment to Falls Church residents and non-F.C. visitors, and more recently, has become the unofficial home of various tribute and cover bands to perform. 

Meredith Johnstone, the COO and Talent Buyer at The State Theatre, said tribute bands have always been a “staple” at the theater and she has seen an increase in the number of touring tribute bands in the past year. 

Songs by Foreigner, Led Zeppelin, and other classic artists/bands are celebrated by these cover/tribute bands, with many of these bands dressing and acting like the members of the bands they are covering. 

“Falls Church has always had a very active community of people who love going out,” Johnstone said. “Tribute shows can sometimes be a more accessible way to experience the music of one of your favorite bands.” 

Hailing from Las Vegas, Bruce In The USA pays homage to the songs and performances of “The Boss” himself, Bruce Springsteen. Having started the band 19 years ago, lead vocalist Matt Ryan stated being a part of Bruce In The USA has allowed him to “step up” as an actor after being told that he looked and sounded like Springsteen. 

“We get to travel the country and play in front of 1,000 people a night,” Ryan said about the band’s various concert locations. “I feel kind of blessed about it in some weird way, you know?”

Out of all of the cities the band plays, Ryan said the D.C./Northern Virginia area is “big Bruce country,” which led to their first performance at The State Theatre 17 years ago. Although their first time performing in Falls Church brought them “about 200 people,” nowadays the band sees sold out shows at the theater, according to Ryan. 

“We’ve got a very long relationship with the same audiences and the same faces,” Ryan said. “We were kind of blessed with The State Theatre [and] it’s such a great venue as well.” 

As for what Springsteen’s reaction is to the popularity of Bruce In The USA? Ryan said “The Boss’s” messages to the band through the years was to “keep doing what you’re doing, keep the music alive and best wishes.” 

“It’s really about celebrating the music and the memories,” Ryan said. 

New Jersey-based cover band Double Vision pays homage to the British-American rock band Foreigner, and is a returning performer at The State Theatre. Chandler Mogel, the lead singer of Double Vision, started the band in 2018 after being told by various people that his voice sounded like Lou Gramm — former lead vocalist of Foreigner. 

“With the rise of tribute bands and everything, I thought ‘Well, let me throw my hat in the ring here,’” Mogel said. “I wanted to do something that was second nature to me.” 

Cover bands, such as Zoso (pictured above) can be an accessible way for locals to experience the music of their favorite bands. (Photo: John Nienstedt)

Named after Foreigner’s 1978 hit song, Double Vision has not only performed in the Little City, but also in various east coast cities and even the Midwest. Rather than focusing on the “wigs” and “spandex” that Foreigner popularized, Mogel said he created Double Vision to celebrate the music of the band. 

Since 2020, Double Vision has been a regular performer at The State Theatre, with Mogel stating the venue has become a “home” for them to play in the Northern Virginia area. Mogel further stated the band’s favorite part of playing in Falls Church is The State Theatre’s accommodating venue and staff, as well as the “vibe” of the audience.

“People in Falls Church really are music aficionados,” Mogel said. “They really know their stuff.” 

Zoso, called “The Ultimate Led Zeppelin Experience,” has embodied the 70s English rock band since the mid-’90s, with lead guitarist James Volpe Rotondi stating the band was one “pioneer” behind the popularity of tribute/cover bands. 

Rotondi, who is the newest member of Zoso since last year, takes on the role of a Jimmy Page-like character while performing. On Friday, March 3rd, Zoso will be performing at The State Theatre, the first time for Rotondi as a band member. 

“I know that the [other Zoso members] are very fond of it and that they always do well there,” Rotondi said. “I’m excited about playing there.” 

As for why he thinks cover/tribute bands are popular with cities like Falls Church, Rotondi stated he believes the older rock generation wants to “recapture” and “relive” the music of their youth, while younger audiences are reintroduced by that style of music. 

“The thing we hear the most at our shows from fans is ‘Thank you,’” Rotondi said. “I think most good tribute bands: they give [fans] something that they can’t get anywhere else.”

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