Ft. Wayne, IN, Mid-West Rock Festival, 7/18/09 
Saturday, July 18, 2009, 11:14 PM
Posted by Administrator
July 18, 2009 Ft. Wayne IN, Mid-West Rock Festival

All my dear Slamboaders, settle down, get yourself a tall, cold beverage and put on your reading glasses because this one is gonna be a DOOZY!

Yes, it's time, once again, for the official Armadillo Road Report and concert review, chock full of everything you wanted to know about the show....and plenty you didn't! I'll start off with a little fun fact: Armadillos, while native to mostly the Southwestern U.S., have been spotted in Indiana….although…. it is unusual. Why you ask? Because it's freakin' impossible to get there! This damn armadillo almost died trying! Holy shit. We weren't in the middle of nowhere but we had to pass through it to get here. Folks, I've taken planes, trains and automobiles to make these shows, and NOTHING could prepare me for Ft. Wayne. No, really. Indulge me here.

My plane out of Baltimore never left the gate--apparently, the battery wasn't charged so they had to plug the plane in. I have a photo of my plane being charged up--email me your cell and I'll send it to ya if you don't believe me. Something is really wrong when you have to plug in a plane to fly somewhere. What’s next? Winding the rubber band behind the propeller?

Then the next plane had a taillight out. Really? A taillight? Fly the damn plane…..and just don’t make any left turns! Use hand signals, shit, I dunno. The flight was canceled. There were very few flights into cities serving Ft. Wayne and I became one agitated mammal—I was almost pleading with the gate agent: “PLEASE...I MUST BE IN FT. WAYNE BY 8 PM!!! I'M GOING TO SEE TWISTED SISTER!!!”

The woman behind me, reading my vest says: “Is that what SMF stands for?” I turn around: "Ma'am, it's sounds for SICK MUTHA FUC...um...never mind..." Well, somehow, that got lost in translation, and in that famous game of telephone, by the time my story reached the back of the line, it was : "See that guy? He's trying desperately to get to Ft. Wayne. He's going to see his sister...their mother is sick." And guess what? Next thing I know....I'm flying first class to Detroit. But of course, it can't end there. I get to Detroit with 30 minutes to make the only remaining connection to Ft. Wayne and the gate breaks. Yes. Breaks. I’m almost in tears.

So we're captive on the plane, and I'm already on the phone calling rental companies because at this point, I'm going to have to drive the remaining distance (no cars available). The flight attendants tell me: "We're so sorry....but there's no way you'll get to your gate in time...it's all the way on the other side of the airport in the other concourse and they're about to close the door"

Well let me tell you, my babies, that I sprinted--not ran--sprinted through Detroit airport. People are now thinking I must be WITH the band cuz I'm almost pushing the crowd....OUTTA MY WAY I GOTTASHOWTOMAKE!!! I arrive at the gate (I swear, I think I did a half-mile in 4 minutes) and the door is literally closing... I throw my boarding pass at the airline worker, crash through the gate and do a swan dive onto the plane, collapsing into the first seat on the plane. Once they confirmed I was supposed to be there....they gave me some water, and a barf bag....and off we went to Ft. Wayne. "I hope those Twisted Sisters are worth it!" she tells me. YES, my SMF Friends, they were.

This show was AMAZING.

As I leave the hotel, I spot our very own Mr. Mendoza --He was busy chatting on his cell and yet still walked up to me, stuck his hand and said hello... True class act. Those little things really do mean a lot to the fans, so thank you Animal! Since I missed the actual festival, I don't have any tidbits from that but the venue site was like a cross between a beer garden and a crab feast. (alright, that's probably lost on you not from Maryland--but it was weird--rows of long tables perpendicular to the stage/GA area) Complete with a cul-de-sac of portapotties. Despite the unusual ambiance, the beverages were cheap, the people friendly, the police and security very attentive and the sound was very, very good overall.

The first band up was a local, Ft. Wayne group called "Brother". Yes, that's right, it was brothers and sisters night. Brother has a website: www.brother-rock.com and was a crowd favorite. Now you all know how much I just *LOVE* sitting through opening acts, but Brother was actually very good....musically, anyway. They are a 100% cover band--no original music--but they play the covers quite well. we were treated to everything from two Journey songs, Ozzy, Tesla, Van-Hagar....a nice cover of Maiden's Run To The Hills...it was like a dropping a dime in the old 80's jukebox.

The name of the band: the lead singer and the drummer are twin brothers. Shit, you coulda fooled me--the lead singer looked like your typical aging rocker while the drummer had an uncanny resemblance to my HVAC technician. not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.... my only beefs: 1. they only played covers. not one original piece. so they have skill...but I want to see their talent! write some songs gents....or you'll never be more than an opening act to the opening act of the band. 2. the SET was too long. Kind of like guests who don't leave after 3 days.

Next up was Enuff Z'nuff. well. The bad news: the lead singer vocals were so low that we could barely hear him over the instruments. The good news: the lead singer vocals were so low that we could barely hear him over the music. Here's your Armadillo riddle of the night: what do lemon drops, a vaccum cleaner and Enuff Z'nuff have in common? yeah, you know the punchline. wow. they just plain sucked...and I don't use that term lightly. They apparently just flew back from Japan and were tired. But shit…they looked and sounded like they were playing for a nursing home. They were upstaged by a Ft. Wayne police officer air-guitaring with an inflatable guitar. Alas. Maybe we can convince Danny to have American Beauty open again--now THAT was a great show of covers that I could have watched all night!

Okay, okay....look, if I had to suffer through it, the least you can do is suffer through the review.
On to the review itself:
The setlist was essentially Stay Hungry, all in order so I'm not going to post the whole list:
Stay Hungry cover to cover with:
the drum solo after Don't Let Me Down
encores:
Come Out and Play
Under The Blade
(band intro)
Can't Stop Rock and Roll

They played a good 90 minutes--went onstage at 10:00 and off at about 11:30pm. Dee was in RARE FORM last night. There were some feedback problems but once they were resolved, the sound was very, very good, especially for an open site. Unfortunately, the lighting crew were either drinking too much beer or it was their first show....because they missed every damn lighting cue. leaving Dee to yell...."hey lightcrew...turn the lights ON now....."

