I suppose it would be highly politically incorrect to say that Twisted Sister annihilated Austria, given the pending anniversary of World War and the German occupation of Austria during WWII. So notwithstanding the historical overtones, Twisted Sister demolished the See Rock Festival in epic fashion. Austrian newspapers hailed it as the best concert in See Rock’s history.
Well, now, my babies, I strongly suggest you buckle your seat belts, raise your tray tables into the upright position and grab onto your bag of salted nuts because it’s time to bring you all of the juicy details, insider information and view from the road crew in the sleepless insanity that at least 3 of you have come to know and love: the only tour blog brave enough to risk bankruptcy just to bring it all to your homes–yes, babies, it’s The Armadillo Road Report: Austria Edition!
But, of course, first a bit of flavor from the road.
I take great pains to make it to these shows, and I opted to take a train to the airport in Washington, D.C. which required I first catch a bus and an elevated tram (lightrail, we call it) In spite of my early morning departure, I just couldn’t seem to catch a break. The bus driver unceremoniously blew past
Greetings and salutations from the Vienna, the birthplace of music…of Amadeus! A city steeped in culture and history, filled with feasts for the ears, eyes and stomach! Unfortunately for us, we had no time to explore and were briskly swept off into a transport and taken to Graz, two hours away. The drive was picturesque and smooth–punctuated only by the snores of fellow crew–and we hurled across the countryside past many cities with the prefix of “Bad,” which seemed appropriate enough.
Our accommodations in Graz placed us moderately close to the center of town. We somehow got our second wind and before long, there were Twisted sightings all over town. I, myself, settled into a little street cafe and downed a giant bowl of handmade pasta, disappointed that they didn’t have any good wurst on the menu this fine day but I made up for it with some decent weiner schnitzel for dinner. I joined the always-up-for-a-stroll Mr. French along with some crew and we took an adventurous trip up the side of the mountain to Graz’s famous bell tower, which chimed the hour as we hoofed our way down the snaked, stepped paths, stopping to watch a young man surf in the river rapids below us–he used a rope tied to the bridge above. We did have one bizarre moment in which a young man stopped Jay Jay on the street–we, of course, assumed he was asking for an autograph. Instead, he just wanted to know where his accent was from, commenting that he thought we were perhaps celebrities from the movie, “The Hangover.” Jay Jay gave him his best “fuggeddaboutit, we’re New Yawkers!” I ran a few band errands, picked up some post-show chocolate bars and prepared for the show.
The ride to the venue was a strange trip though small side roads, cottage backyards and cornfields. [Ever notice that we cut through a LOT of cornfields to get to these festivals? Anyone have any theories on this?] We turned down a street…”Langerwehr”….it certainly seemed we were taking the longer way….well, you know what they say: it’s a Langerwehr to the top if you went to Graz to roll.
alright, so no one says that. i’m amusing myself here. I was impressed to see many folks sleeping in their cars on the road leading to the festival–that truly takes dedication.
Festivals, regardless of the city or country, all have certain commonalities. Usually held in a grassy field in the middle of nowhere, festival sites have a muddy pit, a VIP tent, merchandise tents and local food fried six different ways, including one labeled generically “Rock Food.” There was a tauntingly refreshing looking pond where many an S.M.F. dipped into the waters to cool off. If we’re fortunate, there are decent dressing room accommodations and good catering. See Rock was above and beyond, in this category, comparable to festival deities like Graspop and Sweden Rock. Catering was absolutely fantastic–and the miniature indoor village of dressing rooms was decadently ample, allowing band and crew to comfortably spread out. All of the working staff at See Rock were just amazing–just wonderfully accommodating, they made sure that we had everything we needed and were always there in a heartbeat when we had any requests–wonderful hosts!
The only down side, if you will, was the fact that these temporary dressing rooms were assembled with partitions, meaning they had doors and walls, but no roof–they were all open on top, like office cubicles. So, hypothetically speaking, an empty water bottle were to accidentally launch from one’s hand, over the top of one’s dressing room wall, and say….hypothetically of course–accidentally over the adjacent dressing wall across the hall…it might land on the head of an unsuspecting crew member napping on the couch. Said crew member might be inclined to pick up the closest non-lethal object….say….a roll of toilet paper….and hurl it back over said wall into the second dressing room. Now let’s say, hypothetically speaking, of course, that roll of toilet paper were to strike Mark “the Animal” Mendoza? yes, well the result could conceivably be a rapid barrage and volley of incoming and initially unidentified flying objects later recognized to be lemons, limes, seat cushions, toilet paper, dinner rolls, water bottles, and a very large (and take it from me) painful shoe. And thankfully, for me, what I lack in size I make up for in speed as Animal chased me around the complex. Shout out to slamboarders S.M.F. Zsolt and his family and to Macedonian S.M.F. Urosh for the good pre-show company–always great to see dedicated fellow fans making the trek.
