South America Part 2…
Spoiler Alert: Keeping with the new format, here’s a quick synopsis of what lies ahead: Twisted Sister played their 4th Brazilian show in four years–the last one being 2010–and Sao Paulo is home to some of the most passionate heavy metal fans in the world. The Bad Boys of Rock n’ Roll played over an hour of some of the fastest, heaviest and loudest riffs–proudly claiming their title as the rightful headliner of Brazil’s “Live and Louder Festival, 2013.” It was a night filled with music from some of the top heavy metal acts of the 80’s, a concert that fans will be talking about for years to come.
Here we go, my babies…the second installment of the South American edition of the most insane, obsessed, inane, distressed and pink & black dressed tour blog on the web: the Armadillo Road Report: the only official Twisted Sister tour blog and concert review.
Ah, my babies, when I last left us off, our beloved Twisted 5 had rocked the arena in Santiago, Chile and were on their way back to the hotel to catch a few hours of sleep before the second leg of the South American shows. After ensuring that the gear was safely packed in the hotel storage, I showered and changed my clothes, and had literally less than 2 hours until my 4:00 a.m. transport was due to take me to the airport.
I’ve often described here the rigors of travel, and Brazil had a few….er….hiccups, if you will. And by hiccup, I mean, last minute flight cancellation that involved a desperate Road Reporter offering to do everything from hide in the overhead bins, sit in the coat closet and yes, I even offered to paint the flight attendants’ nails and then serve the inflight meal and provide coffee service for her. But alas, it took a much more savvy person (you know who you are!) to convince the ticket agent to get me on another flight later that day. And so after about 8 more hours of non-sleep in the Santiago airport, I boarded a plane for Sao Paulo, only to be surprised by the first of three angels to help that day–Patricia, TAM gate agent, boarded my plane and upgraded me to business class, affording me a hot meal and a comfortable 2 hours of uninterrupted sleep.
My arrival in Brazil unfortunately had a few more….er….hiccups. Apparently a little glitch occurred when TAM transferred my flight, and instead of meeting up with the band at the airport, I was denied access into the country & immigration prepared to send me back to the States in a few hours. Enter angel #2–I don’t recall her name, but she got me through the next hurdles and placed me in the capable, beautiful hands of Angel #3, Flavia, the United Airlines International Customer Service Rep. I’ll spare you the details, my babies. Just know that without her skills, poise, compassion and perseverance, I would have never made it to the show. Flavia, my sweet, if I ever venture back to Brazil, there will be a wonderful gourmet dinner (and I’m sure I can convince someone to rustle up a backstage pass) waiting for you. You are my rock n’ roll savior!
So…instead of arriving at the venue at 11:30 a.m., it was now after 9:00 p.m. at night (I think–my watch had so many time changes, I could never be sure!) I hurriedly made my way, luggage in hand, to the road crew office where I re-connected with my fellow Twisted brethen. Regretfully, I missed Agra, Sodom, and Molly Hatchet but was able to at least catch the tail end of a fantastic Metal Church set, and snuck off backstage to hear my favorite, “Watch The Children Pray.”
The Live N’ Louder Festival in Brazil, plain and simple, was one of the best heavy metal lineups I’ve seen at a club venue. Unlike some of the much larger outdoor festivals that bring you 30 to 40 bands, with five bands on the docket, fans were treated to nearly full-length sets of some of the most incredible 80’s heavy metal music played today. While I didn’t get to hear Agra, Sodom and (sigh.) Molly Hatchet (I SO wanted to hear Molly Hatchet–I heard they kicked ass!) and Metal Church rocked the house. Also in the house: heavy metal icons Loudness! What a special treat to hear Loudness take the stage. One of the reasons why bands love playing Brazil is that they keep the true spirit of heavy metal alive. Looking out at that frenzied crowd with its hair flying and fists pumping, it could have easily been mistaken for 1985!
I didn’t get a chance to explore the grounds, but it was a substantial venue with a huge merch area (OH! the merch! there is no merch like Brazilian heavy metal merch! God bless merch!) The place was simply packed, and it was getting tougher and tougher to navigate through the crowd. And truth in advertising….Live N’ Louder…was definitely LOUD. That sound system could have rivaled commercial aircraft!
A few quick words about the apology on the front page of Twistedsister.com There was a meet n’ greet arranged by the concert promoters that unfortunately, had some logistical challenges. The band experienced some flight, immigration and traffic delays and some fans may have been disappointed when the MNG was cut short–as you’ve read, the band greatly values and appreciates all of their fans, but I assure you, the concert that Twisted Sister hopefully made up for any shortcomings. As tired as they were, band members still took the time to come downstairs at their hotel and sign autographs for the many fans who gathered.
Now before I get to the concert review itself, I should mention that the road crew and band were running on very, very little sleep.
Travel is always tiring–but travel of this sort is absolutely exhausting, and the end result, in this case–we became a bit, shall we say? punchy. With the stage set, the banner hung, the lights programmed and the sound board ready to go, the crew and some of the band had a few quiet minutes before it was time to take the stage. While I have taken an oath of silence on the details, let’s just say that backstage became host to a string of practical jokes, improvisational comedy and outright silliness to blow off some of the stress that comes from extreme fatigue. This included a pickup game of touch football with a roll of toilet paper, 15 minutes of prop improvisation with half a bagel, and some of the funniest sing-a-longs I’ve ever heard. I also learned why you should never leave your camera lying around a punchy road crew. (Take note, Mr. French.)
Our moods uplifted, I almost didn’t notice when the familiar “Long Way to the Top” blared over the speakers. Now as part of the crew, I had some responsibilities which included seeing our Twisted heroes make their way to the stage– I was filled with pride. They reminded me of heavy metal gladiators as they emerged from the dressing room with the explosive energy of professional athletes headed to a championship.
