OFFICIAL Road Report SEE ROCK, Graz Austria 2-August, 2014 
Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 09:59 AM
Posted by Administrator
See Rock Festival, Graz, Austria 2-Aug 2014

I suppose it would be highly politically incorrect to say that Twisted Sister annihilated Austria, given the pending anniversary of World War and the German occupation of Austria during WWII. So notwithstanding the historical overtones, Twisted Sister demolished the See Rock Festival in epic fashion. Austrian newspapers hailed it as the best concert in See Rock's history.

Well, now, my babies, I strongly suggest you buckle your seat belts, raise your tray tables into the upright position and grab onto your bag of salted nuts because it's time to bring you all of the juicy details, insider information and view from the road crew in the sleepless insanity that at least 3 of you have come to know and love: the only tour blog brave enough to risk bankruptcy just to bring it all to your homes--yes, babies, it's The Armadillo Road Report: Austria Edition!

But, of course, first a bit of flavor from the road.
I take great pains to make it to these shows, and I opted to take a train to the airport in Washington, D.C. which required I first catch a bus and an elevated tram (lightrail, we call it) In spite of my early morning departure, I just couldn't seem to catch a break. The bus driver unceremoniously blew past
Greetings and salutations from the Vienna, the birthplace of music...of Amadeus! A city steeped in culture and history, filled with feasts for the ears, eyes and stomach! Unfortunately for us, we had no time to explore and were briskly swept off into a transport and taken to Graz, two hours away. The drive was picturesque and smooth--punctuated only by the snores of fellow crew--and we hurled across the countryside past many cities with the prefix of "Bad," which seemed appropriate enough.

Our accommodations in Graz placed us moderately close to the center of town. We somehow got our second wind and before long, there were Twisted sightings all over town. I, myself, settled into a little street cafe and downed a giant bowl of handmade pasta, disappointed that they didn't have any good wurst on the menu this fine day but I made up for it with some decent weiner schnitzel for dinner. I joined the always-up-for-a-stroll Mr. French along with some crew and we took an adventurous trip up the side of the mountain to Graz's famous bell tower, which chimed the hour as we hoofed our way down the snaked, stepped paths, stopping to watch a young man surf in the river rapids below us--he used a rope tied to the bridge above. We did have one bizarre moment in which a young man stopped Jay Jay on the street--we, of course, assumed he was asking for an autograph. Instead, he just wanted to know where his accent was from, commenting that he thought we were perhaps celebrities from the movie, "The Hangover." Jay Jay gave him his best "fuggeddaboutit, we're New Yawkers!" I ran a few band errands, picked up some post-show chocolate bars and prepared for the show.

The ride to the venue was a strange trip though small side roads, cottage backyards and cornfields. [Ever notice that we cut through a LOT of cornfields to get to these festivals? Anyone have any theories on this?] We turned down a street..."Langerwehr" certainly seemed we were taking the longer way....well, you know what they say: it's a Langerwehr to the top if you went to Graz to roll.
alright, so no one says that. i'm amusing myself here. I was impressed to see many folks sleeping in their cars on the road leading to the festival--that truly takes dedication.

Festivals, regardless of the city or country, all have certain commonalities. Usually held in a grassy field in the middle of nowhere, festival sites have a muddy pit, a VIP tent, merchandise tents and local food fried six different ways, including one labeled generically "Rock Food." There was a tauntingly refreshing looking pond where many an S.M.F. dipped into the waters to cool off. If we're fortunate, there are decent dressing room accommodations and good catering. See Rock was above and beyond, in this category, comparable to festival deities like Graspop and Sweden Rock. Catering was absolutely fantastic--and the miniature indoor village of dressing rooms was decadently ample, allowing band and crew to comfortably spread out. All of the working staff at See Rock were just amazing--just wonderfully accommodating, they made sure that we had everything we needed and were always there in a heartbeat when we had any requests--wonderful hosts!

The only down side, if you will, was the fact that these temporary dressing rooms were assembled with partitions, meaning they had doors and walls, but no roof--they were all open on top, like office cubicles. So, hypothetically speaking, an empty water bottle were to accidentally launch from one's hand, over the top of one's dressing room wall, and say....hypothetically of course--accidentally over the adjacent dressing wall across the might land on the head of an unsuspecting crew member napping on the couch. Said crew member might be inclined to pick up the closest non-lethal object....say....a roll of toilet paper....and hurl it back over said wall into the second dressing room. Now let's say, hypothetically speaking, of course, that roll of toilet paper were to strike Mark "the Animal" Mendoza? yes, well the result could conceivably be a rapid barrage and volley of incoming and initially unidentified flying objects later recognized to be lemons, limes, seat cushions, toilet paper, dinner rolls, water bottles, and a very large (and take it from me) painful shoe. And thankfully, for me, what I lack in size I make up for in speed as Animal chased me around the complex. Shout out to slamboarders S.M.F. Zsolt and his family and to Macedonian S.M.F. Urosh for the good pre-show company--always great to see dedicated fellow fans making the trek.

Before the first note ever played, the crowd began singing "We're Not Gonna Take It"...and I don't mean once or twice...they sang the whole damn song over and over again. The crowd really filled in quickly as they are prone to do at the last minute, and before you could say "roll tape," "Long Way to the Top" was playing and off we went! Unfortunately, I missed the first few songs as I had to locate my driver and load the transport, Not my fault--the driver had a rough time backing up into a parking space and it cost me 2 1/2 songs. When I zipped back to the stage, I was astounded at the size of the crowd--it seemed to have grown exponentially--the entire grounds were filled, way past the Rock Food stands, all the way to the entry gates. It was pretty damn impressive. What's more impressive--these fans that had been out in the festival all day not only saved some energy for the boys in black and pink, they must have had a spare tank because they were rocking full throttle.

