Big Head Todd and the Monsters venturing back to North Lake Tahoe
If you go
What: Big Head Todd and the Monsters
When: 8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 7
Where: Crystal Bay Casino Crown Room
Cost: $28 advance; $32 door; $48 booth seat
CRYSTAL BAY, Nev. — Like any longtime touring band, Big Head Todd and the Monsters have experienced their share of transportation troubles throughout their 30-year run.
But nothing like the precarious position they found themselves in years ago on the way to North Lake Tahoe.
“Coming over from California, there’s a big mountain pass, Donner Pass,” said frontman Todd Park Mohr, referring to the steep, serpentine stretch of roadway west of Truckee. “We got stuck at the very top of the pass and had to get towed down because the snow was so bad.
“We had a bus and a trailer. I couldn’t believe it was happening.”
After avoiding becoming the Donner Party of rock bands, Mohr said performing for a live audience at the Crystal Bay Casino was especially rewarding that anxiety-riddled night.
“Nothing like fearing for your life to add some excitement before a show,” said Mohr, laughing. “We made it to the gig, but it was an action-packed day.”
Needless to say, when Big Head Todd and the Monsters — a four-piece outfit flexing blues, funk and jazz influences — venture to the North Shore this weekend, Mohr and his bandmates are hoping for an actionless expedition.
On Sunday, BHTM will snake down Donner Pass once again and make a stop at the Crystal Bay Casino for a performance inside the Crown Room.
“We love playing there because it’s a great sounding, intimate room,” Mohr said. “And people love to be loud and party there, too; it’s a raucous room.”
On top of that, since BTHM hails from the Rocky Mountains — Boulder, Colo., to be exact — Mohr said the band feels solace playing in North Lake Tahoe.
“It just feels like a mountain town to me,” he added. “People are so excited to hear great music; it’s a very joyous occasion.”
And with an extensive catalog of 11 studio albums and two live albums, Big Head Todd and the Monsters have plenty of songs to choose from when compiling a set list. Above all, though, Mohr said the band strives to play the songs the fans want to hear.
“Oftentimes I give up what we had planned for what people want to hear if they’re crying out for a song,” said Mohr, noting that he scans their website before every show for song requests. “There are certain songs that people think of as our hits that we know they want to hear when they see our band.”
Mohr went on to mention “Bittersweet” and “It’s Alright,” off the platinum-selling album “Sister Sweetly” (1993), as examples of fan favorites.
The BTHM frontman said the group also sprinkles in new songs, such as their latest single “Wipeout Turn,” which was released Monday, Jan. 11.
Mohr is especially eager to hear how crowds respond to their latest tune.
“It took me six years to write that song,” Mohr said. “It was really exciting to me when I finished writing it — I knew that, to me, it was a great song.”
Struggling to come up with a chorus for years, Mohr said he had a spark of inspiration while watching Florence + The Machine perform “Ship To Wreck” on Saturday Night Live last May.
“I knew what the chorus was supposed to be immediately,” he said. “It was through listening to something else that I found my song.”
Read more about Big Head Todd and the Monsters at bigheadtodd.com.