Pinkburst Auction 5/1/11 
Sunday, May 1, 2011, 11:12 PM
Posted by Administrator
And now for Pinkburst Project Part II....The Auction itself, Boston MA, May 1, 2011.

I learned of the Pinkburst Project (and brought it to you first!) in a hotel bar in Buenos Aires--oh gawd, that sounds so internationally sophisticated--for those who don't know me at all, just know that flying to South America alone for me was the fear factor equivalent of eating a giant spider sandwich while public speaking naked in front of a stadium full of circus clowns ten thousand feet in the air. [oh please no clowns....I fucking hate clowns....]

I digress.

When Jay Jay first mesmerized me with the story of each guitar....and then each amp....how he relentlessly pursued the guitar makers, and then managed to get them to fall like dominoes, one after the other....and with each story, he produced a photo on his iPhone. I knew by the third guitar, that this event was going to be significant and extraordinary, and I told him, right then and there--just say when, and I'm booking a ticket! I had no idea how personal this event would be, and how truly emotional it would get.

The morning after the NYC show, Dave (Funtazia) and I wolfed down the cheesecake for breakfast--truly a decadent rock-star inspired act--grabbed a cup of coffee at Penn station, and boarded the train bound for Boston. The four hour train ride was quite scenic at parts, and I did get a bit reminiscent as we rode past Providence, my old college stomping grounds. Dave and I managed to fill four hours of conversation leisurely, and I truly do find the train to be one of the more enjoyable ways to see the country.

We arrived in Boston on time around 2:00pm, and headed out on foot n' wheels to the hotel, which was approximately a mile or less away through Boston's Chinatown. We were about to unknowingly pass by one of my biggest weaknesses--dim sum--and Dave willingly indulged me in a quick stop for some plates of steamed dumplings. We stayed at the Boston Park Plaza, which delightfully, was literally across the street from the Skinner Auctioneers headquarters. Compared to the cramped and aging quarters at the Herald in NYC, the historic hotel at Boston Park was elegantly restored and fully wheelchair accessible. They offered us a wheelchair accessible room upon check-in (I wasn't able to procure one online) and the accommodations were lavishly enjoyable.

Dave suggested we attend the auction viewing--it was only open for another hour--so we strolled and rolled twenty paces to the Skinner front door and were amazed as we entered the second floor where the auction items were all on display. The first room was quite non-descript-- simply an open room with a few plain tables, displaying violins, bows and classical guitars. (including a Les Paul from the 60's). We walked into the second room, and I swear to you, we both let out an audible gasp. To see all 13 guitars and amps--the guitars all displayed in a row, with beautiful, thoughtful museum spotlighting--it was nothing short of art. It almost seemed as though the guitars themselves were emanating a glow from within, and we both simply stood before this spectacle. I could feel my eyes welling.

As if it couldn't get any more surreal, I turn around only to be greeted by David Bonsey, Skinner's Musical Instrument expert--if any of you have ever watched Antiques Roadshow, then you know that David Bonsey is an expert's expert when it comes to music and musical accoutrement. My first instinct was that we were about to unceremoniously be asked to leave--and instead, he extended a warm welcome and took time to chat with us about the auction and the instruments. We both thanked him for Skinner's involvement and shared with him stories of our journey and our connection to Pinkburst. He extended an invitation to us to return later that evening for a private reception as his guests, and we both nervously accepted.

Neither Dave or myself had ever counted on such fortune, and the two of us both packed as minimalists do--we hardly had attire appropriate for a cocktail reception. Nevertheless, Dave calmed my nerves, and we both donned our Pinkburst Project matching tee-shirts, and returned later that evening to meet Jay Jay and his potential bidders. A fascinating mix of guest (rock industry and otherwise), and I was delighted to see our own Don the Webmaster there. He cleans up quite well--and I didn't recognize him--in my defense, every time I see Don, I'm looking at the back of his head as he takes photos. Jay Jay was wearing shoes embroidered with pinkburst guitars, that I swear, if he markets those suckers, he'll make enough to fund research for the next decade--they were the hit of the night.

Dr. Foster, Jay Jay and Samantha each said a few words to the assembled--Dr. Foster in particular, shared his thoughts on his very first heavy metal concert experience-- describing the "prancing and posturing" which amused us to no end! I had a chance to share with Dr. Foster that not only does my grandmother have Uveitis, but my employee that I recently hired does as well--and I got a fascinating look into the history of Uveitis treatment, and what my own grandmother must have endured. He in turn, shared with me, that he was impressed with Twisted Sister, and that Dee Snider must surely be the best frontman in the business. 9 out of 10 doctors agree, what else can I say?

It was hard to leave the reception, knowing that this would be the last time any of us would ever see all of these magical, glorious pieces in the same room at the same time. We took in one last took--snapped plenty of photos--grabbed a late night snack--and collapsed while dreaming of pink guitars jumping over a pastoral fence. In true form, we arrived the next morning early, and watched the staff setup for the auction. It was hard to believe that they were handling violins hundreds of years old with the ease and comfort as you and I would move an ordinary object. The Skinner Auctioneers were a smooth and oiled precision operation, and the auction began almost to the second.

Unfortunately, I did not read the fine print ahead of time. Silly me--I assumed that auction houses that get tens of thousands of dollars for an item will accept a credit card. It was actually the only form of currency they would not accept. They did, however, allow me to bid under the premise that I would wire directly the funds from my bank, on Monday morning. Knowing my paycheck was deposited already, I had a very clear amount that I knew to stay within, but with 6% sales tax and an 18% house fee, I knew that my chances of coming home with a guitar were limited. I was outbid every time. Alas. Not in the stars for me.

Jay Jay, complete with Salmon dinner jacket, said a few words to those assembled--explaining the project's significance and the charity that will receive the profits. Personally, Dave and I found Jay Jay's remarks incredibly amusing and sharp....however....this was not a "rock" crowd. They were a bit, well, crusty and sour, with a lack of humor and a love of violins. Jay Jay's tongue-in-cheek remarks about "every month there's a 400 year old violin available for you to bid on--these guitars are a one time opportunity only!" Well....let's just say that it was the auction equivalent of a fart in church. Matched only by Jay Jay's "Buy these guitars or I'll go home and shoot my dog!" We heard a few of them grumbling about how they had to "sit through" what they deemed a distraction and time waster--time waster? It was for CHARITY for chrissake! lighten up! sheesh. I mean, really? How can you NOT laugh at comments like "we're middle-aged transvestites working 15 days a year..."

I swear, had I the means, I would have bought the whole lot for that comment alone.

I will list below what each item went for--my wish would have been for each guitar to fetch about $10K a piece, so it was hard to see these beautiful works of art go out the door for less---especially when said violin sold at approximately $86,000. Couldn't that cranky fellow have just bid $10K and given it as a Christmas gift? Surely he must know a rock fan somewhere!

The winning bids:
1. Gibson Les Paul $7,000
2. Gibson, S.G. $2,800
3. Gibson, ES-335 $3,000
4. Gibson, Bozeman $1,900
5. Fender Strat. $2,900
6. Fender, Telecast. $3,750
7. Fender, Jazz Bass $2,500
8. Gretsch $5,500 (sigh. this one was SO lovely!)
9. Epiphone, Les Paul $2,900 Jay Jay's true baby--his actual tour guitar.
10. Thunderbird Bass $1,900
11. Paul Reed Smith $5,600
12. Ruokongas $4,000 (must admit--this one shocked me!)
13. CF Martin Nazareth $4,100
AMPS
14. Marshall 1/2 stack $3,750
15. Marshall JCM 800 $4,750
16. Marshall Bluesbreaker $4,500
17. Orange $3,000
18. Fender, Twin Reverb $2,000
19. Fender, Dlx Reverb $2,000
20. Fender-Bassman $800
21. Mesa. Dual $2,000
22. Vox AC-30 $2,000
23. Vox AC-15 $1,000
24. Diamond $1,300
25. Hartke $850

And with that...it ended as quickly as it began. Dave and I both exhaled. It was over, and we watched the thrilled bidders collect their guitars after a photo op and signing with Jay Jay--and the guitars were off to the various corners of the country. Three and half years in the making, and it was done in an hour.
In the end, more than $100,000 was raised over two nights for Dr. Foster's foundation for Uveitis and Ocular Immunology Research, and that is what it was truly all about. Jay Jay and Samantha should be commended for all of their tireless efforts and proof that one person can truly make a difference.

Dave and I finished our afternoon with some vietnamese food....I stopped at the Chinese bakery on my walk to the underground busline to the airport, and a few hours later I was on a plane headed back to Baltimore, trying to process all of the sights and sounds of the weekend.

To all of the bidders and donors and all those who did the actual work--thank you for the support of this special project. I'm sure this is just the beginning, and not an end in the very least.

