Buenos Noches my sick babies—
I can barely keep my eyes open but a promise is a promise—the Buenos Aires installment of the Armadillo Road Report. This is going to be a toughie—I truly don’t know what to write. Buenos Aires was so surreal, so bizarre, so incredible—for the first time in Road Report history, I’m almost speechless.
Buenos Aires began with a 3 hour flight—joined by the illustrious Twisted Sister Road Crew on my plane—and I had a moment with the flight attendant that I can assure you will NEVER happen again in my career. She comes up to me, her eyes sparkling and shoulders in sort of a nervous shrug—the kind you have when you’re about to do something thrilling and nerve-wracking—and she says:
“Excuse me, but are you the famous person that I believe you are?”
There are so many catchy, smart-ass replies I could have concocted, but she was so beautiful….so sweet….so sincere…. I looked into her eyes and said:
“Yes, sweetheart… I’m Dee Snider. Let’s go join the mile high club…”
Okay, okay. Of course, not. I had to gently break her heart, and said:
“I’m so sorry….but I’m not… I’m the not famous person who writes concert reviews about the famous person you believe I am….”
And she then replied: “Oh, Armadillo, you fine specimen of manhood, ravish me anyway, I’m yours,” and we made passionate love on a bed of airplane peanuts….
Oh alright! So maybe it was more like: “Oh. Sorry to bother you, Sir. Please return your tray table to the upright position.” Geez. Gimme a break, willya?
I arrived at my hotel in Buenos Aires around 11:30am, only to learn that my room would not be ready until after 4:00pm. Nothing a few cups of Argentine espresso couldn’t fix, and before long, I’m strolling through the streets of Buenos Aires. If Sao Paulo is the New York of South America, Buenos Aires is the San Francisco. In fact, it so closely resembles San Francisco that a few times, I actually forgot I wasn’t in the States.
Amazing cafes, fantastic restaurants, shopping, art galleries—every corner, every street. Spectacular architecture adorns this city that clearly has strong Euro influences from Italy and France. Little known factoid about yours truly—call it a gift, call it a curse, but I have always had an enhanced sense of smell. Nope, this is totally true. I never knew that other people don’t have this ability until a few years ago, but I’m somehow able to pick up scents…and layers of scents…that others don’t seem to be able to discern. Buenos Aires was sensory overload for me—just incredible. In one city block, I had to just stop and take it all in—chocolates, meats grilling, mens aftershave, ladies perfume, leather, breads, cheeses, coffee, pastries, wood (I passed by a shop that made and sold musical instruments!)…. Just amazing smells everywhere!
I did find that the information on the travel sites were all true—driving (or worse, being a pedestrian) in Buenos Aires is highly dangerous, but nothing my years as a city dweller hadn’t prepared me for. I ate an enormous gourmet meal in an outdoor restaurant along the waterfront, sipped on espresso with my petit fours, and realized that my life after the divorce turned out pretty good, after all.
When I got to my room, I just wanted a shower and a nap. I received a message from the slamboard’s own “Nesi” (Nestor) and upon calling him learned that the line to get into the show had already wrapped around the block, and I needed to get there as fast as possible. So a quick shower , a taxi hailed and off to El Teatro Flores I went. The theatre was in the midst of the city—kind of peculiar district that even the cab driver wasn’t very familiar with—and I joined the long line of fans waiting paces away from the main doors. I met Nesi….some of Nesi’s wonderful friends—delightful, funny and warm people—all passionate about music and Twisted Sister.
Moments later, our roadie extraordinaire, Keith, came bouncing out and said “C’mon, let’s go! AJ’s asking for you!” And my babies, I truly wish I could have taken you all with me—it was a moment of true Twisted glory. I finally had a chance to see what most of us never get to see—the “real” backstage. As we entered through the back door, we passed a port-a-potty that I learned was the venue’s initial attempt at roadcrew accommodations, and to get to the dressing room/crew ‘s quarters, I had to squeeze, sidestep and carefully maneuver through a maze of cables, amps, boxes and ….oh, my heart be still—guitars. You’d think after all of the backstage trips I’ve had in my career, that I’d be blasé about the whole thing…. But coming within inches of the Pinkburst and Pink bullseye, on their stands, just waiting there….. my pulse raced and my stomach was full of butterflies! AJ and I had a great time just talking—I’m going to be very tight lipped about our conversations because you know, there are sometimes just things that need to be off the record.
