Hellfest, Clisson France, 21-June, 2013 
Saturday, June 22, 2013, 06:10 PM
Posted by Administrator
Bonjour mesdames and monsieurs! I'm going to make this easy--plain and simple--Twisted Sister absolutely destroyed Hellfest last night. It was a sixty-minute onslaught of pure metal acceleration, from the opening note until the last ring of the amplifier. There is nothing-NOTHING--that can compare to Twisted Sister playing a European festival. The fans will be talking about the onstage demolition for years to come.

Do you know what happens when you mix fine wine, good cheese, a small sleepy town in France… add some rain and tens of thousands of sick mutha fuckas from all over Europe? Hellfest, ladies and gentlemen, you get Hellfest. Clisson is a beautiful, quaint, medieval village that turns into a haven for thousands upon thousands of heavy metal fans for just three days of the year.

You know what's coming next, of course. Where there is cheese…there is cheesiness! It can only mean one thing--that its time. Time for the only tour blog that braves wind, snow, rain, hail and fried food to bring you all the concert details you're aching to know about... and plenty you don't! My babies, it is my true pleasure and honor to bring this special European edition of the Armadillo Road Report, the Official Twisted Sister tour blog, coming to you from Hellfest 2013 in Clisson, France.

The Twisted entourage of band and crew arrived the day before yesterday--unfortunately, I can't say the same for some of our baggage. Such are the risks and perils of air travel. Apparently the primary law of physics concerning the creation and destruction of matter does not apply to the airline industry--it seems that baggage CAN simply disappear into thin air.
After a brief (albeit soggy) stroll around the chateau de Clisson (a beautiful castle in the center of town) and a delicious ”plat du jour” of filet mignon, we settled into our hotel and prepared for the onslaught of metal heads who temporarily take over this quiet, rural paradise.

Group after group of happy headbangers [great name for a pub, don’t you think? “Oy, mate. We’re ‘eaded down to the ‘appy ‘eadbanger for a pint!”] made the mecca from bus and train stations into Hellfest, loaded down with camping gear and libations, destined for the fields a few miles away.

Visualize a huge open field, covered with straw, with rolling tree-covered hills in the background to one side- a lush farm crop of some sort of vegetable growing in the foreground. The festival grounds were created using large medieval circus-like tents for food concessions stage left, and a miniature city of vendors stage right, manufactured from transportation cargo containers stacked atop one another, two deep by three high, covered with corrugated metal, adorned with a rust patina in bubble patterns. (Again with the bubbles? Quoi de fuck?!) Two stages erected side by side, such that while one band played, the second band prepped. Gazing outward from backstage, the massive crowd seemed to extend as far back as the eye could see.

With the venue just minutes from the hotel, we arrived late morning to find out that there had been a change of events. Due to late cancellation of a headliner, the bill had to get shifted around and we were informed that Twisted Sister was now scheduled to play at 6:30 pm! This meant a few changes to band and crew logistics, and I have to confess, it just felt odd to being doing our setup knowing that our work would be done by the time our usual dinner hour rolled around. I don’t recall ever seeing Twisted play during daylight, with the exception of Norway, where the sun didn’t set.

Backstage was a pre-fabricated maze of bands, complemented by an ample bar for those with access, shower and restroom facilities, a dining room, a well-stocked snack and drink area for crew, plenty of art (it’s France, of course) and even a pool table. Walking back towards Twisted Sister’s dressing room, the names of bands posted on the outside of dressing rooms read like refrigerator magnetic poetry—I was particularly amused by the juxtaposition of 4 bands—I felt like the universe was making a commentary on my life—Sleep…..Terror….Neurosis….Sick of It All….

I made the extremely long (and sometimes treacherous) walk from dressing room to stage many, many times—each time I could hear lead singers and other artists vocalizing and doing warm up exercises. It was a never-ending dance: one artist about to take the stage, fresh and fired up---another coming off the stage, tired, sweaty but victorious. The backstage areas on both sides were filled entirely with mound upon mound of band equipment. The same dance ensued: as one artist played, the crew on deck prepared their gear, and the mad scramble once the on-stage artists said “Merci!” One drum riser exiting stage right….and another one coming on. One band’s colors being lowered while the next one sits ready to raise. Behind the stages, gear rolled up and down the ramps like a roadie case freeway. Truly…it was organized chaos.

On the positive side, with such an early prep time, I was able to catch Hardcore Superstar and Saxon’s entire sets—a treat for me on both counts—they sounded fantastic—and the crowd seemed to be soaking up every minute of it. Unlike other festivals, you could hear both stages from one spot as they were mere yards from one another, but to get a visual, there was a bit of a shuffle from right to left, like a heavy metal Wimbledon match. It seemed as though most of the 80’s metal bands played on the main stage, with the hardcore and death metal bands playing the second one.

One of the things I found most interesting was the eclectic mix of people and bands. Normally, Agnostic Front and Black Breath would not share a bill with Whitesnake, Def Leppard and Twisted Sister. And if they did, you’d have half the crowd happy, half not so happy. But here at Hellfest, punk, death metal and heavy metal fans all mix together and get along, and the crowds are so giving, so enthusiastic—it’s impossible to really know which fans were there for which act.

Europe went on the main stage before Twisted—there was something really special about seeing Europe play in….well…Europe! I had always wanted to hear “The Final Countdown” live, and so I can cross that one off my list. The Twisted road crew made their last minute tweaks to the guitars and drums, surrounded by stacks and stacks of other gear. I just have to say—Def Leppard’s gear looked like a busload of supermodels were packing for a weeklong Maybelline convention in Vegas—I have never SEEN so much gear for one band before.