And with that, I conclude...and shall see you all in Greece, my babies!
trotting off, this your faithful road reporter
Armadillo

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Best Buy Theatre, NYC, PInkburst Project Benefit, 4/29/11 
Friday, April 29, 2011, 11:50 PM
Posted by Administrator
Good evening my babies!
You knew it was coming... like a gastrointestinal serenade after a trip to Taco Bell…. It is time, once again, for the rarely anticipated, often overrated, highly orchestrated and occasionally duplicated—here now, for your reading enjoyment, I bring you: The Armadillo Road Report: The Official UN-Official concert review of the only projected domestic show this year: Twisted Sister’s concert at the Best Buy Theatre, New York City, April 29, 2011, with all the details you want to know...and loads of useless trivial crap you don't.

This particular show was a personal best—I managed to take six different modes of transportation (seven if you count riding shotgun on Funtazia’s wheelchair, but more on that later…) It began as I left the house before dawn in my truck and hopped on the Megabus to New York City. These buses run every hour on the hour, and often are filled with tourists planning to do some shopping and catch a Broadway musical. The nice lady seated next to me asked: “And what show are you planning to see?” And I, of course, said: “Twisted Sister” to which she replied: “How nice. Is that a matinee?” Uh. Right. “Ladies and Gentlemen, Mr. Snider will not be performing this evening. Tonight’s lead will be played by Bette Midler’s understudy…..Lady Gaga….”

I soon met up with SMF Cyndi, Funtazia and MetalNY at the Herald Square Hotel, just a few blocks from Times Square, where we learned that the hotel's definition of a Wheelchair Accessible room meant that the wheelchair could *get* to the room…..just not necessarily IN the room. I swear, you couldn’t fit a mosquito’s balls between the bed and the bathroom, but fortunately Funtazia (a.k.a. Dave from the UK) is not only innovative, he’s an exceptional good sport. We were at least grateful to have two beds in the room—I’m sure at least Dave was—I have on good authority that my feet are cold and I snore, so two beds in a broom closet beats one bed in open space. After the four of us chowed down at a local joint, we headed off to the Best Buy Theatre (Formerly the Nokia Theatre) in Times Square.

There was already a fairly nice line at 5:30 pm. Dave and I watched the highlights of the Royal Wedding on the Times Square jumbo-tron while waiting for the doors to open. Yes, that’s right—we willingly missed Prince Williams’ nuptials, just to bring you this report. Such devotion. I was very impressed with the last three Twisted shows at the Nokia Theatre—both with their punctuality and professionalism—and so I was quite pleased that the staff remained the same….as did their practice of getting the doors open on time and the fans inside as quickly as possible.

If you’ve missed previous years’ reports, the Best Buy theatre is a nice size—2100 capacity to be exact—it has a balcony with seats in the rear that wraps around the sides, and two raised bar areas stage right and left. Several vending areas to purchase a variety of soft drinks, SmartWater, alcoholic libations and munchies. Coat check, merch tables and large bathrooms (assuming you can find your way to them without a compass) The general admission floor is completely open, with the barricade just about five feet from the stage. The sound was always good at the Nokia—so I was anticipating a mind-blowing show Friday evening. One of my top secret inside sources told me that they played “I’ll Never Grow Up, Now” for the sound check. Oh, to be a fly on the wall!

Welcoming us was Jim Florentine, a comedian many of us know from “That Metal Show with Eddie Trunk”. The opening act was an all-female band called “Antigone Rising” (that’s pronounced: “Ann-tig’-gone-knee”) –for you Greek Mythology buffs--—Sophocles, anyone? Anyone? Anyone? 10th grade English? No? Antigone Rising was actually quite good. Here’s the "problem" with Antigone Rising—good musicians, excellent vocalists—wrong venue. They just weren’t metal. In fact, the only real complaint I had with them was that they had a bit of an identity crisis—we heard a very Dixie Chick-esque “Don’t Bring Us Down” that was a real foot stomper, some very well-played bluesy acoustic duos, and they closed with a spot-on rendition of Pat Benetar’s “Heartbreaker.” All very well-performed, but I personally get confused when a band plays multiple genres without their own spin--I really wanted them to make the sound their own. I was glad they had a lot of friends in the audience who cheered them on--TS fans can be a tough crowd. Good band, just the wrong place for them to play. I think once Antigone Rising decides who they are, and finds the consistent sound that works for them, AND plays someplace where the bill is NOT heavy metal, they’ll go far. Personally, I would venture to say that if they explore the Nashville route, we will hear their name in the future.

Jay Jay was brought onstage first—sporting his pink…excuse me, SALMON….blazer that he claimed was purchased at a country club in Bermuda. Jay Jay’s quote of the night: “It goes well with the right wing Republicans AND Middle-aged transvestites.” He was joined onstage by his daughter Samantha and Dr. Stephen Foster, founder of the Ocular Immunology & Uveitis Foundation. Quote of the night actually went to the fans from Brazil, standing behind me. Jay Jay introduced Samantha, who was looking quite lovely—and when a few fans whistled at her, Jay Jay wagged his finger saying “hey, careful…you know who I am, “ the Brazilian shouted out : “My future father-in-law!”

All kidding aside, Samantha is very articulate and well-spoken, with wisdom far beyond her years. Very impressive effort from the entire French family. Dr. Foster spoke briefly about how Uveitis is the third leading cause of blindness –over 100,000 people have this disease, 10,000 are children and 30% are left blind because there is a lack of funding to support the research necessary to find a cure. HEY! DON’T ARROW DOWN THROUGH THIS REPORT! I’ll get to the music…. But remember why we were all there. 100% of the proceeds went to the foundation. The band…the crew…the manager…..all worked for free that night. The tickets, the raffle, the tee shirts—all proceeds. More than $40,000 was raised Friday night! So Jay Jay left the stage to, “change into something a bit more uncomfortable.”
Twisted Sister took the stage at 9:20 PM—the place was absolutely packed full and the energy was high.

Your setlist, once again:

1. What You Don't Know (Sure Can Hurt You)
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Stay Hungry
4. Captain Howdy
5. Sin After Sin
6. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
7. The Fire Still Burns
8. We're Gonna Make It
9. Shoot 'em Down
10. We're Not Gonna Take It
11. The Price
12. Burn In Hell
[Drum Solo]
13. I Wanna Rock
14. Come Out and Play
15. Tear It Loose
16. S.M.F.

Now before I get into the show itself, I must give a disclaimer here---I have already heard from several people at the show that the sound where they were located was excellent. Jay Jay himself told me that he received several emails from folks who normally do not email him, telling him how great everything sounded. So we’ve established that, right? Lots of folks experienced excellent sound. The sound was very different depending on where you were at the club. This was my fourth time seeing Twisted Sister at this very theater—and all four times I was in the front row, as I was Friday night. So I have a previous baseline here.
The sound where I was standing, was the absolute worst I have heard—ever. Period.

I’m very sorry to have to say this because I know how hard the crew works and how talented a soundman Twisted Sister has—and how perfectionist the band members are. So don’t go sending me nasty emails and private messages about how you’re going to kick my keister at the next show—I’ve never sugar coated the truth before and I’m not about to start doing that now. The sound was really THAT bad for us in the front row on the Eddie/Jay Jay side. I deemed it the “Eddie Ojeda Karaoke Hour” because I kid you not, what we heard was approximately 70% Eddie….20% M.A.M….10% Jay Jay….and 10% A.J. Yes, yes, I know that’s 110%....they gave it 110% …. But I could not hear Dee at all. I could tell he was singing his heart out, but no vocals on our side.

For the first three songs—it was as if his microphone wasn’t even on. So the night was bittersweet for me—some songs I had longed to hear….I heard played, but not sung. Even with the ear plugs out entirely—it was to no avail. Normally I would have moved about the club, but I hated to lose my spot up front because for once, there was little pushing and shoving, and I was enjoying it very much. And I had no idea that there were better sound spots--I've gotten "burned" on that gamble one or twice before. C'est la vie.

Eddie was sporting a new guitar—it was a strikingly beautiful purple, iridescent bullseye (Help me, guitar enthusiasts—it was a Fender, no?) Jay Jay sported a new paint job as well—wonderful art—our Twisted Sister logo a la “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” surrounded by pink flames. I can always tell when Dee is pissed off—not because I’m psychic, I mean, I’m not the “Dee whisperer”, okay? But it was quite obvious that he was already unhappy about the mic cutting out from the first note. During “Kids Are Back” he dropped on the edge of the stage, and rolled on to his back, singing to us in the front. One photographer decided that was his clue to go in for a close up. Bad idea.

I’ve watched Dee time and time again—he loves the camera. He’ll give you great shots. But don’t stand in front of his face, and block him from the fans, and the fans from him. He shoved the photographer out of the way—and when the poor bastard didn’t get the hint and shoved his camera even further up Dee’s nose, he got a stronger message. “Mr. Cameradouche…. meet Mr. Snider’s elbow.” Knocked his glasses clean off. Priceless. That's Old School, baby.

