On the way back from Cedar Point, Gig and I decided to hit up an Alice Cooper concert at a newly constructed minor league ballpark in Eastlake, Ohio. Basically, the venue was about 10 miles north of Cleveland and home to the Cleveland Captains.
En route, we saw portions of an air show which was mildly impressive. I've always enjoyed the strange feeling of driving down the interstate while a plane buzzes directly over your car. This one time I was driving to the Columbus airport for my annual trek to Phoenix. I purposely scheduled my flight for 9-11-02, knowing full well that it was the first year anniversary of 9/11. I figured it would be a good day to fly since most people wouldn't want to travel on that date. I was correct. The direct flight which is always full had about half the occupants. Anyway, while driving on the 270N Columbus bypass I was listening to a repeat of the Howard Stern from 9-11-01. Robin and him are absolutely losing it, reacting to the planes flying into the World Trade Center. Very surreal as I started reliving my own 9-11 experience.
All of a sudden, a 747 flies directly overhead. By directly, I mean it was about as humanly close as possible to the highway. It scared the living fuck out of me to the point where I almost lost control of the vehicle. Just thought I'd throw that in since 9-11 is almost upon us again.
Anyway, we parked in this strip mall and decided to grab a bite to eat at a place called Wing Warehouse. This restaurant/bar had a very blank, vacant look. Truth be told, it looked like a warehouse. We ordered 12 wings - 6 Arizona Ranch and 6 Garlic Parmesan. Despite the alleged "Voted Best Wings in 2008/09 by Fox Channel 8," these wings were pretty bad. The sauce was decent but they just weren't cooked enough. I also had a lackluster side salad and Gig had an uninspired baked potato. She originally wanted soup, but alas, no soup for you/her. Despite the fact that it was on the menu made it even more of a disappointment. I had suggested we try the place next door called Five Guys Pizza, but was overruled. Much to her chagrin, when we later walked by, there was a big sign in the window - NOW FEATURING SOUP!
Before consuming the dunch gruel (late lunch/early dinner), I made a sign that read...
WE NEED 2 FREE TICKETS
TO THIS CONCERT and/or EVENT
I thought it had a nice ring to it. Hell, I'd give away tickets to someone with a sign like that. I adorned it with 2 pictures from the local Scene magazine. One of them was a pic of Alice Cooper and another was a picture of 2 guys from Dewitt's Jewelry. Gig and I couldn't help but notice how much one the Dewitt brothers resembled Alice Cooper. Seriously, the likeness was mesmerizing. So we went to the box office area and the sign worked pretty much instantly. We scored 2 freebies and one of the women actually knew the Dewitt jeweler guy. She then explained to us that the look-a-like guy in the photo was indeed Alice Cooper. It quickly became apparent that the Dewitt dude had his picture taken with Alice Cooper and sensing that a concert was coming up, decided to run an jewelry ad with the old picture. We both suddenly realized that we are complete morons. Duhhh! How difficult would it have been to put it all together?
Anyway, we drank some wine and I scored another 4 free tickets which I dished off for $20 a pop. Nice. An old cop told me that I couldn't use my sign. I thought about asking him if it was okay just to ask people for tickets. If he had said no, I was going to ask him if I was allowed to greet people and welcome them to the concert. Seriously, talk about a violation of free speech rights. But I chose the sensible option and just stayed quiet and acquiesced to the demands of Cleveland Hussein. Honestly, he looked a like a cross between Dick Cheney and Walter Cronkite.
The opening band had started so we decided to head in. Buckcherry was supposed to open but canceled. Instead, we were given the Classic All-Stars band. What the fuck is that you might ask? Well, it's an eclectic combination of members from 4 separate bands playing their greatest hits. You had some guy from the band Sugarloaf (I have no idea what that is), another from Iron Butterfly and some dude from Rare Earth. I forget who the fourth contributor hailed from. If you're thinking Steppenwolf or early Foghat, you're on the right track, but the last band alludes me. Anyway, they played "Ride Captain Ride," an excruciatingly long version of "In-A-Gadda-Da-Vida" and a few other crappy songs. When they finished, a sigh of relief overcame the crowd.
I originally predicted there would be about 1,500 people who would show up for this thing. The place seated about 6,000. Gig thought about 4,000. She was much closer. We did a rough count and came up with about 3,600. But what was absolutely crazy were the varying age brackets. There were some real old-timers who showed up. Considering Alice Cooper was probably around 28 years old in his hey-day (late 1970's), you've got to figure he's presently in his mid 60's. Some got decked out for this show. All kinds of canes and top hats. We loved this one guy's old school concert t-shirt that said on the back "1980 NORTH AMERICAN TOUR." Teenagers, moms, dads and grandparents would unite for this one night of revelry.
After a lengthy break, you could see the iconic images of Alice Cooper and his band emerging from the distant backdrop. Their silhouettes seemed to bask in the moonlight. He ripped into School's Out and Eighteen. All kinds of theatrics. Zombies, guillotines, simulated beatings, stabbings and buckets of blood (presumably fake blood). Basically, just never ending mayhem. This guys still got it. His mannerisms and behavior just blow you the fuck away. We saw an elderly man collapse along the fence line. After a five minute delay, four workers helped him to his feet and assisted him off the field. Another guy needed help as well. He was younger and looked crazy drunk as he did some kind of inverted stagger. He may have had scoliosis issues.
About 2/3 of the way through the show, a vicious downpour came out of nowhere. Half the crowd on the field made a hasty retreat up the steps as they ran for shelter. I looked at Gig - when you see tons of people running in one direction, it's usually best to the opposite. So we charged over seats and scrambled to the field. Gig snagged me a rain jacket which was tied to the fence. This will become my fall weather jacket. I absolutely love it. Ironically, it says "Red Cross Blood Donor" on it. Not the best karma there. The God of Rain surprisingly ceased his malicious ill will in about 4 minutes. Surely there were a few people that left the venue - lame.
So all of a sudden, we're about five rows back and the energy level is indescribable. Being this close was an absolute necessity. You got a way better perspective on the deranged and dedicated showmanship. Alice Cooper is a consummate professional. It was much easier to understand how he has endured through the years. I've seen just about every rock band in my time, with this one exception. It was worth the wait. The show began to wind down as the bass player got the crowd juiced up chanting "I love the Dead" and then ripped into my favorite song "Billion Dollar Babies." Gig snagged a lime green guitar pick w/ a picture of Alice Cooper and the lead guitarist's name. Score.
Anyway, we made it back to the car (free parking compliments of Wing Warehouse - probably the sole highlight from that shitty establishment) and bolted for Pittsburgh. Long 2+ hour drive. I dropped her off and headed back to Wheeling. Got home around 3am and was greeted by a happy Meowee. So this summer I got to cross off another 2 bands (Alice Cooper and Devo), both in new venues. And both for free of course.