You Had Me at Welcome to the Jungle

First of all, there is SO much to discuss re the big Axl/Tommy Hilfiger blowout at a birthday party for Rosario Dawson (the worst actress in the world) that happened Thursday. But I feel that Tara will be the better blogger for that incident so I will leave it to her. Plus I know some of you have been expecting a blog about the actual Guns n’ Roses themed karaoke show that happened this week, and you know I’m happy to oblige. So here’s my half of the story…
A couple of months ago, as soon as I heard tickets were going on sale, I called my ex Jesse and told him he had to take me to the show. I knew it would sell out right away and that he would have enough juice to get us in on the list. Jesse hates all 80’s metal and rock but agreed to go because he’s a nice guy and because he owes me after countless hours of forcing me to sit through things like 3 hour Springsteen shows, countless viewings of Mean Streets and Apocalypse Now, and enough Lucinda Williams to choke any serious rock fan. You know, all the shows and movies that will slowly kill a rock and roll vampire like myself. But though we have very different aesthetics we are tight and he is a generous soul and I knew he would take me to GnR regardless of whether he wanted to see the show or not.


We went on the last night, the 17th, with his manager Diane, who is very cool and fun to be around. On the ride over Diane was kind enough to inform me that my most hated arch enemy from “back in the day”, who had actually slept with Axl and lorded it over the rest of us until she got dissed majorly the next time he rolled back into town, and who was largely responsible for my going to jail one night, is now working as a prostitute in LA. This pleased me to no end and portended a good evening (insert evil laugh here).
In any case, when we got there it turned out there were only two VIP wristbands instead of three, and because the show was such a jammed up clusterfuck, no amount of talking on Diane’s part could get us another one. The VIP is great at the Hammerstein: you can stand in one of the opera boxes on the side of the room, which always afford a great view and listen. It’s definitely the place to be, but overall the entire place is pretty decent for shows so it wasn’t a real problem to be excluded from the boxes, and we went to the mezzanine to look around for a spot. Unfortunately, because the show was sold out and we got there pretty late, there was no standing room at the railing and the only seats were in the back, which meant the sound was muffled and you kind of had to duck to see the back of the stage. But whatever, I just wanted to see what Axl was going to do, it’s not like it was really GnR and I didn’t have my heart set on an amazing show. I’ve already been lucky enough to see the real thing in smaller venues and I know that no hired band will ever come close to those shows.


The night opened with “Welcome to the Jungle”, the first tense na-na-na-na of the guitar starting for a second, then silence, then starting again, and building up slowly into a roar. It was a pretty strong way to open: my stomach jumped a little and the crowd went nuts. Then Axl came out and it was on for real.


He looked great, in my opinion (and from the back of the room): he’s in decent shape and he keeps those cornrows in a ponytail so they’re not too obvious. The rest of the band was a mishmash of visual styles and types, but rock and roll enough to be watchable. Richard Fortes (ex Psychedelic Furs) looked the best, like an extra member of Backyard Babies or something equally cool, and he brought a little more NYC realness to the band. Tommy Stinson looked uncomfortable and the most like a hired gun in a grey button down shirt. I never got why girls go so nuts for him, he’s cute but just not flashy enough for me, plus I’ve always hated the Replacements (another band Jesse forced on me with regularity). The second guitar player looked like the token grunge guy w/long hair and a knit cap, but seemed cool (I think he’s the one from NIN?) and could play, and the final and main guitar hero was a tall freak with long hair, a beard and red suede boots. He reminded me of the Doctor from Dr. & the Medics (look it up, kids) and Diane thought he was sexy. Plus he could play his ass off. They all could…you get what you pay for! The rest of the band–drummer and keyboards–were pretty much invisible to me throughout the show because they were on a second tier in the back which I couldn’t see unless I really ducked down.


I expected to feel removed but as soon as Axl leaned, stretched his arm out and bent his head sideways into the mike I was sucked in like a mooney preteen and my heart swelled like the Grinch’s. What can I say? I love the man. He could be 90 years old, weighing 300 pounds and sporting yarn extensions and I’d still show up with flowers. I finally understand Michael Jackson’s fans. And he sounded great. I think there was something shifty going on with the vocals in the sound booth because the vocal volume went up and down, but the man was running around and screaming it out for real. And 90 percent of the songs were off Destruction. I was verklempt.