Another Twisted Sister first—Dee gave the crowd a choice between two songs: “Captain Howdy” or “The Beast.” I voted for “The Beast”, myself, but “Captain Howdy” is always a crowd favorite. When Jay Jay motioned to me that I should get my notepad ready….I knew something good was coming, but I never imagined “Sin After Sin” What a treat! Again, I couldn’t hear the lyrics and I find the bass line so rich—but Eddie’s guitar pretty much drowned it all out from our spot. Quel domage. Animal pounded the hell out of it on “The Fire Still Burns” and “Shoot ‘Em Down”—I mean you could see him slamming it—bass…neck…bass….neck….back forth back forth…--one of these days, I swear that neck is gonna come clean off the damn bass.

When the band played “We’re Gonna Make It” I thought I was gonna cry. It was just fantastic and more than I could have imagined. And as some of you saw, my heart to yours Jay Jay—right back at ya—thank you, thank you THANK YOU for the setlist chock full of goodies. I’ve never heard that song live before, and although Dee was a distant muffle, it was a special moment for me nevertheless.

Next it was time for our “special guests”—the first of which was Bernie Williams, from the New York Yankees, joining the boys onstage for “We’re Not Gonna Take It.” I’m gonna tell you something—if you think that song kicks ass with two guitars, holy crap—wait til you hear it with three! Bernie did a fantastic job playing the Pinkburst alongside our trio—I’m sure someone got a snapshot of the four guitars lined up during the solo. It was raw and heavy.

Our next special guest was someone who has graced the conversations of the Slamboard once before—Rabbi Darby Leigh—deaf since birth—found inspiration and wisdom within the lyrics of Twisted Sister. He even quoted “Tear It Loose” during a sermon! I’ll be honest, most of my rabbi’s sermons start with “Good afternoon…” and end with “ZZZZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzz ZZZZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzzzz” My Dad used to fall asleep before the third sentence—I can guarantee you that no one falls asleep at Rabbi Darby’s service! An amazing, inspirational story—a very passionate, fascinating man. A rock n' roll rabbi....how cool is that?

He joined Twisted onstage and signed “The Price” {I saw him off-stage signing the words to “Tear It Loose” by the way—totally awesome!} It was incredibly moving to see a man so enraptured....in tune with the beat, so in touch with the words and the meaning behind them. Many of us get misty-eyed during “The Price”, a song that has lifted our own spirits during our darkest hours. While Jay Jay described the deaf rabbi signing TS as a “Spinal Tap moment”, it was quite an emotional experience for many of us. The hankies came out. And for the record, it was no more a spinal tap moment than playing a hotel lobby in monster makeup….or playing to 300 fans at a Six Flags amphitheater. It’s all good, it really is.

A.J. did his medley drum solo with the red laser sticks…..just as he did in South America. In fact, I have the OFFICIAL A.J. Pero drum solo “set list” from the sound of thunder himself—and we’ll just to have a little contest to see if any of you SMFs can name all of the songs in the medley. We’ll come up with a prize or something.

You know... what completely amazes me, is that after all of these shows, there are people who still seem to think that they can just sit their butts in the seats without Dee noticing. The band played and they stood up....then they sat back down....then they got up.....then back down. Dee compared it to being in church: “Turn to page 75 in your hymn books….All Rise for ‘Burn In Hell’…..” He yelled at the back row in the balcony “All you people sitting down….You’d better be in wheelchairs…I’ll 86 you fuckers…” And so for “I Wanna Rock” we had the crowd on their feet at last. Followed with: “You may be seated…..”

“Tear it Loose” was another big treat for me and the many fans who had not heard it live in years! I don’t recall ever hearing it played on the reunion tour before, and just to make the moment extra special, Mark, Eddie and Jay all played pinkburst guitars—a poignant reminder of what the evening festivities were all about.

Unlike previous shows, they didn’t do the encores in their typical manner, but this was no ordinary show—no matter, we still had band introductions and plenty of thank you’s to be had. Jay Jay thanked the wonderful staff at the Best Buy theatre, as well as the ever hard-working road crew, Danny Stanton (manager extraordinaire), and the French family who has supported him during the three years he has toiled tirelessly on the Pinkburst project.

He thanked his fellow members for their support of the project as Dee danced behind and around him while giving the special middle-bird salute, grabbing the mike to say “We didn’t do it for you [Jay] we did it for Sam!” A tremendous show for a very special cause. For me, it was bittersweet—one of the best setlists I’ve seen in a long, long time—great crowd, great view but for our section, just a bum deal as sound goes, but quite frankly, this night was all about raising money and awareness to help find a cure for Uveitis.

They brought down the house with S.M.F. (and now we know the sign language for “mutha fucka”) A fantastic set, an amazing cause and a few lucky fans went home with signed guitars (including Les Paul’s autograph—wow!) from the raffle—I still can’t believe I was ONE ticket off from winning it! We loaded up on charity tee-shirts and headed off to Junior’s for post-show carbs and cheesecake. Special Armadillo shout out to Donna from Connecticut (DCT) and the front row girls, BIGTSFAN and his chaperone (with my apologies for my horrific massacre of the French language), Ron and his lovely wife, [my apologies—I forgot to text you auction info—I remembered on the plane on the way home!} SMF Cyndi, Metal Mad Lady & her main squeeze , Metal NY, Big Mike and the other Big Mike, Jaysin, Charlie, Marty, UK Paul and his wife, sonfaMitch and any of the slamboard folks I'm sure I'm leaving out--a pleasure to meet you all--of course, all of the fantastic crew….and most of all, Funtazia Dave for providing excellent company and conversation the whole weekend, and of course, George—THANK YOU many times over for your very generous gesture—the cheesecake was divine. Next one's on me.

In fact, Funtazia Dave and I may have found the ultimate post-TS hangover cure: bottle of water, a dark room and leftover cheesecake. We then fought the post-show letdown blues, and boarded a train the next morning. Off we went to the auction at Skinner’s in Boston…..stay tuned for The Armadillo Road Report Boston Edition….

until Part II my babies.....
Armadillo, trotting off to get some precious sleep

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El Teatro Flores, Buenos Aires Argentina 11/28/10 
Sunday, November 28, 2010, 11:02 PM
Posted by Administrator
Buenos Noches my sick babies—
I can barely keep my eyes open but a promise is a promise—the Buenos Aires installment of the Armadillo Road Report. This is going to be a toughie—I truly don’t know what to write. Buenos Aires was so surreal, so bizarre, so incredible—for the first time in Road Report history, I’m almost speechless.

Almost.

Buenos Aires began with a 3 hour flight—joined by the illustrious Twisted Sister Road Crew on my plane—and I had a moment with the flight attendant that I can assure you will NEVER happen again in my career. She comes up to me, her eyes sparkling and shoulders in sort of a nervous shrug—the kind you have when you’re about to do something thrilling and nerve-wracking—and she says:
“Excuse me, but are you the famous person that I believe you are?”
There are so many catchy, smart-ass replies I could have concocted, but she was so beautiful….so sweet….so sincere…. I looked into her eyes and said:
“Yes, sweetheart… I’m Dee Snider. Let’s go join the mile high club…”
Okay, okay. Of course, not. I had to gently break her heart, and said:
“I’m so sorry….but I’m not… I’m the not famous person who writes concert reviews about the famous person you believe I am….”
And she then replied: “Oh, Armadillo, you fine specimen of manhood, ravish me anyway, I’m yours,” and we made passionate love on a bed of airplane peanuts….

Oh alright! So maybe it was more like: “Oh. Sorry to bother you, Sir. Please return your tray table to the upright position.” Geez. Gimme a break, willya?

I arrived at my hotel in Buenos Aires around 11:30am, only to learn that my room would not be ready until after 4:00pm. Nothing a few cups of Argentine espresso couldn’t fix, and before long, I’m strolling through the streets of Buenos Aires. If Sao Paulo is the New York of South America, Buenos Aires is the San Francisco. In fact, it so closely resembles San Francisco that a few times, I actually forgot I wasn’t in the States.
Amazing cafes, fantastic restaurants, shopping, art galleries—every corner, every street. Spectacular architecture adorns this city that clearly has strong Euro influences from Italy and France. Little known factoid about yours truly—call it a gift, call it a curse, but I have always had an enhanced sense of smell. Nope, this is totally true. I never knew that other people don’t have this ability until a few years ago, but I’m somehow able to pick up scents…and layers of scents…that others don’t seem to be able to discern. Buenos Aires was sensory overload for me—just incredible. In one city block, I had to just stop and take it all in—chocolates, meats grilling, mens aftershave, ladies perfume, leather, breads, cheeses, coffee, pastries, wood (I passed by a shop that made and sold musical instruments!)…. Just amazing smells everywhere!

I did find that the information on the travel sites were all true—driving (or worse, being a pedestrian) in Buenos Aires is highly dangerous, but nothing my years as a city dweller hadn’t prepared me for. I ate an enormous gourmet meal in an outdoor restaurant along the waterfront, sipped on espresso with my petit fours, and realized that my life after the divorce turned out pretty good, after all.

