“Now, listen up
She’s a razor sharp
If she don’t get her way
She’ll slice you apart
Now she’s a cool, cool black
She moves like a cat
If you don’t get her game
Well, you might not make it back
She’s got the looks that kill
“Looks That Kill”, Mötley Crüe
I remember raising an eyebrow way back in the ‘before times’ when this tour was originally announced, more than two and a half years ago. And by raising an eyebrow I mean part of me was confused (wasn’t there a contract signed to not tour…) but another was intrigued (Crüe AND Joan Jett?!)…. but I was a totally different person living in a totally different state then. Fast forward to earlier this year, and I saw the on sale was happening, and I thought…. let me see what I can get. And I pulled a couple eleventh row floor tickets and it was a done deal. So what changed between those two times? A pandemic, a move, and watching a whole lot of Rock of Love while trapped at home (I had never seen it before). Poison was the only band out of this mix that I had never seen before, though I had interviewed Bret Michaels in a GRAMMY event red carpet situation. Rock of Love was an amazing watch; thank satan I didn’t end up on a reality show like this back in my younger days. I also watched Pam and Tommy; I had a weird fascination with their relationship like a lot of people did when I was a teenager. So yes: television drove me to this concert. I was that person.
I am really killing myself to live right now in that I was working in the car all the way from CA to LV (I’m one of those ‘overemployed’ people you read about) and basically threw my shit down at the Delano and sped-walked over the pedestrian bridge to the shiny & new Allegiant Stadium. This was the first HUGE show I had been to in ages, even before the pandemic, and it was a real cluster to get into. An email sent before the show warned that they allowed clear bags only, but small clutches were ok. I thought mine measured ok… BUT NO, OF COURSE IT DIDN’T. And then my chain belt… TOO DANGEROUS! Had to throw it away! Meanwhile others with chain wallets and belts waltzed right on by. I don’t know what it is about me that causes security to pick me out like this. Back after 9/11, when there was a lot of hate for Middle Eastern people- I did get some discrimination, especially when people looked at my ID (my given first name is Arabic). And when I’m really tan (which I don’t do anymore because gross) you can tell I’m of Middle Eastern descent. But I don’t think that’s what’s going on… honestly I don’t know what it is. But a lady from security came up to us later to say that she felt bad for what happened because she realized we were unfairly treated. So it’s not just me!
Anyway, I didn’t really care about anything except all I wanted to do was get in there in time to see Joan Jett, who was advertised to come on at an ungodly time of 4pm. It was like 4:05 at the time of these shenanigans. Then, we start trying to find our seats- and I see a queue for wristbands outside the venue. So I ask a guy: what is this line for? He says: “oh these are just some glowing wristbands”. I dig in: “Nothing you need though?” Guy: “No it’s just if you want them.” OK. We proceed to the floor entrance and guess what: wristbands needed to get to the floor.
Business hat on. I do usability work for some of the biggest brands in the world; all of the shit I had experienced up to this point was such Mickey Mouse bullshit I was about to lose my mind. Unacceptable! And I fully realize that they had an angry middle age woman tapping her foot in a sparkly bustier on their hands which looked ridiculous, but this could all have been avoided. I mean; let’s take a step back here. WE ARE AT A ROCK SHOW. NO; WE ARE AT A MÖTLEY FUCKING CRÜE SHOW AND I CAN’T WEAR A CHAIN BELT, I CAN’T GET TO MY SEAT WITHOUT SOME BULLSHIT WRISTBAND, I’M RUNNING AROUND SWEATING AFTER PAYING A LOT OF MONEY, ETC.
The stupid wristband line was super slow; they had like one person working it and it took about 20 minutes to process through it… but long story short… I made it in time to see Joan Jett.
When I had cooled down the next day, and I went through the process of everything that happened with a clearer head, and realized that they rationale behind this extreme security is potentially because Las Vegas is home to one of the worst concert shootings of all time. And it’s heartbreaking. But some of the things they were doing seem to have no direct connection to preventing concert shootings or violence in general. To be honest, creating such hurdles for people to enjoy a concert can create frustrations and ignite violence that wouldn’t have been there to begin with.
