Hard Rock Hotel, Orlando, FL Velvet Sessions 10/29/09

You know, I typed the entire road report and lost it when I hit “Submit”… so maybe this second time around it will be a little tamer because draft one was a real humdinger!

You knew this was coming…and yet you clicked on the thread anyway…

It’s time for the Official Armadillo Road Report: The Official UN-Official Twisted Sister Concert Review. Hard Rock Hotel Velvet Sessions, Orlando Florida, October 29, 2009. All the details you’ve been clamoring for, and plenty of trivial crap you wished I’d never shared. First things first: after the traumatizing ordeal of chasing a puddle-jumper to the Ft. Wayne show, catching a plane to Orlando was a breeze. I didn’t stay at the Hard Rock itself—a beautifully, lush landscaped palatial establishment—I went for a more modest place a few blocks away. No scantily-clad girls in the lobby like the Hard Rock. They did give me a warm chocolate-chip cookie upon check-in, which almost made up for it. Hard Rock gets hotties…I got a cookie…Charlie Brown gets a rock. Such is life.

The venue itself: this was by far, the most BIZARRE concert site yet. Weirder than the beer garden tables of Ft. Wayne…the Spinal Tap/Puppet Show amphitheatre of Six Flags…the strip mall in Springfield…the cactus garden in Tucson…. Twisted played a hotel LOBBY. Yes, that’s right. It was the lobby. TS checks the sound….guests check into their rooms. Another surreal TS moment.

Now to their credit, the place was decorated quite festively. We had a rotating Frankenstein in the middle, a tower of artfully stacked Vodka bottles complete with animated skeletal pirates. There were gargoyles, cobwebs, strobe lights and the place was packed full of folks in costumes. It was a bit uncomfortable waiting in line in the mens room next to Uncle Fester, but you know, at a TS show, it didn’t seem so out of place. The room itself was approximately 20’ x 50’, with a stage about 2’ off the ground that I’m certain is mostly rented for weddings and bar mitzvahs. I couldn’t complain: I enjoyed standing on carpet for a change. I saw that our own TS roadie Dwayne was sporting a “Dad To Be 2010” shirt… some little future SMF(s) on the horizon? Do tell. Then again. Maybe I shouldn’t ask.

The Velvet Sessions are promoted as a Rock N’ Roll Cocktail Party (Rocktail party?) and while I never had a chance to get a complimentary beverage or sample the hors d’oeuvres, I appreciated that they were there. Note to Danny Stanton: I’d like to propose appetizers for all future TS shows, please. I’d like those little egg rolls and some mini hot dogs if you don’t mind, thank you. Now those of you who know me, know that I just love local flavor. Love getting out there and meeting the people, tasting the foods, getting the pulse of the town. This crowd, however, did NOT endear itself to me. The theme of the night: Douche Bags. But more on that later….

[oh? Did you want to read about the show? Well, alright then.]

First band up was a NYC act called “Toxin.” Local folks told me that the Velvet Sessions typically don’t have an opening act, and you ALL know how much I dread standing through opening bands…but this was a TREAT. (not a trick.) The opener was very, very good. And young. Very young. Let me put it this way: if you put Shawn Cassidy and Bon Jovi in a washer/dryer on the highest setting for 90 minutes…out would come the Toxin lead singer! No, really…. he was barely 5-feet and 100 lbs…he makes ME look like a Linebacker for the Ravens….I didn’t know that rocker clothes came in pediatric sizes! When TS sang “The Kids Are Back”…truth in advertising! They weren’t old enough to get into the club they played….hell, they weren’t old enough to DRIVE to the show!

Oh please, I’m 5’2”…I never get an opportunity to make fun of short folks… just one more….I have more hair on my…oh, second thought…nevermind. Danny’s daughter was standing next to me and told me most of them are only 15 years old (the lead singer kept making goo-goo eyes at her, but she tells me she knows them and it was all in fun….)

They have a new CD out, and they played a lot of material from it including “I Don’t Care”. One song had the refrain “Nasty Nasty Dirty Dirty”. Somehow, coming from one who wasn’t old enough to buy condoms, let alone sing about what he wanted to DO with them, well, it just seemed wrong. Welcome to Cougartown, I suppose. They were very talented however, musically and vocally, with great stage presence. We were treated to a really fun Kid Rock rendition and even “Play that Funky Music”. Just one tip kid: sell the tambourine on Craigslist and buy a cowbell instead. Toxin needs to define their own identity, but when they do, watch out! Toxin has a lot of talent and poise, and definitely a band to watch. Thanks for bringing them to Orlando!

So following my own superstitious TS ritual, I donned my Twisted bandanna before “Long Way to the Top” and looked over my shoulder: the place was JAM PACKED. Packed full of…. douche bags. Don’t say I didn’t warn you…it’s coming… the Armadillo rant of the night….

The boys took the stage at 8:38 pm, the earliest I think I’ve ever seen them, (Florida: early bird special perhaps?) and they were decked out in professionally-done stage makeup true to their TS colors. Eddie was a red devil/vampire-esque demon, Animal was in green hulk makeup, AJ was a blue gargoyle, Jay Jay was in yellow skull face—very unnerving, by the way…. Jay Jay’s make up made him look like was displeased the entire show. I was right under his mic, so every time he looked down, he looked perturbed. I’ll also point out, that he was the ONLY band member still wearing makeup when the show was over. AJ sweated his off in 5 minutes… Dee and Mark soon followed. I swear, he must not perspire. Now that’s cool, folks. Dee’s makeup was really kinda disturbing. (of course, what else?) sort of a smiling skull/clowns-will-eat-you face. Heebie jeebies.

