Hola, Bom Gia and Buenos Dias
I am finally back on U.S. soil, and it’s time… once again…. my S.M.F. brothers and sisters, for the literary masturbation chock full of useless information for my enjoyment and yours….that exercise in excessiveness you have come to know as “The Armadillo Road Report.” There were so many amazing and fun factoids this trip, that this may take more than one installment—Sao Paulo was an extraordinary experience. I filled three notebooks worth–I’ll try to give you a synopsis here worthy of my Slamboard readers.
It all began with an 11 am flight on Thanksgiving Day. My parents drove me to the airport, with my mother lamenting my absence at the Thanksgiving table, but as she put it: “Well, I guess we can’t compete with Twisted Sister.” Sick Mother Fuckers over Mother’s supper, I’m sorry to say. If the band and crew could sacrifice spending the holiday with their loved ones, then I certainly could as well. And so after a short 2 ½ hour flight to Miami, I was off on the red eye—4,888 miles from Florida to Sao Paolo, Brazil. With just 2 hours sleep under my belt, the red eye landed 7:30 am Black Friday, and the first day of living vicariously began. Sao Paulo is the world’s third largest city—it has a definite “New York” feel to it—and my thrilling 2 hour ride from the airport entertained me to no end, watching the “motoboys”—motorcycle delivery messengers, zip by the taxi as they split lanes. My hotel afforded me a beautiful view of one of several suspension bridges, illuminated at night by pulsing colored lights. (including, what else? Pink!)
SMF Felipe (a.k.a. Freakrocker) met me at my hotel, and provided me with the ultimate Sao Paulo experience. A true S.M.F. ambassador, Felipe speaks flawless English and indulged me in a day of tourism as well as tirelessly serving as a translator, as my Portuguese was limited to one or two words, which I’m sure I massacred with my pronunciation. We hopped buses, subway trains and walked on foot—and Felipe took me to “Our Lady of the Rock.” I was expecting a religious structure—but nothing could compare me to the “religious” experience we had. “Our Lady of the Rock” was a time-warp—a four-story shopping mall in which every single store was devoted to 80’s heavy metal. Storefront and storefront of old vinyl, cassettes, CDs, t-shirts, posters, clothing, tattoos, piercing—if it had anything to do with 80’s metal, it was there—including the home base of the Brazilian based Sepultura Fan Club headquarters. Filled with metalheads dressed a la 1986, it was absolutely amazing. I learned that several of the TS albums were produced, right there in Sao Paulo!
We downed some traditional Brazilian cuisine—Esfilas and Pastelis—(think: open-faced Knishes and fila dough filled with ground meats) washed down with Guarana, a birch-beer like soda, and these delicious pear-shaped chicken croquettes called “Coxinas”. I was in food ecstasy! After a traditional Brazilian dinner, Felipe left me at the hotel, and to my shock, he was back again bright and early the next morning, along with a throng of Twisted Sister fans who packed a lunch and were planning to spend the day outside the Hilton, hoping to catch a glimpse of the band. Hardcore fans were already lining up outside Via Funchal the night before, sleeping on the sidewalk to ensure that they would get a good spot up front. Incredible! (and incredibly, they were still there when I flew out on 5:00am the morning after the show)
A few words here about the Brazilian fans—warm, friendly, animated and highly passionate about everything they do. (And beautiful—the most extraordinarily beautiful women everywhere) Heavy Metal is taken very seriously there, and has almost a religious fervor—something I share, but had not experienced anywhere else. Truly some of the nicest fans I’ve ever met—a shout out to Bruno, Darcio, Marcelo (a very entertaining Gene Simmons impersonato for a KISS Cover band), Rita and all of the wonderful SMFs who showed me such hospitality. I’ll put some photos up of our group in my “Twisted Denim” photo album—we looked like quite the SMF posse. We spent the day laughing, swapping TS stories and admiring one another’s Twisted tattoos. The best story of the day came from Rita, whose father, an avid fan, sang to her “Burn In Hell” as a lullaby when she was a baby.
We headed out to get in line at approximately 4:00pm, getting briefly lost once or twice on the way there. The line was already huge three hours prior to doors opening, and party atmosphere was just incredible. Street vendors selling empanadas and beer, bootleg tee-shirts everywhere, and fans camped out sporting huge Brazilian flags with the TS logo sewn into them. Part of Brazilian social culture includes “nicknames”—it’s not unusual at all for friends to call people by various nicknames, sometimes based on physical characteristics. The nice group of fans in line with us nicknamed me “Little Rob Halford,” who apparently they thought I resemble. I considered it a huge compliment. The crowd was prone to breaking out into spontaneous chants, some of which may have lost something in translation, but were incredibly funny to everyone except the well-dressed security force. The security at Via Funchal sported black shirts, suits and red ties—it looked like a cross between an Italian wedding and couture fashion show.