"We're Not Gonna Take It" included a really nice image of the band just all lined up during the solos--which were very tight--although apparently A.J. not to be upstaged, decided to throw in an extra refrain. Apparently it was wag the dog night--was all in good fun, I assure you. "Don't Let Me Down" sounded wonderful--it makes me realize what we've been missing at all of those shows when they wouldn't play this one. "I Wanna Rock" turned into a game of "Dee says..." a la mother-may-I. Dee: "I wanna..." Crowd: "Rock!" of course, Dee managed to psyche out the crowd with "I...." and went the crowd screamed rock "I didn't say I WANNA.... everybody take two steps back!" Must be an Indiana thing. Simon says? That ain’t metal. Well, I guess it is when Dee does it.

Saw a new guitar last night (for me anyway...) during “I Wanna Rock”--Eddie played a beautiful cream colored Fender (I believe)--Jay Jay played his Les Paul. The duet was especially delightful. Some other poignant moments: Jay Jay closed his eyes during “The Price” solo (the benefits of coming early to get up front) and it was just exquisite.

And then…. Dee. It was the night of one-liners and a hysterical impersonation by Dee, of Kip Winger confronting him about some of his comments during House of Hair. Just imagine Dee making himself a foot shorter, poofing his hair and poking his finger on Animal's chest (who was playing 'Dee') saying, "oh...hey...you're tight....uh, never mind what I was saying...."

Dee's commented after “I Wanna Rock”--we're on Side 2 now. (B-side) and made a comment about the pink vinyl album..then realized that some of those younguns have no frickin' idea what he's talking about. "It's like flipping a pancake, see?" Dee explained that they will NOT be playing "30" live because "That's when you guys go to the bathroom! I know you...I know what you do....it's like...'we're gonna play a new track for ya' and that's when you go 'hey I gotta take a piss...anybody want a beer while I'm up..." No, no, Dee. that's not true. It's usually the drum solo that the posers go pee. It's the Brother fans who go to the toilet during new stuff because they've never heard any before. (MEOW! must have been that Hoosier Hisser cat show I read about) Dee then went on a tangent about "Just do what we do...wear Depends! I don't wear them because I need 'em, I wear 'em because I'm lazy!"
Speaking of drum solos: almost forgot: AJ used a pair of blue lazer tipped sticks that looked AMAZING--makes you realize just how hard that man works!

Jay Jay jumped off the stage and went over the crowd rail quite a few times--wasn't sure if he saw a friend or was just giving some SMF's a treat but either way, it was a show full of energy and fun. It was....frivolity! During “The Beast”, Dee sang the refrain while wagging a finger inches from the security guard's head...who looked straight ahead and was completely oblivious...and it just set off a wave of silliness. During “S.M.F.”, since this was a family festival, there could be no swearing. So Dee had a field day playing audience fill in the blanks. "HEY LOOK...THERE GOES MY MOTHER..[audience fills in the blank]" "HEY WHAT'S MY MOTHER [audience fills in the blanks] DOING HERE?" and it went on and on. So if Ft. Wayne files any obscenity law suits, they'll have to charge us: it was Twisted's fault.

Jay Jay shared his thoughts on American Idol ...Dee once again shared his thoughts on the devils horns. There's a new website now: www.takebackthehorns.com check it out!!!

I have more..... OH SHIT MY PLANE IS BOARDING! gotta run folks but I'll share the rest when I get home!
later my babies..
Armadillo running for the gate again....

Ft. Wayne PART II
well I'm back...that actually was a close one! Thank goodness the free internet computers were right next to the gate or I'd be stuck in Ft. Wayne!

It was as I predicted--there is just something about experiencing a show in a little town that just gives it such a different flavor from NYC. Jay Jay mentioned that he saw an advertisement for some type of dating internet site....don't quote me here because if he got it wrong, you'll go to some barnyard porn...but it along the lines of farmhandsonly.com or maybe farmhandslonely.com for those single cowboys I suppose.... and I think the other part of it comes down to local pride. Seeing a local band opening up for a big name band--makes everybody feel good.

Ft. Wayne is a heavy-metal happy town--they've got three rock stations--92.3 The Fort just picked up House of Hair so they've got a lot to be proud of. They hosted a great concert and wonderful event. There was one quite inebriated woman--it was her first TS show...and she was telling me how good a band Brother is (yes, they played very well) and how they were gonna blow TS off the stage. After the first encore, she came up to me and said "Well? Wasn't I right? Did Brother blow TS away or what??!!" Most of you who have met me know that I am actually a nice fella, and try to be very kind, respectful and chivalrous. I said to her: "Honey, I'll hold my tongue because that MUST be the alcohol talking." When she responded "Huh? hell no!" I then, as politely as possibly said, "Then you, my dear, are a complete fucking idiot. You don't belong here by the front row." And with that she flitted off back to the beer garden in port-a-potty land. Adieu!

A few more fun little tidbits from the night: The band intro. They actually didn't even get to introduce the band in Maryland, so this made up for it. Dee spoke briefly about reunions--how this one came to pass--and how a band reunion should be more than just one band member (Hello? Tony Iommi...are you listening? 1986 I paid good money to see Black Sabbath and only Tony Iommi was there...I’m still not over it..) Anyhow, Dee pretty much summed it up: if you're going to call it a reunion, then everybody HAS to show. Unless they're dead, in which case they're excused.

A great intro for the Sound of Thunder--AJ Pero. Then we were treated to a Dee anecdote which he swears is true: for the first rehearsal ever after the breakup, Mark 'the Animal' Mendoza shows up to the rehearsal with a gun! Pulls out the gun, puts it on top of the amp, plugs in his bass and says (in that way that only MAM can) "alright. let's see what we can put out". Then we were introduced to Eddie--the bravest man in rock n' roll as he was the first to wear a target on his guitar. Eddie corrected Dee that it is a bulls-eye, not a target. I’m not sure of the difference--you hit your target...but a bullseye you're aiming right for the center. Which in the case of Eddie's fender, shit, that's right in the balls. Dee, you're right. Eddie is one brave mutha.

Then our intro to Jay Jay--the epitome of manhood-- a model of heterosexuality--a man who self-proclaimed "It takes a secure man to play a pink guitar." How true, how true. I would LOVE to design a tour shirt for TS that has on the back in big, bold, capital letters: REAL MEN WEAR PINK.

