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HURRICANE MOTLEY STORMS THRU TEXAS

110

As the southern shores of the Texas coast were being relentlessly hammered by Hurricane Dolly, a storm of a different sort slammed its way into the Alamo City last Wednesday. Maybe those long traffic lines heading out of Padre Island earlier in the week were actually Crue fans making their way to San Antonio to catch the first annual Cruefest featuring Trapt, Sixx AM, Papa Roach, Buckcherry, and that notorious whirlwind of destruction known as Motley Crue.

It would be the first time for this Old Fart to witness the Crue since their glory days of corpsepaint and titties known as the Shout at the Devil tour way back in 1983. (See Dorks Love Metal! for more hilarity.) I had fallen out of man-love with the band right around the Dr. Feelgood-era so I was not really sure if I would enjoy myself or not. I am happy to report: CRUE FUCKIN’ ROCKS!!

Cruefest began at the very unrockerlike time of 5:00 p.m. at the Verizon Wireless in nearby Selma, Texas, a mere five minutes from my house. Having missed much of the Summer Slaughter tour due to July 4th celebrations, I was determined not to miss a single second of this night’s festivities. Unfortunately, such would not be the case as Trapt was finishing their set as I walked in.

After getting sorted with our passes at the entrance, my buddy Adam and I were escorted to the side of the stage by an incredibly friendly LiveNation employee. Her timing was perfect as Nikki Sixx‘s band Sixx AM was taking the stage just after six p.m. Sixx and his young recruits looked fit and trim, if somewhat underenthused.

I actually like The Heroin Diaries Soundtrack and was looking forward to the band’s set. Unfortunately, their live performance did not add to my appreciation of the record. Too much music on DAT, a total lack of energy from Sixx, and too much saccharine pop rock for my tastes. Indeed, Sixx’s biggest stage move was to walk behind his cabinets and switch bass guitars. The crowd roared, however, when the band crooned their radio hit, “Life is Beautiful.”

Highlights for me were seeing a girl in the pit holding up a copy of Sixx’s book with pen in hand for him to sign (he never did), hearing the crowd roar again when singer James Michael asked if anyone had ever “fallen off the wagon,” and watching guitarist DJ Ashba getting swarmed by fans in between sets while he was hanging out at the sound board.

Next up were former nu-metal second-tier artists Papa Roach. Other than anything off the first Korn record, I have never been a fan of nu-metal. As a result, I missed the Papa Roach train. In fact, my only knowledge of them was from their video for “Last Resort” where they looked like a clean-cut, short-haired version of a clad-in-all-black Testament. When the band walked onto the stage, I thought it was Buckcherry — teased hair, tats galore, eyeliner, wallet chains, you know, the usual scuzz-regalia. Another friend of mine, Loryll, described them as having the trademarked “Disney rocker look” ala The Jonas Brothers.

Needless to say, my hopes were not high. Thankfully, those doubts were erased, mainly because of one man — lead singer Jacoby Shaddix. He has a strong, unique voice similar to that of Brock Lindow of 36 Crazyfists and hella (yes, just like Vince, I said it) energy.

After returning from buying $8 beers, Adam and I were surprised to see Shaddix working the crowd, literally. He had bounded off the stage, made his way through the large general admission pit area and up into the third tier of the amphitheater. The entire S.A. crowd went nuts, hoisting horns, beers, and Shaddix into the air. From that point on, I was sold. While still a little too nu-metalish for my tastes, Papa Roach put on a tight, fun, and boistrous set that actually made me want to reconsider listening to some of their most recent material.

On to yet another train I have missed — Buckcherry. Let’s just say that I have no regrets for not making it to their station on time. Every scuzz-rocker cliche was on display and did not do it for me. Some of my notes on the set include these gems: “some dudes should not wear low rider leather pants;” “whiny Karaoke – thanks Simon;” “sounds like Duran Duran;” “make Billy Squier sound good;” and “KILL ME NOW.”

I guess songs with such awesome lyrics as “pussy on layaway,” and “Crazy bitch/suck my dick/run it between those tits” just don’t quite do it for me.

The crowd, however, ate it up. I have no idea why?

By the time 9:00 came rolling around I was a bit concerned about this so-called Cruefest. High-priced booze and grub, no sideshow distractions ala Lollapalooza or Ozzfest, and some pretty mediocre performances from the bands.

No way it could get any worse, right? Wrong.

I shit you not, while setting up Crue’s stage, a mini-stage was wheeled out in front of a large black curtain. Musical gear was set up along with a television screen. Yes, it was my first experience seeing some dorks play Rock Band (maybe they will be so kind as to share their dorkiest metal moments with us). One thing I truly despise about going to a San Antonio Spurs basketball game is that the venue believes that people are so moronic they require entertainment every single millisecond, and they trot out dancers and a fucking Coyote to slam dunk off a trampoline. As if people are unwilling to have conversation with one another. This was the rock version of a fucking Coyote trampoline dunker.

At least, I hoped, they would crank up and play to some Slayer or pre-TBA Metallica. Any luck? Hell no. They played fuckin’ “Say it Ain’t So” by Weezer. WEEZER!! Arrrrggghhhh!!!!! I’m pulling my hair out. Thankfully, the torture only lasted for one song.