Every time I turned around, I was walking into another giant rolling wardrobe case, box or other stack. Many of the other bands as well seemed to have so much gear that I had to periodically check Twisted’s stack of guitars and bags to ensure they didn’t get lost in the backstage madness. It made me appreciate the clean, minimalist approach that Twisted Sister takes when they travel. And quite frankly, it’s proof that you can bring everything but the kitchen sink, and still sound so-so…..while Twisted Sister arrives with a load that fit in the back of a passenger van….and performed circles around those with ten times the gear.

As I stepped out onto the loading platform backstage, the heavens let loose again. It was clear that we were not in the United States. In the U.S., when it begins to rain cats and dogs, the crowd runs for cover as if they would melt. In Europe…no one budged! Instead, I watched in awe as tens of thousands of fans nonchalantly donned ponchos. I believe the expression is: “There is no bad weather, only poor clothing choices.”

After running few more errands, I locked up the dressing rooms just as the familiar opening notes of “Long Way to the Top” could be heard in the distance. And it was a Long Way to the Stage for me! I sprinted the hefty distance, making it just in time to hear the roar of the crowd as A.J. mounted his drum kit and the rest of Twisted took their positions on stage. It was very odd to make the usually dramatic entrance onstage in the daylight—to compensate for the lack of darkness, the local crew filled the stage with theatre fog—so thick at times I could barely see the other side of the stage.

I noticed immediately a different sound to the band—I don’t know if A.J. had a different type of kick-drum, but the sound was INDESCRIBABLE. You could feel in your nether regions! It was so deep…so rich..so loud! And unless he was playing completely differently than any of the previous shows I’ve heard, the kick bass line was faster and more stoccato---bababababababababa—unreal! I don’t know if he changed up the drum line or it was just differently balanced sound but it was as if I was hearing “You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll” for the first time!

The rhythm section dominated again during “Shoot ‘em Down”—Animal’s relentless pounding with A.J.’s monster kick gave the song an extra boost. Judging from the enthusiasm of the crowd, they were enjoying as much as I was! Speaking of the crowd, what I absolutely LOVE the most about European festivals is that pretty much, ANYTHING goes. There were fans dressed like Dee…fans wearing feather boas….fans waving giant bananas (no, no….not THAT…actually inflatable bananas…sheesh!) cowboy hats, top hats, pirate hats…body paint and biker gear….and they all rock together like peas and carrots.

As they launched into “Stay Hungry,” the rhythm section just let loose again, this time, with A.J. pounding so furiously that he had a cymbal fly off! The crowd simply fed off the energy, and the crowd surfing began….first with one…then another…and before long, I could see literally waves of human surfers, gently floating atop the crowd and then, miraculously cradled into the arms of hulking security men who plucked the surfers from the tops and righted them on foot, as if they were feather-weights. As one surfer made his way to the front and was escorted to the side—I could see that he made his long horizontal trek without ever removing his cigarette—Ooh la la—quel French! One crowd surfer did it in a kilt….now THAT takes balls. And he had them. Trust me. Hard to hide anything when you’re crowd surfing in a kilt.

“The Beast” followed “Stay Hungry”—one of things I love about European festival crowds—they don’t require a lot of prompting. One visual cue—like a single overhead clap—and soon the entire place is doing it unison. “The Beast” was played strong and tight—the riffs heavy and hard, just how we like it, and the audience was simply fists and hair as far as the eye could see.

“We’re Not Gonna Take It” always creates a crowd eruption—Hellfest no exception here—but for some reason, an enormously large inflatable bowling ball was released during the song, and it was a bit distracting as it steamrollered over photographers and fans alike. Speaking of photographers, there were so many at Hellfest that security had bring them up in groups of 30 or so at a time….I stopped counting after the fourth rotation! Great duet with Eddie and Jay Jay—proof that better crowds give even better performances. While the duet was excellent in Austin last week, this concert seemed to flow a lot easier. The band seemed relaxed, and yet at the same time, absolutely fueled by the amazing crowd.

One fan raised a large sign that read: “A.J. I want a drumstick please!” For the record, that same fan help up the same sign for every single previous act—just sayin’….. but in fairness to him or her, each sign *was* customized to the drummer.

Dee said thank you to mother nature, who graciously and uncharacteristically brought out the sun and did NOT hit us with hail, tornadoes and all the other weather that Twisted shows seem to spawn. Dee asked those in attendance if anyone “Parlez vous English?” [I believe that’s what you call, Franglais] and requested some translation assistance for those who didn’t. He complemented the fans on their good singing…but “Those fans over there….not so much! Who are they?” and then observed that a group of attendees seemed to be focusing their attention elsewhere…which is when Dee realized that this small group of fans were busying themselves for the band prepping the adjacent stage. I don’t know how well it translated, but Dee gave the disinterested bunch a heartfelt, “Suck it, bee-yutch! Wanna see what a real crowd sounds like?” Well, that crowd didn’t need any cues—the noise coming from the enormous throng of metal heads was absolutely deafening.

The crowd showed their appreciation with an impromptu a cappella of “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that was so loud, Jay Jay had to almost shout into his mic to be heard. At an afternoon press conference, Jay Jay was asked if he liked the French, to wit, he responded, “Je m’appelle Jay Jay FRENCH! What the fuck do you think? Love the French!”

Next on the bill--“The Price.” Dee belted this one with such heart—the song that means so much to so many—his voice was just filled with emotion. During the solo, he took a quick moment to steal a kiss from his wife, Suzette, standing in the wings. It was a very moving, touching moment—to see a heavy metal rocker that we all know is tough as steel, have such a tender side to him. Eddie’s solo was spot on—the sound was just perfectly balanced and every note just held itself suspended…just so! It was a perfect metal moment.

