Sing it with me…OOOOOOOOOHHHHHHKlahoma…
Oh my babies…it’s time for the latest installment of literary drivel—the longwinded, keyboard incontinence also known as The Armadillo Road Report: The Official UNOfficial Twisted Sister Concert Review of Oklahoma City, ROCKNAMERICA, July 23, 2010, chock full of all of the concert details you want to know (…and plenty you don’t!). This beautiful trip flew me over the Mississippi Delta—a chocolate ribbon cutting across the geometric farm swatches of the south. If you’ve never flown cross county, the mid-west looks something like a cross between a patchwork quilt and a factory-seconds jigsaw puzzle. Strange square land tracts, not quite even, with crop circles from irrigation systems dotting the landscape as the perfect alien landing site. Airtran Airlines has satellite radio—I listened to Hair Nation on my trip here and was delighted when “Under The Blade” came over the headphones.
I met up with our Slamboard’s own Captain Howdy, Chris from Chicago, and he navigated the three hour drive from Wichita to Oklahoma City, which turns out to be a very fast drive when you’re listened to some ancient Twisted tracks. After all the tornado forecasts, Chris was awakened in the night by the walls shaking and the sound of a freight train coming through….fortunately, it was not a Twister. Just my snoring. Who knew?
We met up with the one, the only, Da’ Mayor, DCT, Donna from Connecticut for some pancakes. Speaking of pancakes, it’s FLAT out here. I mean, there’s flat…and then there’s Kansas flat. It’s flat as a pancake…flat as cola left in the sun….flat as my first girlfriend’s, oh, never mind! You get the picture. In spite of that, we had a bit of trouble locating the actual festival. For a major city, we just didn’t see a lot of PEOPLE in Oklahoma. It was a little bit unnerving, really.
As always, there were some more Twisted Sister road quirks. My personal favorite: we pulled into the OKC Zoo Amphitheatre parking where a security guard instructed us to park…then take the “Kickapoo Shuttle”. How could I resist?
The road to the show was lined with carney vendors, boasting cotton candy, ice cream and pickles. Yep. Maybe they were expecting a lot of pregnant metalheads. Inside the venue, it was as you would expect—large grassy open field with a fenced concrete area in the front for the VIP ticket holders. This time around, I opted to bypass the VIP ticket (130 clams!) and stood in the front on the lawn, about 15 feet back from the stage.
The heat was absolutely remarkable. I was contemplating stripping to the waist, but apparently there aren’t a lot of European Jews in OKC…I think if you put all of the chests together in that place, I still have more hair on mine. Man, I was feeling a bit self-conscious—they grow them cowboys BIG here in OKC!
But all the same, the people here were friendly, polite and quite hospitable. Overall, a delightful but hard-rocking crowd. There was one really bad fashion moment: a local kid (about 17) who places in a youthful heavy metal band called “Down and Dirty” was sporting black leather pants, pulled down past his ass a la gangster look…and then we were “treated” to a view of his hot pink and blue leopard print spandex skivvies. Parents….please step in here. Leather pants are fine….but they simple MUST be worn above the crack, no exceptions.
On to the music. There was much good music to be had. Many noteworthy bands—we arrived in time to hear “Sweet”. Remember them? “Love is like Oxygen?” “ Ballroom Blitz?” They played them all. The poor drummer looked like he could use some oxygen….and the bass player had to sit between songs….and the keyboardist was wearing sandals and a Utilikilt (yes, it’s real. Google it.) Okay, okay, these guys are aging a bit, but they sounded great. Chris and I gave them four horns up.
Bullet Boys took the side stage, and I really haven’t much to say about them—they were not my fave in the days of yore, so they didn’t do much for me yesterday. They sounded pretty good—Chris and I were both surprised that they opted NOT to play ”Smooth Up”… their big hit. Go figure. Trixter was next up. Again, I’m just not a big fan here, but I’ll say this: they aged well. Musically? They looked good. Really good. The crowd certainly liked them, so I’m obviously biased here. Perhaps it was the heat but I swear I saw an eagle soaring overhead…unless it was a buzzard. That’s possible. I trotted off to one of the misting showers, hosed down in some cold water and came back to hear Faster Pussycat.
In contrast to Trixter, Faster Pussycat actually SOUNDED good…but man, they looked like hell! They lost my respect early with a completely unnecessary vulgar rant. The venue announced early on that there were local laws concerning profanity, and the bands were all warned. Faster Pussycat seemed to be intentionally dropping f-bombs, along with plenty of other words that gentlemen do not utter in the presence of kind ladies. It was a train wreck, and really a distraction from the reason fans were there—to hear music. The concert promoters pulled the plug on them early. We later learned from Dee himself, that the band lead singer was arrested and slapped with a fifty thousand dollar fine. Remember Amarillo anyone? I’m sure Dee does! Shame on Faster Pussycat. Two horns down and the number of a good bail bondsman.