I made it back to the stage in time for "Captain Howdy" and "Street Justice"--it sounded fantastic--guitars were tight and rhythm section booming as always. Truly, there isn't an audience anywhere in the world that hasn't enjoyed "We're Not Gonna It", so these days, it's simply a matter of how insane the crowd goes.
In Dee's words, "I don't know what 'IT' is, but this crowd DEFINITELY ain't gonna take IT!" Followed by Dee's proclamation :"FUCK YEAH! Not Hell Yeah...but fuck yeah!" He then, of course, realized the potential faux pas, "No offense to the band Hell Yeah that just played earlier....." [by the way, great guys, Hell Yeah]

"I Believe In Rock n' Roll" received a great response from the audience--clapping and singing all the way to the Rock Food tent--and had Dee doing something that I swear resembled "the twist"...which, actually, kind of makes sense now that I think of it.

"Shoot 'em Down" was another awe-inspiring performance by Animal, who pounds so furiously on that bass, well, let's just say I'm glad I can outrun him, because if he does to a person what he does to that bass: DAYUM. Jay Jay and Mark really did look like they were enjoying themselves onstage.

Dee then paid tribute to all the other great bands sharing the stage at See Rock this year--including Hell Yeah, Saxon and Slayer--and the boys played a rousing and fast rendition of "Under The Blade" that prompted an impromptu mosh pit in front--although not much room for one. We had some serious fists o' fury in the front row.

And then...a brief interlude... we all sang Happy Birthday to Summ. (spelled with uhmlauts) before launching into "The Fire Still Burns," which had...what else? Fire. You know, pyro is the A-1 Sauce of metal. Metal is good...but pyro just makes good metal even better, and it makes Twisted Sister freakin' magnificent....Eddie delivered a blistering solo--not sure if that was because of his Ojeda hot sauce or if it was all the flames.

Dee thanked the crowd for showing up with such force--and even thanked Mother Nature for holding off with the deluge, tempting fate by calling her a "Temptress Mutha who's usually a...".whoa....Dee dropped the "C word! That's Europe for ya.

To round off the show, Dee announced, "This one's called....." long dramatic pause. "What was that?" long dramatic pause. "Did you say....."


Austria just exploded with energy--girls piled onto boyfriends' shoulders...hell, a big guy in a blond wig piled onto his buddy's shoulders [yes, I'm sure that was a guy in a wig] Felt kinda bad for the friend carrying him. You can't see the show, it's 180 lbs on your shoulders, and you have a guy's nutsack pressing into the back of your head the whole show. That's a good friend. sheesh.

Dee lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of "I WANNA FUCK!" saying, "we'll rock now, and fuck later....well, not all of you...." and Dee then did something I've never seen before:

The audience level was so loud...he opened his arms wide, and as he slowly raised his arms, the audience "volume" went up! Only one song can raise the roof when Dee raised the volume....S.M.F. All this while the guy riding on the friend's shoulders did a full 360.

The Austrian press hailed it as the best show of the festival--and truly--after Twisted Sister left the stage, more than half of the fans left the premises. For real. The place just cleared out. Because you know why? Any band that plays after Twisted Sister pays the price--Twisted Sister blows away every band they play with.

With that, my babies, we left the stage, packed our gear, grabbed our suitcases and headed directly to the airport to fly to the next location. No sleep for those who rock! Thank you to all of the wonderful hard working people and fans in Austria at See Rock 2014.

Stay tuned, babies...Faroe Islands is next! And you won't want to miss that one!
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Friday, August 1, 2014, 02:49 PM
Posted by Administrator





And we're here in Austria to kick your asses! Are you ready Austria?!! We're ready!
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Official Report: Fox & Friends American Concert Series July 25, 2014 
Tuesday, July 29, 2014, 10:29 PM
Posted by Administrator
{First and foremost, this edition of the Armadillo Road Report is dedicated to S.M.F. Felipe Godoy, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Felipe is a long-time S.M.F. and my first introduction to international fans when I met him in Brazil in 2010. He has been fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Brazil, battling kidney failure for over a week. As of this writing, he is coming out of his coma, is off the ventilator and I’ve been told his dialysis was successful. You’ll hear more about Felipe later in this blog.}

Welcome, welcome my babies, to this eye-opener, morning edition of the only tour blog brave enough to take a late bus from Baltimore to New York city and live to blog another day.

Oh yes, my babies….this is a special edition BONUS report of one of the most surreal but remarkably fun shows of the tour: the Fox & Friends All-American Concert Series in NYC at 0700 hours!

But first, what would a road report be without the report from the road? Your faithful road reporter has taken every conceivable mode of transportation to get to the Twisted Sister concerts, and travel gets more and more expensive each day. So I decided to cheap out on the NYC gig and take the notorious Megabus. I’ve taken Megabus before….I prefer it over it’s primary competitor, Bolt Bus, only because I’ve actually ridden past broken down Bolt Buses while on the Megabus, and their prices are comparable. They are truly the best deal in town, and the only way to get to NYC cheaper is to hitch-hike, assuming your lift doesn’t make you pay tolls.

The downside to this no-longer-a-best-kept-secret is that not only are the buses jammed packed, but let’s just say that the clientele has shifted as well. My babies, I’ve never sugar-coated the road report before, so why start now? I dubbed thee: “The Prison Bus.” All we needed were some blaze orange pajamas and shower shoes. Aside from the initial, rude annoyances of people who seem to think that because they are enjoying a movie and music that the rest of the bus will enjoy it, too—let’s talk about loud phone conversations, shall we? I heard stuff that I really didn’t want to hear—I heard all about who’s in jail, who’s getting out of jail, who SHOULD be in jail—I heard who got “capped”, who’s gonna get “capped,” and who just “capped” someone. It was like a live re-enactment of “The Wire” except without the acting. By the way….I get flatulent when I get nervous. Consider it my own personal self-defense system.