The catering hadn’t arrived yet, the band (and crew) were hungry…and so I had to choose between watching the opening act or crossing an item off my bucket list. I chose bucket list item #43: “Buy Twisted Sister and Roadcrew dinner.” Roadie Wayne and I weaved our way through the backstage (it was VERY small and VERY confined back stage—barely room for the crew!) and went across the street where I proudly displayed all of the Spanish that I learned on my trip thus far: “Senor, Yo quiero diez empanadas carne! Rapido! ” Okay, so that was terribly phrased, and I stole the first part from a Taco Bell commercial, but it got us 40 pesos worth of delicious empanadas all neatly wrapped up and we were soon backstage once more, stuffing the crew (and AJ) with local delicacies. Bucket list #44: “Eat with Twisted Sister and roadcrew.” check.
Regretfully, I missed most of the opening act, which sounded AMAZING, even from the backstage lounge area. John Corabi, of latter day Motley Crue, played a slew of songs with local Argentinian musicans—all covers—all just plain fantastic! (and he’s a very nice chap, to boot!) I took in a few songs from the wings, smushed alongside the crew, and had a moment to take in the theatre. El Teatro Flores is a gorgeous, historic theatre—I never really saw it with the lights on but I’m guessing it was somewhere around l920’s vintage, with a spectacular tin roof, stained glass, and ornate columns. Like Via Funchal, it has a large wrap around balcony, an ample floor, two disco balls (I know, I know, what the fuck?) and two jumbo screens—I didn’t get to see the lobby or any other public parts of it. Because of the extremely tight quarters on stage, they really didn’t have much space for me. I really do enjoy seeing the band from the front as I’ve found that viewing the show from the back, while interesting and fun, doesn’t give you the same level of energy. So Danny then allowed me to cross off Bucket List Item #7: watch Twisted Sister show from the security pit. I was so excited I could hardly stand it—finally, a front row seat where I would not have to deal with bruised ribs, crushed toes and worse, subjected to the underside of someone’s armpit for the duration of the show. At last, finally a chance to have a front row experience without any distractions—and I could scribble away to my heart’s content.
First, the security director was not pleased at all that I was there—again, Danny came to my rescue, and shouted those words that I’ve longed to hear since I was 14 years old: “He’s with the band!” Holy crap. That wasn’t even ON my bucket list, but I now added it just so I could cross it off. So I negotiated with Security—if I just sat on the little ledge of the barricade (you know, that little step that the security guys stand on so that they can look over the crowd)—I wouldn’t block anyone’s view, wouldn’t distract the band, and I could do my journalistic duty. So I squeezed my ass into that tiny space, and prepared for the show.
My absolute FAVORITE moment of any Twisted Sister show, believe it or not, is that split second that occurs before the show even starts. When the DJ music stops…and there’s this little pause…..and you can actually FEEL the hearts racing in the audience. It’s like the entire place collectively holds it’s breath…and you can HEAR those minds going: “Now!? Now?! Is it starting now?” And as the lights go down, that opening chord of “Long Way to the Top” resonates in our chests, it’s a release of emotion and energy that for some, has been pent up for more than 30 years. Argentina has never seen Twisted Sister…so we’re talking a lot of sick mutha fuckas who have waited a long time to just let it all loose.
AH MI DIOS. That’s right. OH MY GOD.
I knew it was going to get crazy when the crowd sang every note to “Long Way to the Top”. I could actually feel the energy of this crowd—it was like a sound wave from an explosion—I felt like the vibe from the crowd was going to push me right into the stage. When the boys came onstage, the place absolutely went insane. It was as if a ten ton bomb–30+ years of pent up anticipation– was released from the back of the room, and a giant rock and roll shock wave exploded, with hearts pounding and bodies airborne everywhere! Next thing I know, I’m diving for cover in my little security bunker as bodies are flying over me, falling to the left and right—women displaying themselves, prompting a “nice tits” even from Dee! (my apologies to the sensitivities of my female readers. I must say, though, they were quite lovely.)
I had about three pages of notes here that for the first time, even I can’t fucking read them because I couldn’t look down at the notepad—I was too busy dodging the flying fans! Dee shed his long leather trenchcoat after a few numbers, and greeted the crowd with: “Como Ested Mutha fuckas??!!!” He was so excited he actually dropped the mic while singing “The Kids Are Back” and M.A.M. pounded his bass so hard, that it appeared that at one point, he actually hurt his hand. I had this intense energy coming from the band….meeting the incredible energy of the fans behind me–it was like two unstoppable forces colliding right before me.