When I got to my room, I just wanted a shower and a nap. I received a message from the slamboard’s own “Nesi” (Nestor) and upon calling him learned that the line to get into the show had already wrapped around the block, and I needed to get there as fast as possible. So a quick shower , a taxi hailed and off to El Teatro Flores I went. The theatre was in the midst of the city—kind of peculiar district that even the cab driver wasn’t very familiar with—and I joined the long line of fans waiting paces away from the main doors. I met Nesi….some of Nesi’s wonderful friends—delightful, funny and warm people—all passionate about music and Twisted Sister.

Moments later, our roadie extraordinaire, Keith, came bouncing out and said “C’mon, let’s go! AJ’s asking for you!” And my babies, I truly wish I could have taken you all with me—it was a moment of true Twisted glory. I finally had a chance to see what most of us never get to see—the “real” backstage. As we entered through the back door, we passed a port-a-potty that I learned was the venue's initial attempt at roadcrew accommodations, and to get to the dressing room/crew ‘s quarters, I had to squeeze, sidestep and carefully maneuver through a maze of cables, amps, boxes and ….oh, my heart be still—guitars. You’d think after all of the backstage trips I’ve had in my career, that I’d be blasé about the whole thing…. But coming within inches of the Pinkburst and Pink bullseye, on their stands, just waiting there….. my pulse raced and my stomach was full of butterflies! AJ and I had a great time just talking—I’m going to be very tight lipped about our conversations because you know, there are sometimes just things that need to be off the record.

The catering hadn’t arrived yet, the band (and crew) were hungry…and so I had to choose between watching the opening act or crossing an item off my bucket list. I chose bucket list item #43: “Buy Twisted Sister and Roadcrew dinner.” Roadie Wayne and I weaved our way through the backstage (it was VERY small and VERY confined back stage—barely room for the crew!) and went across the street where I proudly displayed all of the Spanish that I learned on my trip thus far: “Senor, Yo quiero diez empanadas carne! Rapido! ” Okay, so that was terribly phrased, and I stole the first part from a Taco Bell commercial, but it got us 40 pesos worth of delicious empanadas all neatly wrapped up and we were soon backstage once more, stuffing the crew (and AJ) with local delicacies. Bucket list #44: “Eat with Twisted Sister and roadcrew.” check.

Regretfully, I missed most of the opening act, which sounded AMAZING, even from the backstage lounge area. John Corabi, of latter day Motley Crue, played a slew of songs with local Argentinian musicans—all covers—all just plain fantastic! (and he’s a very nice chap, to boot!) I took in a few songs from the wings, smushed alongside the crew, and had a moment to take in the theatre. El Teatro Flores is a gorgeous, historic theatre—I never really saw it with the lights on but I’m guessing it was somewhere around l920’s vintage, with a spectacular tin roof, stained glass, and ornate columns. Like Via Funchal, it has a large wrap around balcony, an ample floor, two disco balls (I know, I know, what the fuck?) and two jumbo screens—I didn’t get to see the lobby or any other public parts of it. Because of the extremely tight quarters on stage, they really didn’t have much space for me. I really do enjoy seeing the band from the front as I’ve found that viewing the show from the back, while interesting and fun, doesn’t give you the same level of energy. So Danny then allowed me to cross off Bucket List Item #7: watch Twisted Sister show from the security pit. I was so excited I could hardly stand it—finally, a front row seat where I would not have to deal with bruised ribs, crushed toes and worse, subjected to the underside of someone’s armpit for the duration of the show. At last, finally a chance to have a front row experience without any distractions—and I could scribble away to my heart’s content.

Well…..Not exactly.

First, the security director was not pleased at all that I was there—again, Danny came to my rescue, and shouted those words that I’ve longed to hear since I was 14 years old: “He’s with the band!” Holy crap. That wasn’t even ON my bucket list, but I now added it just so I could cross it off. So I negotiated with Security—if I just sat on the little ledge of the barricade (you know, that little step that the security guys stand on so that they can look over the crowd)—I wouldn’t block anyone’s view, wouldn’t distract the band, and I could do my journalistic duty. So I squeezed my ass into that tiny space, and prepared for the show.

My absolute FAVORITE moment of any Twisted Sister show, believe it or not, is that split second that occurs before the show even starts. When the DJ music stops…and there’s this little pause…..and you can actually FEEL the hearts racing in the audience. It’s like the entire place collectively holds it’s breath…and you can HEAR those minds going: “Now!? Now?! Is it starting now?” And as the lights go down, that opening chord of “Long Way to the Top” resonates in our chests, it’s a release of emotion and energy that for some, has been pent up for more than 30 years. Argentina has never seen Twisted Sister…so we’re talking a lot of sick mutha fuckas who have waited a long time to just let it all loose.

AH MI DIOS. That’s right. OH MY GOD.

I knew it was going to get crazy when the crowd sang every note to “Long Way to the Top”. I could actually feel the energy of this crowd—it was like a sound wave from an explosion—I felt like the vibe from the crowd was going to push me right into the stage. When the boys came onstage, the place absolutely went insane. It was as if a ten ton bomb--30+ years of pent up anticipation-- was released from the back of the room, and a giant rock and roll shock wave exploded, with hearts pounding and bodies airborne everywhere! Next thing I know, I’m diving for cover in my little security bunker as bodies are flying over me, falling to the left and right—women displaying themselves, prompting a “nice tits” even from Dee! (my apologies to the sensitivities of my female readers. I must say, though, they were quite lovely.)

I had about three pages of notes here that for the first time, even I can’t fucking read them because I couldn’t look down at the notepad—I was too busy dodging the flying fans! Dee shed his long leather trenchcoat after a few numbers, and greeted the crowd with: “Como Ested Mutha fuckas??!!!” He was so excited he actually dropped the mic while singing “The Kids Are Back” and M.A.M. pounded his bass so hard, that it appeared that at one point, he actually hurt his hand. I had this intense energy coming from the band....meeting the incredible energy of the fans behind me--it was like two unstoppable forces colliding right before me.

The sound and lighting once again—pure perfection. There was sort of this “flying V” formation of lights (think Geese flying south) and what was really nice about it was that it didn’t blind the fans in the front, but illuminated the stage and bathed the band in light that was seemingly subtle, compared to the night before. Excellent balance, no feedback, just ideal. All hail the road crew!

Each song was more intense than the one before it……there was almost no pause, no chance to let your heart rest—without a lot of the chatter and raps that American (English speaking) audiences get, South America just got one song after the next—hammering them with the Twisted spectacle. It was so remarkably hot, at one point, that the security guards started giving water to the first three rows. Like chirping birds, the fans opened their mouths between songs, as security guards poured bits of water into each waiting mouth.

The setlist was exactly identical to Via Funchal—but each song was just one notch higher, one bit crazier, than the night before. It was SMF Jaysin’s dream come true—fans just surfing and diving all over the place. And every time a fan dove over the bunker, I had to dive into a new place. It brought back memories of DCT, Donna From Connecticut, sharing with me a story about a rendition of “Under The Blade” written for her entitled “Under The Stage,” a song about being short and in the front row at a Twisted Sister show. I was truly, Under The Stage! Much to the chagrin, by the way, of the band members, who repeatedly pointed at me, laughing, mouthing to me the words: “This is unbelievable!”

It was then that it hit me what was making this show so unique—the fans didn’t just sing the lyrics to all of the songs—they sang the notes. Do you understand? The NOTES. They SANG the fucking guitar solos…every last note…..every song. Don’t believe me? YouTube it….it was unreal. Then to MY amusement…..every time Jay Jay and Eddie tried to do a guitar solo, they royally screwed it up! I mean, it’s like trying to sing the national anthem in a ball stadium, where there’s a 2 second delay. I kid you not, at least three or four guitars solos went south, and every time, I saw Eddie and Jay Jay exchange looks—and as they both said to me: “These guys are nuts!”

When a fan threw a soccer jersey onstage, complete with Twisted Sister logo, the crowd erupted into the South American cheers of “Ole Ole Ole Ole Twis-ted Sis-ter!” and the crowd went into an absolute frenzied state of religious fandom fervor.
Jay Jay spoke briefly to the crowd, encouraging them to check out the Twisted Sister website…with his best one liner of the night:
(regarding websites) “These days everybody’s got one….even my grandmother’s got one….www.nofuckingteeth.com…..”

“I Am, I’m Me” made my eyes well up with tears. I just love that song, it’s my absolute favorite and Dee actually sang a few lines right to me in the pit. I wanted to freeze that one moment in time—that one small tiny moment—capture it in an ampule and keep it around my neck for those tough times that may lie ahead. It just does NOT get better than this, I thought. Wrong again. It got even better.

