116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
Arch Allies is about playing the best of the most popular. The St. Paul-based cover band, which will ring in 2022 Friday at the Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, draws heavily from '80s favorites, including Queen, Def Leppard and Bon Jovi.
“We're taking five or six of the finest songs from bands and we're just going for it,” vocalist-guitarist Kevin Todd said during a telephone interview while on vacation in Mesa, Ariz. “We go out there and have fun with some of the greatest songs ever recorded.”
Arch Allies, which also features cuts from such classic rockers as REO Speedwagon, Styx and Journey, will bring on the show as the year closes, with fog and confetti, while flanked with video screens.
“It's about fun and we try to take it to another level when we play for the folks in Iowa,” Todd said. “We know what they like, which is a six pack of rock with a chaser. Right now Queen songs get the biggest reaction, but all of the songs connect with the audience. We go out there and give you the hits.”
What: Arch Allies
Where: Riverside Casino & Golf Resort, 3184 Highway 22, Riverside
When: 9:30 p.m. Friday, Dec. 31, 2021
Tickets: $25 ages 21 and over, general admission, standing-room-only, Casino Gift Shop, 1-(877) 677-3456 or riversidecasinoandresort.com/eventcenter.html
Band’s website: archallies.com/
Arch Allies also plays singalong songs.
“We play the tunes you love to hear,” Todd said. “People know all of the words to the songs we play. That familiarity makes it fun.”
Todd records original songs on the side. That goes back more than a generation. During the late '70s, Todd was surprised while recording in a St. Paul studio when the members of Van Halen skated into his band's rehearsal.
“(Van Halen vocalist) David Lee Roth asked us if we knew any Van Halen and we started to play ‘Ain't Talkin' Bout Love.’ It was an amazing experience,” Todd said. “They talked with us for a while. It's something you'll never forget.”
Don't expect Van Halen when Arch Allies performs at the Riverside, but do expect a show that appeals to multiple generations.
“We're a band that is for those from 8 to 80,” Todd said. “You'll see grandparents, parents and kids at our shows. They all know the songs we play. What we're about is giving the people what they want as they stroll down memory lane.”
Life in a cover band isn't as easy as it seems.
About a decade ago, Journey tried to put a halt to Todd and his covers career when its legal team went after his former band, Separate Ways.
“They issued a cease-and-desist order,” Todd said. “They wanted money. They don't come after bands who aren't doing well. What that was all about with them is the almighty dollar. So we evolved from being a band that covers one band to going a diversified route. It's made things much more interesting.”
Todd is well aware that on occasion actual bands replace their vocalist with those on the cover circuit. That was the path Tim “Ripper” Owens walked when he left his group for Judas Priest. It's the same story for Arnel Pineda, who now fronts Journey.
“You never know what can happen,” Todd said. “It's crazy unpredictable. But if a singer leaves, you do your best to replace the singer. Musicians can be replaced. It's no fun but it's part of what you do to keep things going.”
Todd will do whatever it takes to keep Arch Allies together.
“I enjoy it too much to stop, and the audience has been having a great time for years with us,” Todd said. “We were reminded how much all of this means to us when we stopped playing because of COVID. But we're moving along now and moving toward a new year, which we will help ring in when we come back to the Riverside.”