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Hairball sells out the Beach: Iconic tribute band plays to throngs of sandy-footed fans in Detroit Lakes

Fireballs, smoke and costume changes all featured prominently during Friday night's Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes as Hairball performed the classics and thrilled the outdoor, sold-out crowd as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15.

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Hairball performs at Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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DETROIT LAKES — With pyrotechnics, myriad costume changes and classic songs played to precision, Hairball delivered an action-packed performance at Friday night's Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes, as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival festivities on July 15.

An event organizer for the Detroit Lakes Jaycees said they had sold all of the tickets they had pre-printed for the lakeside party and had to print more the night of the show to accommodate the large audience of sandy-footed concertgoers.

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Hairball performs KISS songs at Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

"I don't know if we've ever sold-out a beach before, but if my guitar works, I'm happy," said Happy, guitarist for Hairball, before taking the stage for the group's show. "Whether it's five smiling faces, or 5,000, we try to win them all."

The legendary tribute band covered medleys of songs with iconic frontmen, including: KISS, Van Halen, Alice Cooper, Journey, Queen, Guns N' Roses, AC/DC, Black Sabbath and Ozzy Osbourne. During the medleys, at least one of the Hairball band members would change into the appropriate costume and, if needed, make-up for each of the singers to give the audience a more accurate depiction of the famed frontmen.

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An event attendee, dressed as Slash, lead guitarist for Guns N' Roses, laughs among the crowd during Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes, part of the 10-day, 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Hairball performs at Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Happy also said one of the most important things for him is to keep doing what he loves, which is playing music for others.

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"Lucky for me, a lot of other people like the same stuff," he said.

The lead guitar player is also currently battling cancer, he said, which has given him a new appreciation for life and his music.

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Hairball performs as KISS at Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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Hairball performs as KISS — complete with pyrotechnics — at Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Contributed / Heidi Ratajesak

"Every day that I wake up and everything works, I value it all," said Happy.

Hairball's opening act, The Fabulous Armadillos, also delivered hits from the 1960s and 1970s, which, when combined with Hairball's catalog, covered music from more than four decades.

Fabulous Armadillos saxophone player, Mike Kreitzer, and his band mate, Pat Thorn, are also professional musicians who gig with their own group: The Affordable Horns, of St. Cloud.

Kreitzer said, through playing with The Fabulous Armadillos, this wasn't his first beach-side concert.

"We took a couple trips to Mexico and took a bunch of fans, a couple hundred fans, and we played on a couple beaches in Mexico, so that was pretty cool," said Krietzer.

He also begrudgingly admitted, with a chuckle, that while playing the Detroit Lakes beach was alright, "it's not like being in Mexico."

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The Fabulous Armadillos perform at Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune
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The Fabulous Armadillos perform at Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

As far as his band mates, Kreitzer said, "We're always amazed, as horn players, we never get tired of hearing these guys play, especially the guitar player. He has this thing for not only getting the right notes off the record, but the tone, and a lot of guitar players don't do that, but he's just excellent."

Kreitzer also said he and his wife will always have very fond and special memories of Detroit Lakes because they were married in the city on July 5, 1980 and are currently celebrating 42 years together.

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A crowd of pontoons gathered on the City Beach to watch the Fabulous Armadillos perform at Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes as part of the 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

He added that Friday night's concert was literally the hottest gig they have played all summer and was grateful the group didn't have a need for horns on every song, so he could get into the shade.

"The other guys up there are dying," Kreitzer said, figuratively speaking. "But it's still really fun to do the outdoor (concerts), especially after COVID."

Check out all of the video and photos from the first night of Bash on the Beach at DL-Online.

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Members of the Detroit Lakes Jaycees sell mugs and other items during Bash on the Beach in Detroit Lakes, part of the 10-day, 86th Northwest Water Carnival on July 15, 2022.
Michael Achterling / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Saturday's concert was down-home country

Rain almost played a role in Saturday night's country-themed Bash on the Beach concert, featuring Eddie Montgomery and Troubadour, but "as soon as it hit 3 o'clock, (the rains) went away and the weather was perfect," said Water Carnival Co-Admiral Andrew Lessin.

Attendance at Saturday night's country-themed Bash on the Beach concert was not nearly as well attended, but Co-Admiral Kasey Fetzer noted that the rains which threatened the event earlier in the afternoon undoubtedly contributed to the overall drop in attendance, estimating it at between 800-1,000.

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Fargo-based band Troubadour performs for the crowd at Saturday night's country-themed Bash on the Beach concert on the Detroit Lakes City Beach, July 16, 2022.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Openers Troubadour put on an entertaining set, as their lead singer, Rick Schroeder, proudly proclaimed "We love 90's country!" and the band proceeded to roll out some hits from that era including David Lee Murphy's "Dust on the Bottle," Keith Urban's "Somebody Like You," Georgia Satellites' "Keep Your Hands to Yourself" and Sawyer Brown's "Some Girls Do."

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A couple started dancing at Saturday night's country-themed Bash on the Beach concert, where hundreds of people showed up to watch Troubadour and Eddie Montgomery.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

The band also played George Strait's "Troubadour," though Schroeder noted that they'd resisted doing so for a long time, for obvious reasons.

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Country singer Eddie Montgomery greets the crowd with a big smile at the start of his Bash on the Beach concert in Detroit Lakes on Saturday, July 16, 2022.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

Eddie Montgomery took the stage right around 9:30, starting out strong with some of Montgomery Gentry's biggest hits, "Where I Come From," "Lonely and Gone," and "Lucky Man."

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Country singer Eddie Montgomery performs at Detroit Lakes' City Beach on Saturday, July 16, 2022, as part of the Northwest Water Carnival's Bash on the Beach.
Vicki Gerdes / Detroit Lakes Tribune

He also made reference to the loss of his former Montgomery Gentry bandmate, Troy Gentry, stating, "There's not a day goes by that I don't miss T-Roy."

As he started another big hit, "Something to be Proud Of," he shouted, "We the people don't give it up for our great American heroes enough!" drawing a huge ovation from the crowd.

Multimedia News Lead Reporter
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