Midwest Rock Festival, Wichita KS, 7/24/10 
Saturday, July 24, 2010, 11:56 PM
Well "yee-haw" and "hell yeah!"--it's time to put on the big hats and ridiculously enormous belt buckles and bring you the second installment of the Armadillo Road Report, midwest edition--this time from Wichita, Kansas.

First things first--I must apologize for the copious typographical errors in the OKC report--I had to type that thing so frickin' fast because of the line of peeved tourists, complaining about the "biker midget" hogging the computer. I mean, really! First of all, the correct term is "little person." And second of all, I'm not a little person--I'm just remarkably short. Boy, the nerve of some people. Had to get that off my chest.

Chris and I hit the road bright and early to head out from Oklahoma City--I was tempted to stop at the National Cowboy Museum, bested only by the National Banjo Museum... but given the tight time frame, I'll have to save those for another day. We were still high on endorphins from the show the night before--well, at our age, it was really more like a heavy metal hangover, but we were really anxious to hear a full setlist on Saturday, given that to the best of our knowledge, Kansas didn't have a cowboy curfew.

We were very disappointed that "The Rowdy Beaver", a local eatery, was out of business. We settled for some outstanding BBQ at the Hog Wild Pit BBQ. [I even thought fondly of one recent cranky poster on the slamboard lately, as we passed by the "Bite Me BBQ" stand.] Wichita ain't exactly metropolis--it does have Sonic drive-ins every twenty-feet, which goes a long way in my book--but we were stunned how hard it was to find Lake Afton, which literally, was NOT on the map. G-d bless google and GPS, we made our way to Lake Afton (blink and you would have missed it) and I have to tell ya, it was one of those moments where I really thought it was going to get ugly fast.
Now some of you know, I work in health emergency management, and I'm also a trained National Weather Service-certified Storm Spotter. Going to Kansas...I felt like I had "graduated." But nothing can truly prepare you for that moment where you see the sky...and the color of those dark clouds...and see lightning that makes you want to convert and go to church. The festival allowed concert goers to leave the site to take cover in their vehicles, which we opted to do for several hours to get out of the rain and wind. The good news--at least the temperature dropped about 20 degrees from blistering 100+ to suddenly the 80's.

Now Lake Afton itself: we didn't see a lake. We saw a big field. A big, big.....field. With a fence and two sound stages....and small handful of local food vendors. Again...the fried pickle and ice cream from the same cart, go figure. But the vendors were all quite friendly and happy to have some business--the rain had obviously deterred the crowd. At 7:00pm, more than 6 hours after gates opened, there were just small handfuls of people. We calculated that there almost as many portapotties as people--personally, that's a ratio that I can appreciate, given how much water I consume, but we were disappointed at the turnout.

Chris aka Captain Howdy, visited the box office, which was, in truth: A box. It was one of those small 15' cargo containers on the back of a truck, with a hole cut out in the side for the walk-up window. But I give those Kansas gals credit, they had a live doppler feed and were watching the weather very carefully. And then we have the main stage. This one deserves a little attention.

There were two very peculiar things about this stage.
1. It was completely open and exposed. No rain cover, nothing. I've never seen that before--even at the most low budget street festivals. This turned out to be the festival's real demise, but more on that later.

2. When you reached the front row barricade, it was obvious that there was something seriously wrong here. I usually alternate my position between M.A.M's mic and Jay Jay's mic. I walked up to the front, and there was this chain-link fenced in area, sort of a cross between a goat pen and a detention holding area, and it spanned ALL the way from the edge of stage right (Eddie's side) to halfway between Dee's mic and M.A.M's mic, and then ran back about 40 feet. And in this pen there were some chairs....E I E I O.... and a Fuck! Fuck! here and a WHATTHEFUCK there.... it was the V.I.P. area! There was one person sitting there--one very mellow fellow, wearing a hat that read "FUCK YOU". So all the rest of us crammed into this tiny area by M.A.M.s mic....and one lone bastard sat in the V.I.P. pen. I asked the box office what it would cost for me to upgrade, for this last night of the show, to access the "pen", and was told $125, in addition to the $50 I had already shelled out. AH! Now I understand the "FUCK YOU" hat. My sentiments exactly.

