What do Frank Zappa, Grand Theft Auto and Ralph Macchio all have in common? Besides being complete icons in their respective fields, they all have ties to one man: Steve Vai. As a child, Vai was destined for greatness, as musical instruments spoke to him in ways that no one around him could comprehend. His love of the guitar started when he was 6 years old and carried on through adulthood, leading him to perform alongside some of the world’s most renowned musicians, including David Lee Roth, Spinal Tap, Ozzy Osbourne and even Mary J. Blige.
Saturday night, Dec. 10, at The Complex was a complete culmination of all Vai’s success. He took the stage in a traditional Steve Vai fashion, sporting an electronically lit hoodie and matching guitar. It was as if some demi-guitar-god was transported into a Tron video game and wasted no time in shattering the place with his axe of musical power. The crowd was ecstatic throughout the night as Vai performed without the distraction of lyrics. The crowd was treated to several video tributes to Vai, including a guitar duel between himself and Ralph Macchio in the movie Crossroads as well as a short video performance by Queen’s original guitarist, Brian May.
The transcendent experience of watching Steve Vai perform was one that will surely never be forgotten. Vai is without a doubt one of the most memorable guitarists to date, and he still manages to stay relevant. Saturday night’s performance was akin to that of an orchestra, with each act taking us deeper into an emotional and spiritual journey that we never knew existed. As a child of the ’80s generation, I felt right at home photographing the man who had helped mastermind some of the music of my youth.