M3: Merriweather Post, Columbia MD 5/4/13: PART 2: TWISTED SISTER 
Tuesday, May 7, 2013, 05:58 PM
I don't know how many different ways I can say this: Twisted Sister didn't just destroy the M3 Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion, Saturday night....they demolished it. Wait, not just demolition...we're talking total, absolute nuclear annhiliation! Just imagine--if that's what Twisted Sister could do in a 60-minute set, just IMAGINE what they would have done if they had headlined! They rocked that place from the front row to the rear gate, rocked those across the street....rocked the hotel lobby...rocked round the bend, rocked the geese in the lake...NOTHING BUT NET! As we say in Baltimore.... GO TO WAR MISS AGNES! That is what metal is all about.

There's a giant cup of coffee sitting next to a two filled, illegible notebooks ready to bring you all the details you're dying to know...and plenty ya' don't! And that can only mean that it's time for the wordiest blog in rock n' roll... The Armadillo Road Report: the Official Twisted Sister concert review!

I arrived early to the venue and joined my fellow road crew members, who were already hard at work. This afforded me the chance to listen to Steel Heart while watching our Guitar Technician, Keith, re-string Eddie's guitars. Up close and personal, I had a chance to really appreciate what beautiful instruments these are. Eddie has two gorgeous Wayne Charvel guitars with Floyd Upgrades (FU). Beautiful woods with inlays in the neck and a sloped, aerodynamic body painted with the famous pink and black bullseye on one, and his subtle black on black bullseye on the other.

The day's festival was chock full of great 80's bands--including but not limited to Trixter, Jackyl, Great White, Loudness, Bret Michaels just to name a few....but to catch them all, you really got a workout! Off to the side was a second sound stage in a parking lot, so fans had to make a mad dash from the pavilion to the lot and back again, as there were barely ten minutes between bands. On the plus side, there was virtually no overlap, so you didn't have to choose between artists.

I was thrilled to be able to listen to Loudness (especially after I missed their set in Brazil a few weeks ago) You have GOT to give these guys props---they overcame visa issues (I feel your pain, gentlemen!) and then traveled something close to 16 hours just to play a 45 minute set in Maryland and fly back. If they were jet-lagged, you'd never know it! They played a high-energy, great sounding set including the crowd favorite "Crazy nights."
There were just so many good bands Saturday, and the place had a really excellent, fun vibe--it made me realize just how much of an extended family the heavy metal world is, and I was really impressed with the show of friendship, camaraderie and respect that the bands gave one another. And while I'm at it, the amazing chemistry between the crew. Twisted Sister has something really special with their road crew--they are a family--and it was a pleasure to meet many of those who had worked with Twisted for many years before--Cooch and John--it was truly an honor!

After chowing down with my fellow road crew brethen, we began the prep for the show. I had a moment to check out the new Dee mic-stand. Let me tell you, folks, this is the absolute Cadillac of mic-stands. It's absolutely gorgeous. Powder-coated hot-pink (glowing cerise) slip-resistant texture… science meets art. It just plain glows. So....stand now in place, banner raised, rugs taped down and sound check complete, I nervously paced in the wings, waiting for that special moment of sheer exhilaration: "Long Way to the Top" blaring from the speakers.

Now mind you, this time last night, I was absolutely freezing cold! I mean, I was a popsicle...well, okay, a rocksicle. In contrast, when Twisted took the stage at 7:45 PM, I swear, I think the temperature went up 20-degrees! Hot flashes? No way. This wasn't menopause...it was METAL-pause! [I just made that up. Feel free to use it.]

I love seeing our Twisted five take the stage--they are so ready, so fired up--the excitement is palpable and real. A special little moment for me--seeing Eddie and Jay Jay exchange a quick handshake as they stormed the stage. Jay Jay and Eddie both donned their guitars, got themselves ready to deliver the goods, and took their spots. As many times as they've heard "Long Way" usher them in, seeing Jay Jay rocking out to those bagpipes reinforced what I already knew--Rock n' roll flows through their veins.

They opened with "You Can't Stop Rock N' Roll" which was just mind-blowing--it felt like a jet engine roaring at 800 mph--the boys opened with a fury that just blew me (and the first ten rows at least!) away. What an incredible, powerful opener--Animal just hammered the bass line out. Normally, crowds in the U.S. can take a few songs to warm up to a band. In this case, the crowd was into it from the start--there were fists flying from the opening notes. And beach balls. NO idea why. {Seriously. Is it like....hey, okay now, let's make sure I've got everything I need for today.... studded belt? check. spiked bracelets? check. leather jacket? check. cool tee shirt with skulls and wings on them? check. beach ball..... oh damn, did anyone remember to bring the beach ball?"}

With only a 60-minute set, it was short on chatter but heavy on the rock. Twisted launched straight into "Shoot 'em Down" and they played it harder and louder than ever. I know what you're thinking--I say that every concert review--but they DID! I SWEAR TO YOU-- Animal just spanked that bass. If you don't believe me, YouTube it for yourself and watch the whole song. I mean, it was just phenomenal. Jay Jay's solo was hot...and while I'm on the subject...the Jay Jay fashion report: he looked quite dashing in a black jacket with quite fashionable scarf.

