Ladies, gentlemen and those that fit into other categories….
it’s time, once again, for your long-awaited and long-winded Armadillo Report from the Road chock full of what you want to know and many more details you didn’t. This is it–the review of the February 6th Bent Brother show at the Starland Ballroom in beautiful, downtown Sayreville, New Jersey. I’ll begin with just this: I hope there’s a special circle in Dante’s Inferno for the New Jersey road planners. After leaving my hotel and then picking up “Da Mayor”, DCT, from her New Brunswick stay, we took a one-hour detour through some parts of New Jersey I’d rather not revisit. You know when someone tells you “you can’t get there from here?” they were right. we couldn’t. We soon discovered that New Jerseyians were only capable of giving directions when they use “Dunkin Donuts” as a landmark. So after following the trail of donuts, we made it with 20 minutes til doors opened–twenty VERY COLD minutes I might add. They had those little heaters in the line area which didn’t get turned on until 5 minutes before doors opened–and we did our best imitation of McFries under a heat lamp.
The Starland doesn’t look like much from the outside, but inside I was very impressed. Well laid out….three restroom areas, two bars, and a Twisted Sister first..a hot pizza stand! Will wonders ever cease? Now I know where those $6 in parking fees go to! Acoustically, I was not very happy–I’ve heard much better sound in clubs of comparable sizes but the easy access to the amenities and a very hospitable, safety conscious staff to boot. Everyone told me that this was unusual for the Starland, so it may have been a fluke. Front row sound is always fickle.
FIRST, the openers….
We had FOUR, count ’em, FOUR opening acts. And I’ll apologize in advance–I did not catch the name of the last band. But I’ll give ’em props–it’s hard being an opening act and the first two were very local. The first opener, “Lyken 21”–well, they were local kids and they played to a crowd of about 20. We couldn’t hear the lead vocalist at all (not bad acoustics–just young pipes) but that may have been to our benefit. The second band, “Martyred”–they were a little tighter but again, no vocal strength with their lead singer, which was a shame. And just a word: Heavy Metal is a marathon, not a sprint—playing as a fast as you can does not mean you’ll come out a winner in the end. But they were fast. I was fascinated with their bass player, who I swear, looked like he was 12. (He kinda reminded me of a “Dozer” from Fraggle Rock.)
Third up–J-RAD…they had their website on the drum…www.jradrocks.com…of course, they also had an animatronic plushie dog humping the drum stand….both equally as entertaining. All said, I really enjoyed J-RAD–their lead singer was strong (and had great skin art, by the way), riffs were tightly played and the music rocked. (Their drummer was particularly good) and they did a cover of, believe it or not, “Earth Angel”, that was well worth sitting through the first two bands. Metal and du-wop. who knew? Lastly–my apologies–but I didn’t catch their name–band #4. I had JUST finished saying, “hey…we made it through the opening bands WITHOUT any fros…” and on comes band #4. [those of you who were at NOKIA theatre know what I’m talking about] The lead singer had a big ol’ fro. I normally am not a fan of the ‘do, but I made an exception here: their lead singer was a hard rocking woman, and her fro was mesmerizing. As the stage lights changed colors, so did the fro. It was like watching a lava lamp. far out. They played very well–quite entertaining–and it was nice to see some women rockin’ out. (they had a very talented, very young girl on drums–DCT met her mom–good job, you go girls!)
ON THE SHOW:
Okay, now that you’ve scrolled down to avoid reading the superfluous crap, the show itself. IF you’ve never had the Bent Brother experience, it’s the raw energy of Twisted Sister, but in a casual, more relaxed setting, sans makeup/costumes with small club ambiance. No wild sets–just hardcore rock n’ roll. This show was different from the past ones–in celebration of Stay Hungry’s 25th anniversary, they played Stay Hungry front-to-back. Dee admitted that this was a bit ass-backwards–typically, an album puts the “good shit” (his words) in the front of the album, whereas when playing live, you save the crowd favorites for the end. Favorite Dee-ism of the night “It’s like you cum, then…foreplay.’