Then of course Dee--the man the British press described as "Sarah Jessica Parker dropped in a vat of acid" (punctuated by MAM making truck horn noises with his bass….how the hell does he do that??!!??) which spawned a Dee rant about how Lady Ga-Ga is stilling his look. It was classic Dee, at his best. I hope someone recorded that show.

Props to Captain Howdy (SMF Chris) who I enjoyed the show with-- and many fans there for their first show ever. I was supposed to meet Joe from Ohio in the Hilton bar after the show--he never showed, which is too bad....because the rest of the band did, and I was fortunate enough to meet some of Jay Jay's lovely friends and chat for a bit about the new album. -side note to Jay Jay--when I got back to my room and turned on the clock radio, it was playing "Locomotive Breath". wait. or was it "Prime Motivator"...I get the two confused.... Jay and I “sang” a duet of Locomotive Breath in the bar that goes into my “Is this really happening or will I wake up soon?” Anyhow, the Michael Jackson jokes alone were worth being a fly on the wall. No, I’m not going to repeat them hear.

Listen folks, seriously. Every show I make on this reunion tour (which is a lot of them), I meet SMFs who have been devoted SMFs for 25 plus years but yet, it's their first show. Don't be the guy who missed the reunion tour and as you're laying on your deathbed years from now, saying, "oh my only regret....I never got to see Twisted Sister live...." Do NOT wait for them to come to your town.. The mountain must come to Mohammed. Save your money and ask for time off from work as soon as the dates get announced. Many of the upcoming shows are on weekends. Please: I'm begging...I IMPLORE you.... find a way. I know money is tight--for me as well.

On average, a show can cost me anywhere from $300 to $600 depending on location. I skipped Starbucks for a week and that paid for the show tix. I brought PBJ for one month instead of eating lunch out ($5 a day), and that paid for my hotel room. If you trim your luxuries for one month...whether it's dry cleaning, cigarettes, dining out, coffee...whatever... it is worth it. When the tour is over, it's OVER. Have no regrets!!!

Okay, I've exhausted my notes and I'm about to plotz. I averaged about two hours of sleep this weekend but it was just worth every moment. Please buy your tickets to Algona (I'll be in Honduras during that show otherwise you bet I'd be there...) and I hope to see you all at Plymouth, MA. Plymouth is a short trip from NYC--there are cheap fares to Boston--go with friends and split the costs of car rental and hotels. Ten years from now you won't remember what you blew that money on if you stay home....but I guarantee if you go, ten years from now you'll remember every detail from that show like it happened yesterday. Carpe Diem.

And with that, I am about to unpack my bags and let my head hit the pillow. Another glorious trip on the road...

Armadillo....your faithful road reporter...trotting off!




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Columbia. MD Merriweather Post Pavillion, M3 Festival 5/30/09 
Saturday, May 30, 2009, 11:17 PM
Posted by Administrator
May 30, 2009 Columbia, MD Merriweather Post Pavillion, M3 Festival
Good evening my Babies…
Again I return, your trusted servant, to bring you only the fullest concert review otherwise known as The Official Armadillo Road Report, complete with all the details you want to know…and plenty you don’t. This review will be an abridged version, however. The M3 Festival lasted for twelve hours, gates open to close, and although I certainly found enough material to write about, I’ll save only the really juicy and/or bizarre tidbits for you here. But I’ll warn you right now, I was one cranky mammal today! I was VERY Pleased with tonight's setlist.
Here it is again:
SET LIST TO BE INSERTED HERE:::::::::::::::::::::::::::

I’ve traveled hundreds—even thousands of miles—to go see TS play, and so the irony wasn’t lost on me that my truck broke down the day before this show--the one that was within 40 miles. Perhaps in an odd retrospective tribute to the 80’s—I had to borrow my parent’s car to get to the show. Blame it on the car breaking down…or the muddy mess where they directed me to park…maybe it was the anal retentive security staff….or the poorly behaved fans….but this festival turned out to be eleven disappointing hours and forty good minutes.

First things first: I must describe Merriweather Post Pavilion. If you’ve never been to Merriweather Post before, it does have a unique charm and a history to it. (including a sign marking the occasion when an unknown newcomer named Led Zeppelin opened up at Merriweather for The Who back in the 70’s) It’s a giant picnic party on the lawn complete with Baltimore cuisine (where else can you get crabcakes, snowballs, and pit beef?) A large covered seating area with a large open “lawn” and then wooden areas in the back.

Unfortunately, Merriweather is showing signs of age, and the facilities were truly dreadful. And don’t even GET me started on the security there…it was everything I predicted….and then some. They refused me entry because I sported a small chain wallet, which has been allowed entry in hundreds of shows, but there they deemed it a weapon. [I assure you, the boot I was about to shove up said teeny-bopper employee’s ass was far greater a weapon than the key chain on my belt loop.] My wallet wasn’t a weapon…their vending costs were the bigger threat to my feeble wallet weapon!

The concert started promptly at noon—in fact, one of the few positives I can say about M3 is that they were quite punctual if nothing else. I perused the various vendors set up on the sidewalk “loop” around the park, and discovered the second stage, which was a very small setup, sitting on a side parking lot that was fenced in for this purpose. In addition to the second stage, there was a “freak-show/side show” that had a small band playing. It was like having 3 metalhead roommates who were all pissed off at one another—tremendous discord of music playing from all angles. What’s worse is that you could never see a full set of any one band without cutting into another band’s set, so to hear one band’s full set meant that you would miss the opener of another.

But it was a nostalgic day, indeed. There were bands I hadn’t seen or heard in ages! A hairband who’s who, except there seemed to be a real lack of, well, hair. Hey, I’m not being critical here—my own gorgeous locks fell into the sink years ago. Let’s just say that some bands aged better than others! And by the way, chances are that if you are over 30, spandex is a really, really bad idea. And what’s with the heavy metal comb-over?….when did that become fashionable? Okay, okay. Sorry for the digression, but with ten hours to kill until Twisted I did a lot of people watching. There need to be some serious concert etiquette rule revision. Bald mullets are just bad practice.