Anyhow, I managed to keep a low profile and survive the four-hour sentence and arrived in Manhattan just before 10:00 p.m. I hoofed the mile to the hotel in Times Square/Theatre District , checked in with the Tour Manager, grabbed a hot shower and ensured that my head hit the pillow by 10:30 p.m. because lobby call was just 3 ½ hours away! When the alarm went off at 1:30 a.m., I had moments of déjà vu. Where am I? Sweden? Germany? Denmark?

I joined my crew in the lobby by 2:00 a.m. and we headed off into the New York City darkness. I must confess, there is something really magical about walking the streets of a major city when no one else is awake. Above us, it looked like Batman’s Gotham City. Before us, it looked like any scene from “The Warriors.” But what I truly love about New York City? It’s 2:00 a.m. and I could still find a coffee shop, donuts and even a McDonald’s open. I love you, Sweden, but you don’t have anything open 24 hours a day.

It was weird to head to a show with nothing in my hands—the gear was due to arrive via POV (Personal Operated Vehicle) so after some early morning introductions to the local stage manager, crew and friends at Fox News, our Sound Engineer George hit the boards as soon as possible to begin programming. The technicians checked out their stacks and I did a fantastic circus trick of balancing 6 coffees and a hot chocolate, carrying them across a subway tunnel, up a flight of stairs, and across two streets without spilling a drop.

What amazed me the most was that when we arrived at Fox News Headquarters to begin the setup, there were fans already there, waiting. Holy crap. Now, you know, my babies, that I have waited in the snow, the rain, the heat, for HOURS on end, just to get in the front row or to catch the sound check. These fans literally made the commitment to NOT go to sleep, and just stay up all night in order to get the best spot. Gates were not due to open until 6:00 A.M. and they told me they arrived at 11:00 P.M. at night. These are S.M.F.s! Most of them were from Queens, but they are all rock and roll royalty in my book. Props to you all!

The stage was really small. Tiny. Really tiny. I had a moment where I didn’t think they would fit all five plus a drum riser. There was a giant piece of astroturf (faux grass) placed on the sidewalk, and past the general standing area were several picnic benches, covered with red and white checkered table cloths. Famous Dave’s BBQ catered the event, and soon there were plates full of food mixing with rock n’ roll.

This was definitely not your typical Twisted Sister concert. While getting up at ungodly hours with little to no sleep is entirely typical for the Twisted Tour Manager and his merry Crew, putting on a concert in downtown Manhattan….on a Friday….in the Morning…for a LIVE national news broadcast….there’s nothing typical about any of that. New York City has a variety of laws regarding noise ordinances, and so we had very specific windows of time to do sound checks. The first proper sound check was remarkably early—but they played a rousing “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” sans vocals, and then “Shoot ‘em Down” with Danny Stanton handling the mic. A little mini concert for those still managing to stand in line—and amazingly, yes, they were still standing! They applauded the sound check, which I thought was a nice touch.

To show support for our fellow brother, S.M.F. Felipe Godoy, we used the hashtag #forcafelipe which means Felipe Force or Felipe Strong--which many of his friends were tagging on social media (not to be confused with a soccer player using the same tag apparently) and did a mini-Twisted photo shoot all over the place—Forca Felipe on the pink mic stand….the sound board…Danny Stanton (Tour Manager)….A.J. Pero (Drummer/Sound of Thunder)….the TS backdrop….we even took a photo of Twisted fans holding the sign. Yes, our brother Felipe was in our hearts on this day….and still more to come…

The Fox Network Green Room…a.k.a. the band dressing room….was declared off-limits to crew. I mean, let’s face it…at that hour, we’re like locusts descending on that muffin and fruit platter. My job was to make sure that once the band arrived, no one entered into the dressing rooms. And yes….I actually turned away at least five Fox people who wanted to enter. And no, none of them were Aaron Lewis. [See the Tulsa, Oklahoma road report]

It was actually kind of interesting, but the band still managed to arrive in the same order that they usually arrive—just by different means. A.J. walked over with the crew in the a.m. Mark arrived a short time later, and Jay Jay….I’m guessing he walked or took a cab or subway—in his own words, “Hey…that’s my old street, you know….and that street there? That’s my Dad’s old street.” I think he could really get accustomed to the 20-minute trek to the stage from home! A few quick morning runs for some protein sandwiches—sidebar: Can someone PLEASE explain to me why McDonald’s had a full display of their breakfast menu, yet couldn’t serve me breakfast at 6:00 a.m.? And I’m sorry, but the girl behind the counter was simply nowhere near as cute or charming as the lovely blonde in the Copenhagen McDonalds. Life can be so cruel. Anyhow, the fans in line got ANOTHER treat—a second sound check, this one with Mark and Jay Jay playing “Shoot ‘em Down.”

Eddie and Dee arrived soon after—which meant another protein run—and a special nutritional request from Dee, who treats his body like a temple. Honestly, it’s downright inspiring. The man looks simply incredible—it makes me want to eat more salads and go to the gym! Anyhow, guess who managed to find the perfect apple and strawberry fruit smoothie made without dairy, ice, or added sugar at 6 a.m.? OH YEAH. THIS GUY. And guess who got a fist-bump and a “you da man” from Dee? OH YEAH. THIS GUY. I was ecstatic. Everyone was happy and in an incredibly good mood, given the early hour.

From the hallway, I could hear the Snide One beginning his exercises and vocalizing. Eddie and Jay Jay doing a quick practice on their guitars. The excitement was building. Dee and Jay Jay left to do a quick interview from the stage—there was a few seconds delay on the television as I heard the crowd roar outside.

