Topfest, Piestany, Slovakia, 27-June, 2015

After being awake and working two shows for more than 48 hours straight, your faithful road crew and Twisted five boarded a plane for Slovakia, almost directly from the stage in Denmark. Dee took a few days of holiday with his family in Austria, and the rest of us explored the streets of Bratislava with a day off to check out Vienna, the birthplace of music.  Well fed and well rested, we were ready to deliver a kick-ass show at Topfest in Piestany.

The TopFest rock festival in Slovakia was a typical festival by Euro standards–a bit bizarre by U.S. standards. It had a few bizarre things that I can honestly say, I had to just stand and look with utter curiously.  First, the festival grounds was a former airport. Well, that is, I HOPE it was a former airport. The stage was situated right on the tarmac…and off to the side were the rusting remnants of airplanes.  In the distance, the control tower sat rusting.  Hmmmm….a fortress….a prison…and now an airport. Must be a Twisted Sister tour.

There were a few cultural observations that I couldn’t miss–most notably, there was nothing in the dressing rooms. I mean, we’re talking food and beverage desert here. Anything we needed, we just had to ask and they were more than gracious to find it for us, but it was really a bit odd having to constantly scavenge for towels, water, soda, etc. I dug into my Armadillo spirit and foraged a bit so that the band and crew were well stocked.  It was an odd vibe, that’s all.

The other immediate observation was the significant amount of vodka everywhere.  Mind you, the band doesn’t really drink, and the road crew aren’t allowed to, and this seemed to baffle the locals who were very intent to pour the clear kerosene down our throats at every opportunity.  At one point, I had to literally push away a well-meaning concert attendee who decided that I really need to taste the local brew.  Ummmm. No.

Two particularly interesting and bizarre festival observances: a station in which participants had to run through a pit of what appeared to be something resembling cake batter.  Unsuccessful blokes had to be pulled out by their friends, who struggled to break the suction of the batter.  There was also a mesmerizing game in which locals donned a full rodent suit–complete with “fat rat” costume and helmet–and then ran on a giant hamster wheel until the running “man-mouse” was tossed ass over ankles and spun around the wheel like socks in the drying cycle.

The setlist is the same as Denmark so I can’t tell you there were any big surprises–but this setlist is a real winner!  The fans just love it–they get to hear just about everything that makes them happy.  Remember old schoolers– for many of these fans, this may be their one and only time to hear Twisted Sister live–and so it’s an absolute must to have Burn In Hell, The Price, I Wanna Rock, We’re Not Gonna Take It, Stay Hungry, S.M.F., I Am, I’m Me (thank you guys for adding that! Love that song!)

I normally take the show in from stage right (Eddie/Jay Jay side) but this time, I had some room stage left and got a chance to hear Animal more clearly in the monitors–he played some fine finger work on “The Kids Are Back” It sounded particularly good tonight–and “Shoot ’em Down” was just vicious. What that man does to a bass should be illegal–I can’t believe he hasn’t smashed one into smithereens. Intense stuff.  We’ve often said, there is “vinyl speed” and there’s “Concert speed.”  Played live, Twisted plays incredibly fast–take a good listen to “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” on the youtube clips of Slovakia/TopFest. Holy crap–it’s like a charging bull!

Excellent playing by Jay Jay and Eddie as well–you really don’t appreciate how well they play together until you watch other bands who have a complete lack of cohesiveness.  I must again re-state how impressed everyone is with Mike Portnoy. No one expected anything less than awesomeness–there’s no denying the man’s talent–the big question was: would he blend in well with Twisted Sister and anchor down the rhythm section. Let’s face it– A.J. and Mark were an impressive rhythm section.  Mike just gets better and tighter with TS each set.  We know that A.J. is up there nodding with approval. Mike–hi-hats off to ya! You rock!

Hate to keep it so short folks but I am off to grab a 5 minute shower, change the socks and head to the airport because tomorrow Twisted rocks Bulgaria!  Thank you TopFest!


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