Monday, October 18, 2010

Worst Shows Ever #3

As a music lover, I've been to A LOT of shows - huge sold out stadium shows, tiny bar shows with a handful of people, awesome shows that lived up to and exceeded all expectations and shows that were great but for a reason I never could have anticipated.  But this isn't about those shows...this is about the AWFUL shows.  The shows that make you feel like you wasted your time and money...the ones that leave a pit in your stomach and may even make you dislike a band that you used to love.  Sometimes its the band, sometimes other factors but no matter what the cause these shows were terrible.  These are my top 10 horrible shows.*

3. Guns N Roses - Hilton Colosseum, Ames 2006

Douche Outfit
Guns N Roses was another band that took up much of my wall space when I was younger.  Unfortunately, GNR, well Axl,  started a slow slide to mediocrity nearly immediately.  Appetite for Destruction was awesome and GNR came off as pretty badass (as long as you ignored Axl's hairsprayed 'do in the Welcome to the Jungle video).  It's no wonder that the album has gone 18x platinum...every song is great.  GNR Lies came out and it was an OK holdover until the next album.  Then came Use Your Illusion I and II.  Musically, the albums were good.  Not as raw and brutal as Appetite but at least an album's worth of good songs between the two CDs (Get in the Ring was especially weak).

With the loss of Izzy as a member and song-writer the band and Axl specifically continued to decline.  You just knew something was wrong when Axl started wearing a kilt and an umpire's chest protector.  I never understood this...I think he was trying to be a trend setter or something even through his style of leather and a t-shirt was already awesome.  I mean you knew he was kind of a vain douche when he walked out of the St Louis show because someone had a camera and the Montreal show after Hetfield was burnt...but his outfits and behavior just became bizarre.  I saw Guns N Roses a couple times on the Use Your Illusion tour and each time it was a very good show.  I'm not sure if they are in my top ten favorite shows, but they are close (especially Omaha).  And then there was The Spaghetti Incident.  What a piece of shit.  When the band claims it to be not a real Guns N Roses album, you know it is going to be bad.

Seriously?  Everyone knows you are
balding, just accept it.
After Thirteen and a half years, cornrows, and constantly changing line-up; Guns N Roses announced a new tour with a stop in Iowa.  After the Chinese Democracy album and tour being ever promised and ever delayed for a decade, I only gave about a 10% chance of the concert actually happening...My hetero life-pal CT, and I decided to order tickets on this hope even though with a $77 face-value and all the fees, they were closer to $95.  That is the highest I have paid for any by about 20%.  The date, over a year from on-sale date, kept approaching without cancellation...and my mind's percentage of the concert actually happening rose from 10% to about 60%  Finally, the date arrived and CT and I headed up to Ames....I was still only giving the concert 75% odds.  CT and I got there early so that we could grab a bite to eat beforehand.  We went to the relatively newly opened West Towne Pub and I ordered a Philly Cheese Steak sandwich with a side of the Buffalo  Fries.  The food was pretty good but the choice of Buffalo fries would come back to haunt me by the end of the night.

So close but so was much colder than the day this was taken.
After our meal, we headed over to Hilton.  Parking lot was filling up but still plenty of spots with a good walk.  No problem, we grabbed a spot and started walking.  CT showed me his new Dr Marten boots along the way.  This decision would come to haunt Cam by the end of the night.  It was a chilly night (below freezeing...maybe around 25 degrees F) but we didn't want to be burdened with coats the entire show, so left them in the car and walked briskly to get to the doors...the doors hadn't been opened yet, but we were still early.  It was about a quarter to 7pm doors should open an hour before right?  I was shivering and just plain cold, but I could stand the 15-20 minutes until the doors opened and we were inside.  Seven o'clock came and still neither the doors or the crowd had moved.  It was a big crowd too.  Time seemed to go slower than normal because of the cold but finally the doors opened at about 7:20.  I got a rush of adrenaline to get inside but the crowd started to move very slowly.  They were giving everyone a good pat down before entering.  But without any direction or communication with the crowd (like "girls go to the left line") the whole process was incredibly slow and awkward.  CT and I weren't that far from the doors...if you've been to Hilton, we were on the front half of the bridge...maybe 100 feet, maybe slightly more from the doors. We finally entered Hilton at 8:10pm....ten minutes after the concert was set to start, and we relatively close to the front of the line.  It took nearly an hour to cover that 100 feet and finally get in the doors. I was freezing.  My teeth were chattering.