I watched the interview from a monitor outside the Green Room—another unusual moment. Typically, the fans do not get to see the band—especially Dee-until he takes the stage. (builds the excitement!) But this was television. The interviewer asked Jay Jay, “As the founding member, are you still carrying the band?” Uh…what was that? Jay Jay smiled, and without missing a beat said, “As long as there’s ibuprofen, I can rock!” [Don’t worry, Jay Jay, I travel with two large bottles of it] He then asked Dee about the first time he {Dee} knew he had ‘made it.’ Dee talked about when he came from Europe to New York, turned on the radio and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was playing. He changed the station…and “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was playing….he turned on another station…and yep. “We’re Not Gonna Take It” was playing.

They then invited Dr. Stephen Foster, MD to take the stage and talk about the upcoming Uveitis and Ocular Immunology Benefit coming up at the Best Buy Theatre, September 5th. BUY YOUR TICKETS NOW FOLKS! The crowd not only cheered, but shouted choruses of “DOC-TOR! DOC-TOR! DOC-TOR!” prompting the Fox team to comment that this was the best audience they’ve ever had. Damn right. These are S.M.F.s! He reminded the viewing audience—if you have a child—especially a young daughter—get her eyes checked early. Early detection is key for treating Uveitis, the third leading cause of blindness that impacts mostly young girls, including Jay Jay’s own daughter, Samantha. [FYI: My grandmother had this disease. The treatment can be brutal!]

During the typical show, the Tour manager calls the shots, and rolls the “Long Way…” tape, signaling the show will begin. But this was a live TV broadcast—instead, a young guy in a headset tells us, “roll live in two minutes!” and that’s TWO ACTUAL MINUTES…not two “twisted” minutes….so I hustled our folks out of the dressing room (with a little help) and it was like a rocket ship blasting off….

“OKAY PEOPLE….READY IN 15 SECONDS…..10….and 5….4…..3….2….1…”

“I WANNA ROCK!” and so it began! Usually “I Wanna Rock” is the last song of the night…instead…it was the first song of the morning! The crowd was amazing—I can’t believe that so many of them had been up all night. Twisted Sister delivered a great rendition—especially considering that it was straight out of the gate—no warm-up songs to get them going.

Dee came off the stage, and commented to me, “What time is it? It’s all topsy-turvy upside down…we’re sleeping when we should be rocking and rocking when we should be sleeping…” Coffee, Dee? “Yes, please.”

Twisted Sister came back on stage to play a very clean sounding version of “The Kids Are Back”—the sound was just amazing—clear as a bell, with minimal bouncing off the skyscrapers nearby. I stood on the back steps of the stage (mostly to keep everyone else OFF this miniscule stage—especially important because once Dee and company came barreling off, there wasn’t any room for standees up there!) And there I was….throwing my fist in the air with one hand….stuffing a barbequed rib in my mouth with the other. You know, I think this could be the best….show…ever! I was so hungry. That rib tasted like heaven.

The boys in the band stuck around backstage between songs to sign autographs, take photos, give interviews—Dee was wearing a “STOP TAKING SELFIES” shirt, which proved quite comedic when fans attempted to take selfies with Dee. Dee asked—can we play another one? The Fox headset guy indicated that they were doing the news….so “why not?” Twisted added a song NOT on the original setlist—they played a mean and fast “Shoot ‘em Down” for the crowd during the commercial break. Hence, I marked it as song #2.5 on the setlist. They also did a quick little switcheroo and played “The Price” next. As always, fans jumped in a verse early to sing, to which Dee responded, “I appreciate the help…but allow us…”

After “The Price,” Dee was about to launch into the next song, but headset guy stopped him—we had to wait for the weather report. Dee decided to handle that too, “The weather report? It’s beautiful. Look. There’s the sun!” Okay, so this was a bit of a Spinal Tap moment. But we did get a thunderous version of “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll”—I think A.J. put some extra kick in the kick drum. Really enjoyed the rhythm section on this one.

Man in headset: “Do you have a short song under 4 minutes?”

Really? Have you heard “Bohemian Rhapsody or Stairway to Heaven?” Twisted songs played live are all short songs. Sheesh.

Dee looked over, “A short song? Let’s see…There once was a man from Nantucket…oh wait, that’s more than 4 minutes….” The band took the opportunity to again thank all of the fans for showing up. Fans were there representing many countries, many states and cities—all at this crazy early hour. Dee: “And you showed up….how sweet!” I don’t know if it was the lack of sleep or overload of caffeine, but Dee and Jay Jay decided to do an audience Q&A, in which Dee told all of those present that he gave them permission to miss work today. He would sign notes for all of their bosses. I mean, after all, in Dee’s words, “We’re doing G-d’s work here, this is all for charity!”

The man in the headset returned, blurting out, “Stop talking. Can you make them stop talking?” HA! Good luck with that. Make Dee and Jay Jay stop talking? Wait…allow me…. Hahahahahahahahahaha. Oh man, that’s rich. Heh. Um. No. We can’t. Jay Jay then launched into his American Idol rant, during which Dee leaned over and said, “UH, Jay….American Idol is on Fox Network…” Cut to Commercial!
OOPS. Well, how about that. We found a way to get Jay Jay to stop talking. Classic.

Jay Jay was able to squeeze in a special thank you to all the fans, including a very special shout out to Felipe Godoy #felipegodoy #forcafelipe #twistedsister wishing him a speedy recovery. I got very emotional when I saw this on television. Felipe, brother, I hope you'll soon be well enough to read this and know we're all pulling for you!

But we did get two more songs—and what’s significant is that Fox only asked Twisted Sister to play 2 songs, but in Dee’s words: “You showed up early for us. They asked for 2 songs…we gave you 7!” A romping “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and what made this so special was that here we were, literally on the streets of New York City. Cars are driving by, moms with strollers, street vendors, you get the picture. When they broke into the refrain, EVERYONE sang it! I’m not lying, babies. The cab driver passing by? He was singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” The fare in the back of the cab? He was singing too. Random people walking by…all singing. Guy putting mustard on a hotdog at a cart? Yep. Singing. It was freakin’ so magical I think I blew rainbows out my ass. (oh. Never mind. That was the barbeque baked beans.)