The sound and lighting once again—pure perfection. There was sort of this “flying V” formation of lights (think Geese flying south) and what was really nice about it was that it didn’t blind the fans in the front, but illuminated the stage and bathed the band in light that was seemingly subtle, compared to the night before. Excellent balance, no feedback, just ideal. All hail the road crew!
Each song was more intense than the one before it……there was almost no pause, no chance to let your heart rest—without a lot of the chatter and raps that American (English speaking) audiences get, South America just got one song after the next—hammering them with the Twisted spectacle. It was so remarkably hot, at one point, that the security guards started giving water to the first three rows. Like chirping birds, the fans opened their mouths between songs, as security guards poured bits of water into each waiting mouth.
The setlist was exactly identical to Via Funchal—but each song was just one notch higher, one bit crazier, than the night before. It was SMF Jaysin’s dream come true—fans just surfing and diving all over the place. And every time a fan dove over the bunker, I had to dive into a new place. It brought back memories of DCT, Donna From Connecticut, sharing with me a story about a rendition of “Under The Blade” written for her entitled “Under The Stage,” a song about being short and in the front row at a Twisted Sister show. I was truly, Under The Stage! Much to the chagrin, by the way, of the band members, who repeatedly pointed at me, laughing, mouthing to me the words: “This is unbelievable!”
It was then that it hit me what was making this show so unique—the fans didn’t just sing the lyrics to all of the songs—they sang the notes. Do you understand? The NOTES. They SANG the fucking guitar solos…every last note…..every song. Don’t believe me? YouTube it….it was unreal. Then to MY amusement…..every time Jay Jay and Eddie tried to do a guitar solo, they royally screwed it up! I mean, it’s like trying to sing the national anthem in a ball stadium, where there’s a 2 second delay. I kid you not, at least three or four guitars solos went south, and every time, I saw Eddie and Jay Jay exchange looks—and as they both said to me: “These guys are nuts!”
When a fan threw a soccer jersey onstage, complete with Twisted Sister logo, the crowd erupted into the South American cheers of “Ole Ole Ole Ole Twis-ted Sis-ter!” and the crowd went into an absolute frenzied state of religious fandom fervor.
Jay Jay spoke briefly to the crowd, encouraging them to check out the Twisted Sister website…with his best one liner of the night:
(regarding websites) “These days everybody’s got one….even my grandmother’s got one….www.nofuckingteeth.com…..”
“I Am, I’m Me” made my eyes well up with tears. I just love that song, it’s my absolute favorite and Dee actually sang a few lines right to me in the pit. I wanted to freeze that one moment in time—that one small tiny moment—capture it in an ampule and keep it around my neck for those tough times that may lie ahead. It just does NOT get better than this, I thought. Wrong again. It got even better.
They played “The Fire Still Burns” (and the fog machine churns) and the Eddie/Jay Jay duet was a valiant attempt (and I enjoyed it very much, to tell you the truth, but damn if those fans didn’t sing those solos too!)
Dee then decided to utilize Eddie’s talents—and command of the Spanish language.
Dee says, very slowly: “Eddie…I need you to translate.”
Dee: “In May of this year, Heavy Metal lost a god. Heavy Metal lost an inspiration. Heavy Metal lost Ronnie James Dio. In honor of Ronnie James Dio, Twisted Sister wants to do this tribute to Rainbow, called, “Long Live Rock and Roll.”
I can’t even describe to you the reaction of the crowd. They were screaming so loud behind me that I almost missed the opening riff. I honestly couldn’t tell you if it was better than Sao Paulo or not—I can just tell you that, I swear, I felt as though the spirit of Dio himself was there and throwing the horns at TS, thanking them for the tribute.
“Under The Blade” treated us to some really special Mendoza bass magic—and I definitely saw him shaking his hand in pain from pounding that sucker. And then, it was time for the ol’ crowd fave….Cue the spooky lighting….cue the fog machine…. Dee drops to the floor like his legs are kicked out, and he gave us a spellbinding rendition of “Burn In Hell.” I know Suzette hates the moustache, but man, it just makes Dee look more and more devilish in that glowing red light. AJ’s drum solos again, did not disappoint. We were treated once more to his heavy metal drum medley, accompanied by an absolutely fantastic multi-colored strobe from the Johnny at the lightboard. We saw a return of the blue laser sticks .
A.J, I’m pleased to report, has been doing well after that very serious car accident. He expressed appreciation to everyone for their well wishes—it was a terrible accident, and we’re all very fortunate and relieved that he made it out alive with minimal injuries. I compared A.J. to a professional football player—in spite of a bad hip, stress fracture in his foot, and back injuries—he just continues to go out there and play like a champion.
