Crue Fest 2008: Rock N’ Roll is Still Alive and Wailin’

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Come on, come on, come on, come on dude! Pick up the phone you bastard! No luck… I left a message… “Hey man, I haven’t seen you in months, and Motley Crue is coming to town this Saturday! We have to go! Call me back!” It took my friend a day to get back to me and he told me he was too tired to make it….. That isn’t very rock n’ roll; I was worn out too, but I knew I didn’t want to miss out on one of rock’s most arguably sleazy and debauched acts. (Though it is noteworthy that the Crue has cleaned up a bit over the years, all for the better of their music.)

Formed in 1981 here in Los Angeles, California, Motley Crue began a trend in hair metal that all but died out with grunge music in the early 90’s. They are the last band still as admired now as they were during the movement of popular 80’s metal. The Crue were pioneers at the time and whether people like their music or not, you gotta give it to ’em for being the last band standing through self-imposed hard living, excessive drugs and other abuses, as well as the extreme pressures and trends of the music industry.

I went to bed late Friday night and woke up early Saturday morning. I was still tired, but being tired has never stopped me before. I had a few last minute errands to run; stopping by the office to receive and print up my press credentials, picking up some make-up and most importantly grabbing a concert ticket just in case.

Motley Crue: Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars, Vince Neil.
Motley from left to right: Nikki Sixx, Mick Mars & Vince Neil (Tommy Lee Not Shown)

Shortly after all this, I was flying down the 210 East Bound freeway, getting warmed up for the night’s show. Spanning and sifting through the years, I had been listening to the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin all the way up to more modern music and the irresistible sounds of Buckcherry’s hard rock, who also happened to be on the bill for Crue Fest 2008. I arrived to the Glen Helen Pavilion sooner than expected even with all the heavy traffic. I gave the man my parking pass, and asked him if he knew where press registration was. He didn’t know. Then I asked someone else… and someone else after that. No one seemed to know.

I explored the various sections of the venue and its service windows, eventually finding myself at the gates of the administration building; ahhhh, closer to the heart of this thing. I asked the lady at the gates if she knew where the media registration booth was but she couldn’t remember. She was nice enough to walk me inside and we found press booth, but it was empty. She came back minutes later to inform me that they were actually meeting on the other side of the venue. I grabbed my notepad and my pen and followed her through the messy backstage lot, excited at the sight of the tour busses and frantic faces milling around endlessly. However, there was only more confusion to be found when we arrived at the media tent.

“Who? What? Stand where?” They stoned me with an overwhelming force of questions. “Should I just hold back a minute?” “Hold on, let us find the right person.” On this went, through a few people, until finally I found the right person to talk to, who actually wasn’t the right person at all. The questions droned on, an unpleasant grinding in my ears. “Who are you with, and Why?” I showed him my credentials and he snatched my name badge away; my shirt and I felt violated at his quick-jab and fast talk. The credentials weren’t good enough; I think they needed more glitter. There was a bad communication break-down here; they thought I was some random scammer trying to sneak in for free.

The man was calling what looked like a security guard over. He was absolute intimidation draped in dark shades while the sun flashing off his bald head and various pieces of ink work done on his muscular calves and torso. Before I even heard them talk, I knew what they were getting at. My love for finding my way to the heart of the story failed to protect me anymore at this point; at once I began to feel the bad vibrations. I tried to relax but my instincts were way ahead of my brain…be calm, be cool… in control… no need to get nervous… RUN RUN RUN… but I was outnumbered. I was flanked on both sides by self-important authority and snobbish music-biz hot shots. My nerves were cracking, and I could feel the contempt and dread creeping up my spine

All of this reminded me of how I truly detest authority figures, and clearly no one here really understood the mission. Like I’m really going to be able to cover something like this from the loge seating section?! Give me a break! They turned to talk to me, “How did you get back here again?” they inquired. “One of your ladies down at the desk, err, gate, walked me back here… I’m just trying to find the media tent.” I blathered on like this for a minute or two. There nazi-esque staring match and militant demeanor was getting to me though. I was cornered, stuck in their world now. The frustration and anger I felt was beginning to give way to disappointment in this species and depression in general. I was so close too, but it was too late; they smelled my fear. “Come on guys”, I tried to reason with them, after all, most humans have some sort of logic built in to them, however limited it may be. Exasperated, I finally spit it out: “I’m just looking for the heart of the story.” Reason didn’t work with these types though.

The hot-shot looked me up and down, noting my tennis shoes, cargo shorts, black wife beater, Wayfarer sunglasses and circa-1983 Shout at the Devil makeup. He jerked his finger at me and concluded, “Clearly he isn’t with the media.” His asinine assumption was directed at the security clout who nodded in ignorant concurrence. I’m also a dedicated fan too, I thought as I blurted out “Define media!” I was getting overly excited now and they both just glared at me. Clearly sarcasm didn’t belong here, not in this delicate situation, so I reevaluated the circumstances. Reason wasn’t working, sarcasm is no good, and getting belligerent wont help at all, unless I was looking to get arrested… and then the story would be lost and muddled behind jail bars and in hand cuffs. The reality was that there were just too many people flashing V.I.P. passes and security badges in a foul display of supercilious flattery and frivolousness. It dawned on me, my credentials and ticket purchase didn’t matter at this point, procedures are procedures for those lacking in humor and spirit.