They closed with “Stay Hungry” and unlike the typical show where the guys are so spent, sweat drenched and wiped out—this time, they went right out into the crowd, and signed autographs, took photos and just hung out and talked to the fans. And for those who know Dee, he took fan photos in his stage clothes, hair down and NO sunglasses—so you’ve got some rare souvenir photos there!

This show was different, unusual and just plain fun. There was food, music, photos and fans. It was a great time, early as fuck, but a really fun time for everyone. Many thanks to everyone at Fox & Friends News Network. Today was not about news and politics—it was all about music, fun and raising awareness for important charities such as Dr. Foster’s Uveitis and Ocular Immunology Research. Special Armadillo shout out to S.M.F. Peter, who runs the Facebook Page for Twisted Sister in the Clubs 1973-1982. Good stuff--and good to see an original old schooler still rocking hard!

My babies, help us raise money for this charity and rock out for an amazing evening. Join us September 5th at the Best Buy Theater in NYC with special guest Adrenalin Mob. Tickets are gonna go fast! If you can’t make the show, how about donating the cost of a ticket $45 to Dr. Foster’s research

Well, my babies, I had now put in a full 8 hour day. I helped get A.J. back on his way….and then loaded Mark and Eddie into their transport. In a very surreal but poignant New York moment, I walked with Jay Jay until he hailed his cab. (truly, he was home in his element. I can never get a cab that easily!) Dee was joined by his son Shane, and they gave interviews on the new Shakespeare Puppet Theatre project that they are involved in. I loaded myself back onto a megabus for a brutal 4.5 hour commute home on a bus with a commode issue. It was absolute torture—trapped on a rolling porta-potty for hours on end. One word, babies, TRAINS!

With that, I leave you now. I must begin the ritual of packing my own bags for the final leg of this challenging but rewarding European tour. Austria, Faroe Islands, Belgium and Montreal (don’t ask.) awaits.

This is Armadillo….trotting off…to figure out a way to make 14 days of clothes fit in a 8 kg bag!

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SETLIST from Fox & Friends American Concert Series 
Saturday, July 26, 2014, 07:29 PM
Posted by Administrator
SETLIST From Fox & Friends, American Concert Series
7 a.m. July 25, 2014 Downtown Manhattan

Your eye-opener, Wake the F*ck up, NYC! Set list:

1. I Wanna Rock
2. The Kids Are Back
2.5 (I'll explain later) Shoot 'em Down
3. The Price
4. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
5. We're Not Gonna Take It
6. Stay Hungry

Seven songs! FOX asked for 2…the band gave the fans 7, just for showing up so early.

And in tribute, I give you my special road crew version of the oh-dark-early setlist:

1. I Wanna Sleep
2. The Kids Are Back (in bed)
3. Fallin' Down
4. The Price (of coffee. my god. who can afford to live here?)
5. You Can't Stop for Coffee n' Rolls
6. We're Not Gonna Wake Yet
7. I'm SO Hungry
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Official Road Report: BANG YOUR HEAD Festival, Balingen German 12-July, 2014 
Saturday, July 26, 2014, 07:28 PM
Posted by Administrator
Bang Your Head Festival, Balingen German, 12-July, 2014. Very Simple. 4th Record Breaking SOLD OUT Performance. 45,000 Fans can't be wrong.

Oh babies, I’m not sure what to say about this edition of the Road Report. It was quite the experience. The primary fact is that Twisted Sister headlined the SOLD OUT Bang Your Head festival in Balingen, Germany. It is undisputed that 45,000 European metalheads got their asses kicked by the greatest live heavy metal band of all time, our boys in black and pink.

I got my ass kicked working for the greatest live heavy metal band of all time. All’s fair in love and war, as they say.

Let’s begin, shall we?

When I last left you, Twisted Sister had just demolished Sweden at a strange but well-attended music festival in which none of the bands proved themselves as a worthy opponent for the fierceness of Twisted Sister—not even some odd act with the word “doggy” in their title. Twisted Sister dominated the festival with flames, explosions, fireworks and a full kick-ass set of heavy metal faves.

Bang Your Head Festival 2014 in Balingen, Germany was going to be a much more challenging task. It was a full lineup of 80’s metal bands, including Warrant (although they had to bail due to a drummer’s tendonitis), Stryper, Anthrax, and co-headliner, Europe.

The band was “returned” straight from the stage in Sweden back to the Copenhagen hotel where they likely went off to bed and had the luxury of being able to sleep in a for a few hours. They were on a later morning flight into Germany—still not an easy feat to fly the day of the show—but they at least had the opportunity to get close to a full night’s rest. Your faithful road crew, however, were not as fortunate.

If you recall, we had an early start to the day in Sweden—a stellar performance—but then a late night/early a.m. load out which returned us back to the hotel with just enough time to shower, zip the luggage shut and come back downstairs to load out to the airport. We had a very early a.m. international flight with the guitars and gear, and so it was a bit surreal at 4:00 a.m. to be standing in the airport on our way to the next show, still wearing our sweaty crew uniforms from the same day. The plane itself was what we refer to as a “puddle jumper”—small turbo-prop planes that had a few of us wondering if we were going to have to step outside, give the propellers a proper turn, all while yelling, “Contact!” [younger readers, ask your grandfather to explain that!]

