Local band Wunderlust presented the smash hit “Billion Dollar Nightmare,” a tribute to shock rocker Alice Cooper Oct. 28 at the Nugget Casino Resort’s Celebrity Showroom. It was a riveting live performance of which Cooper himself would’ve been proud.
“Billion Dollar Nightmare” (BDN) provides the audience with the illusion of being at an actual live performance by Cooper, known as “The Godfather of Shock Rock,” who pioneered a macabre and theatrical brand of rock designed to shock people. These talented musicians do quite a justice to the musician.
Wunderlust features Nigel St. Hubbins on lead vocals and guitar, Sean Rold on lead guitar and vocals, Scott Szpila on bass and vocals, Larry Jobe on keys, and Michael James on drums and vocals. When not performing BDN the group serves as a tribute to one-hit wonders.
The BDN production features uncannily accurate music, great props and characters, and the addition of David Ecker on lead guitar. Fantastic theatrical performances are turned in by Rold as Cooper, along with Heidi Meadows Pileggi as the compelling yet disturbing Nurse Heidi. The extras add atmosphere and include James Jordan, Chuck Stegmeir, Dylan Murray, and Weston Trebelli, as henchmen, secret servicemen, and creepy, evil clowns.
BDN is the brainchild of Wunderlust co-founders St. Hubbins and Rold; the two have been friends for many years. St. Hubbins said the show’s origins formed one Halloween when Rold dressed up as Cooper and sent him a photo. “What do you think of starting an Alice tribute band?” St. Hubbins said, and Rold replied, “I don’t know…never sang any.” And the seed was planted.
The BDN show started with Wunderlust playing a forty-minute set of covers and one-hit wonders.
“Ah Leah,” Donnie Iris (1980)
“Cars,” Gary Numan (1979)
“I Ran (So Far Away),” A Flock Of Seagulls (1982)
“Mexican Radio,” Wall of Voodoo (1983)
“Sunglasses At Night,” Corey Hart (1984)
“Turning Japanese,” The Vapors (1980)
“New York Groove,” Hello (1976)
“Ballroom Blitz,” The Sweet (1973)
“Head Over Heels,” Tears For Fears (1985)
“Fantasy,” Aldo Nova (1982)
“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds,” The Beatles (1967)
As usual Wunderlust put on a great set as they always do. If you’ve never seen them play a live show, you’re really missing out. These productions never disappoint.
BDN brought fans to their feet, exploding with applause as the band started playing and Rold walked on stage as Alice Cooper. Throughout the show there he was, Reno’s premium guitarist, David Ecker, shredding his axe and flinging picks out into the adoring crowd. Ecker is always truly a rock star in his performances, whether with BDN or with his other band, 2016 Forte Award winner Hollywood Trashed.
A ninety-minute set of mostly Alice Cooper songs went like this:
“Can’t Sleep, Clowns Will Eat Me”
“Welcome To My Nightmare”
“The Black Widow”
“Only Women Bleed”
“Years Ago/Steven/The Awakening”
“Go To Hell” (Brandy Clark cover)
“Muscle Of Love”
“Ballad Of Dwight Frye”
“Billion Dollar Babies”
“No More Mr, Nice Guy”
“Desperado” (Don Henley & Glenn Frey cover)
“School’s Out/Another Brick In The Wall” (Pink Floyd cover)
Encore: “Under My Wheels”
This was a fantastic show through and through. Rold was perfect as Alice Cooper; he looks so much like Cooper it’s almost unreal. There were times that I forgot this was a tribute show and the look on Rold’s face at certain parts of the show made me think that Rold himself might have thought he really was Cooper, he was that good.
The highlight of the show, to me, was during the song “Ballad Of Dwight Frye.” That’s when Nurse Heidi came on stage and did her part of the show. Pileggi was absolutely brilliant as the nurse.
This production is not just your average tribute; it has everything. I’d say it’s a must-see musical/theatrical piece, and the caliber of the musicians on stage with the characters is above reproach.
John Tuckness has been photographing rock concerts in the Reno/Sparks/Tahoe area and as far as Northern California since 2004. He tries to attend as many shows as he can. John knew he wanted to be a concert photographer when he went to his first concert, Kiss and Montrose way back in 1976. He saw three guys shooting the show and thought to himself, “that’s what I want to do.” After many years of undercover work (sneaking his camera into venues), he finally got noticed and started getting photo passes through PR people and the bands. John has had many of his photos published in newspapers, websites and band autobiographies.