Kotka Sea Festival, Finland, July 29, 2011

And now…for your reading enjoyment…the time has come for the literary train wreck chock full of all the concert details you’re aching to read…along with plenty of ridiculous foolishness that you’ll wish you hadn’t…

yes, it can only be one thing: the Armadillo Road Report, the Official UNOfficial Twisted Sister concert review of Kotka Finland, July 29, 2011.

oh my babies, where to begin, where to begin…. I suppose where we left off would be a good start. With the crew and band all arrived (except for Dee), we wined (well, I whined, no wine) and dined and retreated for some libations where we played a short and slightly morbid game of what will be engraved on Jay Jay’s urn when he expires…. Jay’s Jay’s vote was for the European setlist, which at this point seems to be etched in stone…
we came up with the following:

Burn in Hell
The Fire Still Burns
Come Back
I Wanna Rot
We’re Gonna Cremate It
Axes to Ashes (actually, that one’s for Eddie’s)
Under the Grave
Well, okay. You get the point. Feel free to start a thread on that one…yes, I know, it’s macabe but kinda entertaining once you get rolling.

We were barely out of the gate on the way to Kotka when the heavens let loose and dumped sheets of rain on the caravan. (that’s what you get for mocking death) The two-hour ride to Kotka took us through some beautiful countryside, rolling farmlands and striking forests, and we arrived at the port. Literally. It was the port of Kotka. You’ve heard the colloquial expression “take a long walk on a short pier?” Well, I found the short pier referenced–and at the end of said pier, was the venue!

The Kotka sea festival was basically a carnival on the dock, that I nicknamed “Wichita-by-the-sea” (go see the Wichita July 25, 2010 if you need a refresher) Although I must admit–it was carney Finland style–instead of corn dogs and funnel cakes, they had reindeer dogs, sushi and fresh fish. I was also impressed with the “hearing protection” vendor, who had a wide array of brightly colored ear plugs for sale and a very tasteful VIP tent with beer garden. Oh, by the way, Finland loves beer. A lot of beer. Apparently the words “Last call” do not exist here. They started drinking before breakfast–wait, actually, I think the beer WAS breakfast. Regardless, you had merry-go-rounds, bungee jumping off a pier crane…..and heavy metal. I suppose it works. A bit of spinal tap nevertheless.

The venue itself was a large airplane hanger frame with fabric tent walls, a proportionately smaller stage and these bizarre glowing chinese-inspired lanterns that I just KNEW Dee would make a comment regarding. Add to that an impressive sound system and lighting setup, with a small city of trailer dressing rooms…and a very large cargo crane…and there you have it.
After a quick stroll around to check out the tugboats and a navy vessel (thanks to the friendly sailor who saluted for our photo op!), we heard the opening act–a local Finnish band–take the main stage while the smaller stage one plane hangar over hosted various cookie monster metal bands.

I enjoyed the opening number of the opener–but they lost me after the first song. In contrast to the fickle American audiences, as soon as they hit their first chord, fans flooded into the area to give them an appreciative listening audience. It was about 6:30pm, and already a good portion of this crowd was what we American’s call “three sheets to the wind.” Uh, that is….really shit-faced drunk.

Now what Road Report would be complete without the almost obligatory Armadillo restroom critique? They were port-a-potties, yes, but these were Finnish port-a-potties. The difference? They had astro-turf liners and cup holders. You see? One more reason to love Finland. Get me some wi-fi in there and I’ll start paying rent. Come for the astro-turfed toilets….stay for the heavy metal! I don’t know why it was so enchanting, but I even enjoyed the soundcheck–“IPPS IPPS COX COX” (1…1….2….2….)

The next band up (I have GOT to go back and pull those names off the Kotka website) featured former members of Hanoi Rocks, playing with some local Finnish musicians. They were definitely getting some love from the small but loud (and did I mention drunk?) crowd. It was an interesting mix of heavy metal meets ska, and the younger set in the audience really grooved to it. At one point, the lead singer wrapped his face in a scarf and sang hooded–that was lost on me, and since I don’t speak Finnish, I have no idea what the song was about. They played a ballad that musically, was painful, but it was obviously meaningful to their fans. Either way, I didn’t care for it, personally, but the sound was excellently balanced.

Enjoyed a few songs more with a nice gent from the slamboard–Panu–thanks for stopping and saying hello! One more piece of evidence that the slamboard is full of good people++and the best fans in the world!

After they left the stage, I hear this loud “pop pop pop” and realize it’s the sound of people stepping on plastic beer cups that now covered the floor….those imbibing were off to the beer tent for a refill. To my surprise, an expedient crew swoops in and the cups are gone to recycling in a flash. Won’t see that at a US Festival–shit, I think there are still plastic cups on the ground from last year’s Preakness.

Hardcore Superstar was next up, and they truly did not disappoint me. They came onstage to Van Halen’s “Dance the Night Away”, immediately received adulation from the crowd…tossed beers into the audience…(like we needed them??!?) and played with high energy. Great rock and roll–and a real crowd pleaser–I think I counted more Hardcore Superstar shirts than Twisted. For their final number, “Last Call for Alcohol” (what else?), they brought two fans up onstage to sing it with them–I really appreciate these types of gestures, and they are a fine group of gentlemen as well as talented, hard-rocking musicians. I would have preferred less bass–there was a lot of bass reverb and I found it distracting.

By this point, I saw a few folks running for the exit. There are two things that make one run for the exit like that–really bad heavy metal….and really bad-ass heavy metal….given that the one fellow was wearing a Spice Girls tee-shirt, it’s safe to assume it was the bad-ass metal having him run for the door.