Being sunny outside, the red lights of “Burn In Hell” probably weren’t very apparent to the crowd—the stage was filled once more with fog to provide the lights an avenue—when Dee dropped to the ground, he emerged through the fog like something out of a horror script. This dramatic moment was somewhat of a contrast to the fan in a pink leotard…complete with pink tutu…who managed to surf his entire way to the front. Vive la difference! (and they were worried that *I* wear too much pink—don’t worry, crew…I’m not ordering a tutu!) Another crowd surfing fan sported a set of Twisted Sister shoulder pads that I have to say, looked quite close to the originals. And then...there was the fan wearing a traffic cone on his head. I don't know. That....and the inflatable bananas...what I can I say? It's Europe!

Dee had some hilarious Dee-isms as well—including one about his observation of all the “Dee Snider” wigs in the audience. “It’s my real fucking hair! It’s not a wig, see?” and he held his locks out to prove it, “See? So far, so good….” Followed by a comment that it would certainly suck to have a to wear a bandana. Hey…wait a second…..it’s not SO bad…. Well…actually…..yes it is…..

[hey….still reading? Well, hang in there…I’m almost done…four notepad pages to go…]

“I Wanna Rock” is by far, the one song that just makes anyone left at concessions, drop their crepes and come running. Hellfest was rocking out as far as the eye could see—and it was EVERYONE—the security, the photographers, fans, concessions, medics….everyone with their fist in the air, screaming rock. I don’t know about you, but if I was a band playing next, I’d be crapping my pants in the dressing room, going, “holy shit…I have to play following THAT?” yeah. I’ll send the headliners a sympathy card and some flowers.

Best Dee-ism of the night: while egging the crowd on to scream “Rock!”, he would yell out “I wanna rock!’ in various poses and tempos….and at one point, straddles his legs, and screams it at the crowd from between his legs, followed by: “Hey! Stop looking at my ass!”
He then introduced the closing number as a “very old song” and that “the people who wrote it are almost dead *cough* rollingstones *cough*… and they ended the show with an earth-shattering club version of “It’s Only Rock N’ Roll” that you could see how much the band was enjoying themselves playing it.

In the middle of it….Dee asked….”Why are you sitting? Are you in a wheelchair?.....You are? Well….oh. okay. Well, thanks for rolling here today!” and then addressed some non-wheeled fans who were not standing, and again, with minimal prompting, tens of thousands of fans began chanting, in flawless English, “Stand the fuck up! Stand the fuck up!” He asked everyone to end the song by screaming “I love it!” on cue, in response to “It’s Only Rock and Roll….” while throwing their fists in the air and jumping as high as they could.
It was awe inspiring.

Dee: “Turn the lights on the audience!” [sun comes out] “Thank you, God!” and with that, the band stopped playing and gave the audience a well-deserved round of applause. That’s how it’s done, babies. The gauntlet has now been thrown down for Graspop!

I had to make a quick dash back to the dressing room while the final notes were being played, so that the room would be opened, fresh towels and water at the ready…. And within minutes, an exhausted but exhilarated band returned from the stage, triumphant in their thorough ass-kicking that they delivered on-stage.

Twisted Sister proved last night why so many bands will not take the stage after them—and any band that plays after Twisted once…will likely not make that mistake again. The boys in black and pink absolutely destroyed Hellfest. In sixty minutes, they delivered a fist-throwing, ass-kicking, bass pounding, guitar dualing, crowd surfing in tutus performance that will leave fans screaming for more for months to come! Merci beaucoup Clisson!

And with that, my babies, I crossed off a few more items from the bucket list…including “Have a crepe in France” and “Meet Suzette Snider” [I’m a HUGE Suzette fan…As an artist I have always admired her tremendous talent for costumes, makeup and of course, she gave us the perfectly designed bones logo!] The crepe was delicious, and Suzette was absolutely lovely. [Hold the Crepe Suzette jokes, please] She is even more beautiful in person, and was so personable, gracious and kind. I just adore the entire Twisted family—and I’m so grateful to have the privilege to serve this amazing Twisted organization.

I grabbed some quick dinner on the town with Animal and Mr. French as we took a stroll around the castle... can I just say this ONE more time? If you had told me, when I was just a 13 year old awe-struck fan...that in thirty years from now, you will be sitting in a cafe in France, swapping tales with members of Twisted Sister after helping them onstage at one of the largest European festivals....well, I would have said, "oh yeah--that's a great dream! too bad it will never come true." My friends--my wildest dreams have come true--never stop dreaming, my babies. The universe holds magic for each of us.

This is Armadillo…signing off and heading to Paris for a few days of sight-seeing and all the cheese I can eat before I bring you the next installation of the Armadillo Road Report, from Graspop Metal Meeting in Dessel, Belgium! Au revoir, my babies!

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Hellfest Setlist, Clisson France, 21-June, 2013 
Friday, June 21, 2013, 06:38 PM
Posted by Administrator
Twisted simply DESTROYED Hellfest!

1. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
2. Shoot 'em Down
3. Stay Hungry
4. The Beast
5. The Kids Are Back
6. We're Not Gonna Take It
7. The Price
8. Burn in Hell
9. The Fire Still Burns
10. I Wanna Rock
11. It's Only Rock and Roll

Full road report coming soon!


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Republic of Texas Biker Rally, Austin Texas, June 15, 2013 
Sunday, June 16, 2013, 02:46 AM
Posted by Administrator
Here we go, my babies! Get your motor running and head out on the highway...coming to you from the live music capital of the world and the Great Republic of Texas' Guiness Book of World Records Holder for the largest motorcycle parade...the Austin Texas ROT motorcycle rally! Thirty years after their first show in Austin (which by the way, was also their first United States tour date) Twisted Sister absolutely tore it loose, rocking the crowd with a fantastic full set of blistering metal, paying tribute to the 30th anniversary of “You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll” and ending the show with an encore worthy of the thousands of denim and leather clad S.M.F.s who joined the party! That's right, ladies and gentlemen, it's time for only heavy metal concert reviewer brave enough to face 15,000 while wearing pink...the one and only Official Armadillo Road Report, dateline June 15, 2013, Austin Texas! Yee-fuckin’-haw!

