Monday, August 9, 2010
Check out a slideshow here.
After explaining strategies for dressing like Steven Tyler recently, County Grind and a friend hit up the Aerosmith show in the form of some of the greatest rock 'n' roll cheerleaders of all time: Wayne Campbell and Garth Algar. We needed people to play along. Beyond that, though, we needed something from a very specific someone. He was the only one who could truly offer us what we longed for.
After high-fiving our way down onto the floor, posing for pictures, and shwinging
the babes, we settled in about ten rows back from where the gods would
soon be sweating. A giant (big as a basketball court), red-and-black
Aerosmith banner dropped from the rafters and became the curtain between
us and the holy stage. The crowd roared. The banner stood strong, reminding all that something great was going to happen when
it was drawn.
Finally, the house lights went down and the silhouettes of the band could be seen against the curtain. Nelly's "Hot in Herre" blared bizarrely from the speakers. The unmistakable shadow of Steven Tyler then ripped the curtain to the ground, and the band, the greatness, appeared and seamlessly segued from the 2002 club anthem into the 1950's rockabilly tune "Train Kept a-Rollin.'" The band was decked out in over-the-top wardrobe and backed by a giant, robotic light rig and several screens that, throughout the night, would show a mix of live video and imagery related to the song, much of which was drawn from music videos.
A runway extended from the stage out into the crowd. That's where Tyler, Joe Perry, and the rest of the band (to lesser degrees) did their strutting and rock-godding throughout the night. The end of the runway was well-equipped with lights, cameras, wind, and fog machines -- all necessary ingredients for larger-than-life-ness. The band went from the opener into "Love in an Elevator" and continued from there into a string of well-known hits. By the time they got to "Cryin'", the magnetic pull into the fantasy had become strong enough that surely only the most uptight people in the crowd were resisting. Wayne and Garth certainly were not. High five! Excellent!
"Cryin'" was followed by one of the most sacred rituals in the arena rock experience, the drum solo. For seven or so minutes, the crazy old dude that is Joey Kramer became a primal beast with bleached, spiky hair and a lime-green, sleeveless T-shirt. He began with sticks and ended with his fists and simulated head butts. When the drum mania reached its conclusion, the bass guitar crept in and lead the band into the slinky Beatles anthem "Come Together" (which the true Garth would have skipped in favor of his own drum solo fantasy).
Following this, everyone but Joe Perry left the stage. Then, standing in the spotlight with his eyeliner, skunk hair, perma-sneer, and chewing gum, he proceeded to do battle with the Guitar Hero version of himself, which offered its Nintendo licks via JumboTron. Perry shredded his avatar opponent to pieces in grand fashion on a guitar that donned the image of a blond, Baywatch-style bombshell. "This kid hasn't got shit," he said.
The rest of the show consisted of more hits, blues, ballads, and an obscurity or two. The playing was truly stellar throughout, and the band's presence never wavered. The members continued taking turns on the runway of glory and doing ridiculous things like amp humping and guitar whipping. When the band said goodnight and left the stage, the fantasy-enablers busted out their lighters, and soon the band was back for the encore. For the first offering, the band brought out longtime collaborator and Floridian Richie Supa for "Chip Away the Stone," an Aerosmith hit that he penned. Next came "Dream On," "Walk This Way," and finally, the pinnacle of County Grind's Aerosmith experience: ultimate validation.
After the final number, as Tyler scanned the audience, this reviewer and his partner-in-rock hopped up on our chairs and, like good cheerleaders, began performing the ritualistic Wayne's World "We're not worthy! We're not worthy!" salute. Upon spotting us, Tyler bowed his head and laughed before holding eye contact and acknowledging us vocally for all in attendance to hear. "We're not worthy," he chuckled. Excellent.
Better than: Actually, it sucked... Not!
Random detail: The price of red rope licorice at the venue seemed excessive.
By the way: "If you were president, you'd be Baberham Lincoln." -- Garth Algar
Train Kept a-Rollin' (Tiny Bradshaw cover)
Love in an Elevator
Falling in Love (Is Hard on the Knees)
Livin' on the Edge
What It Takes
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Come Together (Beatles cover)
Joe Perry versus Guitar Hero Joe Perry
Red House (Jimi Hendrix cover)
I Don't Want to Miss a Thing
One Way Street
Baby, Please Don't Go (Big Joe Williams cover)
Draw the Line
Chip Away the Stone
Walk This Way