Nearly five hours after I arrived at the venue, almost getting drenched by the wake of Dolly, and definitely getting bored with the whole Cruefest concept, my patience was waning. I could only hope that my long-time high school-era heroes could swoop in and save the day.

With a stage adorned with a giant backwards Los Angeles sign that mimicked the landmark “Hollywood” sign after an earthquake, the night’s reason for being was introduced by silhouettes of an Angel and Devil, followed by the Crypt Keeper himself, Mick Mars, revving up the familiar strains to “Kickstart My Heart.” Massive explosions ensued, followed by the collapsing of the oversized black curtain, and three dudes older than me came roaring onto the stage. The crowd was electrified, horns in the air, titties exposed instantly.

Suddenly, life was good once again.

Nikki Sixx had obviously conserved his energy for this set, Tommy Lee, still dressing like a Limp Bizkit video extra, hunkered down behind a scaled-down kit pounding away, and a much heavier (and healthier looking) Vince Neil easily sprinted his way across the massive, yet somehow still intimate stage. The band looked good, the audience was primed, and it was evident this was not going to be a normal Wednesday night in sleepy San Antonio.

The band did not step off the accelerator as they cruised into “Wildside” and “Shout at the Devil,” the latter song given an extra sense of irony with two video screens showing still-President George W. Bush flipping everyone off to the chorus, as well as vids of Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld.

“Welcome to Cruefest, motherfuckers!” Neil joyfully screamed to his adoring fans after the three song opening salvo. Next up was the title track from their surprisingly solid new album, The Saints of Los Angeles. The band was joined onstage by Shaddix from Papa Roach, Josh Todd of Buckcherry and another joker. The song sounded strong and fit in perfectly with the Crue’s early days’ sound.

Next up was the obligatory guitar solo which had me worried only four songs into the set, but, I have to admit, my favorite aspect of Motley Crue’s sound has always been Mick Mars’ guitar sound. It’s rich, full, and H-E-A-V-Y. The Skeletor spector of Mars (who is now the skinniest member of the band) reminded me of Death dressed as Slash, but way cooler, if you can imagine. Mars’ blues-tinged, short solo segued perfectly into “Live Wire” off their debut album Too Fast for Love, thus spanning the band’s 25+ year musical history back-to-back. I did get a perverse kick out of seeing the perpetually dead-looking Mars sing “I’m alive” over and over again.

The band rolled on with “Sick Love Song,” accompanied by some trippy videos of eyeballs and lesbian breast licking. The latter inspired a couple of young ladies seated directly in front of me and Adam to engage in some titty flubbering which definitely brought back memories from 1984.

The young ladies were prescient, as everybody’s favorite degenerate Tommy Lee descended from his throne to sit down on the lip of the stage and start chatting with the crowd. One rather well-developed (albeit store-bought) young lass responded with an unveiling of her meat bags which sent Lee into a tizzy and backstage to retrieve a friend. He returned with his patented TIT E. CAM and began to look for willing San Antonio girls to share their mammary love for the crowd. Of course, this is a Crue show, so there were almost as many boobs exposed as there are at a Senate Ethics Commission hearing.

After Tommy’s awesome high school YouTube antics ended, the band tore into yet another new tune, “Motherfucker of the Year,” and, I gotta tell ya, it worked.

Next up was a silly interlude with a Vera de Milo-looking tranny Victoria’s Dirty Secret angel who delivered a ridiculously oversized guitar to our boy, Vince, who then proceeded to make out with said tranny angel. The silly segment was the precursor to their song, “Don’t Go Away Mad (Just Go Away),” followed by “Same Ol’ Situation.” These are the back-cataloguers that don’t excite me in the least, but, once again, it all worked in their powerful, coherent set.

That, and the two girls in front of me were going to town by now, so it had to be good.

In fact, two groups of concert-goers got up and left after witnessing the young ladies’ personal show. I guess they were cool with 100 breasts flashed on a video screen but were not ready to deal with them up close and personal. C’mon, it’s fuckin’ Motley Crue!

From there it all became a blur of bondage videos, “Scream!, Shout!,” the WTC collapsing, more nipple licking, “Girls, Girls, Girls,” massive towers of flames, “Looks That Kill,” Tommy dropping drumsticks, Alex from A Clockwork Orange, ear-shattering explosions, and “Dr. Feelgood.”

The only way to top off the night was an encore of “Home Sweet Home,” complete with graffiti-covered piano and vintage video footage from back in the day. It was almost enough to bring a tear to this Old Fart’s eye.

Overall, Cruefest gets a big thumbs up, but only because of Papa Roach and the Crue. Pick some better bands for next year such as Airbourne, Dangerous Toys, Dokken, Trivium, Between the Buried and Me, and Twisted Sister, provide some sideshow entertainment like Strip Dunking Booths or a Nikki Sixx book reading, and lower those damn beer prices and the Crue will have a 100% winner on their hands.

[Corey Mitchell is a Los Angeles Times best-selling author of six true crime books including his latest, Pure Murder, the brutal account of the murders of two teenage girls in Houston, Texas, by six teenage boys. He is also the founder of the #1 true crime blog, In Cold Blog.]

All photos copyright Corey Mitchell

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