Your faithful road reporter would have normally felt right at home amongst the armadillos...except for the fact that the local breed are apparently on a northern migration…go figure. Regretfully, I arrived on a late flight Friday evening, missing the crew dinner at a local BBQ joint the night before but from the photos I've seen of our own Mr. French gnawing on some ribs, I missed some fine good eats. Friday also found our Twisted entourage riding in the parade, and served as parade grand marshals to an endless sea of chrome and leather. And yes—they did in fact set the Guiness Book of World Records for longest motorcycle parade.

The morning began bright and early for the road crew as we made our way out to the expo grounds. The concert area gave me a few flashbacks of the ill-fate Wichita show—a large, sloped open field with a simple stage construction, lighting truss but *unlike* Kansas, we had a tarped roof overhead AND someone paying close attention to the weather. Twisted seems to have a history of producing nasty weather, and so when dark clouds began to circle, I prayed that Ted Nugent and his raindance headdress was nowhere within 100 miles.
The field was cordoned off with what looked like giant chunks of concrete remnants, and a security pit so large we nicknamed it “the moat.”

We could see an arrangement of concession stands off in the rear, including one advertising foot long corn dogs—I’m brave….I’m not THAT brave....and of course, there were beer tents, biker merchandise, beer tents, food concession, beer tents, biker displays, beer tents....and a very large jumbotron bussed in on a trailer. And more beer tents. The expo center where much of the biker wares were displayed, was adjacent to biker ramps (for jumping over a bus!), obstacle courses and even a little pond, where I suspect more than one intoxicated attendee ended up before the night was over. In the middle of the field, a “goat pen” with folding chairs, which I suspect was some attempt at a “VIP” section.
A very warm and accommodating local crew met us and tended to all of our needs, showing us that kind Texas hospitality--certainly enough to put Austin at the top of my “friendliest cities” list.

The local saying is “Keep Austin Weird,” a commentary on the impending gentrification efforts by big business. I can certainly tell you that while we didn’t encounter a lot of weirdness, Austin did have its quirks. The least of which --the live music and carnival atmosphere extended well beyond the 2 a.m. hour. A bit too enthusiastic perhaps, but I learned that it *IS* possible to wear too much pink. Bikers are a warm, patriotic and fun crowd…but to prevent any misunderstandings, it was suggested to tone down the pink and black a bit. And for the record, I was not wearing a pink thong.

So after de-pinkifying, I joined the road crew for load-in and sound check—this time we had an impromptu version of “My Sherona” and we were off to an excellent start, a quick version of “Tom Sawyer” followed by “Shoot ‘em Down”. It sounded good and we even finished early. As the morning moved along, the humidity grew and before long, both road crew and stage were drenched in sweat. Our own “Sound of Thunder” was in the house—A. J. joined the a.m. sound check wearing his aptly descriptive “weapons of mass percussion” shirt—his kick drum boom drowned out on occasion by the roaring and revving of motorcycles, making the place sound more like a drag race than a biker rally at times. There seemed to be three types of biker sounds—the “butter butter butter” rumble of V-twins, the high-pitched whine and rev of street racers, and the “ringgggggg ding ding ding” of dirt bikes. Yes, folks, there was something for everyone here! We had a brief luxury—an hour or two to go back to the hotel for a quick shower, lunch and a power nap—and then on to the show!

I was delighted to see the merch tent, located immediately in the front fence line—a nice change from back by the beer tents—and oh, my babies, did we have merch! Best merch ever! We had the bones bandannas, Chick-Skull TS tee, UTB tees, We’re Not Gonna Take It/Bones tee, the new and beautiful 30th anniversary of “You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll” tee, there was a retro-style but very tasteful “cursive” tee and yes, ladies and gents—the ever popular, often talk about but seldom modeled “Twisted thong!” Ladies thong, I might add—no banana hammocks.

Vince Neil took to the stage first—as a co-headliner he was also afforded a full set—and definitely a popular set with the crowd. (I never realized just how many “motorcycle” themed songs there are!) The crew and I took a moment to enjoy his show from the wings—I was mesmerized watching his drummer, whose drumming style can be described as one part heavy metal drumming, one part epileptic seizure. At one point, he used a loose crash cymbal…to play his crash cymbals! Interesting to watch, if not a bit distracting after awhile. After a set full of Motley hits, the sun began to set and we prepped to rock Austin.

The local military color guard took the stage to some very well-deserved cheers—in fact, it was one of the loudest applause I’ve ever heard a color guard get—and then something I didn’t expect—those in attendance recited the pledge of allegiance. A crowd of thousands all screaming out the pledge to our flag absolutely gave me chills—one of those special little moments you really have to stop and appreciate. The producers brought the festival founders onstage—along with a special entourage of vets from all American conflicts, including WWII. One lucky vet went home with a raffled off custom chopper from Count Custom Cycles. (We really felt bad for the guy who’s name got picked but wasn’t there to claim it! His loss…made someone else a happy fellow!)

With the sun down, it wasn’t before long that “Long Way” blared out and our bad boys of rock and roll made their way to the stage. I had a chance to see Dee getting himself fired up as he prepared to storm the stage—he reminded me of a prize fighter about to take the ring-- jumping side to side, fists pumping, ready to annihilate any opponent. He stormed the stage, opening with “You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll”—homage to its 30-year old roots—an exhilarating opening number, and rapidly becoming one of my favorite openers. (Animal helped it along by pounding a few extra notes on Eddie’s guitar)

I was pleasantly surprised to see “Shoot ‘em Down” next on the setlist—I wasn’t sure at first if the crowd was ready for this monster song, but as Mark launched his bass assault—that spot in the song when he alternates between smacking the neck and the body of the bass as he does with such fervor—the crowd just erupted with cheers. It’s nice to be appreciated.

