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Student Band ‘Appetite for Destruction’ plays to classic tastes

Analise Lipari | Thursday, September 29, 2005

Bookmakers’ Pub in South Bend is usually considered to be a fun, unassuming sports bar. Last Friday night, however, it was transformed into a concert venue with a hard rock twist as Appetite for Destruction – a Guns N’ Roses cover band of four Notre Dame students – took the stage for a performance of 1980s rock and roll bliss.

Consisting of Notre Dame students Brendon Collins, Will McAulliffe, Matt Marnocha and Chris Campbell, Appetite for Destruction played to a full house Friday night with every intention of covering the wide range of Guns N’ Roses classics. It was aiming for, as the band’s flyers for the concert proclaimed, “the PARTY of the MILLENIUM.”

The genesis of the band is found in the musical partnership of drummer Collins and lead guitarist and pianist Marnocha, who have been playing together for more than a decade. Despite being members of different bands on and off, they eventually found a new lineup in a uniquely Irish way with the addition of guitarist Will McAulliffe, a discovery from the Keenan Revue.

“A friend of ours … actually heard his voice, and thought that it would be … optimal for a Guns N’ Roses tribute band,” Collins said, recalling the fateful interaction. Having lost two members of their former band due to their graduation, Collins and Marnocha felt that the time was just right for a change to a new genre.

In the past, Appetite for Destruction (whose name derives from, logically, an early Guns N’ Roses album) has performed at some local clubs, such as Club 23, as well as larger performances such as one at the State Theatre a few months ago. As they progress, the band members see themselves playing at larger and larger venues. Eventually they also plan to tour several Midwest cities and states.

But why Guns N’ Roses? To the members of Appetite for Destruction, this question is a no-brainer. The way they see it, G&R is just a great rock band with a broad appeal. Their songs are surprisingly well-known to most people, which lends the band’s concerts to having a fun vibe of familiarity and 80s nostalgia.

“Guns N’ Roses is the ultimate party,” said McAulliffe, and the other members agree, adding that classic tracks such as “November Rain,” “Sweet Child of Mine” and fan favorite “Paradise City” keep people coming back to the band for great performances.

“Their concerts are the most fun thing to do in South Bend,” said Notre Dame senior Joe Donnelly. “The real Guns N’ Roses haven’t sounded this good since 1989. I think that if Slash heard some of their guitar solos on Friday, he would immediately run back to his rehearsal studio to practice.”

For a band that covers the song catalogue of one of rock’s most legendary bands, Appetite for Destruction has come to acquire some legends of its own. At one of their recent performances, several audience members began dancing onstage with the band. As the first set concluded, one young man stage dove into the crowd. Twenty minutes later, his father followed suit. Crazy, sure – but for a band in the tradition of Axel Rose, the crazy is to be expected.

The band’s performances usually consist of Guns N’ Roses standards, as well as interpretations of other songs in a G&R style. Recently they have retooled Eric Clapton’s “Wonderful Tonight,” and Friday night they performed a Led Zeppelin medley in similar fashion. Eventually, Collins said, the band plans on writing some of its own material, but for now its current song library will definitely suffice.

“Seeing the reaction of people to this stuff is unbelievable,” Collins said. “What I would say to people is to come see every show you can, because it’s a huge party every time. We dare you to come and not like it.”