Ft. Wayne, IN, Mid-West Rock Festival, 7/18/09 
Saturday, July 18, 2009, 11:14 PM
July 18, 2009 Ft. Wayne IN, Mid-West Rock Festival

All my dear Slamboaders, settle down, get yourself a tall, cold beverage and put on your reading glasses because this one is gonna be a DOOZY!

Yes, it's time, once again, for the official Armadillo Road Report and concert review, chock full of everything you wanted to know about the show....and plenty you didn't! I'll start off with a little fun fact: Armadillos, while native to mostly the Southwestern U.S., have been spotted in Indiana….although…. it is unusual. Why you ask? Because it's freakin' impossible to get there! This damn armadillo almost died trying! Holy shit. We weren't in the middle of nowhere but we had to pass through it to get here. Folks, I've taken planes, trains and automobiles to make these shows, and NOTHING could prepare me for Ft. Wayne. No, really. Indulge me here.

My plane out of Baltimore never left the gate--apparently, the battery wasn't charged so they had to plug the plane in. I have a photo of my plane being charged up--email me your cell and I'll send it to ya if you don't believe me. Something is really wrong when you have to plug in a plane to fly somewhere. What’s next? Winding the rubber band behind the propeller?

Then the next plane had a taillight out. Really? A taillight? Fly the damn plane…..and just don’t make any left turns! Use hand signals, shit, I dunno. The flight was canceled. There were very few flights into cities serving Ft. Wayne and I became one agitated mammal—I was almost pleading with the gate agent: “PLEASE...I MUST BE IN FT. WAYNE BY 8 PM!!! I'M GOING TO SEE TWISTED SISTER!!!”

The woman behind me, reading my vest says: “Is that what SMF stands for?” I turn around: "Ma'am, it's sounds for SICK MUTHA FUC...um...never mind..." Well, somehow, that got lost in translation, and in that famous game of telephone, by the time my story reached the back of the line, it was : "See that guy? He's trying desperately to get to Ft. Wayne. He's going to see his sister...their mother is sick." And guess what? Next thing I know....I'm flying first class to Detroit. But of course, it can't end there. I get to Detroit with 30 minutes to make the only remaining connection to Ft. Wayne and the gate breaks. Yes. Breaks. I’m almost in tears.

So we're captive on the plane, and I'm already on the phone calling rental companies because at this point, I'm going to have to drive the remaining distance (no cars available). The flight attendants tell me: "We're so sorry....but there's no way you'll get to your gate in time...it's all the way on the other side of the airport in the other concourse and they're about to close the door"

Well let me tell you, my babies, that I sprinted--not ran--sprinted through Detroit airport. People are now thinking I must be WITH the band cuz I'm almost pushing the crowd....OUTTA MY WAY I GOTTASHOWTOMAKE!!! I arrive at the gate (I swear, I think I did a half-mile in 4 minutes) and the door is literally closing... I throw my boarding pass at the airline worker, crash through the gate and do a swan dive onto the plane, collapsing into the first seat on the plane. Once they confirmed I was supposed to be there....they gave me some water, and a barf bag....and off we went to Ft. Wayne. "I hope those Twisted Sisters are worth it!" she tells me. YES, my SMF Friends, they were.

This show was AMAZING.

As I leave the hotel, I spot our very own Mr. Mendoza --He was busy chatting on his cell and yet still walked up to me, stuck his hand and said hello... True class act. Those little things really do mean a lot to the fans, so thank you Animal! Since I missed the actual festival, I don't have any tidbits from that but the venue site was like a cross between a beer garden and a crab feast. (alright, that's probably lost on you not from Maryland--but it was weird--rows of long tables perpendicular to the stage/GA area) Complete with a cul-de-sac of portapotties. Despite the unusual ambiance, the beverages were cheap, the people friendly, the police and security very attentive and the sound was very, very good overall.

The first band up was a local, Ft. Wayne group called "Brother". Yes, that's right, it was brothers and sisters night. Brother has a website: www.brother-rock.com and was a crowd favorite. Now you all know how much I just *LOVE* sitting through opening acts, but Brother was actually very good....musically, anyway. They are a 100% cover band--no original music--but they play the covers quite well. we were treated to everything from two Journey songs, Ozzy, Tesla, Van-Hagar....a nice cover of Maiden's Run To The Hills...it was like a dropping a dime in the old 80's jukebox.

The name of the band: the lead singer and the drummer are twin brothers. Shit, you coulda fooled me--the lead singer looked like your typical aging rocker while the drummer had an uncanny resemblance to my HVAC technician. not that there's anything wrong with that, mind you.... my only beefs: 1. they only played covers. not one original piece. so they have skill...but I want to see their talent! write some songs gents....or you'll never be more than an opening act to the opening act of the band. 2. the SET was too long. Kind of like guests who don't leave after 3 days.