After a cleanly played version of “Stay Hungry,” Dee stopped to chat with the audience for a spell. Perhaps the crowd had enjoyed a bit too much….sun. Or maybe it was the beer tents. But either way, Dee needed just a bit more! He observed that at 3 a.m. last night “You motherfuckers were louder than that!” (so true. really. Austin partied until at least past 4!) And as he introduced the band as “Twisted Fucking Sister”…he followed with a grateful tongue-in-cheek curtsy, and launched into a rant on Bret Michaels that while I’m NOT going to repeat here, is totally worth a trip to YouTube!

The audience gave a solid response to “The Beast”—thousands of hands and fists, including one clutching one of those foot-long corn dogs—at one point, Dee put Jay Jay in a headlock as he played—and then straddled atop an amp, nearly giving one of the crew a heart attack as he belted out the stop from his perch. He repeated this on a larger scale during “The Kids Are Back”—now standing atop the monitor—I couldn’t unclench myself until he was safely back on the stage! Animal snuck in a few grabs at the cymbals, boy, he seems to be playing everyone’s instruments tonight.

Jay Jay reminded those in attendance that not only was it 30 years ago that “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” was pressed into vinyl, but that it was in Austin, Texas, 30 years ago, that Twisted Sister played the first date of their first U.S. tour!
Dee was just getting warmed up with the rants. We had so many Dee-isms that night there’s no way I could catch them all…but he mentioned that with the following day being Sunday, the day “all the good little bikers go to church,” he is an ordained minister, and welcomed all to the “Church of Twisted Sister” and asked those to “repeat after Dee…Reverend Dee…” to testify…“I Believe in Rock n’ Roll!”

Per Dee: “That kinda sucked! Now come to the church!” I don’t know if the crowd was too hot from the day, too drunk from the beer, or just too cool for school….but they just didn’t want to sing. But if there is one man who can work a crowd into a frenzy, it’s The Snide One. The crowd warmed up a bit more during “I Believe….” Kudos to the one lucky S.M.F. in the front row who made a success diving catch for Eddie’s pick. {give that fan a contract as we say at in Baltimore baseball!)

“We’re Not Gonna Take It”, easily the most recognizable song on the setlist, always manages to get the crowd full engaged. An excellent lighting intro by the way—nice synchronized white LED can lights perfectly matched A.J.’s intro. I was taking in the whole aesthetic—the bikers, the boobies, the Bad Boys of Rock and Roll, the bubbles--- Wait a second…bubbles? Am I really seeing bubbles? I took my pink off for these bikers and there’s BUBBLES blowing in the front row!!?? Now that’s just wrong, I tell ya.

Dee then went into one of his raps, explaining about the universal appeal of “We’re Not Gonna Take It,” being used for everything from Betty White to Extended Suite America to fighting vaginal dryness. Uh…pardon me? Says Dee: “Oh THAT got your attention!” Why, as a matter of fact..

“Not too many bands talk about vaginal dryness onstage…” [Well, yes, Dee. I think there’s a reason for that...] and he then went on to deliver one of the funniest onstage raps I’ve heard in a long, long time. I don’t think I’ve heard the words “vaginal dryness” uttered so many times….in fact, I wrote down “vaginal dryness” every time he said it, just so I’d have a reason to type “vaginal dryness” at least five or six times in said road report. Who am to argue with Dee: “We’re fighting vaginal dryness…we’re doing God’s work here!” He even took a poll—“Let me see your hands—who isn’t against vaginal dryness?” Apparently there was just one. Dee even took at dig at the one band who isn’t standing up against vaginal dryness…Judas Priest! (love ya, Rob Halford. It’s all in good fun.)

And while we’re at it, Dee did acknowledge the bubbles that continued to float up from the first row—and reminded everyone that “bubbles are not metal!” (I TOLD you, dammit) Musically, Twisted played a really good set. It was just frustrating to see fans who were not engaged at the “appropriate” level.

A.J. did some great drumming on “Fire Still Burns,” including some rather fancy handwork, twirling and catching the sticks—and although I’m not sure the transition was entirely seemless, “We’re Gonna Make It” is a phenomenal song, and it really lends itself to being played live. Even though Twisted doesn’t add this to the setlist often, it was played tightly and beautifully.

Now I just have to interject here—as I mentioned in a previous report, Twisted Sister has a beautiful, new, hot pink powder coated mic stand. It’s incredibly heavy, and is designed to not only be rugged, but functional as well. It RARELY falls now. Instead, it bobbles back and forth like a “weeble wobble,” perpetually psyching me out. Every time it wobbles, I have to “tighten up back there” until I can see it isn’t falling over. And although I only one mic stand retrieval, I had to make at least 2 trips across the stage to pick up thrown mardi gras beads--hey--those things are slippery...and have you seen the heels on Dee's boots? One wrong step on those beads and he'd go flying! I wrote in the South America blog entries about some of the perils onstage--there was one danger I forget to mention--A.J. has made something of a sport of beaning roadies with sticks--and he is remarkably accurate, I might add. I took two for the team. (and no, I don't get to keep the sticks!)

“Under The Blade” gave us some Dee high-kicks a la rockettes—we had some A.J. high-flying stick catches, and even Jay Jay got in on the act with some behind the head playing. I mean, seriously, these guys were really working hard, bringing their A-game—I hope the fans out there in Austin appreciated the efforts.

We had some fantastic lighting work on “The Price” with Dee bathed in a soft pink glow…very nice….and an Eddie solo filled with emotion. “The Price” means something different to each fan—it’s a very personal song—and more than once I’ve seen Eddie close his eyes during this solo.