It was hard to characterize some of the bands as openers because they were just so strong musically, both yesterday and today. Speaking of “yesterday and today,” Y&T, they played a wonderful set to a near empty venue, which was a pity because they sounded quite good. Every single song they played was just spot on….they are a band that never really got enough respect for the musical talent they bring to the table. Slaughter was on the main stage next. It was a bit tough to determine if they were having sound troubles, or if the lead singer’s pipes just weren’t what they once were—a problem for MANY bands throughout the festival.

Jani Lane. You know, I wasn’t a huge Warrant fan, and now I don’t feel badly about that at all. Kids, this guy is just like school in Baltimore when there’s an inch of snow: NO CLASS. After he bums a cigarette off an audience member (kudos to the guy working the jumbotron screen, who superimposed the Howard County No Smoking Ordinance while he lit up), he shoves the cigarette up his nose and smokes it that way. Then he tries to impress the audience with his ability to make lewd sexual gestures that when he was 20, I’m sure it was cute, but now it was just gross and creepy. He came across as a slovenly, aging, washed up slob of lead singer who couldn’t hit most of the notes to his own songs. Jani Lane was lami lame. How sad

Dokken came on next—and they sounded pretty good, all things considered. They played most of their big hits—Breaking The Chains, Alone Again, Into The Fire, In My Dreams. Unfortunately, they just lacked energy….there was just no connection with the fans or even with the other band members. I’m a huge Dokken fan, and remember what a great set they played opening for TS back in 1986—no such magic this time around, I’m afraid. Musically it was fine—just the stage lacked energy. I know it was hot and sticky…..and the middle of the afternoon, but it felt more like a family reunion picnic and less like a tour kickoff, which so many of these bands were about to do.

Not so for the next band: Baltimore favorite KIX. There were two things that really struck me about KIX: 1. they sound as good now as they did in the 80’s 2. They were the only band that didn’t seem to have their waistband’s affected by father time. (I hope it’s not the heroin diet that so many tragically have followed.) Either way, someone needs to take the whole damn band out to Cracker Barrel or buy these guys a sandwich. They were high energy, rocked the house and it finally started to feel like more like a rock festival and less like a senior expo for aging metalheads. I almost nodded off a few times today. Of course, KIX's lead singer must have attended the same charm school as Jani Lane--he announced, for some peculiar reason, in the beginning of a song, "I have to poop!" I felt what I'm sure you're feeling right now....allow me: thanks for sharing. Maybe this is what aging rock is truly all about….. no filter and bowel movements.

KIX is a Baltimore band back from the Hammerjack days, and definitely the crowd favorite. If you had come to the show not knowing who was playing, you'd swear you were at a strictly KIX concert. The overwhelming majority of folks were wearing KIX shirts, and many actually LEFT after they played, which just baffles me...you spend 10 hours in the sun but don't stay that extra hour for the headliner??!? No grit.

KIX also has that crudeness that I'm not particularly fond of--honestly, if I want to see crotch grabbing, I’ll go to a Michael Jackson concert....oooh, I just now almost lost those cookies Metal Mad Lady made me….

KIX did manage to get the one undergarment toss of the day.... some woman tossed her bra onstage. Which he promptly rubbed all over his crotch....Ulp..damn cookies.... ! Ya know, we're all getting older here, I understand that....back in the day when a girl threw her bra onstage, it was usually something skimpy and lacy, usually red... this damn bra was like an industrial strength foundation garment. I mean it was one of those white granny bras that I swear, it had to be size EEE and had so many hooks in the back it takes the jaws of life to unsnap it...(hey, your Armadillo was quite the young Casanova in the day, I know my way around a bra) If that woman danced around someone might have gotten hurt with those things on the loose. Remember what I said about middle aged men wearing tight spandex? Well, the same goes for middle aged women throwing bras onstage. Our time has passed for those pasttimes.

We popped over to see Keel--which was a huge disappointment--I didn't bother to stay for the full set-- as was Ratt. Pearcy’s vocals just plain lacked. He played some of their biggest hits—Lack of Communication, Back for More, Lay it Down, Round and Round, Wanted Man…,but they were hit or miss. This was a painful day for me—and a hard review to consider writing. I loved some of these bands, and I’ll try to remember them the way they were, and not the performances that I saw today. Not every band can pull off a reunion tour.

But here’s the silver lining: it made me appreciate the tremendous talent and effort that Twisted Sister puts into their shows. Unlike many of the bands that played today, we never had trouble hearing Dee—the vocals are strong! They did have some sound problems early on but they were fixed after about 10 minutes. Twisted Sister sounds as good now as they did in the early days! We were treated to a new anniversary banner, as well as a simulated fabric pink chain-link fence. [which would make a lovely shower curtain, by the way, God bless merch! Eh, Jay Jay?]

I’m also happy to report that the one drunken kid that ran across the stage and evaded capture was NOT our own Jaysin. The crowd was incredibly…er…drunk. It’s what I hate about these festivals—the volume of intoxication was almost tragic and really quite unnecessary. The lawn looked like a Civil War reenactment from all of the passed out revelers. What made this show even more challenging—this was the furthest I’ve ever physically been from the stage at a show. Fortunately, TS gave it their all, as they always do, and I still felt sufficiently “rocked”. Once the sound was worked out, there were a few little snafu’s with the lights. Mark changed up the bass a bit on “Don’t Let Me Down”—it was just brilliant.
We did hear a nice quick rap from Dee on “reclaiming” our horns—the universal heavy metal hand sign, that is, which has apparently re-entered pop culture through the likes of Miley Cyrus and Puff Daddy. Say it with Dee folks: “That shit’s not right!”

He also wished a quick “happy birthday” to AJ’s Michelle and then launched into “I Wanna Rock”. We got a new Dee-ism from the night—he felt that the first round of audience participation was only enough to move one testicle and he asked for “full scrotal vibration.” When I looked back over the crowd and saw thousands of fists in the air screaming “ROCK!”…hell…I felt it! They ended with a very hurried encore of “SMF”—Merriweather has a curfew due to local noise ordinances, so the show definitely was cut short. It didn’t seem the same without AJ’s drum solo, band introductions, and other Twisted surprises we’ve come to expect.

Overall, though, this show just seemed a little bit out of sorts. Can’t quite put my finger on it, because they sounded good (once it was corrected) and I liked the setlist, but something just was amiss. They were by far, the most deserving headliner, and none of those bands could have EVER gone on stage after them. I have yet to see a single band that compares to Twisted Sister live.