But what would Motley Crue say about such a vulgar mistreatment of one of their biggest fans, supporters and sources of income? How would Nikki Sixx deal with this? Not the trashed world-wide rock star, but the sober human being??? “Hmmmm, It’s ok”, I said to the conceited luminary and the authoritative somebody, “I don’t really like the press either.”, and while this is true, they’re curious frowns only deepened. It was clear they NEVER would understand my mission.

“Ok. I’ll take you to the right place.” the security guard finally said, being far too serious in his manners for me to know it was anything pleasant. I tried to listen to the hot-shots last few remarks to our authoritarian friend; it was mostly bragging followed by the words “Take care of him…” and “..not here of Course.” The backstage wizard disappeared back into the swirling crowd. What does ‘take care of him’ mean?!?! I feverishly debated the meaning of this in my head. “Follow me.”, the skin said, speaking the words sharply to let me know that my momentary fate was in his hands. I reluctantly tagged along, ever more nervous and staying paces behind him for fear he would attack me, to make me think twice for some crime I didn’t commit. I equated ‘taking care of me’ as knocking my teeth out and caving my chest in. I followed him some more, jumping back a step every time he turned to check on me …it felt as if total break down and rage could be imminent, the vibrations were completely menacing. Fight or flight? And then there is always compliance, I suppose…..but where is the fun in that?

“So how did you really get back here?” he asked for the countless time again. “I told you man, I’m a writer going for the guts of this story, and your lady down at the gate walked me back here and now I’m with you.” I wasn’t expecting his next comment, but I found it extremely amusing. “See man, that will teach you to listen to anyone.” That was the comment verbatim, “….to listen to anyone.” I was still on guard while he led me around the rear of the pavilion; past the supposed V.I.P.’s and various product-hawking display exhibitions to the Pavilion’s own security booth, which was conveniently next to the San Bernardino’s police’s tent. The real police, but they were not the problem. I was helpless in the hands and whims of all the unnecessary authorities at this point, but I still wanted to snap, to call names and start fights…some sort of outmoded survival mechanism in my genetic make up. They were nice enough, but you can never bring yourself to like these people in sticky situations like this. At best, you just don’t call them any obscene names or fight with them. I think they sensed this about me, because one of the officers mentioned they would hand me over to the real police if I were to really try to start anything. I wasn’t going to though, but it was just far too much of a sobering experience…not much fun at all.

It was followed by the same inane questions; “Who, what, where, these are your credentials? How did you get back here?” “Your people took me back here…Look I’m a writer just looking to get to the heart of the story, to feel it, to soak it up, and at least I have some sort of mishap for some sort of story…but…” They just continued to do their jobs; taking down my information, taking a photograph and turning me back over to the rigid skin-head repressor. I still stood back at a distance as he explained I can stay on the outside of the venue and retrieve my car, but if I came back inside I would be arrested for trespassing, like I had committed some damaging or heinous crime. It was not worth the risk and I also feared for my sanity in case I had to deal with these Nazis again.

I still stick to the notion that I was not in the wrong; that I made no mistakes and did it all with nothing but good intentions. Of course I was judged by my actions and the end result was nothing but mess; even though I came and went in peace and as a paying customer. Aside from missing out on a good show, I have no regrets. I was staying true to my nature as a street writer while searching for the life pulse and spirit of the story; to really delve into this account. There was no half-reporting this, especially from the loge. I don’t buy the side-line reporters and the whole journalistic nonsense that remains the bottom of the word-craft barrel; just more reporter hacks and journalist misfits searching for their nickels and dimes. It is an insult to the art of the writer and there is no middle ground for me; I was merely making my way to the central nerve.

Why all this guilt then? I had already paid for my ticket and I know there was no trying to get over on anyone, no thievery involved, just a story to write and correctly represent. I had to reassess this as I glanced down at the words I had scrawled on my note pad as I had walked with the event coordinator woman who guided me from the gates into the media tent. The words were messy and jumbled from walking and writing at the same time, but they read clear enough: “Will this work?”

So maybe I was trying to get in on the real scoop for free, but I had already paid for a ticket; I was well on my way, sifting through the ruckus and trying to warm up closer to the romance and electricity that was no doubt going to be Crue Fest 2008.

As I walked back to my car, I said to myself “Did this really happen?” And yes, it was the rotten truth; it had really happened. This was Crue Fest 2008 for me, here in the Desert Wastelands of San Bernardino California. This was my odyssey, especially since I stay as far away from San Bernardino County as possible if I can help it. I scrawled some notes to myself, and hopped in the car. I turned the key. The engine lit up, came alive and the stereo was blasting Motley Crue’s cover of ‘Anarchy in the U.K.” by the Sex Pistols. Oh God I thought, anything but this right now. Fitting perhaps, but I was in no mood for it. I turned off the CD player. I still love and respect the band; I just couldn’t listen to their music at that moment.

Rock N’ Roll was still alive and kicking, I knew this and I didn’t need to see the show to figure it out. Unfortunately, the pompous authority figures and hot-shots that are apart of its make up are still alive and well too. I turned the steering wheel and drove off across the Pavilion’s premier parking field. I was shooting back to LA as I saluted the tailgaters, drunkards and people looking forward to the good times of Crue Fest as night began its descent in the arid desert desolation that is San Bernardino, California.