They played “The Fire Still Burns” (and the fog machine churns) and the Eddie/Jay Jay duet was a valiant attempt (and I enjoyed it very much, to tell you the truth, but damn if those fans didn’t sing those solos too!)
Dee then decided to utilize Eddie’s talents—and command of the Spanish language.
Dee says, very slowly: “Eddie…I need you to translate.”
Eddie: “Ok-ay.”
Dee: “In May of this year, Heavy Metal lost a god. Heavy Metal lost an inspiration. Heavy Metal lost Ronnie James Dio. In honor of Ronnie James Dio, Twisted Sister wants to do this tribute to Rainbow, called, “Long Live Rock and Roll.”
I can’t even describe to you the reaction of the crowd. They were screaming so loud behind me that I almost missed the opening riff. I honestly couldn’t tell you if it was better than Sao Paulo or not—I can just tell you that, I swear, I felt as though the spirit of Dio himself was there and throwing the horns at TS, thanking them for the tribute.

“Under The Blade” treated us to some really special Mendoza bass magic—and I definitely saw him shaking his hand in pain from pounding that sucker. And then, it was time for the ol’ crowd fave….Cue the spooky lighting….cue the fog machine…. Dee drops to the floor like his legs are kicked out, and he gave us a spellbinding rendition of “Burn In Hell.” I know Suzette hates the moustache, but man, it just makes Dee look more and more devilish in that glowing red light. AJ’s drum solos again, did not disappoint. We were treated once more to his heavy metal drum medley, accompanied by an absolutely fantastic multi-colored strobe from the Johnny at the lightboard. We saw a return of the blue laser sticks .

A.J, I’m pleased to report, has been doing well after that very serious car accident. He expressed appreciation to everyone for their well wishes—it was a terrible accident, and we’re all very fortunate and relieved that he made it out alive with minimal injuries. I compared A.J. to a professional football player—in spite of a bad hip, stress fracture in his foot, and back injuries—he just continues to go out there and play like a champion.

And then…we had “I Wanna Rock.”
We all know by now—that is, any of us who have EVER gone to a live Twisted Sister concert before know—that you need to:
1. Be on your feet
2. Enjoy yourself
3. Never sit or stand with your arms crossed
Well, the return of El Doucho Baggo and his twin brother Senor Corn Holio. it appears there were two people who weren’t singing. I mean, seriously, the whole goddamn place was packed nuts to butts, we’re sweating, screaming, stomping, shouting…bodies are flying overhead left and right, your old Armadillo pal is getting absolutely pummeled with thrown objects, sweat, spittle, shoes, fists…. There’s so much shit flying through the air—someone’s wallet even made it’s way onstage—everyone is going apeshit….. except for two fans.
Up go the lights.
Dee: “I see you. Yes, I do. I see you! Everyone is singing…why aren’t you singing? The whole place is going nuts….and you aren’t doin’ nuthin! Ladies….do NOT fuck those guys tonight. No matter what, Ladies, do NOT fuck those guys. “
And then, Classic Dee:
“NOBODY ELSE SING. JUST YOU TWO GUYS.” And so Dee made them sing, in front the whole crowd, and once they finally got into the act, Dee finished the song.
At that point, the place was going so crazy, that I thought it was going to just spontaneously combust.
Dee gave the band intros—another brilliant moment:
Dee: “Twisted Sister is here tonight with all five original members….Eddie….please translate….how do you say ‘original’?
Eddie: “Or-i-gi-nal”

I hated for the show to end. It was pure magic. Utter brilliance. But the bucket list had a few more things to go. Yep, Bucket List #58 and #59: Carry equipment and ride on Twisted Sister tour bus. Okay, so it was Mehtis’ bag and it was a hotel charter shuttle, but goddammit, close enough. I finally got to ride the bus—with the road crew making me an “honorary member”—and I’ll just stop there. It was a delightfully entertaining ride to the hotel--I laughed so much that my face hurt.

The next few hours were spent unwinding with the band at the hotel lounge—we celebrated Danny’s birthday with singing and cake—and we watched the YouTube videos already up on the web. Gotta love technology. I had to stop for a moment: here I am…it’s two in the morning….I’m sitting here watching a comedy video with Mark Mendoza and the TS road crew….I just had birthday cake with the band, crew and their manager…. This could perhaps be the most surreal and wonderful moment of my life. I almost became emotional, and mentioned it to Animal, who put his hand on my shoulder and said: “You aren’t a fan anymore. You’re a friend.” I damn near lost it.

The next morning, I had the most splendid day of sightseeing with the crew, followed by down time spent with individual members of the band, just talking. The details of which I won’t reveal here—as previously mentioned, some conversations are just not for public ears—but I truly enjoyed every minute that I spent with everyone. Truly a special day. And I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.

The band flew out early on Tuesday for Chile—I felt my heart sink, knowing that my time with them and the tour was over. I spent the day exploring Buenos Aires, including several hours in Recoleta, a city within the city, consisting of ancient mausoleums, including Evita Peron’s—simply an amazing spectacle. I took in a dinner theater Tango show, snapped a few photos of “Casa Rosa” or “Pink House”—they’re equivalent of the White House, and waited out an impressive deluge before the long ride and much longer ride back to the States.

Deepest thanks to everyone in the band, the road crew, Danny, Nestor, (special hola to Abril!), the show producers and all of the wonderful fans in Buenos Aires. It was a deeply moving, unbelievable experience that I will treasure for many years to come. I found tears coming down my face as I sat in the airport—it was hard to leave these beautiful countries, the warm and kind people, and I wished I had just taken the plunge and found a way to get to Chile and Bolivia for the final legs.

I’ll be posting separately about Jay Jay’s upcoming Pinkburst Project—I see the link is now up—please….I implore everyone to go and do whatever they can to support this important charitable event. It will be historic—I assure you—I got a chance to see some sneak peak photos and this is one event you do NOT want to miss.

And so my babies, it is with a heavy heart that I must sign off this evening. I don’t know when the next show will be, I only know that this tour could end at any time, and if you have never seen Twisted Sister play live, now is the time. My only regret going to South America was that I came home too soon. Take the plunge….be there standing next to me, at the next show, your fist held high. No regrets.

Alas, my sick brothers and sisters, fatigue has gotten the best of me. I can barely keep my eyes open.
This is Armadillo, your faithful road reporter, trotting off to get some good, sound sleep. (I’ll post photos as soon as possible!)
Ciao
Terry a.k.a. Armadillo

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Via Funchal, Sao Paulo Brazil 11/27/10 
Saturday, November 27, 2010, 11:01 PM
Posted by Administrator
Sao Paolo BRAZIL, 11/27/10
Hola, Bom Gia and Buenos Dias
I am finally back on U.S. soil, and it’s time… once again…. my S.M.F. brothers and sisters, for the literary masturbation chock full of useless information for my enjoyment and yours….that exercise in excessiveness you have come to know as “The Armadillo Road Report.” There were so many amazing and fun factoids this trip, that this may take more than one installment—Sao Paulo was an extraordinary experience. I filled three notebooks worth--I'll try to give you a synopsis here worthy of my Slamboard readers.

It all began with an 11 am flight on Thanksgiving Day. My parents drove me to the airport, with my mother lamenting my absence at the Thanksgiving table, but as she put it: “Well, I guess we can’t compete with Twisted Sister.” Sick Mother Fuckers over Mother's supper, I'm sorry to say. If the band and crew could sacrifice spending the holiday with their loved ones, then I certainly could as well. And so after a short 2 ½ hour flight to Miami, I was off on the red eye—4,888 miles from Florida to Sao Paolo, Brazil. With just 2 hours sleep under my belt, the red eye landed 7:30 am Black Friday, and the first day of living vicariously began. Sao Paulo is the world’s third largest city—it has a definite “New York” feel to it—and my thrilling 2 hour ride from the airport entertained me to no end, watching the “motoboys”—motorcycle delivery messengers, zip by the taxi as they split lanes. My hotel afforded me a beautiful view of one of several suspension bridges, illuminated at night by pulsing colored lights. (including, what else? Pink!)

SMF Felipe (a.k.a. Freakrocker) met me at my hotel, and provided me with the ultimate Sao Paulo experience. A true S.M.F. ambassador, Felipe speaks flawless English and indulged me in a day of tourism as well as tirelessly serving as a translator, as my Portuguese was limited to one or two words, which I’m sure I massacred with my pronunciation. We hopped buses, subway trains and walked on foot—and Felipe took me to “Our Lady of the Rock.” I was expecting a religious structure—but nothing could compare me to the “religious” experience we had. “Our Lady of the Rock” was a time-warp—a four-story shopping mall in which every single store was devoted to 80’s heavy metal. Storefront and storefront of old vinyl, cassettes, CDs, t-shirts, posters, clothing, tattoos, piercing—if it had anything to do with 80’s metal, it was there—including the home base of the Brazilian based Sepultura Fan Club headquarters. Filled with metalheads dressed a la 1986, it was absolutely amazing. I learned that several of the TS albums were produced, right there in Sao Paulo!