I don’t know how they did it, but the members of Twisted Sister must have dug deep–they pulled out a reserve of power and energy and when they opened with “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll,” it was played even faster than the night before. Dee whipped an appreciative, waiting audience into a frenzy from the first refrain, and we saw the passion and love that can only come Brazil. Yes, my babies, I have seen passionate fans and heavy metal devotees all over the world–but until you see an audience in Brazil, you haven’t seen it all!
Brazilian fans, many of whom speak minimal amounts of English, screamed every word of lyrics to every song–even the guitar solos.
From the moment Twisted took the stage, the temperature inside the venue must have spiked 20 degrees hotter. It was packed with Twisted Sister fans all the way to the front doors–all pressing forward, reaching out with extended arms and waving fists. Absolutely amazing.
“Shoot ’em Down” was the 2nd song on the bill tonight–and I’m used to this song appearing later on the setlist–but it did not disappoint. Animal plays a bass line halfway thru, for those who have never experienced it, in which he punctuates each note by pounding…..NOT picking…not playing…POUNDING on the bass and then the neck–back and forth, each hit harder than the next. I watched in awe, waiting for him to snap the instrument in half.
A special treat for Brazil– after a blistering rendition of “Stay Hungry,” Dee reminded the audience that “You’ve got hands….USE ‘EM!” and that pounding drum can only be one song: “The Beast.” I don’t know the specifics of A.J.’s drum kit, but each time he nailed that kick drum, you could feel the vibrations in your shirt, your water bottle, your chest…..I didn’t know if it was an earthquake or a T-Rex but it was pure POWER.
There was mic stand throwing, drum sticks flying, cymbal grabbing, all-out revelry on-stage. Out in the audience, I could see fans rolling atop the sea of headbanging faces, flags dancing up and down, and the pandemonium that can only be South America! Song after song–including an incredible version of “I Believe In Rock N’ Roll”–it just amazed me that Twisted Sister could play with such intensity and energy.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” was like a powder keg–when the crowd heard that familiar opening cowbell, the energy onstage was palpable–you could literally FEEL this burst coming from the audience. Another fantastic sing-a-long (No huevos, tonight—as Dee recalled—that only applies to Spanish speaking countries.)
Then…the real treat for me….and for all of those present…was hearing the opening notes that made everyone…
tilt the heads to one side.
And then realize…holy crap! They’re playing “We’re Gonna Make It!” I don’t recall hearing this song live before, and it was just fantastic. The guitar work was strong, tightly played and melded perfectly with the rhythm section. I hope we’ll hear this song again at the benefit show coming up in May–it was a rare treat!
By the way, I should mention that due to a slight logistical glitch, Jay Jay played with different picks in Brazil–and those picks? The Official Armadillo Road Report picks! So if you thought that the guitar work sounded extra awesome in Brazil…it must have been the picks! (okay, okay. it was all Jay Jay– he played a great set–at least they were pink, right?)
“Under The Blade” was played so fast, it was like a 78 being played on 33! How on earth do these guys play so fast? It truly is the reason why Twisted Sister remains the best live heavy metal band–what you hear on their vinyl doesn’t come close to the experience of the same songs played live. Not only do they play live and LOUDER, they play live and HARDER and live and FASTER.
Twisted Sister closed out the show with “I Wanna Rock” and “S.M.F.”–clearly two crowd favorites–you could feel the love from this crowd as they screamed the words to these songs. It was a madhouse–a packed crowd jumping and throwing the horns–when it was over, I felt as though I had been through the ringer. Because so many fans were reliant on the local transportation, Twisted trimmed back the setlist and didn’t have as much banter and raps so that fans would be able to make their trains and get home safely. Again, proof positive that Twisted Sister truly cares about the well-being of their fans.
And speaking of fans, a special Road Report shout out to all the S.M.F.s in Brazil–Felipe, Bruno, Murilo, Marcelo, Darcio, Rita, Wladimir–forgive me if I’ve missed your name–you are our SMF brothers and sisters, and we truly love you all. The day of our departure, our own Mr. Stanton came down to the front lobby and spent lots of time talking to the fans—sharing the story of the first time he snuck out of the house as a young teen to see Twisted: He crept out a window, slipped into the club back door…and before Security could bounce him out, Dee himself announced, “You throw that kid out and we don’t play!” They’ve been friends ever since.
The lucky fans assembled were all given some special Twisted Sister picks (Animal picks—very rare!) And to make sure that the fans were happy, every single band member took a few moments to take photos with the fans. (It’s a Twisted Sister where’s Waldo..somewhere in that photo above is one our Sisters and one of our Metal Church heroes) Trust me, folks….I’ve met lots of bands….and no band loves and appreciates their fans more than Twisted Sister.
Twisted Sister played an incredible set at Live and Louder with 80’s metal greats like Molly Hatchet, Metal Church, and Loudness. It was an evening filled with fantastic music, laughter and celebration of the greatest metal bands with the most passionate metal fans. Twisted Sister rocked Sao Paulo, Brazil–obrigado to the concert promoters and all of staff and crew who made it happen.
Twisted kisses once more to Flavia, our United Airlines angel, who made sure we safely boarded our planes home. (albeit, mine was delayed another 3 hours) And with that, my babies, I gobbled down some delicious Brazilian treats, dragged my exhausted self on and off the plane, drove the 2 hours home….I dumped myself into the shower, sent out my clothes to be cleaned and burned, and soon I will prepare for the next round of Twisted shows, stateside.
This is Armadillo, your faithful road reporter, trotting off, with special love for all of our South American fans. See you at M3, my babies…