And on a related aside, I have been getting quite a few people commenting about my return to writing and social media after my long absence. And this kind of parlays into it. By 2015, I started to experience really bad burnout with concert going/writing/social media. Also, you can see in quite a few documentaries that have come out lately: being a woman on social media/the internet in general in any sort of visible role in the late ’00s/early teens was kind of crazy. I liked to think I had thick skin, but people were really mean and crazy. I have some stories. But then the concert shootings started happening; especially the Eagles of Death Metal Bataclan show. My phone exploded after that with people thinking I could have been there. As the daughter of a fairly major gun industry person, I started having these really bad visions of these CNN headlines where they spun this whole anti-gun thing out of me getting killed at a concert. Stupid? Yes! But I just couldn’t get it out of my head that it was going to happen to me as some sort of poetic justice thing. So yeah, I had a breakdown and I went dark for like six years. There you have it. And now I’m back, in a time where PEOPLE ARE CRAZIER THAN EVER!
But back to Joan Jett. This was my third time seeing her, and she always rules. The stage was setup with a catwalk, which they utilized a little bit throughout the set. This was the last night of the tour; so there was a lot of extra thanks being said, and a certain celebratory factor and road weariness at play. I’ve written about it a lot before, but Joan Jett is very meaningful to me; I just think she’s one of the coolest women to ever exist. Not only are her own songs awesome, but her covers are AMAZING. Like, why is her version of “Crimson & Clover” so good?! So I’m dancing at my seat, mouthing along to all the words as the seats start to fill in. “Hello world I’m your wild girl…”
By the time Poison came on, the stadium was packed. Oddly, light was still beaming through the stadium roof. Ladies… and small children… packed the side of the stage. I squinted my eyes to try to tell if any of them were RoL chicks but I do realize that show was a long ass time ago. There were a lot of date nights happening around me. There were also some cool outfits, but mostly… t-shirts?! C’mon… these were some of the most peacocky bands of all time. Can’t we try a little? Please? I’m begging everyone. Introducing Poison was a guy who apparently was from a show called Pawn Stars; despite all of my references to television in this piece I do not know that one. But that poor man was hanging out at the side of the backstage and everyone around me was asking for selfies. Super annoying. Where was Big John? As I expected from watching the show, Poison really were a lot of fun to watch. Bassist Bobby Dall runs around like a madman; it’s truly exhausting to watch. Where was C.C. DeVille? Oh, THAT was him! Would have never recognized him! Growing up goth, people love to poke fun at how we age… how about these Sunset Strip guys hmmm? That era has aged in an interesting way. I’m cool with it. Bret took a long moment to talk about drummer Rikki Rocket’s battle with cancer. We’re in camp Fuck Cancer here; today as I write this my mom has been gone 12 years exactly. The crowd was super into this set; Bret Michaels really knows how to win them over. My favorite Poison song is “Unskinny Bop” , but that whole set was a fun party atmosphere unlike many shows you go to these days. It really brightened my mood after the shit that had happened earlier.
I think at this point I had my second big beer (they came to you, so this was my only option really!) and had to climb the crazy stairs to go pee before Def Leppard. The co-headliners were taking turns closing the show, and while they didn’t explicitly say who was doing so, we were sitting close enough to see who was next by looking at the drum set. I’ve seen Def Leppard once before, and it was one of those shows where I was like holy shit I didn’t realize how big of a Def Leppard fan I am. My first memories of Def Leppard were of the “Let’s Get Rocked” video playing incessantly on MTV. Some thoughts: not my fave DL song. Creepy AF animation. Drummer only has one arm… how does this work?! Forgive me; I was twelve. When I got a little older, DL became a quintessential Rock Ballad band… Monster Ballads band, if you will. I mean “Love Bites”?! “Foolin'”?! “Two Steps Behind” (or, the ‘Stalker Song’ as I call it), but mainly, MAINLY, my Top Fave “Bringin’ On The Heartbreak”. This is a band that just nailed the formula for the rock ballad in my opinion, like put-on-repeat-when-your-heart-is-broken-whilst-laying-on-a-couch-crying, or my personal fave, drive-fast-on-a-backroad-with-tears-soaking-your-shirt-beating-on-your-steering-wheel-screaming-at-the-top-of-your-lungs kind of heartbreak. Not that I’ve done that before… then there’s “Rock of Ages”, which is a movie I just revisited because oh-my-satan why, just why?! It’s barely so bad it’s good. But maybe Def Leppard is most famous for ruling the strip clubs with “Pour Some Sugar On Me”, along with Crüe’s “Girls, Girls, Girls”, before Buckcherry swung in with “Crazy Bitch”, and then rock songs stopped being popular at strip clubs. Not that I would know anything about that either… Anyway, another thing that led to my purchasing of these tickets was watching the Bowie Birthday streaming event last year, where Joe Elliott sang, and I remembered how much I enjoyed Def Leppard. I heard/read a lot of people complain about them being boring compared to everyone else at this show, but I beg to differ. I thought they brought a lot of class to the night. The queen had just died the day before, and they dedicated “This Guitar” to her. I really liked the way that guitarists Vivian Campbell and Phil Collen always walked the catwalk side by side, like two soldiers marching together. Fun fact: I wore two wedding dresses when I got married and one of them was purchased from Phil Collen’s ex-wife’s vintage shop. A couple in a row in front of us were fully decked out in British flag outfits. A lot of people around me left during this set but I sang my little heart out all by myself.