And I must agree (Not about the foreplay part…) that I would have actually preferred it if they had mixed up the tracks. One of the joys of live concerts is that moment of anticipation of “what will they play next?” followed by that little rush when you hear the opening riff. No such excitement when you know EXACTLY what’s coming next. So that’s just my two cents–play the whole album, but mix up the songs.
Nevertheless, it was a treat! I had never heard two of those tracks live, so I fully enjoyed myself. We had a few of those special twisted treats–Jay Jay played one of his original guitars (the one with the beautiful dragon in-lay–forgive me, Father, for my transgressions, but I do not know the model)…those around me recalled last seeing this black beauty played in 1983. We got a thunderous drum solo in between “Don’t Let Me Down” and “The Beast”. Speaking of The Beast….Dee apparently enjoys the second verse so much, that he decided to forgo the first verse and just sing the second one twice. That, right after introducing AJ as the “Sounds of Thunder”. Apparently Dee couldn’t hear the Thunder before the Storm…heehee. all is forgiven, Dee. No worries. Brush up on those lyrics before Feb. 27th and it’s all good.
Jay Jay reminded folks that there will be MANY upcoming Twisted Sister projects including never before released tracks that never made it onto the original Stay Hungry, so save your nickels and dimes folks, and he thanked all the fans for coming out during these difficult economic times. The Tour is a’comin’!
The encores were the best part for me–a truly club shaking version of “It’s Only Rock n’ Roll” plus the cover tracks to COAP, UTB and CSRNR. And another special moment for yours truly–a few of you may recall the discussion I had online about painting the TS logo on my jacket. I was concerned about doing an exact replica of the band jacket, recalling they were for band members and the selected few only. So I didn’t paint my jacket until the night before the show–only in lieu of “Twisted Sister”, I substituted “OLD SCHOOL” for the top line, and “S.M.F.” on the bottom piece. A little personal flair, if you will. I held it up during SMF–Mark gave me the nod of approval, and Dee liked it so much, he motioned for me to give it to him, and he held it up on stage as a tribute to those in the audience who have been Twisted Sister supporters for more than 20+ years. Just like Sally Fields: I guess they liked it. they really, really liked it. (whew.) By the way, if anyone has a photo of Dee with my jacket, PM me! I’d love a copy, and there might be a small little jacket patch in it for you! (wink, wink, nudge, nudge)
Tip of the hat once again to Danny Stanton and his entire crew for a beautifully run show (and getting me out of the cold!), all of the band members for their, once again, graciousness and hospitality. They didn’t take the stage until 11 pm–we were exhausted, so I KNOW they were wiped out! Another treat–the Lady Mendoza joined Donna DCT and I for the last few numbers–always a pleasure! It was really sweet…she kept elbowing me and excitedly pointing to Mark: “that’s my husband! that’s my husband up there!” Yes, Mrs. Mendoza, we know! we know! your husband– the extremely huge animal that just turned his microphone stand into a pretzel….would you like some more room? a bottle of water? say the word and your wish is our command! We will do anything necessary to keep the Lady Mendoza and Animal in good spirits. A few slamboarders there: Mitch, MadMetalLady, DCT, Jaysin and all of Donna’s front row “boys” and “girls” from back in the day–hope to see y’all again sometime soon.
A good time was had by all….I did get slightly lost on the way home, but no worries…I found my way to a Dunkin Donuts and I was back at the hotel in no time at all.
Hope to make the Long Island show–set list is below for you sticklers! Said it before and I’ll say it again: YOU MUST GO SEE TS/BB live! Take advantage of any and every opportunity because once they’re gone, they’re gone! The DVD’s are great, but nothing captures the experience like being there!
And that about does it! Trotting off to catch a nap after 4 hours on the road…
We’re Not Gonna Take It
Burn In Hell
Captain Howdy followed by Street Justice
I Wanna Rock
Don’t Let Me Down
It’s Only Rock N’ Roll
Come Out and Play
Under The Blade
Can’t Stop Rock and Roll