‘Party Dream’ doc gets local premiere; Vai wows at Packard

Entertainment Editor Andy Gray

Assorted ramblings from the world of entertainment:

・ Gil Mantera’s Party Dream had a loyal local following in the 2000s with its reputation for outlandish live performances.

That buzz led to a record deal (2006’s “Bloodsongs” was financed by The Black Keys’ Patrick Carney and distributed by Fat Possum) and some national touring before imploding by the end of the decade.

For anyone who still has their copy of the self-released CD “Once Triangular” in 2004 that they might have picked up at a show at the old Cedars Lounge or Nyabinghi, it now sells for about $80.

“Party Dream,” a documentary about the duo, will get a local premiere at 8 p.m. Saturday at Penguin City Beer, 460 E. Federal St., Youngstown. A bar / brewery might seem like a odd place for a movie premiere, but Penguin City co-owner Richard Bernacki was the Ultimate Donny to his stepbrother’s Gil Mantera in the band.

The film was directed by Aaron Hagele and Tim Slowikowski and already has been shown at several film festivals. Saturday’s screening starts at 8 p.m., and admission is free.

For those who can’t make it on Saturday, Gravitas Ventures will release the film Dec. 9 for rental / purchase through Amazon, iTunes and Google Play.

・ It took a minute to figure out what was missing on Steve Vai’s stage at the start of his concert Tuesday at Packard Music Hall.

There were stacks of amps, monitor wedges, a drum riser and no shortage of instruments.

But there were no microphone stands.

For a night of guitar-shredding instrumental rock, microphones were superfluous.

OK, there was a microphone. Vai had a cordless one he pulled out a couple of times during his two-hour-plus set, and one of his crew members even did some operatic vocalizing on “For the Love of God.”

But this was a show where instrumental artistry reigned supreme. PMH was less than half full, but many of those who were there appeared to be at least guitar hobbyists, who spent the show intently studying his technique and realizing it was impossible to duplicate.

Before “Greenish Blues,” one of several tracks from his 2022 album “Inviolate” that made the setlist, Vai said any similarity to traditional blues, rock, jazz or classical guitar playing was purely coincidental. That’s not entirely true. His playing included all of those elements at different time.

But instead of embodying the cliche, “Jack of all trades, master of none,” Vai pretty much masters everything he attempts. He can hammer the neck with more than enough speed to make any metalhead’s jaw drop, he can establish a bluesy groove and he can play melodic, fluid leads.

The show piece of the current tour is “Teeth of the Hydra” played on the Hydra, a three-necked monstrosity that combines a 12-string guitar that is part fretless, a seven-string guitar with a whammy bar, a four-string bass with a headless neck that also is unfretted partially and a 13-string harp all on the same steampunk-style body.

If Willy Wonka was a guitar maker, he might come up with something like the Hydra. Watching Vai’s arms and hand whirl around the Hydra like a mad scientist was something to behold.

Vai singlehandedly can sound like an army of guitar players, but at one point he did have his own guitar firing squad as three crew members joined Vai and Dave Weiner on stage, all of them wielding six-strings.

Weiner, who split his time between guitar and keyboard, as well as bassist Philip Bynoe and drummer Jeremy Colson each got their own extended solo segment, and Vai clearly doesn’t insist on being the only virtuoso on stage. Bynoe in particular was a monster on six-string bass.


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