Finally it was time for Mötley Crüe! I could see a lot of extensive set pieces being set up so that was really exciting. This would be my third time seeing Crüe, and I was… concerned. I’d seen videos of Vince Neil sounding like shit… Tommy Lee had missed several shows due to a rib injury and then there had been some erratic behavior. But, you know what, I’m an optimist! We’ll call it that. Also, while I came of age in the ’90s, and spent a lot of my 20’s and early 30’s wishing I could just live in Seattle circa 1992, I have been all about the Sunset Strip ’88-ish the last few years. Or maybe I always was. I don’t know. So Crüe comes on stage and the first thing I do is go stage mom and start freaking out about how dangerous the set is! They have these hanging mic stands with sharp edges that seem to swing dangerously close to Nikki Sixx and Mick Mars several times throughout the night. And as someone who is currently doing some dancing for a band, I draw a lot of inspiration from Crüe’s dancers; and they dance on top of some very dangerous set pieces! Anyway, Vince is out there being photographed in a sparkly wizard cape, but at least he sounds strong. The crowd is wild, but not too wild. The guy next to me is by himself, and is singing along to every word. At one point he does one of those buddy arm slaps quite hard to me and it hurts; like… I get it, it’s easy to think I’m one of the guys, but I tell him “do not hit me like that again” and I can tell he is shook. But really, keep your hands to yourself! So, you know, it’s Crüe… every song is a hit. The show is flying by. Nikki Sixx comes to the front of the catwalk and says a few things. He has a towel in his hand and he looks down, says to someone, “oh, you want this?… I gave the same one to your mom in 1987!” He follows that up by saying, “They didn’t want me to say that but you can’t cancel Crüe!” I liked this. I’m by myself at this point and Tommy Lee comes out front and I think, “uh-oh”, this is not the part of the night I want to be alone during. Now, it’s been ten years since I last saw them, and we’ve progressed as a society. He asks the dudes to show their junk first. AND THEY DO! THIS IS GREAT! Then it’s time for the girls, and there are still plenty around to oblige… but I remember the days when guys would just grab girls and try to force them to, so at least that wasn’t happening. Had it happened- that is one thing. But I knew what I was getting myself into. Now- fast forward a couple days and this shit comes out. Really?! This falls into the antiseptic, taking away my chain belt, bullshit surrounding this show. What are we doing here? Why were you even there? What is your point? Did you take “Shout At The Devil” literally?! What parent takes their children to Mötley Crüe? Are these the same parents who let their kids play GTA that I have to deal with in my line of work? I clap right back at your sir. Song of the night was “Looks That Kill” because it brought my date back to consciousness for a bit. At least one person was partying authentically.
Leaving the stadium, out in a hot desert night looking at the Las Vegas strip grow closer, I thought about the similarities between the Sunset Strip and this place. So many dreams bought and sold, crushed and swallowed, blossomed and killed. Or for me, all of the above, across both places, at one time or another.
“Gimme danger, little strangerAnd I feel with you at easeGimme danger, little strangerAnd I’ll feel your disease There’s nothing in…
“Living out the days and nights in absolute fearNever knowing when and where thethreat of the undead draws nearThoughts of…
“Oh, they should have knownNot to play with the powers of HellSome people have lost their waySome people have lost…
“I’m the walking dudeI can see all the worldTwist your minds with fearI’m the man with the powerAmong the living,…
“And I find it kind of funny I find it kind of sad The dreams in which I’m dying Are…
“The sparkle in your eyes Keeps me alive And the sparkle in your eyes Keeps me alive, keeps me alive…
“It’s early morning, the sun comes out Last night was shaking and pretty loud My cat is purring, it scratches…
“We hold each other closer, as we shift to overdrive And everything goes rushing by, with every nerve alive We…
“I could talk about my world How you brought about ruin I could talk about your greed If you want…
“Always lived, very quiet lifeI ain’t never did no wrongNow I know that life without youHas been too lonely too…