December 04, 2023

Hairball performs explosive shows and pays respect to the rock stars it mimics

See the group Aug. 2, as well as other performers on July 31 and Aug. 5 at PGI convention

Dave Moody, of Hairball, performs as Gene Simmons from Kiss during a performance. Hairball will perform one of the three public nights at the Pyrotechnics Guild International Convention in Newton on Aug. 2 at the Iowa Speedway.

To truly capture the essence of a ‘70s and ‘80s rock show, Hairball must have respect for the bands and performers the group is emulating onstage, and they also have to consider the audience’s expectations. They want the group to sound exactly as the bands did on their record player or radio when they were kids.

In order to do justice to AC/DC, Kiss, Twisted Sister and Quiet Riot, Hairball band member Dave Moody suggests the group has to be on point with their sound, their performances and their costumes. Their real-life counterparts may be able to cut corners, but Hairball does not have that luxury.

So far, fans of the high-production arena rock tribute band are getting exactly what they expect from a Hairball show. Moody compares it to mom’s cookin’.

“We kind of cook it like your mom did with the biscuits and gravy. You know what I’m saying? We deliver it the way that you want, the way your remember it,” Moody says to Newton News in a recent phone interview. “And it’s all live, it’s 100 percent live. And we’re happy to be and proud to be that band.”

Hairball is scheduled to perform on Aug. 2 during the second “public night” of a national pyrotechnics convention dubbed Thunderstruck Over Iowa Speedway.Other performers include Jan & Dean’s Beach Party featuring Dean Torrence on July 31 and Alexandra Kay with opening band Kraft Brothers on Aug. 5.

Between the three performing acts, there is one among them that is guaranteed to match the explosive qualities of the convention itself. Hairball, too, is quite comfortable around pyrotechnics and frequently uses it for stage shows. Moody says the group has more pyro than a ‘70s Kiss concert.

“Every time we come out, we’re there to burn your eyes out of your head, make your eardrums bleed and leave you sticky, broke and confused — that’s our job,” Moody says. “…We respect what we do. I think that’s the best thing that we do. We respect the characters. We respect the music. And we respect the audience.”

In order words, Moody says Hairball is here to “preach the gospel” and for the congregation to enjoy the music. That’s how Hairball rolls. When Moody or fellow vocalists Joe Dandy or Kris Vox, for instance, start preaching, the congregation of rock fans are fulfilled with the gospel of those classic rock tunes.

It is the kind of “gospel” Moody and many other rock fans were accustomed to growing up. From the moment Moody dropped the needle on Side A of the Kiss “Destroyer” album and he heard the opening guitar strums of “Detroit Rock City,” he was a believer. And he knew exactly what he wanted to do the rest of his life.

“I looked at the album cover and was immediately transfixed, and then I put the needle on the record and I was infected with rock ‘n’ roll,” Moody says. “I knew at that very young age (of 6) by looking at the album cover and listening to that album that that’s exactly what I wanted to do with my life. That is absolutely fact.”

Moody pursued a life of music. After working as a bassist for Billy Ray Cyrus and as a member of an AC/DC cover band, he found his way to Hairball, portraying the characters he listened to as a kid, the same people who had shaped him and his career. He thinks of that whenever he walks onstage before a show.

“Whenever I walk out there and I don the makeup or I put on the boots or wear the Alice Cooper top hat or whatever it might be, I make sure that I respect it,” Moody says. “…It’s all about respect for the character and what we do, and trying to deliver it in the way that you remember it.”

It’s the ultimate nostalgia trip, and Moody says it also harkens back to a better time. The 1970s and 1980s were “a little bit more carefree” than the 2020s. If Hairball can transport the audience to that simpler and better time through music, the band will have accomplished its goal.

There is no better time than the ‘70s and ‘80s, Moody says, especially with the characters and the costumes and the authentic production of the show.

“To lose yourself in that moment and to raise your beer in the air and spill it on your buddy and singing the choruses to your favorite songs and have a big time like we do, that’s what it’s all about,” Moody says, suggesting the music is staying alive through younger listeners. “At this point, (the music) is generational.”

And to be the one onstage facilitating that nostalgia trip, Moody admits he does find time to smell the roses when he’s giving a larger than life performance.

“When you look out and see 10,000 light up flashlights on their phone or whenever you see people just losing their minds out there and having a good time, you can’t help but smile,” he says. “I’m like, you know what, I’m conducting the choir at this moment.”

Contact Christopher Braunschweig at 641-792-3121 ext. 6560 or

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig

Christopher Braunschweig has a strong passion for community journalism and covers city council, school board, politics and general news in Newton, Iowa and Jasper County.