The flight from Denmark to Germany was relatively a short one—I truly cannot say if I dozed off or not—only that the brown-colored hot water the flight attendant assured me was coffee did not seem to have much effect. We hit the ground running, gathered all of the guitars and equipment, and did the dance I’ve come to know and love—baggage carousel to cart, cart to curb, curb to transport, transport to stage! I desperately wanted to nap in the transport—I think it’s possible I did nod off once, but I definitely recall the sounds of snoring all around me as my fellow crew members breezed in and out of consciousness. This was definitely going to be one of those days in which we were going to have to dig deep. We arrived in the absolutely adorable and picturesque town of Balingen. I wished we could have stayed longer so that I could have explored this lovely and quaint place, complete with medieval castle atop the hill. Alas—no such luck. The hotel we pulled into was simply providing a “day room”—essentially, a location for us to deposit our baggage, splash some water on our faces, change socks and freshen up—all within 5 minutes time—and meet back downstairs and climb into the vans. So take note, my fellow S.M.F.s—those of you who dream of one day working crew for bands. The glamour and creature comforts belong to those making the music. For those behind the scenes, it is a reality of bad smells, long hours, dirty socks and extreme fatigue. And yes, my babies, I enjoyed it. (Well, maybe not all the smells.)

We pulled into the Balingen festival grounds at “Bang Your Head” and the music was already well underway. This always presents a special challenge for the road crew, because it means that we won’t be able to do a proper sound check, merely a “line check” right before we go on. Even harder, the changeover time allotted to us was a mere 20 minutes—truly, what we refer to as a “throw-and-go.” It was just before eleven in the morning now—it was hard to believe that 8 hours prior we were loading out of the Copenhagen lobby—and that for most of us, our last time in the horizontal position was well more than 24 hours ago. The mind can begin to play tricks on you when sleep deprivation sets in, and those of us in the crew kept a watchful eye on one another to ensure that we were remaining lucid. To our delight, what we first thought was a hallucinatory mirage turned out to be real: the catering tent had a coffee machine/espresso/cappuccino maker that was available to all bands and crews without limits.

To give you the flavor of how tough this show was for us: The dressing room areas were an encampment of trailers—about half the length of a single-wide—one for the crew, and a second, larger one for the band, located inside a fixed structure. The crew quarters—which doubled as our production office—had a card table with two small chairs, a mini-fridge and a small window that opened a crack. It was stifling hot –and it didn’t take long before the floor was wet with mud. By the time I returned with a fan and towels, one of our crew was asleep in a chair….another sprawled out on the dirty floor…and in the band room, one clever crew member curled up onto the window ledge and another was asleep on the band’s couch. I availed myself of one of the Red Cross cots they brought us—but like the others, our window of opportunity to sleep was short-lived. In total, most of us slept for 15 minutes to 30 minutes tops, in rotations of sometimes 5 to 10 minutes. After 10 to 15 minutes of shut-eye, we found ourselves awakened by another member of the crew to assist with something, and so the vicious cycle went all day. It was actually a pretty remarkable show of teamwork—think of it like a “rest relay”—I’d run an errand to let a tech get 10 minutes of rest—and when I returned, the favor was returned to me. In particular, we needed to keep tabs on the gear and instruments. I would estimate, that in total, I maybe acquired less than 20 minutes of actual sleep all day. After a certain point, sleep was just pointless, and coffee became the drug du jour.

I took a stroll around the rain soaked grounds to look for a few friends—shout out to Australian SMF’s Mark and Karen who made the long journey to rock--sorry I missed meeting up with you--the festival grounds were humid and muddy from a recent downpour, but that clearly did not dampen anyone’s spirits. The German fans—and many other fans from all over Europe—were decked out in some of the most impressive battle jackets I’ve ever seen this side of the 80’s. There was plenty of merch tents all around—I desperately was craving some schnitzel but could not find any.

My “leisure time” was again short-lived, and I was sent on an errand back to the day room to retrieve some items for the band. This turned out to be a bright moment of the day, as I was driven by a lovely transporter, Katerina (I hoped that’s spelled correctly) a strikingly beautiful cardiologist who was volunteering for the festival. We had an interesting chat about defibrillators on the ride back. Oh be still my own heart was a flutter with atrial tachycardia---(a little cardiac humor for you). Beautiful, intelligent and loves heavy metal. Maybe it was the sleep deprivation but I think at some point I thought, Hmmmmm…..a future MRS. Armadillo, perhaps? Definitely the lack of sleep. But she was indeed lovely, and for the record, I’d make a fantastic house-husband. No, really. I clean. wash and fold. cook. Think about it, Doctor. Call me.

I digress.

Now here’s where it gets really fuzzy. I jot down notes for the road report in my own shorthand that I’m able to transcribe a day or two later. Gotta tell ya, my babies. I can barely read a single word of what I wrote. We really were the walking dead at this point. I staggered back to the catering tent for what I think was my 14th cappuccino, and suddenly, a marching band stomps into the tent, and begins playing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” on the tubas. I had to share this lack of reality…so I ran back to the production office, and told the crew: “There’s a marching band playing Twisted Sister!” This one they had to investigate to ensure that my brain had not totally shit the bed. No, it was true. Ooom-pah-pah tubas blasting TS in the catering tent. It’s these special moments that make the tour pain so worthwhile.

Europe was the co-headliner and was on right before Twisted—this makes at least 3 times now that I’ve heard Europe play right before TS, and I really enjoy it. They play a good set and the crowd loves them, so they are ready and warmed up. I believe they closed with “Final Countdown,” and the split second they left the stage, we began the sprint to get everything set up. I’ve always been one for checklists, and now I needed my checklist more than ever to make sure that in my tired state, I didn’t forget anything.

I had made the long sprint from the stage to the dressing room numerous times already, and as we get closer to show time, the back-and-forth gets more frequent. The band was due to arrive in minutes, so I did a quick sweep of the band dressing room to make sure that it was cleaned up, fresh and presentable. Towels, water and sports drink grabbed to put on stage…posters requested from hospitality….band transport arranged for post-show…setlists updated….band credentials in hand…I quickly raced the towels and water to the stage for placement, dropped off the setlists, and then met the arriving band transport literally within seconds so that I could escort them and their handler back to the dressing area.

