Official Report: Fox & Friends American Concert Series July 25, 2014

{First and foremost, this edition of the Armadillo Road Report is dedicated to S.M.F. Felipe Godoy, in Sao Paulo, Brazil. Felipe is a long-time S.M.F. and my first introduction to international fans when I met him in Brazil in 2010. He has been fighting for his life in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) in Brazil, battling kidney failure for over a week. As of this writing, he is coming out of his coma, is off the ventilator and I’ve been told his dialysis was successful. You’ll hear more about Felipe later in this blog.}

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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