And then…we had “I Wanna Rock.”
We all know by now—that is, any of us who have EVER gone to a live Twisted Sister concert before know—that you need to:
1. Be on your feet
2. Enjoy yourself
3. Never sit or stand with your arms crossed
Well, the return of El Doucho Baggo and his twin brother Senor Corn Holio. it appears there were two people who weren’t singing. I mean, seriously, the whole goddamn place was packed nuts to butts, we’re sweating, screaming, stomping, shouting…bodies are flying overhead left and right, your old Armadillo pal is getting absolutely pummeled with thrown objects, sweat, spittle, shoes, fists…. There’s so much shit flying through the air—someone’s wallet even made it’s way onstage—everyone is going apeshit….. except for two fans.
Up go the lights.
Dee: “I see you. Yes, I do. I see you! Everyone is singing…why aren’t you singing? The whole place is going nuts….and you aren’t doin’ nuthin! Ladies….do NOT fuck those guys tonight. No matter what, Ladies, do NOT fuck those guys. “
And then, Classic Dee:
“NOBODY ELSE SING. JUST YOU TWO GUYS.” And so Dee made them sing, in front the whole crowd, and once they finally got into the act, Dee finished the song.
At that point, the place was going so crazy, that I thought it was going to just spontaneously combust.
Dee gave the band intros—another brilliant moment:
Dee: “Twisted Sister is here tonight with all five original members….Eddie….please translate….how do you say ‘original’?
I hated for the show to end. It was pure magic. Utter brilliance. But the bucket list had a few more things to go. Yep, Bucket List #58 and #59: Carry equipment and ride on Twisted Sister tour bus. Okay, so it was Mehtis’ bag and it was a hotel charter shuttle, but goddammit, close enough. I finally got to ride the bus—with the road crew making me an “honorary member”—and I’ll just stop there. It was a delightfully entertaining ride to the hotel–I laughed so much that my face hurt.
The next few hours were spent unwinding with the band at the hotel lounge—we celebrated Danny’s birthday with singing and cake—and we watched the YouTube videos already up on the web. Gotta love technology. I had to stop for a moment: here I am…it’s two in the morning….I’m sitting here watching a comedy video with Mark Mendoza and the TS road crew….I just had birthday cake with the band, crew and their manager…. This could perhaps be the most surreal and wonderful moment of my life. I almost became emotional, and mentioned it to Animal, who put his hand on my shoulder and said: “You aren’t a fan anymore. You’re a friend.” I damn near lost it.
The next morning, I had the most splendid day of sightseeing with the crew, followed by down time spent with individual members of the band, just talking. The details of which I won’t reveal here—as previously mentioned, some conversations are just not for public ears—but I truly enjoyed every minute that I spent with everyone. Truly a special day. And I thank all of you from the bottom of my heart.
The band flew out early on Tuesday for Chile—I felt my heart sink, knowing that my time with them and the tour was over. I spent the day exploring Buenos Aires, including several hours in Recoleta, a city within the city, consisting of ancient mausoleums, including Evita Peron’s—simply an amazing spectacle. I took in a dinner theater Tango show, snapped a few photos of “Casa Rosa” or “Pink House”—they’re equivalent of the White House, and waited out an impressive deluge before the long ride and much longer ride back to the States.
Deepest thanks to everyone in the band, the road crew, Danny, Nestor, (special hola to Abril!), the show producers and all of the wonderful fans in Buenos Aires. It was a deeply moving, unbelievable experience that I will treasure for many years to come. I found tears coming down my face as I sat in the airport—it was hard to leave these beautiful countries, the warm and kind people, and I wished I had just taken the plunge and found a way to get to Chile and Bolivia for the final legs.
I’ll be posting separately about Jay Jay’s upcoming Pinkburst Project—I see the link is now up—please….I implore everyone to go and do whatever they can to support this important charitable event. It will be historic—I assure you—I got a chance to see some sneak peak photos and this is one event you do NOT want to miss.
And so my babies, it is with a heavy heart that I must sign off this evening. I don’t know when the next show will be, I only know that this tour could end at any time, and if you have never seen Twisted Sister play live, now is the time. My only regret going to South America was that I came home too soon. Take the plunge….be there standing next to me, at the next show, your fist held high. No regrets.
Alas, my sick brothers and sisters, fatigue has gotten the best of me. I can barely keep my eyes open.
This is Armadillo, your faithful road reporter, trotting off to get some good, sound sleep. (I’ll post photos as soon as possible!)
Terry a.k.a. Armadillo