We downed some traditional Brazilian cuisine—Esfilas and Pastelis—(think: open-faced Knishes and fila dough filled with ground meats) washed down with Guarana, a birch-beer like soda, and these delicious pear-shaped chicken croquettes called “Coxinas”. I was in food ecstasy! After a traditional Brazilian dinner, Felipe left me at the hotel, and to my shock, he was back again bright and early the next morning, along with a throng of Twisted Sister fans who packed a lunch and were planning to spend the day outside the Hilton, hoping to catch a glimpse of the band. Hardcore fans were already lining up outside Via Funchal the night before, sleeping on the sidewalk to ensure that they would get a good spot up front. Incredible! (and incredibly, they were still there when I flew out on 5:00am the morning after the show)

A few words here about the Brazilian fans—warm, friendly, animated and highly passionate about everything they do. (And beautiful—the most extraordinarily beautiful women everywhere) Heavy Metal is taken very seriously there, and has almost a religious fervor—something I share, but had not experienced anywhere else. Truly some of the nicest fans I’ve ever met—a shout out to Bruno, Darcio, Marcelo (a very entertaining Gene Simmons impersonato for a KISS Cover band), Rita and all of the wonderful SMFs who showed me such hospitality. I’ll put some photos up of our group in my “Twisted Denim” photo album—we looked like quite the SMF posse. We spent the day laughing, swapping TS stories and admiring one another’s Twisted tattoos. The best story of the day came from Rita, whose father, an avid fan, sang to her “Burn In Hell” as a lullaby when she was a baby.

We headed out to get in line at approximately 4:00pm, getting briefly lost once or twice on the way there. The line was already huge three hours prior to doors opening, and party atmosphere was just incredible. Street vendors selling empanadas and beer, bootleg tee-shirts everywhere, and fans camped out sporting huge Brazilian flags with the TS logo sewn into them. Part of Brazilian social culture includes “nicknames”—it’s not unusual at all for friends to call people by various nicknames, sometimes based on physical characteristics. The nice group of fans in line with us nicknamed me “Little Rob Halford,” who apparently they thought I resemble. I considered it a huge compliment. The crowd was prone to breaking out into spontaneous chants, some of which may have lost something in translation, but were incredibly funny to everyone except the well-dressed security force. The security at Via Funchal sported black shirts, suits and red ties—it looked like a cross between an Italian wedding and couture fashion show.

Our own Danny Stanton, manager extraordinaire, looking cool as a cucumber in the heavy Brazil heat, brought me inside to escape the sun and catch a few moments with the road crew and band. If I don’t say this enough—All Hail the Road Crew! These guys truly work their asses off to bring us the best show possible, and the effort they gave in South American was nothing short of fantastic. I met the “international” members of the road crew—in addition to our usual band of merry men, three gents who I hadn’t known previously—Mehtis (Finland), Johnny (Sweden) and Rick (Holland)—all great guys and tremendous fun. Thanks guys--you made my experience extra special by welcoming me into your family. I’ll say it upfront: this show was as close to perfection as it gets. The sound was wonderfully balanced and at a perfect level, which could not have been easy, given the din of the crowd. The lighting was equally outstanding, affording a great visual experience. I have seen shows before in which the technical aspects of the production have detracted from the experience—not this case--Twisted Sister truly has some of the best roadies around.

Via Funchal is also, quite possibly, one of the best theatres for live music I've visited to date. With an ample balcony and huge, stepped (stadium style) floor space, viewing from almost anywhere in the venue will give you a great vantage point. And what Road Report would not be complete without the restroom review? The restrooms were enormous, spotless and all solid marble—even the backstage bathroom had a bidet! Yes ,my babies, I utilized the Twisted Sister toilet. Thrills great and small. No experience is lost on me.

Oh.
Did you want to hear about the music?
Yes. Well, we had some music too. I’m getting to that—hey, listen, I traveled 6000 miles to this concert—you deserve a road report proportionate to the flight time!

The opening act was a local Sao Paulo band called “Salario Minimo” Felipe explained to me that they are Brazil’s oldest heavy metal band. I’m pretty certain the lyrics were all Portuguese, but heavy metal is a universal language, so I just cheered when everyone else cheered. They sounded quite good—a cross between Iron Maiden and Europe (sans keyboards) influence. They looked like a Death metal band (well, except for the very cute stuffed owl strapped to the drumset) but played good solid heavy metal music.
The passion in Brazil is unlike any other—whereas in the States, warmup acts hardly get a toasty welcome, the fans reacted with enthusiasm and support for the opener. Then I learned another factoid about Brazilians—they must have the bladders of camels, because once they secure their “spot” at the show, they will NOT move. Not an inch. Even so, knowing I would lose my primo spot front and center, I opted to leave the front so that I could bring Felipe backstage for a quick 30-second meet and greet that Danny made possible for us. We ran into TwistedMarcelo (from our own Slamboard—a nice fellow!) and were able to get a few quick band moments. And yes, I FINALLY have a shot with all five members, even Eddie this time! Thanks Danny and crew for making this happen. Since a few of you asked, Dee did have his moustache, although he informed me that Suzette hates it, and it will be floating in the sink the day after Rock of Ages is done.

I still procured a nice vantage spot up front, stage left, and the energy of the crowd was palpable and electric. A huge roar arose when the crew placed the famous pink microphone stand on stage, and the raising of the Twisted Sister backdrop elicited chants of:
Ole.... Ole.... Ole..... Tweeested...... Seeeester....... (oh just YouTube it, you’ll see what I’m talking about) It was glorious.

The band took the stage at 10:05 pm, and when Long Way To The Top started playing, the crowd erupted! You’ve seen the setlist so I won’t repeat it here—it was the standard overseas setlist, but they played fast and furious, with minimal raps and chatter—before the crowd could even recuperate from the previous song, they were hammered with another one. Oh what the hell--here's the setlist again:
1. What You Don´t Know
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Stay Hungry
4. Captain Howdy
5. Shoot ´em Down
6. You Can´t Stop Rock n Roll
7. The Fire Still Burns
8. We´re Not Gonna Take It
9. Long Live Rock n Roll
10. I Am, I´m Me
11. Under The Blade
12. The Price
13. Burn in Hell
with drum solo
14. I Wanna Rock
Encore 1: Come Out And Play
Encore 2: S.M.F.

It was rock and roll aerobics! On the opening number,”What You Don’t Know,” Jay Jay sat on an amp and leaned back, looking quite chill and relaxed as he soaked in the crowd. The noise from the crowd was so remarkably loud, that I had to tighten my ear plugs in between songs, because the crowd cheers were so loud it was painful. Truly….the LOUDEST fans I’ve ever heard. Most of the fans did not speak any English—and yet they still knew all the words—even more so than most American audiences I’ve seen.

“Captain Howdy’s” guitars were tightly played and I particularly appreciated how well this number was lit--- Dee’s spoken portion of Captain Howdy was just haunting---even though this is not one of my favorite songs—it gave me chills. “Shoot Em Down” did not disappoint—M.A.M. just KILLED the bass on this—Animal just relentlessly pounded the hell out of it. We were treated to a little “behind-the-head-nothin’-but-net” action by Jay Jay on “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” and more rounds of crowd driven “Ole” chanting in between songs. The crowd was so remarkably loud singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that I suspect the sound had to get cranked to…screw 11….their’s goes to 12!

As Dee succinctly put it: “I don’t speak Portguese. You don’t speak English. The one language we all speak is heavy fucking metal!”

The Dio tribute—“Long Live Rock and Roll” was just exemplary. The guitar laid down on this performance was just one of the best ever—Jay and Eddie just plain outdid themselves. It was just spiritual—very moving—and the crowd loved every single minute of it. Then followed by a rendition of “Under The Blade” that I swear, I thought was going to bring the fucking roof down on top of us. It was blistering—and again—combined with an excellent combination of balanced light and sound, it was just flawless. I hope UTB is up on YouTube so you can see what I’m talking about here. The crowd does sort of a heavy metal “Pogo” that is almost a European punk throwback—it’s a helluva lot of fun, looks really cool and I could feel the floor shaking!

“The Price” moved me to tears, it was *that* good, and I can honestly tell you that I was not the only one. These fans just have the passion and love—(and beautiful women..did I mention the beautiful women?) and the lyrics may not have been understood by most, but they could feel the intensity of the song. There was lots of swaying and singing—it was a moment of unity and brother/sisterhood. “Burn in Hell” is always a crowd favorite, and it seemed appropriate enough, given that it must have been 100 degrees inside Via Funchal at this point. Felipe’s work on “Stay Oven” now made sense—it really was a freakin’ oven in there! Dee stripped down the waist and played the rest of the show completely shirtless. A.J.’s drum solo gave us an added treat (and I’ll post this in a separate thread)-he played an opening drum riff from 11 different heavy metal songs, and A.J. and I decided we’ll have a little contest to see if anyone can name all 11 songs—he’ll provide a prize. (maybe a nice pair of autographed sticks?) Unlike U.S. crowds--the audience was transfixed during the solo--no one moved an inch out of place--and they loved every minute of it. In an unusual move, Dee came out during the drum solo and was seen bopping along behind the drum riser.

In the category of “There’s one at every show,” we did have our “DB” moment. Yes, my friends, the return of “El Doucho Baggo.” Someone jumped the security barrier from the main floor into the VIP section and was gang-tackled by an army of those nicely dressed security folks. Overall, the crowd was wonderfully behaved and security did an exceptional job of making sure we all had a good (and safe) time.