Great White was next on the big stage, and I give them a lot of credit. Aside from everything else this band has been through, the lead singer just had two back surgeries. Even so, they played well—once they worked through some dreadful sound issues for the first couple of songs. They did an impromptu sound check by playing an acoustic audience sing-a-long to “Behind Blue Eyes” that was, quite frankly, the best moment of their set. The rest of the band was quite lackluster, and to my knowledge, they haven’t had back surgery, so I don’t know what their excuse was, but I’ll blame the heat. They were very entertaining overall, and we were treated to “Save All Your Love”, “Rock Me,” “House of Broken Love” and “Once Bitten Twice Shy.” Two horns up for Great White and cup of coffee for the rest of the band. In a bizarre moment, Security scolded a hardcore Great White fan behind us for “singing too loud” and “jumping around too much.” I was beginning to worry about how OKC was going to handle the Twisted ones.
As the sun set behind us, Eddie Trunk introduced us to Adam Parsons, the man behind the “Stand Up and Shout Fund,” soon to be a foundation and they ran a short DIO tribute video on the two jumbo screens. We all appreciated the sentiment behind it—the actual tribute was very poorly assembled and executed, but we know it came from the heart. Even if it looked like my 8-year old nephew did the editing. We also viewed some very touching words from Wendy Dio—a part of the concert day tickets go to this fund to help cancer patients who lack the financial resources for their treatment. We also learned that a tribute tour may hit the road soon with some big names, so stay tuned for that!
Then finally, with the sun now down, the stage was darkened and on came “Long Way to the Top”! Finally…after baking in the Oklahoma sun for hours…..our boys were onstage! What a difference! After sitting through band after lackluster band, you could really see the difference. Twisted Sister took the stage with the energy of ten thousand—if ever there was a doubt why we endured such adverse conditions. Much like the European show, they switched Long Way to “Man on the Silver Mountain”. You saw the setlist….
Dee jumped off the stage during “Kids Are Back” and we weren’t sure if he fell….was attacking a sitting fan…or just caught up in the moment. Fortunately for all, it was the latter. Dee explained that it was going to be a clean show—and him being a former choir boy—he was accustomed to not swearing. [Great Dee-ism: “I didn’t take communion and go, ‘thank you f’in father…’”] and so we had a lot of Southern “HELL YEAHS!” Okay, not the same, but it beats getting tossed in jail.
Shoot ‘em Down was fantastic—they worked out a few early sound issues and MAM’s bass line absolutely shook the place. He pounded that bass as usual—I don’t know what his necks are made of but I swear it must be titanium. Dee followed it with “DANG!” uh….yes. dang.
Jay Jay treated the crowd to a little Twisted history lesson and a reminder that many of the bands we listened to earlier had fan followings of more than 20 years—take that American Idol! Dee lead into WNGTI, and shared with us one of his Europe stories—at their Germany show, the crowd sang WNGTI so loud that they wouldn’t stop until TS played it again. The OKC crowd was a little slow on the cue, and they took some serious prodding to sing it a cappella. I blame it on the heat.
“We’re Not Gonna Take It” is always a crowd favorite—Eddie was a little off his game tonight. We blamed…. the heat, of course. He hit a clunker during his WNGTI solo and we’re not exactly sure what happened during “The Price”—maybe he was cutting it short to fit in more music. Why, you ask? Because OKC Zoo amp has a curfew! DANG. To quote Dee “Curfew? What are we? 12?”
Dee did some shameless self-promotion for his show on A&E, and just teased us with “I’m the quiet one! I swear!” Hmmmm. We’ll have to see about that.
We did have some wonderful old school moments—OKC is one of the few places where folks actually had lighters! Not apps of lighters…not cell phone photos of lighters…real, honest to god butane. Ah, the memories. The lawn was a sea of lighters—it gave me chills.
“I Wanna Rock”: there aren’t too many variations on this one, but leave it to Dee. He told the audience: “You can’t screw this up! It’s easy…I say ROCK. You say ROCK. You’d have to be some dumb mutha…”
OOPS. Almost. Alllllllmost. And then….Dee gave us the best Dee-ism yet. Instead of you-know-what, he coined the term “Sick Mutha Obamas”. Brilliant.
Dee intro’d Howard Pollack, the promoter who made ROCKNAMERICA happen….four horns up… as Dee said, “Brother, you got sack. I can see ‘em hanging down.”
Then, the moment we were all waiting for: “Long Live Rock N’ Roll.” It gave me absolute chills—Eddie totally redeemed his earlier flubs and Jay Jay, playing a black Les Paul (Blackburst?), did a rendition that really did the original justice. Just fantastic, fitting and I felt honored to be able to hear it.
We closed with S.M.F…..changed to S.M.O. and we sang many rousing verses of “Sick Mutha Obama” to the delight of all political parties.
Big shout out to Tony in Oklahoma and his front row pals—a true gentleman through and through—and a delight to rock out with.
We did have one brief douche bag moment with some beer throwing okie’s….and a weird guy in the front row on STILTS. Yes , you read that right. Somebody get me a chainsaw.
There’s so much more… but I’m about to be lynched by an angry mob of hotel guests who need to print out their boarding passes and I’m hogging the hotel computer…
Until tonight’s show in Wichita…
This is Armadillo…your faithful road reporter…trotting off to wake up Chris and hit the road again…