Speaking of lights, there were some little light tricks tonight in “Burn in Hell”—at the moment when Dee gives the introductory “Just 5 words to say…as you go down…down….down…..” red spots that were beamed outward, slowly drew inward towards the stage, perfectly mirroring the remaining band members. Flawlessly done—I hope that bit stays!
We had a bit of Twisted silliness as well—you’ve heard the term “picking a fight?” Well, I’m not sure what spawned it, but Eddie and Jay Jay seemed to be having some sort of “pick fight,” with a volley of pics being flicked at one another. (it’s all fun and games until someone loses an eye!)

“I Wanna Rock” usually knocks the crowd on it’s ass….and then brings them to their feet. After the first refrain, Dee admonished those present with “That sucked!” Even the now famous “fuck or rock” poll failed the get the reaction Dee was looking for—this crowd was just older, drunker and more tired than usual, I suppose. Although those in attendance *DID* want to fuck more than rock, and it took a few tries, in the end, Dee was satisfied that the crowd was finally giving back what he gave them. He gave props to the ROT founder who joined him momentarily on-stage until Dee gently directed him to the side, whispering,

“Yeah, you’d better get outta my way…cuz…I wanna rock…”
The best part of the night came at the closing encore. After a quick pow-wow on stage and some short work with a sharpie, the set list was changed and we were all treated to the biker national anthem, also know as “Born To Be Wild.” Those of you familiar with the Twisted Sister story know that this song saved the band more than once, when not-so-friendly motorcycle clubs came to the shows but this music soothed the hot tempers. Fantastic cover—it was my first time hearing it live and it really gave me a feel for the club days.

So let’s review, shall we?
There were bazillions of bikers, beer, babes and boobs, Born To Be Wild and the Bad Boys of Rock and Roll brought it all! A killer show in the lone star state, delivered the only way that Twisted Sister knows how—fast and furious.

And with that…I made my way back to Baltimore, somewhat dazed from little slip but a fantastic heavy metal hangover. Knowing full well, of course, that barely 72 hours after returning home, I’d be boarding a plane for Europe to tour once more!

This is Armadillo, your faithful reporter, signing off. See you in Europe, my babies!

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SETLIST ROT Biker Rally, Austin TX 06/15/13 
Sunday, June 16, 2013, 02:40 AM
Posted by Administrator
Ladies and Gentlemen...
Here's the SPOILER ALERT...the ENCORE alone was worth it all!

Your setlist, from the Great Republic of Texas, Biker Rally
Austin Texas, June 15, 2013

1.You Can't Stop Rock n' Roll
2. Shoot 'em Down
3. Stay Hungry
4. The Beast
5. The Kids Are Back
6. I Believe in Rock n' Roll
7. We're Not Gonna Take It
8. The Fire Still Burns
9. We're Gonna Make It
10. Under The Blade
11. The Price
12. Burn In Hell
Encore 1: I Wanna Rock
Encore 2: {ARE YOU READY?} Born To Be Wild

Glorious! Full road report coming soon....


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Old Bridge Metal Militia Reunion: Sandy Benefit, 5/11/13, Freehold NJ 
Monday, May 13, 2013, 01:24 AM
Posted by Administrator
[this New Jersey edition of the Armadillo Road Report is dedicated in loving memory to Pat "Godfather" Egan, a.k.a. SMF Saber. We love and miss you, brother Saber!]

Did you feel it, my babies?

I felt it. We all felt it.

Last night, the Encore Event Center in Freehold, New Jersey just plain made the earth move with seven hours of hard rocking heavy metal--all for a very important cause--the ongoing recovery of the New Jersey and New York residents impacted by Hurricane Sandy. Twisted Sister absolutely dominated last night, delivering 40-minutes, 8-songs of thunderous, mind-blowing club rocking heavy metal goodness, all the while raising money that will go directly into Home Depot gift cards destined for residents who desperately need the help.

That's right, my babies. It's time.
Time to tell you all about what happened last night in Jersey. There were bands delivering thrills...rockers taking spills.....raffles and rain....Raven and Rods....double-takes and metal cakes! Time for the most verbose blog in rock n' roll. That's right, it's....

The Armadillo Road Report--the Official Twisted Sister Concert Review for the Old Bridge Metal Militia Reunion, Benefit for Hurricane Sandy at the Encore Event Center, Freehold, New Jersey, May 11, 2013. It was a LONG night and this is gonna be a LONG report. So get yourself a cold beverage and a snack.

And so the day began with a late morning rainy drive from Baltimore, up 95 North and the New Jersey Turnpike. I was so excited to get to the show that I didn't even stop at the 4 Cracker Barrels on the way (this is a big deal, trust me. I will gladly drive an hour to get hash brown casserole) and made my way into lovely, quaint Freehold, New Jersey. The Main Street has that small-town feel--complete with a beautiful little fire station, town hall, family-owned restaurants and pubs (Shout out to Sweet Lew's Cafe! Damn good eats!) and a beautiful, top notch suite at the American Hotel.

As a birthday present to myself (and an excuse to raise some money for charity) I purchased a VIP ticket, which was promoted to provide a VIP "lounge," early entry, meet n' greet, souvenir laminate, t-shirt and they even provided some free event posters to those who didn't have anything available to be signed. There was a slight snafu--the event facebook page indicated that VIP holders were being granted admission at 4:30 PM....which was off by about 90 minutes. That's not awful, except that while congregating in line outside, the heavens opened up and as they say, "apres moi, le deluge!" We learned what V.I.P actually stands for..... "Vell....It's Pouring!"

The venue felt sorry for the soggy lot standing outside and let us in an hour early, and so after drying off at 5:30pm, I opted to go straight to the front row to stake my claim in some prime real estate while my SMF counterparts from the slamboard made their way through the orderly line of the meet n' greet, emerging victorious with wide smiles and posters filled with autographs. Our hardy traveler from Australia, SMF Mark, once again braved the 20-hour flight and proved that SMFs will stop at nothing to rock out. He even came bearing gifts--
I'm now the proud owner of an authentic kangaroo scrotum. Nothing says love and friendship like marsupial balls. (Thanks again, mate! Truly an honor to have you with us.)

