People say things all the time they don't mean. "We should get together." "Call me." "No, you don't look fat in that." They're ways to close out a conversation or survive a talk with your spouse.
So I was skeptical when Rikki Rockett from Poison said after my interview for the Greeley Tribune that, "I should come backstage and say hi," I figured it was just something to say.
But I did something I usually never do.
I took him up on it.
I contacted Poison's manager, told her what she said and explained that, if there was no way to come through, I would of course understand. I think I said this seven or eight times.
It had been a long week. After I did a cover story with Bobby the Bass Player on the band for Saturday's show at the Stampede, our annual two-week hick-fest, rodeo and excuse to eat lots of deep-fried foods on a stick, a few days ago Rockett released a statement saying he never would have agreed to play had he known the Stampede was a rodeo. I put out feelers through SHARK, the animal-rights organization who helped organize his statements, and within 10 minutes Rockett called me back on a break from rehearsal. I wrote the story that day.
Well, as you can imagine, we don't take kindly to such fluff (I actually think Rockett had a good point and spoke well, but Greeley, which was built on the fortunes of a meat-industry powerhouse, doesn't exactly concern itself with the feelings of animals). Saturday Bret Michaels, who has his own wacked-out show to worry about, released his own statement blasting Rockett for his statements a few days later.
It made for good ink, and though I'm usually not the kind of journalist who thrives on that sort of thing, occasionally it's an OK treat, kind of like eating a deep-fried something on a stick.
Anyway, Poison's manager wrote me back, and Saturday I went up to the box office fully expecting to be turned down. It didn't matter, we already had tickets purchased by my friend, Jared, for his birthday, so it wouldn't have really ruined the evening. But the lady at the ticket window came back with an envelope.
I tend to get nervous about such things, as I've documented my worries about stuff like the blogger gathering. Artists have such a demand on them, and I hate to be one of those people who just wants a piece of them. But after a shot or two of Jager and an MGD, and my friend's general drunkeness, I got over it. We slapped the pink passes on our chest and ventured backstage.
"Backstage" at the Stampede isn't exactly glamorous. It's back by the arena stage. Sorry, no lingerie-draped velvet rooms with champagne everywhere. Here we were trying not to just step on the horse shit. But, still, it got us an ear to the drama.
A half-hour before the show started, two of the four guys from the Spin Doctors were apparently lost and Poison was nowhere to be found. The guys from Poison, either from all the drama or the fact that they just don't like each other, period, all took separate buses. Maybe that's standard, I don't know, but a part of me doubts it (gas prices, after all).
I had fun talking to the program director from a local radio station here that plays some hair metal. Poison didn't come through with a meet-and-greet for some listeners after the station had promoted it for two weeks and he was understandably pissed about it. I'm not sure if that was the Stampede's or Poison's fault. I guess at that point it doesn't matter. When the Stampede knew the show was going to be late, workers asked him to stall, and he told them he was going to "throw things out for the crowd and then get the hell off the stage." I loved it.
Sure enough, the Spin Doctors did show, and because of inebriated state and general "Fuck it, how many times have you wanted to be backstage and now we're finally here" attitude, he got some photos I snapped with him and the band. He loves the Spin Doctors. I think they're sorta meh although they did put on a good show.
We went backstage again after the intermission and sniffed around. Poison seemed to be playing hide and seek with the meet-and-greeters, although I also wasn't sure why. Again, It may not have been the band. We were about to go back in when Jared spotted Rockett, said, "well, YOU talked to him" and darted off for him. The show was starting in just a couple minutes, and Donovan, my other buddy, turned to me and said, "What the hell." We raced up and got a quick shot. He thanked me for the story and was a very cool guy.
OK, I had my moment and was ready to rock out now.
Rock out we did. Poison put on a good show, better than I thought they would. They got off tempo a few times but otherwise their songs were clean and they harmonized well. Michaels voice was giving out by the end but all the songs sound good, even the ones I hate, like "Unskinny Bop."
We went backstage once again after the show, but I was tired and ready to leave. When two 22-somethings came up to me in pink tops and looked all glittery, they asked how they could meet the band. I looked them over and gave a chuckle.
"I think you've got a better chance than we do," I told them.
And then I left, happy to have the tunes from my high school days still ringing in my ears.
Jared with the lead singer of the Spin Doctors
Jared with Rikki Rockett of Poison (no fair,why am I with one with the camera all the time?)
Poison in all its glory