Here’s the setlist for you purists:

1. Stay Hungry
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Under The Blade
4. Captain Howdy (without Street Justice)
5. The Fire Still Burns
6. We’re Not Gonna Take It
7. Shoot ‘em Down (Jay Jay’s fave)
8. Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll
9. The Price
10. Burn in Hell (fairly short AJ drum solo)
11. I Wanna Rock
12. S.M.F
(no encores)

It was not the longest set they’ve done, guessing that had everything to do with the Hard Rock Hotel. The sound quality was SUPERB. Kudos to the soundmen! I guffawed at first at the small stack of Marshalls, but let me say that this was ONE LOUD SHOW. Even so, the sound was very well-balanced and very clear. Hardly any feedback or distortion that we often hear in the front row.

The boys definitely kicked some ass—I found that they didn’t play as tightly tonight—I could discern a difference from previous shows. Perhaps evidence of having several months off, but I’m sure they will work out ALL the kinks in time for Christmas. We picked up a few lyric snafus…I often wonder if all us SMFs singing the lyrics in the front row throws off Dee’s timing…it’s possible….

It was also the first time I noticed Eddie’s Fender…he had two different pink and black bull-eyes tonight, and he played one that looked like it had been through a war zone. Half the paint is coming off! Kinda nice to be close enough to see that….I should have paid attention to Animal’s. My god what that man does to a bass! I was afraid to get too close.

Not a lot of chatter or raps tonight. Even the band intro was short and sweet. A few notable quotables though. Dee reminded us all that while we may be at Universal Studios, “this ain’t Disney” and there were plenty of obligatory f-bombs courtesy of the crowd. We made a solemn oath to shoot him if they ever played the Magical Kingdom. [Note to Jay Jay: some mouse ears with bones logos would have sold like hotcakes. God Bless Merch!] Dee had an intimate dialogue with Danny’s teens…and assured them that he could kick the Jonas Brothers’ asses, anywhere, anytime, anyhow! A note to all the Orlando Douche Bags: when Dee is obviously speaking to specific audience members, bull-rushing the stage at that moment is pointless because he isn’t talking to you and just makes you into a BIGGER Douche Bag…(oh it’s coming…)

We granted Jay Jay’s wish of chanting “Harry Fucking Potter”, apparently in reference to an upcoming Disney attraction…and a rousing Dee chant of “no school like old school.” Jay Jay informed us that Death Metal came from Orlando (true? Or just setting up the punchline?)…he attributed this fact to TOO MUCH DISNEY. My god, that place is all about the Mouse.
It was a great show in an intimate setting, a bit goofy (no pun intended) but hard rocking and a lot of fun.

And then there was the crowd.
Two words….say them with me… DOUCHE BAGS.
I believe am earlier review by SMF Shawn referenced “Yellow Shirt guy”…he was one of them….and there were a few who ungracefully elbowed their way to the front row, pushing aside some front row old schoolers that had been there all night. That’s just poor concert etiquette. Rock out, make your way to the front, but DON’T BE A JERK.

Especially if you are huge. Many of us in the front row really don’t need to smell your armpits all night—it’s why we got there so early to be up front. That’s right. So we wouldn’t be in your pit. Mosh pit=OK Arm pit= NOT OK As a sidenote: I always shower and wear anti-perspirant before each and every show. You should too. Consider it your civic duty to not stink. And there are ways to sneak into the front row, should you desire, without being a douche bag. It was just pointless. DCT “Da Mayor” turned out to have the best seat in the house, she made herself a little bunker right off to the side…halfway through I was about to see if two would fit there.

And still more…. Do not climb on the people in front of you. Especially short ones. My bald head is not a place for you to rest your elbow, place your drink or use as a stepping stool. I don’t mind wearing 100 extra lbs when I’m on the fire truck, but some [say it!] douche bag kept climbing on top of my back, so much so that it actually damaged the paint job on my TS vest. I’m one who likes the ladies…but sweaty boobage pressed into my back the whole show is not enjoyable…and just plain violates my personal space.

And I don’t care who ya are, if you climb onto my back and press down on the back of my neck like it’s a turnstile, I’m going to push you off…it’s bad enough I often leave the shows with bruises all over my ribcage and back… not to mention the number of times I usually get hit in the head. That all comes with the territory of being up in the front row, I’m used to it. But I gotta tell ya, Cathy and I worked DOUBLE OVERTIME to keep those teenage girls from getting crushed. Kudos to the other fans who stood behind them to help protect them. Apparently the Queen of the Douche Bags must have been the one climbing on top of me—she made me miss the last two numbers because she got her vodka-stenched breath in my face, claiming that I hit her. Now you folks know me. I would NEVER hit anyone intentionally at a show, especially a woman. Anyhow, kudos to her very level headed boyfriend. You, Sir, have class. Do yourself a favor, get a new, sober girlfriend…you deserve better. As for Queen Douche Bag: I hope you puked all over those nice shoes.

Now that said, I met many wonderful local Floridians who were gracious, kind and fascinating, so I hate to let a few idiots taint my image of the town, but as crowds go, this one goes into the “lose” column. I think we should compile some concert etiquette that maybe Dee will disseminate on his www.takebackthehorns.com

A special shout out to the local photographer that I met. Great fellow by the name of Bryan Lambert, you can check out his Central Florida Rocks Magazine at www.centralfloridarocks.net and see if he’s posted any of the TS photos yet. He also has his own photography website at www.photobryan.com Obviously, don’t download his photos without his permission—but check out his work. I’m always appreciative of the photographers so that we have some archive of these shows.

Nice to see some of the slamboarders there. Hope to catch more of you at Plymouth, MA next week. Until then….this concludes your road report for Orlando, Florida!
Trotting off…


Leave a Reply