Next up was Enuff Z'nuff. well. The bad news: the lead singer vocals were so low that we could barely hear him over the instruments. The good news: the lead singer vocals were so low that we could barely hear him over the music. Here's your Armadillo riddle of the night: what do lemon drops, a vaccum cleaner and Enuff Z'nuff have in common? yeah, you know the punchline. wow. they just plain sucked...and I don't use that term lightly. They apparently just flew back from Japan and were tired. But shit…they looked and sounded like they were playing for a nursing home. They were upstaged by a Ft. Wayne police officer air-guitaring with an inflatable guitar. Alas. Maybe we can convince Danny to have American Beauty open again--now THAT was a great show of covers that I could have watched all night!

Okay, okay....look, if I had to suffer through it, the least you can do is suffer through the review.
On to the review itself:
The setlist was essentially Stay Hungry, all in order so I'm not going to post the whole list:
Stay Hungry cover to cover with:
the drum solo after Don't Let Me Down
encores:
Come Out and Play
Under The Blade
(band intro)
Can't Stop Rock and Roll

They played a good 90 minutes--went onstage at 10:00 and off at about 11:30pm. Dee was in RARE FORM last night. There were some feedback problems but once they were resolved, the sound was very, very good, especially for an open site. Unfortunately, the lighting crew were either drinking too much beer or it was their first show....because they missed every damn lighting cue. leaving Dee to yell...."hey lightcrew...turn the lights ON now....."

"We're Not Gonna Take It" included a really nice image of the band just all lined up during the solos--which were very tight--although apparently A.J. not to be upstaged, decided to throw in an extra refrain. Apparently it was wag the dog night--was all in good fun, I assure you. "Don't Let Me Down" sounded wonderful--it makes me realize what we've been missing at all of those shows when they wouldn't play this one. "I Wanna Rock" turned into a game of "Dee says..." a la mother-may-I. Dee: "I wanna..." Crowd: "Rock!" of course, Dee managed to psyche out the crowd with "I...." and went the crowd screamed rock "I didn't say I WANNA.... everybody take two steps back!" Must be an Indiana thing. Simon says? That ain’t metal. Well, I guess it is when Dee does it.

Saw a new guitar last night (for me anyway...) during “I Wanna Rock”--Eddie played a beautiful cream colored Fender (I believe)--Jay Jay played his Les Paul. The duet was especially delightful. Some other poignant moments: Jay Jay closed his eyes during “The Price” solo (the benefits of coming early to get up front) and it was just exquisite.

And then…. Dee. It was the night of one-liners and a hysterical impersonation by Dee, of Kip Winger confronting him about some of his comments during House of Hair. Just imagine Dee making himself a foot shorter, poofing his hair and poking his finger on Animal's chest (who was playing 'Dee') saying, "oh...hey...you're tight....uh, never mind what I was saying...."

Dee's commented after “I Wanna Rock”--we're on Side 2 now. (B-side) and made a comment about the pink vinyl album..then realized that some of those younguns have no frickin' idea what he's talking about. "It's like flipping a pancake, see?" Dee explained that they will NOT be playing "30" live because "That's when you guys go to the bathroom! I know you...I know what you do....it's like...'we're gonna play a new track for ya' and that's when you go 'hey I gotta take a piss...anybody want a beer while I'm up..." No, no, Dee. that's not true. It's usually the drum solo that the posers go pee. It's the Brother fans who go to the toilet during new stuff because they've never heard any before. (MEOW! must have been that Hoosier Hisser cat show I read about) Dee then went on a tangent about "Just do what we do...wear Depends! I don't wear them because I need 'em, I wear 'em because I'm lazy!"
Speaking of drum solos: almost forgot: AJ used a pair of blue lazer tipped sticks that looked AMAZING--makes you realize just how hard that man works!

Jay Jay jumped off the stage and went over the crowd rail quite a few times--wasn't sure if he saw a friend or was just giving some SMF's a treat but either way, it was a show full of energy and fun. It was....frivolity! During “The Beast”, Dee sang the refrain while wagging a finger inches from the security guard's head...who looked straight ahead and was completely oblivious...and it just set off a wave of silliness. During “S.M.F.”, since this was a family festival, there could be no swearing. So Dee had a field day playing audience fill in the blanks. "HEY LOOK...THERE GOES MY MOTHER..[audience fills in the blank]" "HEY WHAT'S MY MOTHER [audience fills in the blanks] DOING HERE?" and it went on and on. So if Ft. Wayne files any obscenity law suits, they'll have to charge us: it was Twisted's fault.

Jay Jay shared his thoughts on American Idol ...Dee once again shared his thoughts on the devils horns. There's a new website now: www.takebackthehorns.com check it out!!!

I have more..... OH SHIT MY PLANE IS BOARDING! gotta run folks but I'll share the rest when I get home!
later my babies..
Armadillo running for the gate again....

Ft. Wayne PART II
well I'm back...that actually was a close one! Thank goodness the free internet computers were right next to the gate or I'd be stuck in Ft. Wayne!

It was as I predicted--there is just something about experiencing a show in a little town that just gives it such a different flavor from NYC. Jay Jay mentioned that he saw an advertisement for some type of dating internet site....don't quote me here because if he got it wrong, you'll go to some barnyard porn...but it along the lines of farmhandsonly.com or maybe farmhandslonely.com for those single cowboys I suppose.... and I think the other part of it comes down to local pride. Seeing a local band opening up for a big name band--makes everybody feel good.

