Steve Vai’s Backing Guitarist Says He Almost Got Fired After First Show: ’Everything Was Going Wrong’

Although we could spend days and weeks and years praising Steve Vai, we shouldn’t ever overlook his backing band. After all, with a musician of that caliber, there should be an accompanying group of pros handing everything else. And, at this moment, Steve Vai also has Dante Frisiello as a backing guitar player.

And in a recently published YouTube video, appropriately titled “My first show with Steve Vai (I almost got fired),” Frisiello recalled how he almost got fired after his first gig in Vai’s band. Previously working as a tech for the previous member Dave Weiner, the young musician recalled how some of the worst possible nightmares that a guitar player can imagine happened at this particular live show. The concert took place on March 24 this year at the Cultural Centre de Belem in Lisbon, Portugal. He recalls (via Guitar World):

“I started playing and everything was great. Then, when we got to my solo – right after Steve introduces me – I clicked the unmute button to start playing and there’s just a huge noise and my rig went down!”

“It was like the second I was supposed to start my solo, so I didn’t know what to do. I just started laughing because I was like, ‘Oh my God I can’t believe this is happening right now!’”

An absolute bummer for every young guitar player who got the chance to play with Steve. He soldiered on nonetheless but was also faced with a few other challenges. He continued:

“[Eventually] Steve’s like, ‘Oh well, we’re gonna move on. And then right when he says that, it comes back on!”

Touring with STEVE VAI as GUITAR TECH | Hellfest 2022

And then another nightmare happened:

“Two songs before that there’s a song called ‘Lights Are On,’ where Steve and I do a guitar duel – and I broke my high E string in the duel. So I had to finish the duel on my seven-string.”

Fortunately, his positive attitude saved the day. And this was not all. His in-ear monitoring was all messy. As he added:

“It was one of those gigs where, man, everything was going wrong. [Laughs] The levels in my ears were a mess. Things were changing all night and it was a weird gig, but we had fun. It was a great crowd [in a] sold-out, huge venue, so it was great.”

Steve Vai 07 Dante Frisiello Guitar Solo Live 07.04.23@TeatroDal Verme

Sure, it seemed like

“Next up for me, I’m going to the gym and then I’m gonna sit down with my notebook and go over the set last night. [I’ll] write down all the mistakes I made and all the little things I want to improve, so I can attack tomorrow and warm up for the show tomorrow by going over those things.”

Being a young talented guitar player, Dante also has his original music to offer. You can find some of his material through his official website here. As for the incident, or more like a series of incidents, that happened at his first show with Vai, you can check out Dante’s video below:

MY FIRST SHOW WITH STEVE VAI (I almost got fired)

Dante joined Vai’s band in November 2022. This was effective immediately after his previous guitar player Dave Weiner, who Dante was a tech for, announced that he’s quitting the band after 23 years. In his official video statement, Dave commented (via Guitar World):

“[For] 23 years I’ve been honored, privileged [and] blessed to play with a living legend. The gratitude that I have is immeasurable.”

“As life has it, you get to choose your own adventure, and I feel it’s time to choose a new adventure after these 23 years of playing together.” 

After 23 wonderful years, announcing my retirement from the Steve Vai band. 🫶

Of course, Steve Vai also appeared in Dave’s video statement, offering his best wishes to his former band member, saying:

“Dave has been an incredibly beautiful soldier – [an] absolutely accomplished musician. I can’t even quantify our good fortune [over] these 23 years.”

“We had so much fun. We’ve seen so much, we’ve been through so much, we played so many notes, we’ve played some great shows.”

Practicing my parts to Vai's "Blue Powder"...

Also announcing Dante Frisiello as Dave’s successor in the same video, Vai said:

“Dante was on our European tour, helping out and occasionally getting on stage. I’ve been listening very carefully to the way he plays and his parts, and I feel [that] he’s completely accomplished and up to do a beautiful job at picking up [where Weiner left off].”

Photo: Dante Frisiello YouTube Screenshot


  • David Slavkovic

    David always planned for music to be nothing more than a hobby. However, after a short career as an agricultural engineer he ended up news editor at KillerGuitarRigs, senior editor at, as well as a freelance contributor to online magazines such as GuitaristNextdoor.