CT & I did a quick trip around the upper concourse and could not find any place that listed "Floor Access" were our tickets were located.  We grabbed the nearest arena worker and asked.  We were then basically informed that we complete idiots and didn't know how to follow directions because we were supposed to enter by a different 'special' door.  I was unsure how I was supposed to know this information...there were no signs any place, my ticket didn't say anything, and no communication was given to the crowd I have had tickets on the floor of Hilton before and never once entered through a special door.  Thankfully, this lady quickly handed us off to another lady and the secondly lady was very nice, led us down the stairs and cut us to the front of the floor entrance line (you had to get wristbands) which was awesome because that line looked like it was also really long and slow moving.  By the time we arrived at our viewing area, we had missed one of the opening bands.  I don't remember who it was...Hometown Hero or something like that maybe?  I remember that all I could think of at the time was Homestar Runner.

Didn't really say rock show to me.
Photo Source.
After a lengthy switch over, the Suicide Girls took the stage.  Not sure why they needed the long switch-over, it just seemed that no one was really eager to take the stage.  It was vaguely entertaining, I suppose.  I guess I didn't see the point in semi-topless girls (nipples taped or pasties) being an opening act for a rock band.  It was fine but it didn't really do much to put me in the mood for Guns N Roses.  The fire baton and fire hula hoop were interesting but not spectacular.  I remember like the mohawk suicide girl because she taped her nipples in an upside down cross formation.  I thought that was funny.  I was pretty hilarious to see guys just starring at the stage and screens to see kinda-naked chicks.  It wasn't much that you couldn't see at your local strip club every night of the week, but guys were just transfixed.

The show has been going on the third hour and the crowd is getting restless and drunk.  Another lengthy stage switch over and up next was Sebastian Bach.  I was very glad for the long change over this time as the Buffalo fries had made my guts start to cramp and I knew I had to find a bathroom.  There happened to be only one small bathroom available to fans on Hilton's floor level...and it was very small - one urinal, one stool.  This was pretty poor planning as over a third of the crowd was on the floor.  There were staff at the stairs to the main concourse and it looked like a terrible time getting out and back through their security.  It was something that I didn't really want to mess with.  I got very lucky as I headed for the bathroom right as the Suicide Girls were leaving the stage.  After a short 5 minute wait...I heard that after Helmet the wait for the bathroom was like 30-40 minutes.  I made it into the bathroom and I was able to get situated on the stool just in time as the evilness of Buffalo fries unclenched my bowels in a torrent.  Seriously, it felt like I had a huge serving of Colon Blow and was pretty sure nothing remained in my stomach and intestinal track.  Thankfully the stool was clean...unlike the sink that was clogged with vomit and the floor that seemed to have a half inch of piss covering it. Nevertheless, shitting out your guts with a line of 30+ people yelling and beating on the door of an vomit-smelling bathroom is not a fun experience.  Sebastian Bach played a short but good really got the crowd in the music for fun rock like GNR...unfortunately GNR wasn't next.

Most non-metal fans probably best know Helmet from Beavis & Butthead (If you saw these guys on the street, you wouldn't even know they were cool) or from The Crow soundtrack. I think Helmet is a great band...but they were not a good match for Guns N Roses.  Helmet is a very heavy and technical progressive rock band.  Guns N Roses is more balls out, drunk rock.  The two just don't mix that well.  Helmet would work very well with Tool, Primus, Dream Theater, or Sugartooth.  Heavy and a little plodding it is music that helps to have a heavy dose of appreciation for musicianship and something that you really have to listen to in order to get.  It is not easy music.  It is not something that drunk people waiting for Guns N Roses want to hear.  Unfortunately, the crowd was not into it at all.  More people yelling "Fuck You" than cheering and beer cups being thrown.  Not the reception most bands would look forward to.  I really enjoyed Helmet, I had been looking forward to seeing them for 15 years and would like to extend an apology from the state of Iowa for how the crowd treated you.  You did not deserve what you got.  Helmet played their 30 minute set and quickly tried to leave the stage, but the stage manager (or someone) motions them to keep playing.  They keep playing and the crowd gets more and more angry.  It was uncomfortable.  The band keep looking to the side and they kept getting motioned to keep playing.  They worked their way through another couple songs, looking down and not at the crowd the entire time because the crowd was so angry.  Helmet finally exits.

Another wait and a couple of the Suicide Girls come out and do a quick routine.  I downgraded my expectations of seeing Guns N Roses to about 40%.  I am pretty sure this second SG show was unplanned, I think it was a spur of the moment decision to try to calm the crowd.  I think the injection of boobs did help slightly but the crowd remained cantankerous.  I am not sure about the reserved seats, but it was getting ugly down on the main floor where it was general admission standing room.  A bad vibe was just spreading throughout everyone...there were more than a few fights on the floor and more curse words used than regular words.  As the Suicide Girls left, one of them proclaimed "Guns N Roses will be out very shortly!"  It was now about 11:30pm.