“Come Out and Play” was the best I’ve ever heard it—even better than the first time I heard it live in 1986—I just didn’t want the night to end. Even the band intro was loads of fun—Dee finally pronounced Eddie’s name as I’ve always pronounced it “Oh-hey-da”—leading to chants of “Fin-gers! Fin-gers! Fin-gers!” And as Dee adorned himself with a Brazilian/TS flag draped across his shoulders like a superman cape, he lead the crowd in chanting “Sick Mutha Fucka!” (Or as my bootleg sticker says: ”Twisted Fucker Sister”)

Band members met with loads of fans afterwards to sign autographs and take photos late into the night—I can’t begin to tell you how many fans I saw who had tears of joy in their eyes. Someone read my mind and ordered pizza (Brazilian pizza is incredible!) So here we are, standing outside the hotel, talking to the band and eating Brazilian pizza. It just doesn't get too much better than that!

It was one of the top shows I’ve ever seen…and I would have experienced that post-concert let down had I not planned to be in Buenos Aires the next night. In a bizarre road moment, as I prepared to leave Sao Paulo in my 5 am taxi on just an hour of sleep, I saw fans still sitting on the pavement outside the hotel, waiting to give the band a proper sendoff. A Jewish wedding party arrived--and as I boarded my taxi, two groups of singing, clapping, dancing wedding guests sang traditional Jewish wedding songs in Hebrew around the bride and groom. I just love those little moments of magic.

And that, my dear friends, is as much as I can bang out on this keyboard before I collapse into bed. Tomorrow I will you bring the report on Buenos Aires—all the details you’re dying to know, and plenty ya’ don’t!

Until then my babies,
Ciao and Obrigado! With much love to my new family of friends in Sao Paulo!
Terry, a.k.a The Armadillo

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Midwest Rock Festival, Wichita KS, 7/24/10 
Saturday, July 24, 2010, 11:56 PM
Posted by Administrator
Well "yee-haw" and "hell yeah!"--it's time to put on the big hats and ridiculously enormous belt buckles and bring you the second installment of the Armadillo Road Report, midwest edition--this time from Wichita, Kansas.

First things first--I must apologize for the copious typographical errors in the OKC report--I had to type that thing so frickin' fast because of the line of peeved tourists, complaining about the "biker midget" hogging the computer. I mean, really! First of all, the correct term is "little person." And second of all, I'm not a little person--I'm just remarkably short. Boy, the nerve of some people. Had to get that off my chest.

Chris and I hit the road bright and early to head out from Oklahoma City--I was tempted to stop at the National Cowboy Museum, bested only by the National Banjo Museum... but given the tight time frame, I'll have to save those for another day. We were still high on endorphins from the show the night before--well, at our age, it was really more like a heavy metal hangover, but we were really anxious to hear a full setlist on Saturday, given that to the best of our knowledge, Kansas didn't have a cowboy curfew.

We were very disappointed that "The Rowdy Beaver", a local eatery, was out of business. We settled for some outstanding BBQ at the Hog Wild Pit BBQ. [I even thought fondly of one recent cranky poster on the slamboard lately, as we passed by the "Bite Me BBQ" stand.] Wichita ain't exactly metropolis--it does have Sonic drive-ins every twenty-feet, which goes a long way in my book--but we were stunned how hard it was to find Lake Afton, which literally, was NOT on the map. G-d bless google and GPS, we made our way to Lake Afton (blink and you would have missed it) and I have to tell ya, it was one of those moments where I really thought it was going to get ugly fast.
Now some of you know, I work in health emergency management, and I'm also a trained National Weather Service-certified Storm Spotter. Going to Kansas...I felt like I had "graduated." But nothing can truly prepare you for that moment where you see the sky...and the color of those dark clouds...and see lightning that makes you want to convert and go to church. The festival allowed concert goers to leave the site to take cover in their vehicles, which we opted to do for several hours to get out of the rain and wind. The good news--at least the temperature dropped about 20 degrees from blistering 100+ to suddenly the 80's.

Now Lake Afton itself: we didn't see a lake. We saw a big field. A big, big.....field. With a fence and two sound stages....and small handful of local food vendors. Again...the fried pickle and ice cream from the same cart, go figure. But the vendors were all quite friendly and happy to have some business--the rain had obviously deterred the crowd. At 7:00pm, more than 6 hours after gates opened, there were just small handfuls of people. We calculated that there almost as many portapotties as people--personally, that's a ratio that I can appreciate, given how much water I consume, but we were disappointed at the turnout.

Chris aka Captain Howdy, visited the box office, which was, in truth: A box. It was one of those small 15' cargo containers on the back of a truck, with a hole cut out in the side for the walk-up window. But I give those Kansas gals credit, they had a live doppler feed and were watching the weather very carefully. And then we have the main stage. This one deserves a little attention.

There were two very peculiar things about this stage.
1. It was completely open and exposed. No rain cover, nothing. I've never seen that before--even at the most low budget street festivals. This turned out to be the festival's real demise, but more on that later.

2. When you reached the front row barricade, it was obvious that there was something seriously wrong here. I usually alternate my position between M.A.M's mic and Jay Jay's mic. I walked up to the front, and there was this chain-link fenced in area, sort of a cross between a goat pen and a detention holding area, and it spanned ALL the way from the edge of stage right (Eddie's side) to halfway between Dee's mic and M.A.M's mic, and then ran back about 40 feet. And in this pen there were some chairs....E I E I O.... and a Fuck! Fuck! here and a WHATTHEFUCK there.... it was the V.I.P. area! There was one person sitting there--one very mellow fellow, wearing a hat that read "FUCK YOU". So all the rest of us crammed into this tiny area by M.A.M.s mic....and one lone bastard sat in the V.I.P. pen. I asked the box office what it would cost for me to upgrade, for this last night of the show, to access the "pen", and was told $125, in addition to the $50 I had already shelled out. AH! Now I understand the "FUCK YOU" hat. My sentiments exactly.

They wanted me to pay $175 to bake in the sun, in the mud, for that??!?!. I mean, at least Oklahoma had misting showers, A/C tents...lots of other VIP perks. Their VIP section was the first 15 feet of stage, and we had a perfectly good view behind them. It didn't make sense to any of us--why not fence off the first fifteen feet across the stage--but to essentially stuff the entire crowd stage left was just plain STOOPID.

Oh, and speaking of STOOPID....let's talk a little more about the concert promoters and that lovely exposed stage. I've seen shows in the rain--we all have--I've never seen anything like this. They put the tarps on, almost as an afterthought, after the rains began, and it was truly the beginning of the end. There were so many technical glitches, I don't know where to begin, but I'll start with this: TWISTED SISTER WAS NOT TO BLAME. Yesterday, blame it on the heat? well, last night, blame it on the rain. and the morons at the Midwest Rock Festival. We ALL knew it was going to rain...my own MOTHER called me to tell me to pack some raingear!

So here we go: delay after delay after delay. And we hear......nothing. No announcements, no communication, nothing. The fans who were "camped" out by the stage were pleading with the road crew--tell us SOMETHING! ANYTHING! They could have at least told us they were sorry about the delays. nothing.

Finally, we start to see the tarps come off, and Y & T takes the small stage. They sounded absolutely fantastic--I held our spot at the front while Chris went to get a closer look. Y & T is often underrated, and undeservedly so--they did a great set.

We got bad news....and more bad news. Bad news: KIX was unable to make it and had to cancel.

More bad news: Winger showed up.

Okay, okay, that's not very fair--the crowd just loved Winger. And I was very impressed with some of the individual talent in Winger--the guitarist in particular. But a band is more than an army of one, and what I really dislike about Winger: I hate their stage presence, band "personality" and their songs. They sounded a lot heavier live than I had anticipated, which was a good thing, but they are just a victim of bad song-writing. "she's only 17" is absolutely my LEAST favorite song in the entire heavy metal world.
Winger's idea of showing the crowd appreciation? The guitarist came out onstage after the band went off...not for a musical encore or to throw some picks.... he chugs a beer and tosses the can out in the audience. Nice. Class act. The only thing more disgusting was the fan who caught it...and began licking the rim like it was some elixir from the fountain of youth. Ewww.
The concert promoters were selling "Poser Passes"...which meant for $20 more dollars, you could watch the show from an elevated platform on the stage.
Kinda cool...but when I asked if it would get me access to the Twisted view, they said "No Twisted Sister didn't go for it." I offered, "perhaps if you didn't call it a POSER pass???!!"