They wanted me to pay $175 to bake in the sun, in the mud, for that??!?!. I mean, at least Oklahoma had misting showers, A/C tents...lots of other VIP perks. Their VIP section was the first 15 feet of stage, and we had a perfectly good view behind them. It didn't make sense to any of us--why not fence off the first fifteen feet across the stage--but to essentially stuff the entire crowd stage left was just plain STOOPID.

Oh, and speaking of STOOPID....let's talk a little more about the concert promoters and that lovely exposed stage. I've seen shows in the rain--we all have--I've never seen anything like this. They put the tarps on, almost as an afterthought, after the rains began, and it was truly the beginning of the end. There were so many technical glitches, I don't know where to begin, but I'll start with this: TWISTED SISTER WAS NOT TO BLAME. Yesterday, blame it on the heat? well, last night, blame it on the rain. and the morons at the Midwest Rock Festival. We ALL knew it was going to rain...my own MOTHER called me to tell me to pack some raingear!

So here we go: delay after delay after delay. And we hear......nothing. No announcements, no communication, nothing. The fans who were "camped" out by the stage were pleading with the road crew--tell us SOMETHING! ANYTHING! They could have at least told us they were sorry about the delays. nothing.

Finally, we start to see the tarps come off, and Y & T takes the small stage. They sounded absolutely fantastic--I held our spot at the front while Chris went to get a closer look. Y & T is often underrated, and undeservedly so--they did a great set.

We got bad news....and more bad news. Bad news: KIX was unable to make it and had to cancel.

More bad news: Winger showed up.

Okay, okay, that's not very fair--the crowd just loved Winger. And I was very impressed with some of the individual talent in Winger--the guitarist in particular. But a band is more than an army of one, and what I really dislike about Winger: I hate their stage presence, band "personality" and their songs. They sounded a lot heavier live than I had anticipated, which was a good thing, but they are just a victim of bad song-writing. "she's only 17" is absolutely my LEAST favorite song in the entire heavy metal world.
Winger's idea of showing the crowd appreciation? The guitarist came out onstage after the band went off...not for a musical encore or to throw some picks.... he chugs a beer and tosses the can out in the audience. Nice. Class act. The only thing more disgusting was the fan who caught it...and began licking the rim like it was some elixir from the fountain of youth. Ewww.
The concert promoters were selling "Poser Passes"...which meant for $20 more dollars, you could watch the show from an elevated platform on the stage.
Kinda cool...but when I asked if it would get me access to the Twisted view, they said "No Twisted Sister didn't go for it." I offered, "perhaps if you didn't call it a POSER pass???!!"

Oh, and I must say a few words here about the people of Kansas. Here I thought that the folks of the midwest were these wholesome, milk-n-cookies crowd--like....oh....flowing wheat fields....America's hardworking farms...Dorothy and Toto! I was informed, by the local Kansas residents, and I quote: "Dorothy was a whore. And she was doing her dog, too."
This festival was three days long and incorporated camping as well as "afterparties" in the big field. I heard stories....I saw some photos...and I pray that what happened in Kansas stays in Kansas. Now I'm not a prude, folks--in my younger days, I actually worked in a sex club in San Francisco (oh please, I was a bar back and worked the door. I know what you're thinking!) so it takes a lot to shock me. But what I witnessed in Kansas--a lot of drug use...excessive boozing...and public sex...saddened me. it wasn't rock n' roll.. it was just plain GROSS. I wanted to wear a shirt that read: DON'T show me your titties! On my way to the port-a-johns, I was offered everything from meth to some services that I won't go into detail here. I asked the very nice folks around me, and they explained that "there just ain't much to do here!" Holy shit. How about get a hobby or something? Everyone I talked to told me how much they hated living in Kansas...but it was their home, so they didn't want to live anywhere else. I get that.