So alas, this is one of my crankier road reports and it seems odd that the show I’m most critical of is the one closest to my own home but there you have it. Mad Metal Lady did make it all better with a batch of cookies (they were long gone before Dokken took the stage) and it was nice to see a showing of Slamboarders outside of the tri-state circuit. I’ll see you all in Plymouth where hopefully we’ll have a show that doesn’t get rushed to the finish.

Armadillo…trotting off to do what I so RARELY get to do after a TS show….sleep in my own bed!

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Farmingdale (Long Island) NY, Crazy Donkey, 2/28/09 
Saturday, February 28, 2009, 10:10 AM
Posted by Administrator
February 28, 2009
Crazy Donkey, Farmingdale NY (Long Island)
Good morning babies! This show had so much to write about that I'm actually posting this one from the road! (and here I was, so worried that I wouldn't have anything to write differently from the last Bent Brother/Stay Hungry show!) so of course, I must oblige by giving all the facts you want to know…. and plenty you don't!

First things first: Crazy Donkey. Now the real reason is revealed as to why Bent Brother played and not Twisted Sister: If the boys wore their costumes including those boots with heels, they would have had to cut a hole in the ceiling to fit the band! Dee must have hit the duct work at least three times. I believe Dee very succinctly, put it best: "Shithole." The tasty food and scantily clad erotic dancers was barely enough to make up for the equipment malfunctions, leaky roof (in the center of the stage, no less) and a very cranky security guard in the front pit. This club was quite small too--I was a little worried when the place was empty for the first few acts, but by 9:30pm, the line outside had wrapped around the building!

We were all worried when we saw that there were four--oh lord--count 'em--four warmup acts. First on the docket was a band called Savior: I must admit that for the opening act, they were actually good. In fact, when you see folks from the back of the bar coming running up to the front, where it was empty, that says something. Good job!
Constricted came on 2nd—a speed metal band that looked like 3 of them came from the same mother. The lead singer, I swear, was the spitting image of a young Jackie Gleason. (Go ask your parents if you don't know who that is..."To the moon, Alice!") Musically, I was bored silly.
Third up was Wild Streets. Their lead singer was a cross between Anna Nicole Smith and what happens when Pat Benatar goes to Poison's hair stylist: Bent Brother didn't need to wear any makeup tonight because this boy had enough pancake on to count for all five of 'em! Hey, at least there were NO FRO'S on any of the bands tonight. Anyone who went to the Twisted Sister show with Z02 remembers…. Wild Streets was very entertaining--they played tightly, the lead singer sounded a bit like early Joe Elliott if you closed your eyes. Overall, a very good band, excellent stage presence and very talented. And they even had plenty of cowbell. And I could have sworn that was a member of Twisted's road crew as their guitarist--I think his name is Keith--missed the last name. (help me out someone!)

Then we had an interlude with some lovelies wearing next to nothing shaking their money makers. It was, ummm. nice. thank you ladies. Boy, I felt old. And a little dirty.

And then a special treat. It wasn't hype folks: American Beauty! It's what happens when members of Skid Row, Ratt and Alice Cooper merge with Danny Stanton fronting. Folks, this was complete entertainment! They played all covers, but they were amazing--it was like a heavy metal juke box---anything you could throw at 'em, they can play! I am so used to seeing Danny in his subdued, dapper black jacket, cool, calm and collected--this was a whole new Danny. A wild n' crazy Danny, a dare I say it? A sexual Danny! And damn he can sing.... I wish I had written down the whole set list but we heard everything from Cat Scratch Fever to a club shaking rendition of Balls To the Wall. (Eat your heart out Udo, he kicked this one's ass good) I would go see American Beauty again and again. What a total treat.

Next: the Boys. Which, by the way, 10 pm sharp at the Donkey is closer to 10:25pm but who's counting? (we were.) They had some pretty serious sound and equipment issues--and it was LOUD. I think Mark's bass destroyed something--halfway through the show we heard sounds coming out the speakers that resembled a jet landing. My theme for the night: ask and ye shall receive. we asked for a mixed up, better setlist and they delivered. Here ya go: (and I counted this time)

1. Stay Hungry
2. Don't Let Me Down
3. We're Not Gonna Take It
4. Captain Howdy
5. Street Justice
6.The Price
7. Burn In Hell (then drum solo)
8. SMF
9. The Beast
10. I Wanna Rock
11. I am, I'm Me
12. Shoot 'em Down
13. It's Only Rock and Roll
14. Under The Blade
15. You Can't Stop Rock n' roll

Bent Brother introduced the band tonight as let's see, ZZ French, O.K. Pero, Free Snider...you get the picture. During the equipment repairs, Jay Jay did a little impromptu question and answer with the audience, with a history lesson about TS with props to the Old Schoolers. Leading to these quotes of the night:
Jay Jay: "It's not the club, it's the people"
Dee's response: "It's not the club, it's the fucking equipment!"
They again reminded us that the new 25th anniversary release of Stay Hungry will have 17 bonus tracks, including one completely new song.

I think they would have actually played longer last night but the Donkey turns to a Disco after midnight. Say no more. Fortunately, they did keep spinning heavy metal to keep the crowd from running for the exits. Other highlights: we learned why ONLY the drummer should throw the sticks out into the audience. Eddie actually apologized--he beaned some poor guy in the noodle when he tried to throw a stick!

You know, there was so much good stuff last night—“I am I'm Me” just ROCKED the house! Loved hearing Shoot 'em Down, AJ's drum solo was particularly off the charts. During “It's Only Rock N' Roll”, Dee and JJ had a sidebar, trying to remember the first time they played that song...followed by a moment of enlightenment: 25 yrs of singing that cover, and Dee realizes he doesn't LIKE rock and roll, he LOVES it. And that's how we sang it for the rest of the song.
I'd go on and on, but I've got to duck out and buy my Merriweather Post ticket for May, and a 5 hour drive home awaits me.

Armadillo, trotting off to find a Cracker Barrel....

