Alice In Chains

August 16, 2010

I woke up Friday morning and the first thing on my mind is : Tickets. Need tickets for Alice In Chains.

They are the main reason I am here in Sturgis and rode 3 days of 400 miles. I want to see this band. I walked around town, someone told me that I could buy tickets here, but I did not find it. I ate breakfast at the Insanity bar along with some Hells Angels and walked back to the house.

I slathered myself with sunscreen. It’s a gorgeous sunny day and I know I will be sitting in the sun for quite a while.

Sturgis is swamped. The speed averages about 5 MPH. There are stops at each intersection and I was told that every motorcyclist must put both feet down at the stops, wear goggles or full face and use turn signals otherwise expect to be ticketed. There is a lot of police around. The other factor of the slowness is that riding here is a bit like a parade, every dude wants to be seen riding his bike.

The venue is about 4 miles out of town. I get there, park, which is free for all bikes, yay! I immediately went to the box office and bought my ticket. I am so excited. This is a very rare thing for me to go out to a concert, always too busy or something… but this is happening…

The show will start around 6 PM and it’s now noon… What to do?

I was walking around when I heard some music… Someone is doing sound check… It’s Guns & Roses . I tried to have a look but security told me to leave. I went inside this big building, it is a gigantic space with a bunch of bars, stages with poles for dancers with actual girls dancing there and middle aged leather clad men oggling. It’s kinda embarrassing for humanity… I mean… There you have these barely of age cutie pies flirting with all their assets with these… how shall I say, very seasoned men for some tips… and they all play the game… The girls stuff the money in their bras or thongs and shake their money makers… The oldest game in the world still being played and it’s not golf.

My mind on the other hand is still on the music. In the far corner is a door. The door has a view on the stage and a small fenced area outside the door, I go there… and I got to watch GNR do their sound check. It sounds good. Two young guys arrive, one is a big fan of GNR the other a big fan of Alice In Chains. We chat and watch and wait for AIC’s sound check.

But we are disappointed as only the tech guys are checking mics, guitars, bass, drums… But I saw Jerry’s guitar… then William Duval’s Les Paul… Oh… I’m so excited… How am I going to wait all this time…

At about that point I realized that my camera’s battery has died… and I have no fresh ones. Oh no… to get here and not be able to take pictures… I looked everywhere and they are either sold out or they don’t have them. I’d have to get back to town but that could take hours : one hour to get there, then try to find batteries somewhere in a town I don’t know, then turn around which could take another hour… So I decided to stay.

I ate a chicken sandwich that was $8 for a slab of chicken on a bun and drank a $5 lemonade… Yikes. Water is $4 a bottle. Thankfully my camel back is full.

I wandered by the gate, there was a small gathering. Bumblefoot, one Axl Rose’s guitarist is there. I knew who he was from my guitar mags. He is just chatting with fans. As he was leaving I told him that I really loved his playing. He thanked me and shook my hand, genuinely, eye to eye. That was neat. This guy is a brilliant guitarist. His soloing on Chinese Democracy is so incredibly emotional it just takes your breath away.

I decided to stay there. The hard core fans are here for a shot at being at the rail. Right at the stage. I am 5th in line. We chat, laugh, I make friends with some of the people there. 5 PM goes by, then just before 6 the security staff arrives. They check our bags, we wait until about 6 PM. Then the gates open. I get my wristband and take off running to the left of the stage. I get there and realized that Jerry is always on the right… I look over to the right, there is barely anyone there… I was leaving when one of the guys I had befriended said “hey, where are you going” I said “ Jerry is always on the other side! And I ran to the other side.

So there I am. At the rail, directly in front of Jerry’s microphone about 12 feet away from the stage, front row… Wow!!! Could not be better.

To my left is an amazon woman. She must be close to 6 feet tall. She has platinum blond hair to the middle of her back, a large top hat made of fake fur, in black. She wears a leather bikini top with fringe to the waist and a pair of shorts and motorcycle boots. Next to her is her boyfriend, bandana, jeans, with a burnt face like a true biker. We introduce ourselves.

She tells me how to keep my spot on the rail and how you should never let ANYONE in that space or you’ll be kicked out of your spot.

“You get these sweet bitches and they are all nice but you give them an inch and they’ll kick you right out!” She looks like a rock star herself, people ask to take pictures with her. She is bold and strong and wild. She calls herself a Rock & roll Granny. But she is hotter than most young chickies anywhere.