Okay, okay. more show. Fuel took the small stage--honestly, I barely listened to them because it was quite dark outside and getting late--we were now past 11:00 pm and the rain started to fall. Then the mischief really began. We could hear the feedback before the band ever took the stage. The monitors were shorting out...the lights were shorting out..... it was a bad scene, folks. It was just plain tragic that we had great sound through Winger (just bad music) and now, with the boys ready to knock it out of the park, the sound system was taking a proverbial crap. Our own Mr. Stanton, the true class act that he is, came onstage and explained to the crowd what was happening, and that as soon as they could get it fixed, they would take the stage. (the concert producers should take a page from his playbook!)

They raffled off some guitars onstage--including a special edition Jay Jay French pinkburst--the proceeds went to building a park. Well, that's nice, actually. Let's hope the kids play ball in the park because I don't want to think about what else might be going on there given some of those afterparty stories.

Finally, at long last, the lights went down--with what seemed like fifteen techs still working onstage--and Long Way To The Top came on. And no one started cheering--I realized that most had never seen Twisted before, so they didn't know that Long Way was the clue to start going crazy! When the "radio" changed to "Man On the Silver Mountain", they still didn't get it....the guy next to me says, "why are we listening to the radio? this sucks!" I said "Relax dude, this is how the show starts..." good grief. It really loses something when you have to explain it.

So let's get the formality out of the way: here's, as Dee put it, "the soggy setlist"
1. Come Out and Play
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Stay Hungry
4. Captain Howdy
5. Shoot 'Em Down
6. You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll
7. We're Not Gonna Take It
8. The Price
9. Burn in Hell
Encore 1: I Wanna Rock
Encore 2: S.M.F.
Yes, I know it's short. I'll explain...

First of all--here I was, right in the front, and I couldn't see a damn thing. This enormous security guy posts himself right in front of us, and we literally saw almost NOTHING all night but his chest. lovely. Then they brought the V.I.P.s into the security pit to watch the show for three songs before they returned to their goat corral, so again, my view obscured. There were some serious sound issues due to the wet weather...and lights were messed up too. Compared to the flawless lighting job in Oklahoma (forgot to mention it, but the lighting was really excellent in Oklahoma), there was a spotlight on the stage right in Dee's face. He asked nicely to kill the light. He did. Nicely. Dee doesn't ask nicely twice....halfway into 'The Kids Are Back", Dee kicks that sucker through the goalposts. Or more accurately, into the front row pit of the V.I.P. section. See that folks? Got more than ya bargained for, didn't ya? Maybe that will get your asses up and off those V.I.P. folding chairs!

At least there were no curfews or profanity ordinances--Dee made up for it last night, and he was plenty pissed about the circumstances. His first words to us: "Well, this is fucked!" The stage was wet, the equipment was wet....but in Dee's words: "If you sick mutha fuckas can stand in the rain, we can stand in the rain..." Off course, this led to a string of great Dee-isms: "I"ve got to do the Tim Conway shuffle....it's so slippery up here....if I fall and break my neck you mutha fuckas will have it posted on youtube within minutes..." [Note to Dee: most of that crowd was too young to know Tim Conway, but Chris and I appreciated the reference...]

The water really started becoming an issue--A.J....the sound of thunder, who I've seen spin the sticks more times than I can count....slipped and fumbled the stick, sending it unpoetically stageward. He really made a valiant attempt to recover it, but there was just too much rain. Every time Mark pounded his bass, you could see a spray of water from it, and even he looked as if he was having some challenges hitting those wet strings. Speaking of challenges, I was getting annoyed as well with the rain. It was so dark and wet....{go ahead: "HOW DARK AND WET WAS IT?} I had to scribble my notes under a ziplock baggy and I had a headlamp around my neck so I could see what I was writing! oh the sacrifices.....

Even so, the band played on...

Dee sounded fantastic, Eddie, in spite of a sputtering amp and a dead monitor, continued to nail down the solos, and his and Jay Jay's work on “You Can't Stop Rock and Roll” was blistering. “Burn In Hell” was one of the best renditions they've done since Plymouth, MA--honestly, rain, bad sound, bizarre half-crowd--they still kicked some serious ass.

"We're Not Gonna Take It" is always a crowd favorite, and the crowd just screamed those lyrics out. Then I saw something that just left a pit in my stomach. It was Danny--giving them the "cut it short" signal. Jay Jay said some quick thanks to the audience--very heartfelt. Those were some good fans to stick it out through that whole mess--and I noticed again, when Jay Jay handed a pick to the security guard, and pointed out who in the audience he wanted to give it to. That just moves me, every time.