Before the first note ever played, the crowd began singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It”…and I don’t mean once or twice…they sang the whole damn song over and over again. The crowd really filled in quickly as they are prone to do at the last minute, and before you could say “roll tape,” “Long Way to the Top” was playing and off we went! Unfortunately, I missed the first few songs as I had to locate my driver and load the transport, Not my fault–the driver had a rough time backing up into a parking space and it cost me 2 1/2 songs. When I zipped back to the stage, I was astounded at the size of the crowd–it seemed to have grown exponentially–the entire grounds were filled, way past the Rock Food stands, all the way to the entry gates. It was pretty damn impressive. What’s more impressive–these fans that had been out in the festival all day not only saved some energy for the boys in black and pink, they must have had a spare tank because they were rocking full throttle.
I made it back to the stage in time for “Captain Howdy” and “Street Justice”–it sounded fantastic–guitars were tight and rhythm section booming as always. Truly, there isn’t an audience anywhere in the world that hasn’t enjoyed “We’re Not Gonna It”, so these days, it’s simply a matter of how insane the crowd goes.
In Dee’s words, “I don’t know what ‘IT’ is, but this crowd DEFINITELY ain’t gonna take IT!” Followed by Dee’s proclamation :”FUCK YEAH! Not Hell Yeah…but fuck yeah!” He then, of course, realized the potential faux pas, “No offense to the band Hell Yeah that just played earlier…..” [by the way, great guys, Hell Yeah]
“I Believe In Rock n’ Roll” received a great response from the audience–clapping and singing all the way to the Rock Food tent–and had Dee doing something that I swear resembled “the twist”…which, actually, kind of makes sense now that I think of it.
“Shoot ’em Down” was another awe-inspiring performance by Animal, who pounds so furiously on that bass, well, let’s just say I’m glad I can outrun him, because if he does to a person what he does to that bass: DAYUM. Jay Jay and Mark really did look like they were enjoying themselves onstage.
Dee then paid tribute to all the other great bands sharing the stage at See Rock this year–including Hell Yeah, Saxon and Slayer–and the boys played a rousing and fast rendition of “Under The Blade” that prompted an impromptu mosh pit in front–although not much room for one. We had some serious fists o’ fury in the front row.
And then…a brief interlude… we all sang Happy Birthday to Summ. (spelled with uhmlauts) before launching into “The Fire Still Burns,” which had…what else? Fire. You know, pyro is the A-1 Sauce of metal. Metal is good…but pyro just makes good metal even better, and it makes Twisted Sister freakin’ magnificent….Eddie delivered a blistering solo–not sure if that was because of his Ojeda hot sauce or if it was all the flames.
Dee thanked the crowd for showing up with such force–and even thanked Mother Nature for holding off with the deluge, tempting fate by calling her a “Temptress Mutha who’s usually a…”.whoa….Dee dropped the “C word! That’s Europe for ya.
To round off the show, Dee announced, “This one’s called…..” long dramatic pause. “What was that?” long dramatic pause. “Did you say…..”
“I WANNA ROCK!”
Austria just exploded with energy–girls piled onto boyfriends’ shoulders…hell, a big guy in a blond wig piled onto his buddy’s shoulders [yes, I’m sure that was a guy in a wig] Felt kinda bad for the friend carrying him. You can’t see the show, it’s 180 lbs on your shoulders, and you have a guy’s nutsack pressing into the back of your head the whole show. That’s a good friend. sheesh.
Dee lead the crowd in a rousing rendition of “I WANNA FUCK!” saying, “we’ll rock now, and fuck later….well, not all of you….” and Dee then did something I’ve never seen before:
The audience level was so loud…he opened his arms wide, and as he slowly raised his arms, the audience “volume” went up! Only one song can raise the roof when Dee raised the volume….S.M.F. All this while the guy riding on the friend’s shoulders did a full 360.
The Austrian press hailed it as the best show of the festival–and truly–after Twisted Sister left the stage, more than half of the fans left the premises. For real. The place just cleared out. Because you know why? Any band that plays after Twisted Sister pays the price–Twisted Sister blows away every band they play with.
With that, my babies, we left the stage, packed our gear, grabbed our suitcases and headed directly to the airport to fly to the next location. No sleep for those who rock! Thank you to all of the wonderful hard working people and fans in Austria at See Rock 2014.
Stay tuned, babies…Faroe Islands is next! And you won’t want to miss that one!