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Sayreville, NJ Starland Ballroom, 2/6/09 
Friday, February 6, 2009, 11:13 PM
Posted by Administrator
February 6, 2009
Starland Ballroom, Sayreville NJ

Ladies, gentlemen and those that fit into other categories....
it's time, once again, for your long-awaited and long-winded Armadillo Report from the Road chock full of what you want to know and many more details you didn't. This is it--the review of the February 6th Bent Brother show at the Starland Ballroom in beautiful, downtown Sayreville, New Jersey. I'll begin with just this: I hope there's a special circle in Dante's Inferno for the New Jersey road planners. After leaving my hotel and then picking up "Da Mayor", DCT, from her New Brunswick stay, we took a one-hour detour through some parts of New Jersey I'd rather not revisit. You know when someone tells you "you can't get there from here?" they were right. we couldn't. We soon discovered that New Jerseyians were only capable of giving directions when they use "Dunkin Donuts" as a landmark. So after following the trail of donuts, we made it with 20 minutes til doors opened--twenty VERY COLD minutes I might add. They had those little heaters in the line area which didn't get turned on until 5 minutes before doors opened--and we did our best imitation of McFries under a heat lamp.

The Starland doesn't look like much from the outside, but inside I was very impressed. Well laid out....three restroom areas, two bars, and a Twisted Sister first..a hot pizza stand! Will wonders ever cease? Now I know where those $6 in parking fees go to! Acoustically, I was not very happy--I've heard much better sound in clubs of comparable sizes but the easy access to the amenities and a very hospitable, safety conscious staff to boot. Everyone told me that this was unusual for the Starland, so it may have been a fluke. Front row sound is always fickle.


FIRST, the openers....
We had FOUR, count 'em, FOUR opening acts. And I'll apologize in advance--I did not catch the name of the last band. But I'll give 'em props--it's hard being an opening act and the first two were very local. The first opener, "Lyken 21"--well, they were local kids and they played to a crowd of about 20. We couldn't hear the lead vocalist at all (not bad acoustics--just young pipes) but that may have been to our benefit. The second band, "Martyred"--they were a little tighter but again, no vocal strength with their lead singer, which was a shame. And just a word: Heavy Metal is a marathon, not a sprint---playing as a fast as you can does not mean you'll come out a winner in the end. But they were fast. I was fascinated with their bass player, who I swear, looked like he was 12. (He kinda reminded me of a "Dozer" from Fraggle Rock.)

Third up--J-RAD...they had their website on the drum...www.jradrocks.com...of course, they also had an animatronic plushie dog humping the drum stand....both equally as entertaining. All said, I really enjoyed J-RAD--their lead singer was strong (and had great skin art, by the way), riffs were tightly played and the music rocked. (Their drummer was particularly good) and they did a cover of, believe it or not, "Earth Angel", that was well worth sitting through the first two bands. Metal and du-wop. who knew? Lastly--my apologies--but I didn't catch their name--band #4. I had JUST finished saying, "hey...we made it through the opening bands WITHOUT any fros..." and on comes band #4. [those of you who were at NOKIA theatre know what I'm talking about] The lead singer had a big ol' fro. I normally am not a fan of the 'do, but I made an exception here: their lead singer was a hard rocking woman, and her fro was mesmerizing. As the stage lights changed colors, so did the fro. It was like watching a lava lamp. far out. They played very well--quite entertaining--and it was nice to see some women rockin' out. (they had a very talented, very young girl on drums--DCT met her mom--good job, you go girls!)


ON THE SHOW:
Okay, now that you've scrolled down to avoid reading the superfluous crap, the show itself. IF you've never had the Bent Brother experience, it's the raw energy of Twisted Sister, but in a casual, more relaxed setting, sans makeup/costumes with small club ambiance. No wild sets--just hardcore rock n' roll. This show was different from the past ones--in celebration of Stay Hungry's 25th anniversary, they played Stay Hungry front-to-back. Dee admitted that this was a bit ass-backwards--typically, an album puts the "good shit" (his words) in the front of the album, whereas when playing live, you save the crowd favorites for the end. Favorite Dee-ism of the night "It's like you cum, then...foreplay.'

And I must agree (Not about the foreplay part...) that I would have actually preferred it if they had mixed up the tracks. One of the joys of live concerts is that moment of anticipation of "what will they play next?" followed by that little rush when you hear the opening riff. No such excitement when you know EXACTLY what's coming next. So that's just my two cents--play the whole album, but mix up the songs.

Nevertheless, it was a treat! I had never heard two of those tracks live, so I fully enjoyed myself. We had a few of those special twisted treats--Jay Jay played one of his original guitars (the one with the beautiful dragon in-lay--forgive me, Father, for my transgressions, but I do not know the model)...those around me recalled last seeing this black beauty played in 1983. We got a thunderous drum solo in between "Don't Let Me Down" and "The Beast". Speaking of The Beast....Dee apparently enjoys the second verse so much, that he decided to forgo the first verse and just sing the second one twice. That, right after introducing AJ as the "Sounds of Thunder". Apparently Dee couldn't hear the Thunder before the Storm...heehee. all is forgiven, Dee. No worries. Brush up on those lyrics before Feb. 27th and it's all good.

Jay Jay reminded folks that there will be MANY upcoming Twisted Sister projects including never before released tracks that never made it onto the original Stay Hungry, so save your nickels and dimes folks, and he thanked all the fans for coming out during these difficult economic times. The Tour is a'comin'!

The encores were the best part for me--a truly club shaking version of "It's Only Rock n' Roll" plus the cover tracks to COAP, UTB and CSRNR. And another special moment for yours truly--a few of you may recall the discussion I had online about painting the TS logo on my jacket. I was concerned about doing an exact replica of the band jacket, recalling they were for band members and the selected few only. So I didn't paint my jacket until the night before the show--only in lieu of "Twisted Sister", I substituted "OLD SCHOOL" for the top line, and "S.M.F." on the bottom piece. A little personal flair, if you will. I held it up during SMF--Mark gave me the nod of approval, and Dee liked it so much, he motioned for me to give it to him, and he held it up on stage as a tribute to those in the audience who have been Twisted Sister supporters for more than 20+ years. Just like Sally Fields: I guess they liked it. they really, really liked it. (whew.) By the way, if anyone has a photo of Dee with my jacket, PM me! I'd love a copy, and there might be a small little jacket patch in it for you! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)

Tip of the hat once again to Danny Stanton and his entire crew for a beautifully run show (and getting me out of the cold!), all of the band members for their, once again, graciousness and hospitality. They didn't take the stage until 11 pm--we were exhausted, so I KNOW they were wiped out! Another treat--the Lady Mendoza joined Donna DCT and I for the last few numbers--always a pleasure! It was really sweet...she kept elbowing me and excitedly pointing to Mark: "that's my husband! that's my husband up there!" Yes, Mrs. Mendoza, we know! we know! your husband-- the extremely huge animal that just turned his microphone stand into a pretzel....would you like some more room? a bottle of water? say the word and your wish is our command! We will do anything necessary to keep the Lady Mendoza and Animal in good spirits. A few slamboarders there: Mitch, MadMetalLady, DCT, Jaysin and all of Donna's front row "boys" and “girls” from back in the day--hope to see y'all again sometime soon.