So I clapped and squealed and and turned to Jesse (who was looking at his watch) and said, “I wish he would just suck it up and call Duff and Slash. He’ll never get Izzy but those two would come back.” As soon as the sentence left my mouth Izzy walked on stage and the crowd went insane. I was so excited I started texting any friends I thought would be even remotely interested. The band jumped into “Think About You” and people screamed in ecstasy and Jesse said, “What’s the name of this song? Do you want a beer? I’m going to the bar.”
Diane went to scout out the VIP section to see if she could find another wristband but came back and reported that the area was jammed up with models and no one had an extra band. She was really tired from a long drive the night before and wanted to go home, so she gave hers to Jesse and left. At that point I felt someone banging into my chair from behind and took a moment to look around. To my horror I realized that we were surrounded by screaming, drunken Jersey mooks in sports jerseys and mom jeans acting like it was the first time they’d ever gotten drunk. I was terrified one of them would vomit near or on me. Plus their witty banter (“Booooottttoxxx!! Paradise City!!!!!”) was distracting and not a little irritating. 
I turned to Jesse and said hopefully, “Lets go check out the VIP, maybe the sound is better.” He looked at his wrist half-heartedly and raised it up to show me he’d lost the band. And then he started making phone calls. Sigh…I was on my own for this one. But I was loving the show and didn’t care too much: Sebastian Bach came out and sang My Michelle, looking like a giant next to Axl and of course singing his ass off, Kid Rock came out for Night Train, there was Knocking on Heavens Door, Patience (Night Train and Patience featuring Izzy again), Live and Let Die, Mr. Brownstone, November Rain, pretty much everything an old school GnR fan could ask for. Well, everything except the actual band, I suppose.


I texted Axl’s friend Vegas just to say I was loving the show. He sent one back saying, “So you got your tix okay at willcall?” I freaked. I never hit him up for the list because I don’t really know him and didn’t want to count on it. And he had put me on anyway, without my prompting and I’m sure with my own goddamn wristbands which I could have shared with one of my screaming girlfriends who would have loved the show as much as me. I am an idiot and really must start trusting my own mojo more often.


Anyhoo…Jesse, who was still squirming like a five year old in church, had gotten a text from a girl who runs a party in town that was host to the big afterparty. Vegas sent a second text that that’s where they were going, so I was psyched. Great show, I had my friend-of-Axl (FOA) connect and my well-connected and generally fun to hang out with ex-boyfriend to drag to what was sure to be a great party. It was the last night of the shows and pretty much anyone with anything to do with rock and roll was in the Hammerstein at that moment, so I had no doubt it would be raucous. Yippee!


Finally Paradise City, the last encore, started amidst blasting flash pots and flying confetti. People cheered and Axl screamed and I shouted “Whooo!” and bounced happily. Jesse said, “Last song, lets go!” and started walking towards the exit. I looked at him in disbelief and horror, so he sighed and stood in the aisle waiting for the song to end. But as soon as the last chord sounded he was off and running again. We were out of the building before anyone else and he ran like a man possessed into the middle of 34th Street frantically waving at the first cab passing by. 
I ran behind him breathless and cursing, and as we sat down he said to the cab driver, “We’re going downtown.” My heart sank–the party was not located downtown. He turned to me and said, “You’re going home, right?” I opened and closed my mouth like a fish. “You didn’t want to go to that party did you? Its gonna suck.” Damn it. I knew I was beaten…I didn’t have the heart to force him so I sucked it up and said, “Aw, Christ. Drop me off at Cups.” At the very least I could get a beer with my friends to assuage the sad fact that I would be missing a room full of partying and aged rock stars, half of whom I knew personally.


Thank God Maya and Rocket were both working. I sat down at the bar to begin the commiseration but quickly realized that I was about to be moshed into by two wasted frat boys pretending to be rock types and slamming each other around the room. I got up and tried to dodge them to get to the safety of the other side of the bar, but one of them did the old fake slam-into-you-cop-a-feel thing, which is a move that pisses me off to no end. It’s so pointless. And who do they think they’re fooling? 
So before I had a moment to process any thoughts I had him by the neck and pinned to a column. His eyes bulged in disbelief and I snarled, “Do not touch me, fucker.” It is never wise to cop a feel with an ex Cycle Slut who has just had a rocking afterparty featuring Mr. Axl Rose snatched out from underneath her. He grabbed my wrist with a decent amount of strength and I came to, realized what I was doing and let him go and walked to the end of the bar with as much dignity as I could muster.


So I got my beer and detailed the evening to Rocket while my boy sulked and threw looks. I felt a little badly about humiliating him in front of his friends. I still do, I always feel shitty about touching people, no matter how they are behaving it isn’t within my rights to get physical. But whatever, I improve with time but I will never be a saint. And I wasn’t going to let something that silly ruin what was, to me, a really fun show. Regardless of whether I went to the party I’m glad I went to the concert. It wasn’t GnR, but it was a nice bit of noise. And when Axl finally does do the right thing and calls Duff and Slash, I will be there with bells on, and hopefully with a handful of wristbands and a posse for the afterparty!


Okay, take it and run, Tara!


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