Our own Danny Stanton, manager extraordinaire, looking cool as a cucumber in the heavy Brazil heat, brought me inside to escape the sun and catch a few moments with the road crew and band. If I don’t say this enough—All Hail the Road Crew! These guys truly work their asses off to bring us the best show possible, and the effort they gave in South American was nothing short of fantastic. I met the “international” members of the road crew—in addition to our usual band of merry men, three gents who I hadn’t known previously—Mehtis (Finland), Johnny (Sweden) and Rick (Holland)—all great guys and tremendous fun. Thanks guys–you made my experience extra special by welcoming me into your family. I’ll say it upfront: this show was as close to perfection as it gets. The sound was wonderfully balanced and at a perfect level, which could not have been easy, given the din of the crowd. The lighting was equally outstanding, affording a great visual experience. I have seen shows before in which the technical aspects of the production have detracted from the experience—not this case–Twisted Sister truly has some of the best roadies around.
Via Funchal is also, quite possibly, one of the best theatres for live music I’ve visited to date. With an ample balcony and huge, stepped (stadium style) floor space, viewing from almost anywhere in the venue will give you a great vantage point. And what Road Report would not be complete without the restroom review? The restrooms were enormous, spotless and all solid marble—even the backstage bathroom had a bidet! Yes ,my babies, I utilized the Twisted Sister toilet. Thrills great and small. No experience is lost on me.
Did you want to hear about the music?
Yes. Well, we had some music too. I’m getting to that—hey, listen, I traveled 6000 miles to this concert—you deserve a road report proportionate to the flight time!
The opening act was a local Sao Paulo band called “Salario Minimo” Felipe explained to me that they are Brazil’s oldest heavy metal band. I’m pretty certain the lyrics were all Portuguese, but heavy metal is a universal language, so I just cheered when everyone else cheered. They sounded quite good—a cross between Iron Maiden and Europe (sans keyboards) influence. They looked like a Death metal band (well, except for the very cute stuffed owl strapped to the drumset) but played good solid heavy metal music.
The passion in Brazil is unlike any other—whereas in the States, warmup acts hardly get a toasty welcome, the fans reacted with enthusiasm and support for the opener. Then I learned another factoid about Brazilians—they must have the bladders of camels, because once they secure their “spot” at the show, they will NOT move. Not an inch. Even so, knowing I would lose my primo spot front and center, I opted to leave the front so that I could bring Felipe backstage for a quick 30-second meet and greet that Danny made possible for us. We ran into TwistedMarcelo (from our own Slamboard—a nice fellow!) and were able to get a few quick band moments. And yes, I FINALLY have a shot with all five members, even Eddie this time! Thanks Danny and crew for making this happen. Since a few of you asked, Dee did have his moustache, although he informed me that Suzette hates it, and it will be floating in the sink the day after Rock of Ages is done.
I still procured a nice vantage spot up front, stage left, and the energy of the crowd was palpable and electric. A huge roar arose when the crew placed the famous pink microphone stand on stage, and the raising of the Twisted Sister backdrop elicited chants of:
Ole…. Ole…. Ole….. Tweeested…… Seeeester……. (oh just YouTube it, you’ll see what I’m talking about) It was glorious.
The band took the stage at 10:05 pm, and when Long Way To The Top started playing, the crowd erupted! You’ve seen the setlist so I won’t repeat it here—it was the standard overseas setlist, but they played fast and furious, with minimal raps and chatter—before the crowd could even recuperate from the previous song, they were hammered with another one. Oh what the hell–here’s the setlist again:
1. What You Don´t Know
2. The Kids Are Back
3. Stay Hungry
4. Captain Howdy
5. Shoot ´em Down
6. You Can´t Stop Rock n Roll
7. The Fire Still Burns
8. We´re Not Gonna Take It
9. Long Live Rock n Roll
10. I Am, I´m Me
11. Under The Blade
12. The Price
13. Burn in Hell
with drum solo
14. I Wanna Rock
Encore 1: Come Out And Play
Encore 2: S.M.F.
It was rock and roll aerobics! On the opening number,”What You Don’t Know,” Jay Jay sat on an amp and leaned back, looking quite chill and relaxed as he soaked in the crowd. The noise from the crowd was so remarkably loud, that I had to tighten my ear plugs in between songs, because the crowd cheers were so loud it was painful. Truly….the LOUDEST fans I’ve ever heard. Most of the fans did not speak any English—and yet they still knew all the words—even more so than most American audiences I’ve seen.