Ft. Wayne is a heavy-metal happy town--they've got three rock stations--92.3 The Fort just picked up House of Hair so they've got a lot to be proud of. They hosted a great concert and wonderful event. There was one quite inebriated woman--it was her first TS show...and she was telling me how good a band Brother is (yes, they played very well) and how they were gonna blow TS off the stage. After the first encore, she came up to me and said "Well? Wasn't I right? Did Brother blow TS away or what??!!" Most of you who have met me know that I am actually a nice fella, and try to be very kind, respectful and chivalrous. I said to her: "Honey, I'll hold my tongue because that MUST be the alcohol talking." When she responded "Huh? hell no!" I then, as politely as possibly said, "Then you, my dear, are a complete fucking idiot. You don't belong here by the front row." And with that she flitted off back to the beer garden in port-a-potty land. Adieu!

A few more fun little tidbits from the night: The band intro. They actually didn't even get to introduce the band in Maryland, so this made up for it. Dee spoke briefly about reunions--how this one came to pass--and how a band reunion should be more than just one band member (Hello? Tony Iommi...are you listening? 1986 I paid good money to see Black Sabbath and only Tony Iommi was there...I’m still not over it..) Anyhow, Dee pretty much summed it up: if you're going to call it a reunion, then everybody HAS to show. Unless they're dead, in which case they're excused.

A great intro for the Sound of Thunder--AJ Pero. Then we were treated to a Dee anecdote which he swears is true: for the first rehearsal ever after the breakup, Mark 'the Animal' Mendoza shows up to the rehearsal with a gun! Pulls out the gun, puts it on top of the amp, plugs in his bass and says (in that way that only MAM can) "alright. let's see what we can put out". Then we were introduced to Eddie--the bravest man in rock n' roll as he was the first to wear a target on his guitar. Eddie corrected Dee that it is a bulls-eye, not a target. I’m not sure of the difference--you hit your target...but a bullseye you're aiming right for the center. Which in the case of Eddie's fender, shit, that's right in the balls. Dee, you're right. Eddie is one brave mutha.

Then our intro to Jay Jay--the epitome of manhood-- a model of heterosexuality--a man who self-proclaimed "It takes a secure man to play a pink guitar." How true, how true. I would LOVE to design a tour shirt for TS that has on the back in big, bold, capital letters: REAL MEN WEAR PINK.

Then of course Dee--the man the British press described as "Sarah Jessica Parker dropped in a vat of acid" (punctuated by MAM making truck horn noises with his bass….how the hell does he do that??!!??) which spawned a Dee rant about how Lady Ga-Ga is stilling his look. It was classic Dee, at his best. I hope someone recorded that show.

Props to Captain Howdy (SMF Chris) who I enjoyed the show with-- and many fans there for their first show ever. I was supposed to meet Joe from Ohio in the Hilton bar after the show--he never showed, which is too bad....because the rest of the band did, and I was fortunate enough to meet some of Jay Jay's lovely friends and chat for a bit about the new album. -side note to Jay Jay--when I got back to my room and turned on the clock radio, it was playing "Locomotive Breath". wait. or was it "Prime Motivator"...I get the two confused.... Jay and I “sang” a duet of Locomotive Breath in the bar that goes into my “Is this really happening or will I wake up soon?” Anyhow, the Michael Jackson jokes alone were worth being a fly on the wall. No, I’m not going to repeat them hear.

Listen folks, seriously. Every show I make on this reunion tour (which is a lot of them), I meet SMFs who have been devoted SMFs for 25 plus years but yet, it's their first show. Don't be the guy who missed the reunion tour and as you're laying on your deathbed years from now, saying, "oh my only regret....I never got to see Twisted Sister live...." Do NOT wait for them to come to your town.. The mountain must come to Mohammed. Save your money and ask for time off from work as soon as the dates get announced. Many of the upcoming shows are on weekends. Please: I'm begging...I IMPLORE you.... find a way. I know money is tight--for me as well.

On average, a show can cost me anywhere from $300 to $600 depending on location. I skipped Starbucks for a week and that paid for the show tix. I brought PBJ for one month instead of eating lunch out ($5 a day), and that paid for my hotel room. If you trim your luxuries for one month...whether it's dry cleaning, cigarettes, dining out, coffee...whatever... it is worth it. When the tour is over, it's OVER. Have no regrets!!!

Okay, I've exhausted my notes and I'm about to plotz. I averaged about two hours of sleep this weekend but it was just worth every moment. Please buy your tickets to Algona (I'll be in Honduras during that show otherwise you bet I'd be there...) and I hope to see you all at Plymouth, MA. Plymouth is a short trip from NYC--there are cheap fares to Boston--go with friends and split the costs of car rental and hotels. Ten years from now you won't remember what you blew that money on if you stay home....but I guarantee if you go, ten years from now you'll remember every detail from that show like it happened yesterday. Carpe Diem.

And with that, I am about to unpack my bags and let my head hit the pillow. Another glorious trip on the road...

Armadillo....your faithful road reporter...trotting off!




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