When Nikki Sixx formed Sixx A.M. nearly a decade ago, he didn't want his main bandmates -- vocalist James Michael and guitarist DJ Ashba -- publicly viewed as two guys who just happened to be playing with the bassist of Motley Crue. So Sixx devoted the A.M. portion of the group's name to their surnames.
Nowadays, it could also be thought of as After Motley.
With Sixx and his Crue brethren having called it quits in writing following last New Year's Eve's final show in Los Angeles -- the cinematic version of which will be shown one night only in San Antonio on Tuesday, and only at the Cinemark McCreless Market theater (info and tickets here) -- Sixx appears fixed to concentrate his post-Crue life on a band that can no longer be considered a side project.
And that was good news for the River City Rockfest.
San Antonio's fourth annual Memorial Day Sunday festival outside the AT&T Center was just the right show for Sixx A.M. to take part, as the band found itself on the main stage in the middle of the day prior to headliner Disturbed, Scorpions, Megadeth and Bullet For My Valentine and in a larger setting than second-stage acts Sevendust, P.O.D., Hatebreed, The Sword, Texas Hippie Coalition, Devildriver and Red Sun Rising.
Touring in support of the first half of double-CD Prayers for the Damned: Vol. 1, Sixx A.M. is just as much the brainchild of Michael as it is Sixx. On stage, Michael is strictly in the public eye as the group's vocalist. But in addition to possessing a polished voice, he is one of the most underrated songwriters and producers in rock and metal. The trio has penned songs that rock and can still be melodic and catchy enough to sing while fist-pumping, including "Lies of the Beautiful People" and the title track to This is Gonna Hurt, both of which were performed.
Along with touring drummer Dustin Steinke, Sixx A.M. rocked and rolled for 30-40 minutes. One of the few drawbacks of working and shooting a concert festival is the inability to witness most bands' entire sets due to having to be in position to cover the start of each artist over three stages. Such was the case with Sixx A.M., a disadvantage especially considering the group doesn't tour San Antonio as much as several of the Rockfest's other acts. And though the band reportedly omitted one of the best rock songs by any artist in recent memory in "Pray For Me," the strains of Michael introducing Disturbed drummer Mike Wengren to guest on Sixx A.M.'s most popular single, "Life is Beautiful," reverberated throughout a festival that enjoyed its largest four-year official attendance of "more than 27,800."
The timing for Sixx A.M.'s musicians to take part in the Rockfest was fruitful not only given Sixx's no-longer status with Motley Crue but also the fact that Ashba's leader in Guns N' Roses, Axl Rose, has reunited with Slash and Duff McKagan. Although Ashba has reportedly said he could have been part of that reunification and tour, GNR's loss has resulted in Sixx A.M.'s gain.
Should Sixx, Ashba and Michael continue to concentrate their efforts on the band for the foreseeable future, and perhaps beyond, more great music is certain to come forth. And that should keep making life beautiful not just for a man who defied death from the dangers of heroin -- but for his rock faithful, too.
Click the following links for a River City Rockfest interview with Hatebreed plus coverage of Scorpions, Megadeth, Bullet For My Valentine, Hellyeah plus Red Sun Rising and The Sword. Stay tuned for more.