GNR didn't show up very shortly.  Time passed slowly.  The whole coliseum smelled like body odor and spilled beer.  You could literally see the crowd sink into drunkeness.  After hearing people talking about rioting and rushing the stage CT and I started to head towards the back of the arena away from the main gathering of the crowd.  We also found a place to sit for a while.  As I mentioned earlier CT had some brand new Dr Marten boots...which are great, but standing for almost 6 straight hours (so far) in brand new boots is not a treat.  I am sure his feet were sore and swollen the next day.  My feet were sore and I was wearing comfy and well padded shoes.  Time kept passing - there was no communication with the crowd and the crowd was becoming downright surly.  I was glad we were now close to the exit as it felt like a riot could break out any moment.  As midnight and 12:30am came and went, I downgraded my chances of actually seeing Guns N Roses to about 10%.

12:45am...I couldn't believe that the Hilton staff hadn't shut down this show yet.  It was getting very unsettling...and I was worried what was going to happen when beer stopped flowing.  I was about ready to say "Let's go home" when the lights finally dimmed.  Axl and crew finally took the stage.

Bumblefoot - mocking Slash because he can't
match Slash.
I have said it many times before.  It was a good Guns N Roses concert, but had it started 2 or 3 hours earlier it probably would have been great.  Axl sounded good and it was the first time everyone was hearing most of the Chinese Democracy stuff.  Visuals and effects were great.  And even for starting at nearly 1am, GNR put on a full 2.5 hour plus show.  I think if Axl had come on stage and apologized for the show being late, I think it would have put the crowd in a better frame of mind to enjoy the show.  He did make some half-assed apologies like "Sorry but no one ever said rock and roll knew how to tell time," which just pissed me off more than helping.  It wasn't very rock and roll to stand for hours waiting for a band to show up for their own concert...a concert that you spent nearly $100 in tickets for.  So without a real apology, I felt angry for a good half hour or so of the set...which made it hard to enjoy.  There was a couple other things Axl said about "what did you want to go home and sleep?" and stupid stuff like that and my answer was that yes I did.  I wanted the concert to start at the proper time because I had already been up since 6am and worked for 9 hours before coming to your show...and I had plans the next day too.  I think he was trying to make everyone see it as a cool thing that the show was lasting past 3:30am, but it just seemed cocky and insincere to me.  Seriously, I know you are a rock star but I stood around for hours waiting for are no longer that good.  But other members of the bands acted like idiots too.  I especially remember "Bumblefoot" putting on a top hat and brushing the hair in front his face and mocking Slash.  Really?  You are mocking the guy who's music you are making a living playing?  Oh and PS - Bumblefoot - your opening to Welcome to the Jungle sucked and several solos sounded not so great.  You may be talented but you were not Slash this night, you seemed more like a bratty child who makes fun of someone because you can't compete.  There were other things throughout the show where the current members tried to make themselves outshine the people they replaced...unfortunately, this just made them stand out as "Not Guns N Roses" more than anything.  Instead of a band it made it seem like a bunch of individuals on stage.  There was no chemistry and no real energy from most seemed like a job to these guys instead of a love for music.  All that said though, the music was good and for that I give Axl some just need to get the rest of your shit together.

*These are off the top of my head, I am sure that I could go through my stubs and find more.  I don't think I left out any major suck-fests though.


kelly said...

Prong/Helmet would be an ideal show. I've never really felt bad for a band before that night. Poor guys. They were hating every minute of being up there. If that show had been in any other part of the country besides the ever polite midwest, you can guarantee the venue would have had a riot on their hands.

You were better men than I by far. I was way too pissed to enjoy GnR and let before 1:00am, shortly after they started. Axl is a King Douche and he will never again get another nickel out of me for his shenanigans. Talent does not excuse being an a-hole.

That show we went to that Izzy played at the Ranch Bowl in Omaha had 1000% more rockin' and sincerity than Axl has mustered since the 80's. And there were what, 25 people there tops?

Michael said...

I know, most bands bring it on themselves...but Helmet did nothing wrong. We thought they sounded good...but we were like 20 people out of 20,000.

Yep, even though I liked the Chinese Democracy songs I heard at the show, I can't bring myself to buy the album...still bitter from standing for hours and hours. Douche.

yep, Izzy is probably one of my top 10 shows ever. That was SO good...we got very lucky hearing about that show.

J said...

Nevermind the cornrows, what about Axl's new FACE??? I'll never forget that performance on one of those music award shows where they were making their big "comeback" and he came out looking like that. It was not cool.

Michael said...

Ha ha...yeah, I forgot about that. I guess I must have become used to it over the years but I remember thinking that he kind of looked like he was wearing a Halloween mask of himself.