Here we are, my babies, at the beginning of the end. I feel I owe you all, my faithful readers (both of you) an explanation for the lack of activity on the blog this summer.
With my new status as full-on crew member, my responsibilities have increased which has resulted in the most ironic of circumstances: I work for all these years to be a part of the crew, and when I finally make it, I don’t get to see the show! Ah how fickle fate can be so bittersweet.
So I’ll give a quick recap of sorts, and then later launch into a road report that will be one that I hope I will never repeat: Amnesia Rockfest. Here now, babies, for your reading pleasure, I bring you tales from the Twisted travels that was once known as the only concert review longer than the show itself—bringing you all of the details you’re longing to know…and plenty ya’ don’t….the Armadillo Road Report: Forty & Fuck It Edition!
I don’t have much to report unfortunately from the stages of Hellfest, Sweden and Graspop and Austria. I did watch a considerable amount of youtube, so I can tell you that they were an absolute spectacle to enormously huge crowds, and headliner or not, TS blew away everyone. Everyone. Even the gods of metal, Iron Maiden, who were quite spectacular. I love Maiden…I worship Maiden…I would give my left nut to work on Maiden’s crew…and they played a TWO-HOUR set that included every song I’ve ever loved. It was delightful “background” music while I ran to and fro, stage to dressing room. But TS does something that many bands fail to do—they connect with the audience. It was pure magic. Maiden was great. Twisted was pure fucking magic.
Now there was one not-so-magical moment: your TS crew committed the grand faux pas. They were line-checking during Maiden, and somehow, it got patched through Maiden’s monitors. This is probably the ultimate in disrespect, and faithful readers may recall how Dee tore a new asshole in the rookie Europe roadie who did this to him. After the crew received a sufficient ass-chewing from our own management, Dee issued an on-stage apology to the band and crew of Iron Maiden, on behalf of his “asshole crew” which consisted of the entire audience of 60,000+ (or 110,000 if you go by Jay Jay’s count) chanting “ASSSS-HOLES!” Not our finest hour. We deserved that. (Really, really sorry Iron Maiden–they were told it wasn’t live.)
The road to Graspop was paved with problems, including a pilot strike in France…which resulted in the Snide One being stuck in Rome until he made his way to Paris, only to be shuttled via private car four hours to Nantes. If that wasn’t bad enough, the baggage handlers went on strike in Brussels, leaving many of our crew and drummer Mike Portnoy with just the clothes on their backs. Never let it be said that an Armadillo doesn’t come thru—the Armadillo Personal Services valet always travels with sink plugs, laundry detergent and a clothesline—and while Mike gave his interview to the camera, his skivvies were flapping in the wind behind him like the black metal flag of resistance. After unsuccessfully stuffing his socks in the A.C. blower, I had to dry his socks on a bathroom handdryer, which seemed to be remarkably entertaining to everyone else who had to use the urinals while I stood there praying for the laws of wet sock physics to bend. Nothing a little febreeze couldn’t fix.
In fact, just GETTING to Graspop was an adventure of the best kind—I was able to cross one of my top items off the bucket list—TOUR BUS!
My babies, there ain’t NOTHING as awesome as a Tour Bus. Better than 5 star hotels or Business Class flying…the Tour Bus is the absolute greatest thing a roadie can have. Big enough to spread out if your crew mates are annoying you (or vice versa) and you can have a party at one end, and absolute quiet at the other. I was so excited that even at 3:00 am after we got rolling, I could barely sleep! it was luxurious, divine and perfectly cool.
I did learn a few logistical rules of the road:
1. Always sleep with your feet towards the driver. (In the event of sudden stop, you go feet first into the wall, instead of breaking your neck.)
2. If you leave the bus at any stop, drop your laminate on the driver’s seat so that he knows that someone stepped off—buses wait for no man!
3. No number #2 on the bus. They mean it. Hot bag it or hold it.
The other official rules were this:
Rule #1: No number #2 on the bus. This is serious business, let me tell you. Honestly. You say “bus” and the next words out of anyone’s mouth is “Remember–No Number 2!”
Rule #2: What happens on the bus, stays on the bus. I’m sure there are plenty of party buses out there…but in our case…it was a lot of snoring and farts. Well…in fairness..that was probably emanating from my bunk. Umm. Sorry.
Rule #3: No whining.
We left Hellfest in France at 3:00 a.m., and I had a glorious 6 hours or so of sleep—it was like being rocked to sleep on a boat or in a cradle. I could not have been happier! We awoke to daylight in Belgium. I fixed myself a little breakfast on the bus of melba, jam and nutella—it was like all the best parts of camping without the dirt and spiders. I could have stayed on that bus for weeks and been a happy camper. Sadly, it was just an overnight, but it gave me a hunger that may never be sated.
I can’t really tell you much about Graspop Metal Meeting…or Sweden Rock….or See Rock…or Hellfest… that’s the honest truth. I can tell you all about the challenges of catering and transports, baggage handling and towel folding, coffee runs and setlist changes. It’s a very odd ethereal moment when you realize that you cock one ear up, listen to what song they’re playing….just so you can determine how much time you have left to get done all that needs to be done before that last note. That’s not a complaint, folks, it’s just a new reality. This is something that I have wanted for 32 years. It may not be exactly as I always envisioned it, but there are no regrets. I will just say that it is not complicated work–but it is brutally challenging at times, both physically and mentally–even so, I wouldn’t trade this experience for anything in the world!
Stay tuned folks…I’ve got a report on the Amnesia Rockfest in Canada that you are NOT gonna believe…