Dee then noticed the "goat pen"--and he asked us in the front what it was all about--and we said "V.I.P." Says the Snide One, "Oh. V.I.P. okay then.." and walks over them and says, "VIP? you're dead! this guy's got his finger in his nose...this one's wanking off.. That was 'We're Not Gonna Take It" ! Get off your asses!"

And then....Eddie's whole system went dead. All hail the road crew--they rushed in like a racing pit and started working as best as they could... so Dee did an impromptu "Question and Answer Period with Twisted Sister". So for the last time folks: Yes, it's his real hair! With the guitar back "on', Dee jinxed it by saying "Eddie's now going to dazzle you with his solo..." And dazzle he did. Get this, folks. It was the moment that made the ENTIRE trip worthwhile...the heat, the rain, the sound problems, the delays, the shortlist.....the stories of people screwing barnyard animals--all that we suffered through--all made okay by this:

During "The Price," right before Eddie's big solo, his guitar just goes dead. I mean, nothing....not a hum. Some bands would have just said "Screw it, let's go raid the mini-bar and finish off the Snickers". Some bands would have just glossed over the solo and moved on. Other guitarists would have stepped in, and stolen the solo to keep the song going. But not Twisted.

In a rare and special moment, Jay Jay saw what happened...he dashed over...and lightning quick, he stripped off his Les Paul Pinkburst and swapped guitars with Eddie. Christ, I swear to you, I'm tearing up typing this.... Eddie played his solo on Jay Jay's guitar and it has never sounded better to me. To see Eddie with Jay's guitar, and that bullseye Fender around Jay Jay as he stood by the stack, frantically trouble shooting it: it was unbelievable. They didn't miss a single note. It was one of those exquisite moments onstage that for those of us who witnessed it, we will remember it always. It's been a long time, SMFs, but last night--the band had a cohesive bond of brotherhood that looked like it was, well, the way it should be. Ohferchrissake, I'm making myself cry. This is pathetic.

I clutched that moment, etched it into my memory--while I would rather like to forget Wichita, I will never forget the magic I saw onstage last night. I really hope SOMEONE has got a photo or video of that.

And then....the plug got pulled. Another severe storm was due to come our way any minute. Or as Dee put it, "Mother Nature is a bitch" and asked aloud, "why she always seem to take a shit on Twisted Sister at all these outdoor shows?" And so, Dee lead the crowd in giving Mother Nature the flying finger salute, as we chanted "Fuck You" skyward. Dee pointed upwards, and parted with "I'll shit on your party one day, too!" He closed with S.M.F. as an anxious Danny Stanton motioned them to hurry off. Dee was so rushed, he admittedly forgot the words to the first verse....Mark expressed himself by making a microphone pretzel out of his stand, and we left with about an hour of music but a far cry from the night before, and sadly, no time for the Dio tribute. (Probably the shortest band intro I've ever heard...."

Well...at least no one was arrested for profanity. there's always that.

Tip of the hat to Cory in the front row--very nice gentlemen--and the interesting folks who surrounded us. Donna from CT was there as well--I'm looking forward to hearing her take on things.

Well, that's it for the only two domestic U.S. shows this year, until hopefully Christmas time when we'll have some yuletide festivities. As my plane left Kansas, the sirius satellite radio station Hair Nation played "Be Crool to Your School" and I kid you not, as my plane touched down at Baltimore-Washington International, the last note of "We're Not Gonna Take It" was playing.

Dorothy may have been a whore, but she was right.
There's no place like home.
I clicked my boots together three times, took a two hour nap, and left a sleeping Captain Howdy as I made way to the airport for my morning flight.

This is the Armadillo...your faithful Official UNOfficial Twisted Sister road reporter... trotting off....to go back to the airport for my next flight out on business.
Armadillo

Binder clips 
Wednesday, August 6, 2014, 05:06 PM / http://www.offerstationery.com/office-s ... -3_16.html
It is at this point that they, as they believe, stop being little girls
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