Friday August 24th, was an emotional night at Count's Vamp'd. My wife and I arrived a bit earlier than usual, knowing that Franky Perez generally draws a large crowd. Among those ardent followers, Vinnie Paul was always one person you could count on seeing there when FXP performed, always supportive, he would never miss his brother from Hellyeah, Christian Brady, playing in this Las Vegas local, star-studded lineup along with longtime friend Franky. Tonight would mark the first time the band would perform since Paul's passing and although it was an hour before start time and the crowd had not yet begun to thicken, his absence was immediately visible. As a tribute to his loyalty and support, Korie Koker and Vamp'd had a table adorned with candles, as well as Paul's "reserved" sign, and ensured that the table remained clear throughout the performance.
FXP (an acronym for Franky's full name, Frank Xavier Perez) is one of many Franky Perez' fronted ensembles, and this particular iteration involves Christian Brady (Hellyeah) on guitar, Corky Gainsford (Code Red Riot and formerly Otherwise) on drums, and Michael "Doc" Ellis (The Hellenbacks, Todd Dammit and the Anti Stars, as well as Doc Ellis and his Skullatones) on bass. Perez himself has been involved in numerous projects including Slash's solo band, Scars on Broadway, Apocalyptica, and Kings of Chaos, as well as fronting various backing bands like The Truth, The Dirty featuring The Filthree Horns, and The Forest Rangers (from the Sons Of Anarchy TV series). He has also contributed a song ("Count Me Out") to the motion picture soundtrack and concept album, Marvel Avengers Assemble. Needless to say, he is a major talent, who has collaborated with some of the biggest names in rock music. He has a very bluesy voice and many of his covers are adjusted to cater to that sound - much of his original music has a blues/rock sound, with drawn out pauses, and that distinct guitar tone that is so recognizable as "blues guitar."
Perez has an amazing voice, as well as superb stage presence. He easily transitions from 80's metal songs, to 70's rock, then into classic blues, and back to modern progressive rock, bouncing through genres with skill and grace. The outstanding artists backing him up do so as well, and their covers are exceptional and definitely do justice to the originals. Their ability to handle such a diverse 20-song set list is a tribute to their talent.
In the past, FXP would sometimes do a cover of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here" and dedicate the song to Dimebag Darrell, Vinnie Paul's brother. On this night they decided to dedicate the song to both of the brothers. They ordered up a shot for Vinnie and set it on the side of the stage, and paid tribute to a very talented pair of musicians. Christian Brady played the song solo on his guitar and did back-up vocals, while Perez handled the lead. They stood unmoving, shoulder to shoulder throughout the emotional performance, and finished it off with a hug. A quick glance around showed a crowd of teary-eyed onlookers who cheered loudly at the finish. After they toasted to the fallen brothers, the rest of the band resumed playing, joining Perez and Brady in a pair of popular tunes from Perez' The Level EP. They closed out their set in their usual fashion, doing a cover of the Allman Brothers' "Whipping Post", with Perez playing the bongos, mic dangling from his clenched teeth, pointing down at the drums to amplify their sound. It is a perfect song to finish on, showcasing Perez' powerful voice with an epic american rock classic.
FXP Vamp'dSet list:
Panama - Van Halen
Hot For Teacher - Van Halen
Immigrant Song - Led Zeppelin
She Made Me Beg - Franky Perez & Christian Brady
Widow Maker - Franky Perez & Christian Brady
Highway Star - Deep Purple
Driving Rain -
America, You Are Part Of Me - Franky Perez
War Pigs - Black Sabbath
Baby, Please Don't Go - Muddy Waters
Dazed and Confused - Led Zeppelin
Damn the Weatherman -
Heavy Weather -
What Are You Waiting For -
This is Love -
Stinkfist - Tool
Sober - Tool
Wish You Were Here - Pink Floyd (Tribute to Vinnie and Dimebag)
Dirty Finger - Franky Perez & Christian Brady
The Level - Franky Perez & Christian Brady
Whipping Post - The Allman Brothers
FXP photos Randy Udell / R U Rockin' Photos