Then…a sprint back to the stage to help with changeover. Because we didn’t get a proper soundcheck, the monitors and stage chalking wasn’t done, so I had to best guess where to tape down the setlists—fortunately Mehtis, our Finnish guitar technician, was there to point me in the right direction to be sure they were exactly where they needed to be. Setlists taped. Beverage and towels…check! Carpet and runners taped down….check! Backdrop centered and raised….check!

I then took my place at the foot of the stage stairs to light the pathway as the “Long Way to the Top” began to play. There was a momentary pucker factor this time around. Just as the band was fired up and about to hit the stage, the Long Way tape cut off. German fans didn’t miss a beat—they kept singing “Long Way” to fill the silence, and before long, the tape rolled again, I could exhale and our boys in black and pink stormed the stage.

The setlist was exactly the same as Sweden’s from the night before. (Hey, when you have a winner…why change it?) “Stay Hungry” opened up and this crowd was loving it from the first note. German fans, like so many other countries in Europe, take their metal very seriously! I was looking out onto a sea of battle vest clad lads and ladies, leather, demin and spikes as far as the eye could see! There was one woman sporting a pink and black corset with a pink tutu. You know, at any other concert, a pink tutu would NOT be metal, but this is Twisted Sister. Pink and black tutu…METAL!

A quick race back to the dressing rooms to load the band bags and support materials into the transport—I’ve finally got a rhythm to this now, and assuming my transport shows up when I ask (which, of course, in Germany, they were RIGHT ON TIME!) and I can pretty much load everything into the van into the time it takes to play half of Stay Hungry and Shoot ‘Em Down. By the time they blast into “You Can’t Stop Rock n’ Roll,” I’ve got the van locked and loaded, and I’m back onstage.

The live tempo is always faster than studio tempo, and they barreled through a monster version of “You Can’t Stop….”, Jay Jay playing his solo from the front section of stage that extended out into the audience like an inverted “T.” He came back to swap guitars, and yelled to me, “Got ‘em one more time! That rocked!” Truth. It did.

Dee mentioned that he appreciated all of the fans rocking out, “especially since the weather earlier was pretty fucked up!” The weather was perfectly beautiful now, prompting Dee to look upwards and exclaim, “Mother Nature, you taunting whore! Please don’t shit on me!” For those unfamiliar, Twisted Sister has a terrible record of being a “weather maker.” But believe me, I’m not complaining—we had great, clear skies when Twisted took the stage.

For what may have been the first time played live in Germany, Twisted played the Horrorteria: Captain Howdy followed by Street Justice, back to back. Street Justice was nicely lit with yellow and red lights, giving it that “danger” look—strong work, Johnny from Sweden! (our Euro lighting engineer). Johnny gets a lot of good-natured ribbing from the band, but he really did a fantastic job in Germany—he gave us some really cool strobes on “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that were perfectly synchronized with the guitar rhythm line.

True to European festivals, there were inflatables about. This time, pink inflatable guitars that were flying through the air. Actually, they weren’t flying much. More like pink semi-inflated guitar projectiles that battered the first five rows over and over again. Good times. And of course, we had some serious throwing the horns. Oh, wait. Those are ACTUAL horns. Balingen placed a giant cow skull sculpture in the middle of the merch area….so yeah. Big cow skull horns. Metal! Rock!

Dee ran over stage right and gave the Festival Producer and his young daughter a high five. She looked a little terrified but her Dad was thrilled. Long after the song was over, the band continued to sing. Dee agreed….they needed to sing one more time, with Dee serving as the official “lyrics teleprompter” for the crowd.

He gave respect to the crowd and to this special German Festival—twelve years ago, Twisted Sister headlined “Bang Your Head” and it truly kickstarted Twisted Sister’s reunion tour success in Europe—so the band gave this appreciative crowd their appreciation—thank you Germany for all the support!

Jay Jay spoke to the crowd for a bit—again, mentioning how social media has changed the industry of music as much as downloads has. (this is pretty heady, stuff, by the way.) Years ago, if your band sucked at playing live shows, it could take months to years for the word to get out, as news traveled slow cross countries and oceans. Now, it takes seconds! On the positive side, when a band just tears it up onstage, fans everywhere, across the country, can find out the hottest ticket. By the way, babies…the hottest ticket? Oh yeah, Twisted Sister. C’mon. They are the greatest live heavy metal band playing today. Tweet it out loud, #twistedsister

They must have been tweeting up a storm, because let me tell you, my babies. While Europe had a decent size crowd, it was like the crowd expanded by four for Twisted Sister. I literally could not see where the crowd ended—we learned later that it was a sold out crowd—45,000 fans strong!

I missed a little bit of the next song as I had to do some quick band-related errands to and from the dressing room, but I could hear a rousing “Born To Raise Hell” being played and made it back in time to catch a fantastic Jay Jay solo. Crowd singing. Metalheads surfing. Tutu’s rocking. Good stuff here. Gave me chills.

Dee must have agreed. He let out a rather in tune belch, with the excuse, “Nothing like that German cooking!” Hmmph. Obviously SOMEONE found the schnitzel. As Dee walked out on the catwalk towards the audience, an object sailed past him. [Sidenote: we really discourage fans from throwing anything at Dee or the band because with those bright lights, they cannot seeing anything coming at them!] In this case, the object in question safely landed a few feet away. Dee stopped and asked, “Whoa. Dude. Were those your PANTS?”

He then went over and picked up the object—my babies, it was something just beautiful to behold. It was the most INCREDIBLE Twisted Sister battle vest I have ever laid eyes upon. A leather vest, covered in metal studs and spikes, his name spelled out in studs “S.M.F.” and forgive me, I forget the first name…and the entire vest was embroidered and screened TS patches, many of which I have never, ever seen before. Absolutely amazing.