The Encore Event Center is just that--a large venue with huge, open ball rooms with a modestly small stage just about the right size for...oh, a bar mitzvah band...maybe a wedding singer. Two nice screens stage right and left, two ample bars on both sides of the ball room, a huge backstage area (too huge, really. they need some seg-ways or something), coat check and a concentrated but powerful light rigging. The screens showed images from "back in the day" all night--we saw some incredible old photos of Dee, Metallica, Dave Mustaine--many, many more who paved the way.

The slamboard Twisted family was there en force... SMF Cyndi, MetalNY, Aussie Mark, SMF Big Mike, original front row gal SMF Kathy, Metal Mad Lady, SMFforever Mitch, Amuz3D2deth, and hundreds upon hundreds of excited music fans and the ever talented Twisted crew was in the house-- I could not think of a better group of people to celebrate my birthday with!

It was a celebratory reunion of many of the Old Bridge Metal Militia folks-- people who have supported the playing of heavy metal music since it's inception. This event brought together reunions of the Rods, Raven, TT Quick, Anvil with appearances my Lords of Mercy and of course, our boys in black and pink. And what could say reunion better than.... cake! That's right, babies...we had a cake. A spectacular Twisted Sister cake celebrating 30 years of "You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll"--courtesy of Rocky Candy Cakes (Ramona, you are a GENIUS!)
So let's get to the music, shall we?

Lords of Mercy took the stage first--and I'll just mention here, that they, like ALL the bands and crew last night--donated their time. No one was paid to play--it was all about raising money for charity. One of the challenges of being in the front row--you have to sometimes sacrifice good sound for a good view. I didn't have much of either for the LOM set. There were so many photographers in the pit that I had to strain to see anything happening onstage--and there were some sound issues in the front. I can't speak for the back/sound board, but for LOM, we had almost ALL rhythm section, and hardly anything else. I could see the lead singer's lips moving, but it was all bass and kick, all the time. They did give us a good closer number--"Walkin' a Thin Line" and we had a twenty-minute pounding set.

Special shout out here to a new SMF in the crowd--Daniel--(if his mom emails me permission, I'll print his last name) an up and coming rock star perhaps in the making--just 15 years old and a talented drummer-- he is already touring with some top names in the industry (Cheap Trick members, just to name one) with the full support of his family. (Go Mom! Rock on!) He plays with two bands...Tres Hombres and Suicide Playground...which he described to me as playing "Beatles to Rage Against The Machine." Hmmmm. Well....we've seen how hard "Eleanor Rigby" can rock. I'm game. And another Twisted first? This young, confident fellow made me a job offer-- whaddya know! My first roadie job offer. We didn't discuss salary, health benefits, retirement, pension so I didn't exactly give notice at work yet, but hey....every rock star had to start somewhere right? Who knows. I may change careers.

[Speaking of moms, happy mother's day here in the States! Or in this case...happy MUTHAS day....or shall I say, Happy SickMUTHAs day! ]

The Rods were up next, and once again, I couldn't give a fair review because the bass almost killed us...and not in the good way. Animal once told me that there are certain low frequencies that when played at high volume, can induce cardiac arrythmias and bowel evacuation. In layman's terms-- too much bass can give you a heart attack and make you shit your pants. I think I had an atrial flutter--we had so much bass coming at us that it was like CPR with 200 chest compressions per minute.

In any case, The Rods were a hard-rocking trio, that cranked out some tunes that inspired me to scrawl into my notebook "bassline reminds me of Dio." Turns out, that's no accident--one of The Rods is the late Ronnie James Dio's first cousin. The bass player was rocking out hard--and it's great to see rockers this age (believe me, they aren't spring chickens) jumping around and doing guitar spins--until the bass player tripped over a mic and landed flat on his ass! A true professional--he didn't miss a single note--bounced back up (thankfully not hurt!) and mouthed the words "I'm old!" to his road crew. I feel ya, bro.

Members of the original Old Bridge Metal Militia took the stage and asked those present to remember all of the musicians, crew, producers and supporters--they read the names of many of our metal brothers and sisters who have left us too soon. A lot of hard working folks made it all happen in an area rich in heavy metal tradition--thank to everyone of the Old Bridge Metal Militia!

Next on the bill was the much anticipated return of Raven. I've seen bands easily half their age who didn't come close to their level of energy! Another trio, decked heavy in leather and armored shin guards--take note, kids: Old farts can still rock hard. Once again, our front row spot denied us good sound, and we took in entirely too much bass and kick drum, but after a few songs, they smoothed out the kinks and we were able to hear some decent shredding and vocals.

They did this kinda weird guitar solo thing...it looked like two guitars doing a mating ritual...I don't what that gives us (ukuleles? baby banjos?) They announced their new DVD out in June called "Rock Until You Drop" and we were treated to a song of that same name that absolutely rocked the house. (and any more bass, and I swear, I'm gonna need a cork...) I didn't care for the lighting--the LED rotating cans shone right in our eyes--it was distracting as hell, but when I caught a glance on the side screens, the color choices worked well.

The crowd was singing loud and showing some well-deserved love to this bad-ass trio. The real shame? They began their last song and had the plug unceremoniously pulled by the event manager. The crowd was screaming for an encore, they had already played the opening riff and boom. Show stops. Off they go. Seriously? The crowd responded with some serious "boo's" and chanted "RAVEN" long after they had hit the dressing room.

THEN....FINALLY! About 10:30 PM....."Long Way to the Top" blared through the speakers. Tonight, the words of "Long Way.." seemed to just be so appropriate. When you look at the all of the rockers playing this evening, the history of Old Bridge Metal Militia, and the Twisted Sister story, every line of that song just rings true to the heart.