"Stay Hungry" energized the crowd with a drum line that reminded me a V-twin--'Buddda buddah buddah buddah." It's always tough to pick the setlist when you only have an hour, but clearly this was a great selection. The crowd roared with delight, and I could see fans mouthing the lyrics and rocking out, even out in the lawn. Speaking of the lawn, Dee gave a special shout out to all the S.M.F.s rocking out on the lawn--including Edgar, who tweeted Dee that he would be rocking out on the green.

After a few very quickly delivered words by Jay Jay, in which he paid homage to the S.M.F.s-- the fans were the reason behind the song they were about to play: "I Believe In Rock N' Roll." I know it sounds corny, but I felt truly as if every fan there was pledging allegiance to rock....and rock in America! Eddie delivered a flawless solo, and Dee even called out to the people in the back--"Don't you believe in Rock N' Roll?" Our Snide one made sure that everyone was on their feet, taking the oath.

I'm used to hearing "The Kids Are Back" earlier in the set, but truth be told? I like it better in the middle. It's an "old school" song, and sometimes crowds who only know "Stay Hungry" and the years after, take a few minutes to warm up to it. This crowd was completely ready to rock on this night, and "The Kids Are Back" had the crowd literally jumping.
When A.J. hammered the opening drums of "We're Not Gonna Take It," Merriweather Post absolutely erupted. I've often complained that American crowds don't sing as loud as those overseas--but Maryland did me proud! The crowd sang it loud and proud. One of the things I love about "We're Not Gonna Take It" is that that when the crowd taps into it, you get the sensation of one giant pulse, emanating from the throngs of crazed fans. It was a beautiful, beautiful thing. Dee even gave the microphone to a fan in the front row at one point, to sing the refrain with him. Good job S.M.F.!

And then...something I did NOT expect. Dee briefly explained that in the 90's there was this trend amongst heavy metal bands, to go unplugged and play their songs with an acoustic guitar. And so he called for his Acoustic guitar.....his WHAT?! That's right, an acoustic guitar is brought onstage, and Dee prepares to play.....NOT! He declares to all those present, that Twisted will do an unplugged set "when they pry the electric guitars from our cold dead hands!" as Animal raised his bass in triumph [Charlton Heston would be proud] And to drive his point home, Dee proceeded to smash the acoustic guitar to splinters on stage.
Your faithful road crew dashed out to pick up all of the big chunks of guitar (Thank you, Animal for NOT stepping on my hands--I know it was tempting) While it certainly wasn't acoustic, we were treated to a fantastically played version of "The Price," and I had a perfect view of the audience--lighters and cell phones glowing and swaying all the way to the crabcake booth.

I said a silent prayer that Dee wouldn't get any splinters when he steam-rollered into "Burn In Hell." and dropped to the ground. I just held my breath until I was sure he didn't get impaled on any guitar fragments that I may have missed. Dee did some magnificent athletic moves--hurdling over the monitors to the catwalk that extended into the orchestra pit, center stage.

With little time for banter, Dee skyrocketed into the last number of their set, "I Wanna Rock!", with a brief interlude, in which the crowd happily took the now worldwide Twisted poll of what people want more....to rock..or to fuck. And so, after a few obligatory rounds of singing "I Wanna Fuck," we did what we came to do: ROCK! There wasn't a fist that wasn't in the air--every fan screaming, "Rock!" at the top of their lungs.

Unfortunately, no time for encores--Twisted Sister, ever the professionals, made sure that they did not run overtime, which could have adversely impacted the Bret Michael's set. Even with just nine songs, Twisted absolutely decimated Merriweather Post. I cannot remember the last time a domestic show rocked this hard. It was a flawless performance: fantastic lighting, great, balanced sound, tight guitar solos, mammoth drums, killer bass and a stellar performance from the best front man in Heavy Metal!

M3 delivered the goods--and as a Baltimore boy, it just made me proud!
And as I loaded out the gear into the transports and packed up the banner, I could hear Bret Michaels taking the stage. I was just filled with happiness and joy that all of these heavy metal bands and fans could come together and celebrate the glory that is rock and roll.

And with that, my babies, I did something I so RARELY do after a show....I laid my head on my own pillow, in my own bed. It was decadence.

This is Armadillo....trotting off to prepare for next Saturday, when Twisted Sister will destroy New Jersey at the Hurricane Sandy benefit! See in Jersey!

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