“Captain Howdy’s” guitars were tightly played and I particularly appreciated how well this number was lit— Dee’s spoken portion of Captain Howdy was just haunting—even though this is not one of my favorite songs—it gave me chills. “Shoot Em Down” did not disappoint—M.A.M. just KILLED the bass on this—Animal just relentlessly pounded the hell out of it. We were treated to a little “behind-the-head-nothin’-but-net” action by Jay Jay on “You Can’t Stop Rock N’ Roll” and more rounds of crowd driven “Ole” chanting in between songs. The crowd was so remarkably loud singing “We’re Not Gonna Take It” that I suspect the sound had to get cranked to…screw 11….their’s goes to 12!
As Dee succinctly put it: “I don’t speak Portguese. You don’t speak English. The one language we all speak is heavy fucking metal!”
The Dio tribute—“Long Live Rock and Roll” was just exemplary. The guitar laid down on this performance was just one of the best ever—Jay and Eddie just plain outdid themselves. It was just spiritual—very moving—and the crowd loved every single minute of it. Then followed by a rendition of “Under The Blade” that I swear, I thought was going to bring the fucking roof down on top of us. It was blistering—and again—combined with an excellent combination of balanced light and sound, it was just flawless. I hope UTB is up on YouTube so you can see what I’m talking about here. The crowd does sort of a heavy metal “Pogo” that is almost a European punk throwback—it’s a helluva lot of fun, looks really cool and I could feel the floor shaking!
“The Price” moved me to tears, it was *that* good, and I can honestly tell you that I was not the only one. These fans just have the passion and love—(and beautiful women..did I mention the beautiful women?) and the lyrics may not have been understood by most, but they could feel the intensity of the song. There was lots of swaying and singing—it was a moment of unity and brother/sisterhood. “Burn in Hell” is always a crowd favorite, and it seemed appropriate enough, given that it must have been 100 degrees inside Via Funchal at this point. Felipe’s work on “Stay Oven” now made sense—it really was a freakin’ oven in there! Dee stripped down the waist and played the rest of the show completely shirtless. A.J.’s drum solo gave us an added treat (and I’ll post this in a separate thread)-he played an opening drum riff from 11 different heavy metal songs, and A.J. and I decided we’ll have a little contest to see if anyone can name all 11 songs—he’ll provide a prize. (maybe a nice pair of autographed sticks?) Unlike U.S. crowds–the audience was transfixed during the solo–no one moved an inch out of place–and they loved every minute of it. In an unusual move, Dee came out during the drum solo and was seen bopping along behind the drum riser.
In the category of “There’s one at every show,” we did have our “DB” moment. Yes, my friends, the return of “El Doucho Baggo.” Someone jumped the security barrier from the main floor into the VIP section and was gang-tackled by an army of those nicely dressed security folks. Overall, the crowd was wonderfully behaved and security did an exceptional job of making sure we all had a good (and safe) time.
“Come Out and Play” was the best I’ve ever heard it—even better than the first time I heard it live in 1986—I just didn’t want the night to end. Even the band intro was loads of fun—Dee finally pronounced Eddie’s name as I’ve always pronounced it “Oh-hey-da”—leading to chants of “Fin-gers! Fin-gers! Fin-gers!” And as Dee adorned himself with a Brazilian/TS flag draped across his shoulders like a superman cape, he lead the crowd in chanting “Sick Mutha Fucka!” (Or as my bootleg sticker says: ”Twisted Fucker Sister”)
Band members met with loads of fans afterwards to sign autographs and take photos late into the night—I can’t begin to tell you how many fans I saw who had tears of joy in their eyes. Someone read my mind and ordered pizza (Brazilian pizza is incredible!) So here we are, standing outside the hotel, talking to the band and eating Brazilian pizza. It just doesn’t get too much better than that!
It was one of the top shows I’ve ever seen…and I would have experienced that post-concert let down had I not planned to be in Buenos Aires the next night. In a bizarre road moment, as I prepared to leave Sao Paulo in my 5 am taxi on just an hour of sleep, I saw fans still sitting on the pavement outside the hotel, waiting to give the band a proper sendoff. A Jewish wedding party arrived–and as I boarded my taxi, two groups of singing, clapping, dancing wedding guests sang traditional Jewish wedding songs in Hebrew around the bride and groom. I just love those little moments of magic.
And that, my dear friends, is as much as I can bang out on this keyboard before I collapse into bed. Tomorrow I will you bring the report on Buenos Aires—all the details you’re dying to know, and plenty ya’ don’t!
Until then my babies,
Ciao and Obrigado! With much love to my new family of friends in Sao Paulo!
Terry, a.k.a The Armadillo