You've seen the setlist--and I'll mention here that the sound was OUTSTANDING. Perfectly balanced...just the right amount of everything with the perfect vocal level. And while I'm at it, the lighting job was flawless. ( and unlike the previous sets, we didn't get blinded by back spots) They opened with a ballbusting rendition of "What You Don't Know" (old school opener!) you would have never imagined that this was just a 40-minute charity set. They played with the intensity as if they were headlining Graspop.

"The Kids Are Back" gave us some bass--but not the CPR-can't-feel-my-intestine-emptying-bass--it was an absolutely exquisite, fancy little bass tag line--we're talking heavy metal jazz here. Check it out on youtube and pay really close attention to the closing bass work--just phenomenal. Dee zipped by and did a microphone grab at 100 mph--on a stage so small I'm just relieved he was able to stop on a dime, stage-right--otherwise, he might have ended up on the coat room....or the bar mitzvah next door.

"You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll" now celebrating it's 30-year anniversary--the crowd screamed out the refrain, fueling a fantastic Jay Jay solo as he leaned up against Dee, back to back. Dee kept the raps to a minimum, given the very short set. He gave due respect to those Jersey Strong...and as only Dee could put it, "Twisted Sister lived in Jersey, played in Jersey, fucked in Jersey..... We gotta give back, y'know?" He reminded us all that while the media has focuses elsewhere, there are still thousands of people still struggling to cope with the aftermath, who need our help.

In tribute to the Old School SMFs, they launched into "Destroyer." and Dee didn't need to tell us to use our hands--we brought 'em together for a thunderous version complete with bass that blew us away, Dee banging his head in the background, and a blistering Jay Jay solo. [is he wearing a paisley scarf? tres chic!]

Even those who don't know Twisted music were excited to hear that familiar cowbell on "We're Not Gonna Take It"--the crowd responded in kind, with a blast of energy. You know, it's not easy up at the front row--any of those front row gals from 'back in the day" will tell you. You have to stand your ground, defend your spot that latecomers attempt to squeeze you out of, you endure pushing and prodding, crushing and shoving. And if you're short? It means a lot of elbows to the back of the head and the occasion blow to the face. Yeah. I came home with quite a few lumps and bruises from last night, but it's all in the name of rock n' roll, my babies. No hard feelings there.

Even Jay Jay kept it brief--reminding us that tonight was an "old school night"...that "tonight is the night...this is what the history of Twisted Sister in Jersey is all about." And to celebrate that...one of Jersey's native metal sons, Snake Sabo from Sebastian Bach's band--joined Twisted onstage to play the next song. In spite of some health issues, he still made the trek to the venue tonight in the name of charity. Let me tell you, if you think "Under the Blade" is heavy with 3 guitars--holy crap, you should hear it with four! It was smashmouth heavy metal, the way it's supposed to be played. Your front row slamboard folks obliged with our UTB heavy metal "wave"--you know that moment where Jay Jay, Dee, Eddie and Mark all rock at the same time? Well, the front row rocks right along with them in unison--it's a beautiful thing.

"Burn In Hell" just tore it up--we had drum sticks flying, an occasional crowd surfer and a strong trio of Eddie, Jay Jay and Animal, all lined up, rocking hard for the people of the Jersey shore. At one point, it seemed as if the whole ballroom was glowing in red light, and the temperature inside the room with that packed crowd was true to the title.
With only one song left, we knew that Twisted had to play the song that so many came to hear--"I Wanna Rock" just elicits the most incredible reaction from crowds. Even those who don't know a single Twisted Sister song will go bananas when Dee screams those three little words.

When it was all over, I could see on the face of our 15-year old drummer and his mom--both at their first Twisted show--that he had a Twisted Sister experience. No, Daniel, I'm not hard on other bands because I'm picky...I'm hard on other bands because Twisted Sister is the best live band out there. No one comes close. No one.

I was able to catch Anvil's mammoth set to follow from the VIP "lounge"--what a heavy set! This crowd loves Anvil, and I was really pleased to see that folks didn't just leave after TS--they were there to enjoy all of the bands on the bill, even the late night midnight set by TT Quick!

I stayed for the raffle results--amazing raffle--congrats to the lucky winners and thanks to all who bought tickets! Autographed guitars galore--including one signed by Slayer--drum heads, prints, guitars--incredible contributions. Thanks to everyone who made that possible and to the artists who donated. And by the way..we had MERCH! Glorious, glorious merch. In honor of the 30th anniversary of the release of "You Can't Stop Rock n' Roll", for sale was a commemorative t-shirt, listing all of the 2013 stops of the tour. (except for Brazil, which made their own version) I happily dished out the dollars for that one, along with a new replacement TS bandanna-- all I can say is, "MORE MERCH PLEASE!" We need some Twisted bling, okay? How about some necklaces? Belt buckles? Earrings?

The band, crew and many of the SMFs headed back to their homes. I grabbed a birthday waffle with SMF Kathy at a local diner and then ran some Twisted Sister errands until late into the a.m. hours. My head hit the pillow finally at 3:30 am. I dropped our Aussie SMF off at the bus station (safe travels, mate!) and had a LONG 4-hour drive home in heavy traffic.
An incredible show for a great cause. Twisted Sister absolutely brought down the house with a performance that fans will be talking about for years to come. New York's Iron Men of Rock n' Roll showed that Jersey Strong is more than a catch phrase--the heavy metal community reunited for six hours of some of the most pounding rock music in the tri-state area. Well done, gentlemen! Many thanks to all of the artists and crew who donated goods, time, travel and performances. The people of New Jersey thank you!

And so, this concludes this lengthy edition of the Road Report. I'm off to pack for Austin, Texas, but until then....keeping rockin' my babies. This is Armadillo....trotting off to google some good BBQ....

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