During last year’s Hell’s Belles show at the Mangy Moose Saloon, just after a local man was thrown out for head-butting people on the dance floor, a young woman punched a man square in the face for spraying beer into the crowd. He was thrown out as well.
This year’s show is not during Rendezvous Festival, but when the all-female AC/DC tribute band returns to the Moose this Saturday the audience is likely to be similarly rowdy. That’s because the band channels the crowd-pumping energy of an AC/DC concert from the 1970s: a high-octane period in the band’s history during which the heavy metal pioneers lacked the props — trains, onstage cannons and an inflatable effigy of a woman named Rosie — that made their later stadium shows the stuff of legend.
For guitarist Adrian Lee Conner that means she has to bring the energy of a particularly uninhibited Angus Young, the AC/DC lead guitarist known for his reckless abandon on stage.
“Angus can be Angus, but I have to be Angus times a thousand so that people know what I’m doing,” she said.
Conner is known for mooning the audience and showing off a crudely drawn AC/DC tattoo while doing so. But while the tattoo is a symbol of the guitarist’s unique flair, mooning the crowd is an homage. Young used to drop his shorts and show his derriere to rabid fans during the period of AC/DC’s history that Hell’s Belles seeks to emulate.
Thanks to a friend who dated AC/DC’s original singer, Bon Scott, Conner was able to find photos of Young exposing his rear on stage in the late ’70s. That proved that mooning audiences had historical significance, but when the guitarist started doing it as a gimmick she was unaware of that history.
“Until I saw that picture I thought that we were kind of pulling away from the script,” she said.
Young, for his part, told Blender that Hell’s Belles was “the best AC/DC band” he had ever heard. That was in 2003, three years after the tribute band’s formation, and six years before they met the real AC/DC. Now the women of Hell’s Belles are approaching their 20th anniversary covering their Australian progenitor’s music.
Conner attributes their two decades of success to their authenticity and their identity as an all-female cover band.
“I honestly would not want to go see an AC/DC tribute band that wasn’t all girls. Like wouldn’t you want to just see the band?” she said.
“If we were not good or if we were a shtick, people would have lost interest a long time ago.”
David Yoder, the owner of the Moose, has definitely not lost interest. He said hosting the band has become “something of a habit.”
Jacksonites have also made the annual Hell’s Belles show a habit, so make sure to get tickets. Conner and the rest of the band have a storied history of sold-out local shows. ￼