Our hard-working road crew treated us to a quick “Cat Scratch Fever” during the sound check, and due to a few technical glitches, the band took the stage 5 minutes late.
So…..we had some really good things last night and a few not-so-good things.

The good first:
The guitar work was excellent–very tightly played solos–excellent duos–perfect balance of bass and guitars. Eddie truly nailed down the “Kids Are Back” and Jay Jay’s solo during “Stay Hungry” was absolutely screaming.

The not-so-good?
Dee arrived literally hours before the show from his international flight–I know EXACTLY how exhausted he must have felt, and to see him performing with his usual high energy was absolutely phenomenal…..however….jetlag took it’s toll. We had a LOT of lyric boo-boos–don’t get me wrong, Dee sang every line of every song….just not in order. Did the fans care? Of course not. Did I care? Not really–I thoroughly enjoyed his usual assortment of one-liner Dee-isms.

He greeted the audience with “‘Wank You! ooo…I meant ‘Thank You!’ sorry…it’s the jet lag!” And then a particularly funny moment of TMI–Dee explained he needed to pause to adjust his ballsac (shit, there goes my pulitizer) because it felt a little “fringy.” Just see the photos–you’ll understand.

He asked the audience: “Are there any SMFs out there? By the end of the show…. it will be ALL SMFs out there…” and I do believe that prophecy was fulfilled. When a group straggled in late, he called them out: “Where the fuck were you? We’ve been playing for 45 minutes? Probably were on the ferris wheel.” I can tell you where they were, Dee, it’s called the BEER GARDEN OF GOOD AND EVIL! And predictably–Dee DID comment on those weird lanterns–“What the fuck is this? A rave? A fuckin’ disco?” I shoulda bet money on that.
“You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” damn near blew the fabric off the tent frame–I found Eddie’s solo absolutely blistering–his “Price” solo was particularly good–much better than what I heard in Athens.

And while the lyrics went south on “Under the Blade”, there was a very nice “duet” moment between Jay Jay and Dee that I hope someone took a snapshot of. The crowd was rocking all the way to the end of the pier, and the floor was going nuts!
“Shoot ’em Down” was dedicated to all of the assholes in the world (nee: politicians)….and speaking of assholes….I met the monarch of all assholes, the twatwaffle king, yes…. say it with me, you know what’s coming: DOUCHE BAG. There’s always one….and goddammit if there isn’t a douchebag magnet where I stand. This one takes the cake.

Everyone was rocking out, enjoying themselves, when suddenly, there’s someone keeping time on the top of my head. That’s right, he’s drumming on my head. You know, I’ve had people use the top of my head as a beer coaster….an armrest….and even a good luck charm…but this was too much. When a few not-so-subtle hints failed to get him to stop, I got my point across a bit more directly. Next thing I know, DB’s elbow is digging into my shoulder, his hairy forearm is now pressed against my cheek, and repeated attempts to remove it simply resulted in it re-appearing on the other side.

I swear to you, his nuts were almost up my ass-crack–I’m sorry, I know it’s too much information, but if I have to get violated in the front row for 90 minutes to bring you the best road report possible, you can stand to read about it for five….no, really. It’s cathartic for to get this out. I finally decided for something more his speed–I found his foot, and proceeded to apply my weight to his toenail, and explained to him that I would remove my foot when he removes his fist from the side of my head. Kudos to the excellent security guard, who intervened at least four times, and made him cease and desist. Okay…everyone on the count of three….one…………two…………..three……….


Dee gave props to Hardcore Superstar, Lordi and Michael Monroe–and let us into a rousing “I Wanna Fuck!” The band gave the crowd a round of applause, in appreciation for their volume! It was time to rock, and so Dee gave the crowd a chance to rock. First “rock”…it was…okay…as Dee said, “you weren’t ready…here’s we’ll try again…” Second “rock” was better….then, Finland voted, and surprise, surprise! They want to fuck more than they want to rock as well. Best Deeism of the night, “Do you want to fuck?!!? No, no….not you, sir…”

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Whoops–sorry folks—that consonant interlude was brought to you by Mark “the Animal” Mendoza, who just demonstrated his bass playing techinques on my netbook…

Twisted had to cut the setlist short, and so while we had “Whole Lotta Rosie” we didn’t have “Come Out and Play.” If they had been the headliner, it may have been different, but they had to give proper respect–rock icon Michael Monroe took the stage next.

Just a few quick words on Michael Monroe–that man can still kick some serious ass! His set was absolutely fantastic, and I was amazed at his high energy and vibrancy–the man did a split! Seriously–a split! “Sex, Drugs & Rock n’ roll” brought the place to a frenzy. (okay, so he had a little issue getting back up, but a rock split at his mileage? Impressive. He is a really nice chap as well, and a man of class. Very approachable and soft spoken, completely different from his onstage personna, like so many other rockers. (He makes this one face when he’s onstage–these scary eyes–my maine coon makes that same face when he sees a moth!)

Amazing to see such rock royalty sharing the bill with Twisted.
On the ride back to Helsinki, it looked like a zombie movie as the hoards of drunken Finns made their way back through town. In a bizarre moment, “Long Way to the Top” came over the radio as we drove through the still light rural countryside. We rolled back to the hotel around 4:30 AM, caught a few moments of conversation with Eddie outside the hotel around 5:00 AM, and now I’m off for 2 hours of sleep, as Oulu awaits!

Sleep tight, my babies, for tomorrow….we rock again!
This is Armadillo….trotting off to change socks and grab a catnap…


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