Oh, and I must say a few words here about the people of Kansas. Here I thought that the folks of the midwest were these wholesome, milk-n-cookies crowd--like....oh....flowing wheat fields....America's hardworking farms...Dorothy and Toto! I was informed, by the local Kansas residents, and I quote: "Dorothy was a whore. And she was doing her dog, too."
This festival was three days long and incorporated camping as well as "afterparties" in the big field. I heard stories....I saw some photos...and I pray that what happened in Kansas stays in Kansas. Now I'm not a prude, folks--in my younger days, I actually worked in a sex club in San Francisco (oh please, I was a bar back and worked the door. I know what you're thinking!) so it takes a lot to shock me. But what I witnessed in Kansas--a lot of drug use...excessive boozing...and public sex...saddened me. it wasn't rock n' roll.. it was just plain GROSS. I wanted to wear a shirt that read: DON'T show me your titties! On my way to the port-a-johns, I was offered everything from meth to some services that I won't go into detail here. I asked the very nice folks around me, and they explained that "there just ain't much to do here!" Holy shit. How about get a hobby or something? Everyone I talked to told me how much they hated living in Kansas...but it was their home, so they didn't want to live anywhere else. I get that.

Okay, okay. more show. Fuel took the small stage--honestly, I barely listened to them because it was quite dark outside and getting late--we were now past 11:00 pm and the rain started to fall. Then the mischief really began. We could hear the feedback before the band ever took the stage. The monitors were shorting out...the lights were shorting out..... it was a bad scene, folks. It was just plain tragic that we had great sound through Winger (just bad music) and now, with the boys ready to knock it out of the park, the sound system was taking a proverbial crap. Our own Mr. Stanton, the true class act that he is, came onstage and explained to the crowd what was happening, and that as soon as they could get it fixed, they would take the stage. (the concert producers should take a page from his playbook!)

They raffled off some guitars onstage--including a special edition Jay Jay French pinkburst--the proceeds went to building a park. Well, that's nice, actually. Let's hope the kids play ball in the park because I don't want to think about what else might be going on there given some of those afterparty stories.

Finally, at long last, the lights went down--with what seemed like fifteen techs still working onstage--and Long Way To The Top came on. And no one started cheering--I realized that most had never seen Twisted before, so they didn't know that Long Way was the clue to start going crazy! When the "radio" changed to "Man On the Silver Mountain", they still didn't get it....the guy next to me says, "why are we listening to the radio? this sucks!" I said "Relax dude, this is how the show starts..." good grief. It really loses something when you have to explain it.

So let's get the formality out of the way: here's, as Dee put it, "the soggy setlist"
1. Come Out and Play
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Stay Hungry
4. Captain Howdy
5. Shoot 'Em Down
6. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
7. We're Not Gonna Take It
8. The Price
9. Burn in Hell
Encore 1: I Wanna Rock
Encore 2: S.M.F.
Yes, I know it's short. I'll explain...

First of all--here I was, right in the front, and I couldn't see a damn thing. This enormous security guy posts himself right in front of us, and we literally saw almost NOTHING all night but his chest. lovely. Then they brought the V.I.P.s into the security pit to watch the show for three songs before they returned to their goat corral, so again, my view obscured. There were some serious sound issues due to the wet weather...and lights were messed up too. Compared to the flawless lighting job in Oklahoma (forgot to mention it, but the lighting was really excellent in Oklahoma), there was a spotlight on the stage right in Dee's face. He asked nicely to kill the light. He did. Nicely. Dee doesn't ask nicely twice....halfway into 'The Kids Are Back", Dee kicks that sucker through the goalposts. Or more accurately, into the front row pit of the V.I.P. section. See that folks? Got more than ya bargained for, didn't ya? Maybe that will get your asses up and off those V.I.P. folding chairs!

At least there were no curfews or profanity ordinances--Dee made up for it last night, and he was plenty pissed about the circumstances. His first words to us: "Well, this is fucked!" The stage was wet, the equipment was wet....but in Dee's words: "If you sick mutha fuckas can stand in the rain, we can stand in the rain..." Off course, this led to a string of great Dee-isms: "I"ve got to do the Tim Conway shuffle....it's so slippery up here....if I fall and break my neck you mutha fuckas will have it posted on youtube within minutes..." [Note to Dee: most of that crowd was too young to know Tim Conway, but Chris and I appreciated the reference...]

The water really started becoming an issue--A.J....the sound of thunder, who I've seen spin the sticks more times than I can count....slipped and fumbled the stick, sending it unpoetically stageward. He really made a valiant attempt to recover it, but there was just too much rain. Every time Mark pounded his bass, you could see a spray of water from it, and even he looked as if he was having some challenges hitting those wet strings. Speaking of challenges, I was getting annoyed as well with the rain. It was so dark and wet....{go ahead: "HOW DARK AND WET WAS IT?} I had to scribble my notes under a ziplock baggy and I had a headlamp around my neck so I could see what I was writing! oh the sacrifices.....

Even so, the band played on...

Dee sounded fantastic, Eddie, in spite of a sputtering amp and a dead monitor, continued to nail down the solos, and his and Jay Jay's work on “You Can't Stop Rock and Roll” was blistering. “Burn In Hell” was one of the best renditions they've done since Plymouth, MA--honestly, rain, bad sound, bizarre half-crowd--they still kicked some serious ass.

"We're Not Gonna Take It" is always a crowd favorite, and the crowd just screamed those lyrics out. Then I saw something that just left a pit in my stomach. It was Danny--giving them the "cut it short" signal. Jay Jay said some quick thanks to the audience--very heartfelt. Those were some good fans to stick it out through that whole mess--and I noticed again, when Jay Jay handed a pick to the security guard, and pointed out who in the audience he wanted to give it to. That just moves me, every time.

Dee then noticed the "goat pen"--and he asked us in the front what it was all about--and we said "V.I.P." Says the Snide One, "Oh. V.I.P. okay then.." and walks over them and says, "VIP? you're dead! this guy's got his finger in his nose...this one's wanking off.. That was 'We're Not Gonna Take It" ! Get off your asses!"

And then....Eddie's whole system went dead. All hail the road crew--they rushed in like a racing pit and started working as best as they could... so Dee did an impromptu "Question and Answer Period with Twisted Sister". So for the last time folks: Yes, it's his real hair! With the guitar back "on', Dee jinxed it by saying "Eddie's now going to dazzle you with his solo..." And dazzle he did. Get this, folks. It was the moment that made the ENTIRE trip worthwhile...the heat, the rain, the sound problems, the delays, the shortlist.....the stories of people screwing barnyard animals--all that we suffered through--all made okay by this:

During "The Price," right before Eddie's big solo, his guitar just goes dead. I mean, nothing....not a hum. Some bands would have just said "Screw it, let's go raid the mini-bar and finish off the Snickers". Some bands would have just glossed over the solo and moved on. Other guitarists would have stepped in, and stolen the solo to keep the song going. But not Twisted.

In a rare and special moment, Jay Jay saw what happened...he dashed over...and lightning quick, he stripped off his Les Paul Pinkburst and swapped guitars with Eddie. Christ, I swear to you, I'm tearing up typing this.... Eddie played his solo on Jay Jay's guitar and it has never sounded better to me. To see Eddie with Jay's guitar, and that bullseye Fender around Jay Jay as he stood by the stack, frantically trouble shooting it: it was unbelievable. They didn't miss a single note. It was one of those exquisite moments onstage that for those of us who witnessed it, we will remember it always. It's been a long time, SMFs, but last night--the band had a cohesive bond of brotherhood that looked like it was, well, the way it should be. Ohferchrissake, I'm making myself cry. This is pathetic.

I clutched that moment, etched it into my memory--while I would rather like to forget Wichita, I will never forget the magic I saw onstage last night. I really hope SOMEONE has got a photo or video of that.

And then....the plug got pulled. Another severe storm was due to come our way any minute. Or as Dee put it, "Mother Nature is a bitch" and asked aloud, "why she always seem to take a shit on Twisted Sister at all these outdoor shows?" And so, Dee lead the crowd in giving Mother Nature the flying finger salute, as we chanted "Fuck You" skyward. Dee pointed upwards, and parted with "I'll shit on your party one day, too!" He closed with S.M.F. as an anxious Danny Stanton motioned them to hurry off. Dee was so rushed, he admittedly forgot the words to the first verse....Mark expressed himself by making a microphone pretzel out of his stand, and we left with about an hour of music but a far cry from the night before, and sadly, no time for the Dio tribute. (Probably the shortest band intro I've ever heard...."

Well...at least no one was arrested for profanity. there's always that.

Tip of the hat to Cory in the front row--very nice gentlemen--and the interesting folks who surrounded us. Donna from CT was there as well--I'm looking forward to hearing her take on things.

Well, that's it for the only two domestic U.S. shows this year, until hopefully Christmas time when we'll have some yuletide festivities. As my plane left Kansas, the sirius satellite radio station Hair Nation played "Be Crool to Your School" and I kid you not, as my plane touched down at Baltimore-Washington International, the last note of "We're Not Gonna Take It" was playing.

Dorothy may have been a whore, but she was right.
There's no place like home.
I clicked my boots together three times, took a two hour nap, and left a sleeping Captain Howdy as I made way to the airport for my morning flight.

This is the Armadillo...your faithful Official UNOfficial Twisted Sister road reporter... trotting off....to go back to the airport for my next flight out on business.
Armadillo

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