A good time was had by all....I did get slightly lost on the way home, but no worries...I found my way to a Dunkin Donuts and I was back at the hotel in no time at all.

Hope to make the Long Island show--set list is below for you sticklers! Said it before and I'll say it again: YOU MUST GO SEE TS/BB live! Take advantage of any and every opportunity because once they're gone, they're gone! The DVD's are great, but nothing captures the experience like being there!

And that about does it! Trotting off to catch a nap after 4 hours on the road...

Armadillo

SET LIST:
Stay Hungry
We're Not Gonna Take It
Burn In Hell
Horrorrteria
Captain Howdy followed by Street Justice
I Wanna Rock
The Price
Don't Let Me Down
Drum solo
The Beast
SMF
Encores:
It's Only Rock N' Roll
Come Out and Play
Under The Blade
Can't Stop Rock and Roll

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Nokia Theatre, Times Square NYC Dec 5 & 6, 2008 
Sunday, December 7, 2008, 04:30 PM
Posted by Administrator
December 5 & 6, 2008
Nokia Theatre, Times Square New York City

Yes ladies, gentlemen & those in other categories...

It's time for my traditional everything you wanted to know about the show and plenty of things you didn't! The Armadillo Road Report: The Official UNOfficial Twisted Sister Concert Review.

First things first: just say it: NYC Times Square! There is really nothing like it--well, actually that's not entirely true--it resembles the Vegas strip without the casinos…. and hookers. Wait...there were a few of those too...never mind! It was wonderful being in New York City, the city that never sleeps, and neither did any of the SMFs, what a great time we had! Wonderful city to have a Twisted Sister Christmas Homecoming….and on BROADWAY! I can't wait to come back.

The Nokia Theatre was right off Times Square--very nice venue (albeit a bit confusing inside--very oddly laid out—I needed a compass and a map to find my way around the place) The staff were simply wonderful and polite--professionals through and through. They opened doors promptly both nights at 6:30pm, which was appreciated given the cold temps! We were treated to a little snow while in line... (and snow inside too but more on that later!) My only complaint? It was like a meat locker on the floor--I've NEVER been cold at a concert before. But TS took care of that and heated the place up! Note for the next time: keep jacket ON!

There were two opening bands--on Friday night, we had ZO2 (zee oh two) opening first, then Dirty Pearls. They reversed the order the second night, which was much, much bettert.

Hmmm. This one’s a challenge: ZO2: very talented band, their sound was sort of rock meets funkadelic...they said they play rock with a groove, and there was plenty o' grooviness. The last time I saw a fro on a white boy was back when I had an 8-track player! He was straight outta 1976! Great chops, and a mouth the size of Steve Tyler, holy crap...I think that lead singer must unhinge his lower jaw like a boa constrictor. Overall, not bad--and it got us a little warmed up. They had excellent harmonies, great originals and if I could just stop staring down that guy’s throat every time he opened his mouth….oh. never mind.

And then...we had the Dirty Pearls. Contrary to popular belief, a pearl is not made from a grain of sand. Natural pearls form typically from a parasite that enters into the membrane of a mullosk-- cultured pearls form by a bead inserted into the mullosk's gonads. (see all the fascinating shit I'm providing you with here? You won't get that from Rolling Stone. National Geographic, maybe.) Anyhow, my point is this: This band was perfectly named: they reminded me of a parasite created in an oyster's balls.

They had no idea who they were--the singer couldn't choose between trying to be Elvis, Johnny Rotten, or Billy Idol. He seemed much more into posing for the cameras than playing to the audience, and with the exception of their drummer, who was very good, the rest of the band had such little energy, it was almost like watching the third runner up at a high school battle of the bands. Their songs were uninteresting, not tightly played and it was NOT just me--I saw plenty of yawns and watch checking. It ain't easy opening up for TS...I love local music. Just not these guys.

SMF Cyndi and I were in front until we were subjected to a man emitting toxic fumes throughout the entire show. Look, we ALL want a prime spot up front, but good god man, have some freakin' mercy! I ate Mexican food before the second night for self-defense purposes. I heard someone say "man, this stinks" and I wasn't sure if there were talking about the pearls or the farting, but either way, I had to retreat and Cyndi and I came back later that night.

Alright, alright the stuff you WANT to hear about. Well you have the set list--it's the same for both nights.

Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
The Kids Are Back
White Christmas
Destroyer
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
Can't Stop Rock and Roll
Deck the Halls (with God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen Bass solo)
The Price
O' Come O' Ye Faithful
[Dec. 6tH; We sang Happy Birthday to Cody!]
Shoot "em Down
Burn In Hell with Drum Solo
Silver Bells (with another whopping bass solo)
I'll Be Home for Christmas w/Lita Ford
I Wanna Rock
Heavy Metal Christmas
We're Not Gonna Take It with Lita Ford and Mini-KISS

I would be remiss in my duties if I did not describe the SET. Oh my glory the set! Those of you saw the Christmas shows from the past two years know that we were treated to elf roadies, Dee as Santa and speakers garnished with christmas lights. And that was just dandy! But no...the boys had to go all out this year.