Dee stopped to admire it—he held it up to the crowd—and said, “Wow. This looks good. You might not get it back!” He then, of course, tried to get the crowd to point out the original owner so that he could hand it back to him via security guards. To my surprise (and Dee’s), they couldn’t seem to locate the owner! I mean, he tried. He really tried. And when no owner came forward, Dee put the vest on (it fit great! A little snug…) and he performed half of the next song while wearing it…the thunderous “The Fire Still Burns.” A.J. really bringing his A-game—just a ripping drum line, and great guitar work by Eddie, Jay Jay and Mark. Another props to the lighting—red and yellow “fiery” lights that were well synchronized with the guitars really added something to it. I don’t know what happened to the battle vest, by the way—I truly do hope it found its way home to the rightful owner. (and it’s now infused with Dee sweat, which makes it even better)

“The Price” is always an emotional moment for every S.M.F. It’s a song that means so much to many of us, and each of us brings to it our own personal meaning, and we basically have our own little private moment—sometimes, it feels like it’s just you and the band, sharing a special memory. In this case, there were 45,000 private shared moments, but regardless, the audience filled with lights, lighters and such, and swayed to “The Price.” An absolutely cosmic serenade—Carl Sagan would have been proud. It looked like billions and billions of stars out there.

The true stars, of course, were onstage. They tore through “Burn In Hell,” which….well…..hate to say this, but I missed most of that too. Crapola for me. You know, you’d be amazed how much running goes on behind the scenes. 8 Miles of running to be specific. My trusty pedometer clocked more than 16,000 steps at the Germany show. Anyhow, I was able to catch A.J.s fantastic drum solo. Interestingly little Twisted tidbit for those of you who appreciate drummers: many drummers rehearse their drum solos, and what you often hear is a planned, carefully rehearsed solo. A.J. does not. He improvises and makes up each and every drum solo, catering it to the energy of the crowd and show, and truly, this is a testament to the tremendous talent that he possesses. Each of his drum solos are different, and they are all brimming with spirit and heart. So next time, take a good listen to A.J.’s drum solo—and let yourself feel it! He had his laser sticks which bounced a beam off a disco ball that was hung stage left. And, no. I have NO IDEA what the hell a disco ball was doing at Bang Your Head. Kinda glad Dee didn’t see that! Nice lighting again on the solo—first bathed in pink light, then green, then blue—A.J. asking the crowd at one point to “give him some!” The crowd responded with an enthusiastic cheer, and he treated them to a perfect toss n’ catch finale.

Dee spoke to the crowd a bit more—he explained to them the strange festival Twisted played in Sweden less than 24 hours ago, giving us some classic Deeisms:
“We played after Katie and her Doggy!....that’s not metal….that’s CHILDCARE!” But he say that it rocked in Sweden, and he was happy that they set the bar high, but it was time now for Bang Your Head in Balingen Germany to “Show up Katie and her doggie!” What else? A rousing and ear-splitting rendition of “I Wanna Rock!”

At one point, Dee had the rest of the band join him on the catwalk, front of stage, to sing the refrain, motioning to the drum riser, “A.J….bring your drums over here…” It was a pretty tight fit on that catwalk…and the guys in TS are NOT slight-of-stature fellows, with Dee commenting, “Okay…nobody push anyone off…we might break a hip…” They proceeded to bring the house down—45,000 fans, 9 crew and 5 band members all screaming “ROCK!” It was poetry, I tell ya, fucking poetic.

We had the same two encores—“Come Out and Play”—complete with creepy COAP-inspired green lighting—Jay Jay played a fantastically fast solo, front of stage—hope someone got some good photos of that—and Mark just plain killed it on “S.M.F.” Perfect show closer that leaves the fans panting (not unlike Katie’s Doggy), sweating, and wanting more! They left the stage, the fans still chanting “TWISTED! TWISTED! TWISTED!” Another fantastic show to a sold out festival audience. That’s how it’s done, ladies and gentlemen. Special little Armadillo shout out to SMF J.P. and to Cat from the band Vain. And a 'so sorry' to the nice German chap who wanted so badly to watch from the stage--I looked for you many times. Next time--I'll specify stage RIGHT or stage LEFT. sorry mate.)

And so….we packed up the guitars and gear, as we have so many times. The transport arrived, and we loaded it in, beyond weary at this point. Most of the crew fell asleep as soon as the door closed on the vans. We arrived at the hotel close to 2:30 a.m. I think it was—we dragged ourselves up to the room—I was so tired, I couldn’t actually figure out how to turn the shower on, so that was my clue to just sleep. Which I did. Except that I had to get up at 5:30 a.m. to run a quick 6:00 a.m. errand for Dee. I grabbed breakfast at the hotel—I don’t recall actually eating it but the plate was empty when I left—and then assisted our faithful Tour Manager, Danny Stanton, as we got the rest of the crew over to the airport and checked the gear on to the flight.

I felt bruised, battered, weary and still slightly disoriented from lack of sleep—but my babies, I could not have been happier. I said goodbye to my Twisted family—band and crew at the airport in New York, and had a feeling of satisfaction that I did my part in serving the Twisted mission: delivering the best fucking live heavy metal show on the planet.

It took my body a full week to recover from the shock of this past run. My feet healed in a few days, and I was so exhausted mentally and physically, that my apologies, my babies, but a Road Reporter first—not only did it take me over a week to do this report, but for the first time, I missed going to a show. Dee’s solo concert in Pennsylvania was a few days after we returned home, and I just could not physically make the drive.

But fear not! I rested up that weekend and soon, you will have all the details of the very special Twisted Takes Manhattan, Fox & Friends morning concert on July 25th!

Until then, auf weidersehen, babies!

This is Armadillo….trotting off…to enjoy the simple pleasures of clean socks, hot showers and comfy pillows!

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