When you’re the hippest blogger in town you need to be able to make tough decisions. When presented with The Flaming Lips at Hollywood Forever Cemetery vs. Florence and the Machine at the Greek vs. Poison and Motley Crue at the Hollywood Bowl, you have to choose Poison and Motley Crue.
Why? Well in my case it’s because 15-year-old me would lose his mind if he was given the chance to see Poison and Motley Crue on the same stage. 18-year-old me would die to see The Flaming Lips at a cemetery, but I’ve seen an amazing Lips show in recent years and I’m going through this concert bucket list chronologically.
I need to accept the fact that buying tickets to a Hollywood Bowl show means I have to take a half day off from work. I became aware of this fact after leaving Santa Monica at 6pm in an attempt to make Poison’s set at 8pm. I would have loved to check out the New York Dolls’ set, but the Scenestar informed me that they were going on at 7pm and I assume their entire audience was made up of people that actually live at the Hollywood Bowl because I saw no way of getting from anywhere to the Hollywood Bowl by 7pm.
It took 30 minutes to get from Wilshire/Centinela to the 405 underpass. Poison, the reason I spent all my high school graduation money on an Ibanez RG-470 guitar, was hitting the stage in an hour and a half. “Aren’t rock bands notorious for going on late?” Not for a “lease event” at the Hollywood Bowl. The Hollywood Bowl attached the words “lease event” to this show as if they were putting a Mr. Yuk sticker on a cleaning product under your mom’s sink.
We started heading north on Highland at about 7:10pm. That’s 50 minutes until Poison, the reason I made my brothers pose for a photo wearing colored towels like 80’s metal wigs, was to take the stage.
Every driver in front of us was texting. Every single one. Lights go green, we lean on the horn.
*Polite wave in the rear view*
For the last couple Hollywood Bowl shows we attended, we parked in the parking garage at Hollywood and Highland. This had a tendency to turn into a slow, painful downward spiral of cars parading down into the ground in order to find an available parking spot 20,000 leagues under the tourists. This time, we spied out of the corner of our eyes a parking lot next to Jimmy Kimmel’s outdoor stage. It was $20, but that $20 got us out of the car and power walking up the Highland hill, past the bacon wrapped sausages and into the Hollywood Bowl.
I may have thrown down some serious cash on these tickets. I justified this by telling myself that I was satisfying 15-year-old me’s desire to be close to his rock idols. The other reason is I don’t know what kind of people I’d be forced to sit next to in the cheap seats at a Poison/Motley Crue show. I had to sit next to a complete A-hole at a recent Prince show, so this wasn’t worth taking any chances. When we found our box seats we noticed that our little pen was already filled with piggies. I asked the usher if that was in fact our box, hinting that maybe someone there was in the wrong seat, but he said “yes those are your seats” and pointed to the two chairs folded up in the corner.
So there I was, dripping with sweat from an uphill power walk, standing in front of a short girl who had a perfect view of the stage until I showed up, and taking up all the space that the couple next to us had been using to dine on the 30 or so brownies they bought at Diddy Riese.
After two minutes of wrestling our folding chairs to their open position, Poison appeared on stage. Look What The Cat Dragged In indeed: Four golden gods from my high school years running around the stage like it’s 1986. Rikki Rockett, who I regularly see at Coffee Bean, still twirling sticks after ever snare hit, Bobby Dall, still the dark horse I’m not quite sure about, Bret Michaels using the same stage banter I heard at the Providence Civic Center in 1991, and C.C. DeVille, still the ultimate rock star, but now with veneers that shine a bright white light all the way back to the cheap seats.
Poison’s set was really short, under an hour. This was actually fine as it made for a great best-of set that left me and all the other drunk, quickly approaching middle-aged people in the crowd wanting more. Talk Dirty To Me, Unskinny Bop, Nothin’ But A Good Time, Every Rose Has Its Thorn, Fallen Angel -they were all in there. They were off the stage in under an hour, and by the time they left the stage all the other hair metal fans from the West Side had made it through that hell traffic and were in their seats with their $13 beers and ready to rock.
After a short break, Motley Crue exploded from behind a big top curtain. Tommy Lee, looking almost as young as he thinks he is, Nikki Sixx, looking pretty much just like he did in my old Crue posters, Vince Neil was there without a handcuffs and Mick Mars, still managing to stand on stage and hit every single note from those old records despite a continuing battle with ankylosing spondylitis.
Motley Crue’s set was a spectacle straight out of their 80’s heyday. Fire, more fire, smoke, fire extinguishers, Tommy Lee’s rollercoaster drum solo in which he, and then he and a fan, flipped upside down and all around to the Ohio Players’ Rollercoaster. Vince Neil is still not able to sing his way through a whole line, unless he’s standing still with a guitar or next to Tommy Lee’s piano but he did not shy away from any of those high notes and the crowd appreciated it. A nice addition to their lineup was two dancer/singer women that added some necessary eye candy and really helped fill up those singalong hooks.
There were some surprises too, in addition to the insane price of t-shirts ($40). Cee Lo Green joined the Crue on stage for Don’t Go Away Mad, Just Go Away which he mashed up with his hit Fuck You. Another, perhaps slightly more unwelcome surprise (even more than the t-shirt prices?), was the buckets of red liquid that stagehands and Tommy Lee threw on the crowd, not while everyone was drenched in their own sweat from partying so hard, but after the music stopped and people were searching for their keys. That was odd. I can only imagine the soaking wet pissed off girlfriend conversations that filled the streets of Hollywood afterward. “Yeah sorry about that, but please don’t ruin the upholstery.”
Note to self: Stop complaining about the $40 t-shirts, those t-shirts are paying to keep Mick Mars out of the hospital and Vince Neil out of jail, so unless you have an excellent bedside manner or you’re into conjugal visits, just suck it up and by a shirt to keep these guys on the road for as long as possible.