The curtain opened--and we saw Santa's workshop....actually, it was Santa's METAL SHOP, complete with a giant 10-foot lathe making a giant candy cane, a huge metal "foundry" with working conveyor belt that spit out those tacky plastic Santas you put on your lawn, and a big "mystery" device similar to a Pink Floyd meat grinder. And we were treated to the elves (which looked suspiciously like roadies and some Twisted Sister family members) working in the shop, including one elf putting various "items" into the grinder—some drum sticks, some studs, a turn of the giant wheel, the huge steel door opens, and out comes AJ Pero! More items into the grinder...and out comes the rest of the band. Then we notice that our plastic Santa's being cranked out have been Sister-ized! Our new Santa's were decked in leather, chains, pink and black animal prints, and a plenty more--let's just say there's a reason why Santa covers up and doesn't wear a thong. It wasn't pretty. And there was a toy soldier marching about, that looked an awful lot like Danny Stanton!

Then as SANTA was illuminated in lights very a la KISS...out comes the members of mini-KISS in full regalia, pulling our SATAN, whoops, SANTA, Dee himself, in Christmas attire, atop a very pimped out chrome and flame job sleigh which looked inspired by Dee's mustang! Our Santa then showered the audience with candy canes and condoms--everyone around me kept giving them to me, for some reason, I'm not sure what that says, but, um...thanks. I think.

You've seen the set list--so you know what they played. The sound was definitely better the second night than the first night when they had some mic issues. Mark Mendoza did his bass solo of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen" that was just fantastic--he didn't destroy as many mics as usual, maybe he was in the festive Christmas spirit—the crowd did manage to take out Dee's mic stand once or twice, courtesy of these enormous 4-foot inflatable Christmas ornaments that were being tossed around. (which hurt like hell, by the way, when they beaned ya on the back of the head). We had plenty of "indoor" snow--which was very entertaining to watch some pint size little ones trying to catch them on their tongues, not realizing they were soap suds.

The band dedicated "Destroyer" to the late Sal, which was very touching. I'm sure he was definitely there in spirit because that song just plain brought the house down. In fact, there were mucho sing a longs throughout the night. You can ALWAYS tell the old school SMFs because we know every single word to anything off of Under the Blade, Can't Stop Rock n' Roll etc. but damn if we can remember any of the words to Christmas songs! And yes, just as I posted before the show...my Christmas wish came true! Those devilish elves put some latex and studs into their giant machine, and out pops Lita Ford...oh heavens, check out the photos.

She was just spectacular. A red latex body suit and a full leather/studs harness, even pink highlights in her hair for the TS show! And she sounded every bit as great as she looked. Those morons posting about Lita and looking old? Fools, consider yourself lucky if your wife looks even 1/100th as hot as Lita did (and Lita is getting up there in years too!) Winner of the best overheard but kinda distrubing line of the night: some woman blurted out, upon seeing Lita's latex, "holy shit. I could snort a line of coke off that woman's ass!" ummm. right. moving on....The second night we were treated to "meeting" Lita's son, who was a cute little fella with a mohawk to boot. Oh, I love rock and roll children being raised right. Future metal heads. Warms the heart it does. AJ's whopping drum solo during Burn In Hell is always a crowd fav (just awesome). And of course Shoot 'Em Down, which I absolutely LOVE hearing live. It is one of those cuts that you need to EXPERIENCE with the band--a real ass kicker!

Not as much banter as we usually get from the band--a brief discussion about a few slamboard issues, especially the one about profanity and the lack thereof at the Christmas shows. Which I might add--there was almost NONE of...except for AJ dropping the F-bomb on Saturday night. (whoops!) Then out comes Mick Foley, WWF wrestler who apparently moonlights as the fat jolly one off-season. Mick Santa Foley asked our boys what they wanted for Christmas...which somewhat varied depending on which show you caught. AJ wanted to be a foot taller (I feel your pain brother!) Eddie wanted some "holiday spirits"...(I won't elaborate much more on that, but hey--it's Eddie. you just gotta love the man!), Jay Jay wanted to not have to take Lipitor, plus a Penthouse, and he announced that he was donating his hair to Donald Trump. Such a philanthropist, that Jay. Mark had a very long list for Santa: 1956 Panhead, a full set of Snap-On Tools, a big ass garage and a tank to cut through NYC traffic. (And if I were you Santa, I'd give the man whatever the hell he wants!) And Dee of course....wants what we all want: I WANNA ROCK! And Rock we did. Every time I see all those fists in the air--it just gives me chills.

There are always those who don't seem to understand that you cannot SIT at a TS show--Dee was careful this time around to make sure that they were NOT sitting because they were wheelchair bound (and no, they weren't...) and it didn't take long to get the crowd on their feet. speaking of crowds...I'll digress (again). The first night was packed. The second night? Even at two for one tix, the place had plenty of room, if ya know what I mean. Folks, I know it's a recession...times are rough for me too. We had fans there from Germany, Canada, Italy....I've never heard so many accents before. And I must say, there IS something quite charming about hearing folks chant: "TWEEEESTED SEEEEEEEESTUR" Please....make the shows. call in sick, borrow some money, call in a favor....bring friends. If you want to keep having shows, we gotta fill the places! The place was small...we should PACK these places! We can't cry about the band not playing our town if we don't show up when they do! You won't be disappointed.

AH! a segue. Tours! We received the special news that not only can we expect new, never before heard tracks to be released next year, but we can expect ALL NEW MUSIC! That's right, the band is headed back to the studio for some new tunes, and YUP! A NEW TOUR FOR 2009! So pack you lunches, eat spaghetti more often and Save YOUR MONEY! The boys are gonna tour next year, including a Stay Hungry Tour, complete with pink chainlink fence for you folks that remember...and they will play the ENTIRE Stay Hungry album, straight through! how cool is that???!! Merry F**kin' Christmas to us!

They ended with Heavy Metal Christmas, only the chorus was changed from “Tattoo of Ozzy” to "statue of Ozzy" as they wheeled out an 8-foot giant caricature of the Oz-man. It was a blast! Then joined on stage by the elves, Mick, Danny, mini-KISS, Lita, family members...always fun! The energy was pure Twisted--just raw, fast, loud and full of energy. They just rocked Times Square. You HAD to be there! The meet n' greet was also very nice--band, as always, extremely gracious and kind! Great to see so many of the usual suspects, and meet a few new ones. DCT and Webbie--always a pleasure to see your smiling faces...sorry I missed the group photo op! Next year, eh?

And this concludes another Armadillo road report...see all you in SMF's on the road in 2009!
...trotting off.... to dream of sugar plums and new tours

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