Wednesday, September 1, 2010


“We're getting' old.” - The Casual One. “And by the way, where the hell is my cell phone?”

The Suite Life:

  Old age is a nasty, bitter, descent for rockers.

  It's becomes more difficult to grind out sixty tour dates featuring half-filled arenas and notoriously gifted opening acts, for obsessive fans that download your music instead of buying it. You trot out the standards so  for two drunken hours, everyone can revisit their glory days as they clap along to “Glory Days.”
  Patience and tolerance evaporate. Passion fades.
  But there are perks attached with growing up and growing old. One of which, if you happen to be in either the educated class, or the clever class, can be a significantly better concert experience.

  Nothing separates America's social classes like concert seating. Gone are the days where we could camp out near the Harmony House Ticketmaster and be rewarded with third row for Van Halen at DTE, regardless of who might be sitting with us. The scalpers were kept in check, but technology has ruined that for all of us.  Defined steel walls have been erected between the haves, namely suite holders, and the have nots, you and me. And one of those walls happens to be access to the Suites at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
  DRB was invited to sit in one of the Palace suites for this Aerosmith and Sammy Hagar.  Since The Casual One had never lived the Suite Life, I decided to accept the invitation and the $195 tickets.
  So what did that get us?
  I've sat in the third deck of the Palace plenty of times for sold out concerts, including twice in the very last row for sold out Piston basketball games. I hadn't been to a suite since someone at a car dealership threw my Father a bone for getting him a good deal.
  Let's start with suite parking: Free. Saving $15 right there. With the added benefit of parking in a private lot situated twenty yards from the private entrance to the Palace, via The Palace Grill.
  The grill was bursting at the gills with lawyers, financial advisors, and other inheritors of wealth, all enjoying the overpriced food and drink menu. We scanned the surroundings, but The Casual One and I were running late, so we skipped a $110 dinner tab for some $4 hotdogs.
  The attendants were kind enough to lead us to the elevators, which uncerimoniously, dumped us off on the Palace's main walkway. For those of you unfamiliar with the suite life, the Palace's second tier suites have their own entry doors right as you walk into the seating sections to begin descending up or down the stairs.
  The suites themselves are roomy, and let's not underestimate how nice it is to have comfortable couches, a flat screen television, a fridge full of free cheap domestic beer, but most importantly, our own private bathroom. No food, though food service is available if the vendor is willing to pay for it. We counted ourselves lucky to get a free Budweiser in this instance.
  However, none of the perks prepare you for the mediocre view at the second level. I endured it for most of Sammy Hagar, but by Aerosmith I'd had enough and abandoned the suite life to venture into the crowd.
  The Casual One, decided to stay within the comfy confines of the suite life, but I snookered down to the fourth row to obtain better pics.

Sammy Hagar:

  This guy is sixty three years old?  Really?
  Sam Roy 'Sammy” Hagar, the infamous 'Red Rocker'. Here's a guy who came right out and told the audience “It's my job to make sure you get your money's worth tonight!!” And did we ever, all believes wholeheartedly in delivering a solid performance every concert, every night. If there's only one way to rock, and that way is Sammy's way, well good, because he opened with a blistering 'There's Only One Way To Rock' and didn't take the foot off the gas the entire show. While admitting he was a bit hung over after hanging out in Detroit the last two days, Sam Roy still ran all over the stage like a horny teenager. And, dug deep into his 4 decade vault of material, that included Van Hagar, Montrose, and the solo records, to absolutely electrify the audience.

His voice is still killer. Mona Gnader, his bassist, and lead guitarist Victor Johnson, fed off his energy and proved they are outstanding musicians in their own right with superb playing.

Even if we'd paid cash for these high end seats, we'd have felt Sammy Hagar delivered our money's worth. The only 'criticism', if you can call it that, I had for Sammy was the set list was heavy with Van Hagar material. It's understandable Sam has to make a buck and the material from that point in his career still motivates the masses, but 'Heavy Metal' stands up to Best of Both Worlds any day. Of the thirteen songs played, five were Van Hagar. I was happy to hear Mas Tequila, but was somewhat disappointed not to hear the theme from 'Over The Top'. He did change up and funkify 'Right Now', turning it from a straight ahead rocker into a blue collar crowd anthem.

Overall, great work, Sammy.

Sammy Hagar Setlist:
There's Only One Way To Rock
I Can't Drive 55
Top Of The World
Space Station #5
Rock Candy
Bad Motor Scooter
Best Of Both Worlds
Three Lock Box
Right Now
Finish What Ya Started
Heavy Metal
Mas Tequila
Why Can't This Be Love


  Aerosmith, on the other hand. . well, hmm. .how do I say this without hurting poor Steven Tyler's feelings? After all, they are America's best selling rock band, ever, with 150 MILLION albums sold. They also hold the record for the most gold and multi-platinum albums by an American band or group. But for all their accolades, the truth is . . they were just: ok.
  Let me be fair, technically, they were brilliant. Steven's voice, Joe Perry's guitar playing, when it comes to adequately going through the motions, Aerosmith excel. They are as reliable as auto-tune.
  But it's a completely different thing to come out and be ON FUCKING FIRE like Sammy was. He blew Aerosmith off the stage, and though I certainly have wide love for the red rocker, that simply shouldn't happen. 'Standing On Top Of The World' should not energize a crowd stronger than a rock anthem like 'Sweet Emotion', Van Halen or no Van Hagar.
  But that is exactly what happened. With not even half the arriving fans in their seats.
  Still, Aerosmith put on a good act. But, it's getting harder for these five guys to pretend.
  Judging from the performance, they cannot wait for this tour to be over. A unmistakable tension, whether it be American Idol rumors, brotherly annoyance, or old-fashioned jealously, hung over this performance by 'The Bad Boys of Boston' (all you cronies who are going to email me crying how 'Boston' are the 'Bad Boys of Boston' can suck it!).
  They played through their history, the seventies crowd pleasers, the eighties standards, and the nineties moneymakers, but it was lackluster.
  Maybe they're annoyed with all the American Idol rumors, or that Brad Whitford looks like he belongs in the rock and roll retirement home. Or maybe Joe and Steven are simply having a hard time sharing the stage without knocking each other down as they did during recent clumsiness at their Wantagh, New York and Toronto, Canada concerts, respectively.
  In my opinion, it's an excellent time for the members of Aerosmith to move on to new adventures peacefully, but separately.

Aerosmith Set List:
Eat The Rich
Train Kept A-Rollin' (Tiny Bradshaw cover)
No More No More
Love in an Elevator
Falling in Love (is Hard on the Knees)
Livin' on the Edge
What It Takes
Last Child
Drum Solo
Rag Doll
Guitar Solo
Stop Messin' Around (Fleetwood Mac cover)
I Don't Want To Miss a Thing
Come Together (The Beatles cover)
Sweet Emotion
Draw the Line
Dream On
Walk This Way

  We would have called the evening a mild success after rubbing shoulders with the uber-wealthy. However, during Aerosmith's Walk This Way encore, The Casual One's nineteen year old self possessed his entire body and he began to headbang. This only happens occaisonally, usually when KISS performs 'Lick It Up', but his cell phone flew out of his pocket and into Palace neverland. We searched the suite, the seats, everywhere. No phone.
  This and a elongated conversation with a Arby's late night drive through employee began The Casual One's slow descent into Madness.
by Chester Butternuts
for DRB

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