To my right, there are two young guys, one is into GNR the other is into AIC. We chat and make friends.

We were waiting. At one point this obnoxious if not noxious guy came right behind the amazon and her man. He was calling people on his phone and saying really loud : YEAH! I’M AT THE RAIL, THE F*# RAIL! He was with a woman. He approached the amazon and kept saying, YEAH, THE F#%n RAIL! FOR GUNS & ROSES!!.

I thought “ this guy is trouble”. He had the demeanor of a total dick head, aggressive, jutted chin, squinty mean eyes and a body language that spoke of violence. Yuk.

the first band came on.

I felt a tug on my bag. I turned around. The noxious man was behind me and blew in the whistle I have hanging on my bag. Seeing him I could not hide a look of repulsion. I looked away. Thankfully he walked away.

The second band comes on.

The noxious man makes a move. He puts his girlfriend at the rail. The amazon gets mad because her boyfriend let this woman come at the rail. She told me that she thinks she likes her man… Some pushing and shoving ensues. Noxious man makes a move to hit the amazon, the boyfriend retaliates… SECURITY!

The security staff shows up, grabs both men, separates them… and leave them there. I’m thinking : wrong move.

The second band starts their set.

The amazon and the nasty guy go for round two.

I was watching the band having a good time so I did not see how it started but suddenly I am being pulled backwards, I look back and see beer flying in the air, arms, people fighting. I’m off balance, I’m trying to get up but I am pulled into the melee. Then I felt arms grabbing me protectively and pull me away but they could not because someone was hanging on to my pants!

The two young guys to my right who saw that I was being pulled into the fight came to my rescue by pulling me out of it. The hand holding my back pocket was the hand of the girlfriend of the noxious man… Someone managed to free me from that. And I was finally on my feet. I looked back and the girlfriend had a full bloody face… the amazon had punched her repeatedly I was told and her punching hand had about 4 huge metal rings… ouch.

The band kept playing… The guys were keeping their arms as a protective barrier around me. Finally security came. The amazon was asking me to tell security that they were “good people”. I tried to say something but at this point I better just let things run their course.

They all got hauled away… while we were all standing there kind of shocked… I guess the rail is good but also dangerous.

Second band finishes… It’s going to be Alice In Chains! Oh My God!!! Can you believe it!!! I am here! HERE! I will see my favorite band in the world, 12 feet away from me… AAAAAHHHHH!!!

Then they came on… the big guitar sound. The big, huge, amazing, velvety growl with soaring overtones, the drums, the bass, AAAAHHHH!!!

I’m jumping up and down, screaming! There they are. Right in front of me. I am so happy. The start singing and those harmonies, the voices I have heard a billion times on CD… right there, right in front of me. I drove nearly a thousand miles to see them!

There is no artifice, no gizmos, no tricks. They just play and they are so good. The sound is perfect. I did not even have to wear ear plugs.

The wind blow, the music flows, the lights create a sort of magic halo. I took some of these images and made sure to embed them in my memory… Hair floating in the wind, the smoke, the colors, the feel of the night. It’s out of this world. I sing every word. Jerry Cantrell is right in front of me, he plays his guitar. So self assured, powerful and he has a sort of calm that speaks of enormous power. A true star.

William Duval sings perfectly, he spits, he walks around like a tiger. At one point he looked at me straight in the eyes and mouthed “do you feel me?” and I mouthed back “yes!” and lifted both arms up with peace signs sending all the energy I could possibly send his way. Later in the show, the bass player, Mike Inez, came and stood in front of us to play, I was smiling so wide, and he caught my smile and smiled too.

This could not have been better. This is more than I ever imagined. How to express… the sounds… the music, the words… I wanted it to never end… but it did… Then the guys came to the edge of the stage and threw drum sticks, picks to the crowd. One of the guys next to me, the one into GNR, (one of my saviors!) got one… He looked at me and said : “this would mean much more to you than it would to me and he gave it to me….

I am holding this pick in my hands… it’s dark brown, there is Jerry Cantrell’s signature on one side and ALICE written on the other. I am so, so, so flabbergasted. THANK YOU!!! I am so excited. Like having this is the perfect, tangible memento… Jerry Cantrell’s pick… OMG… Jerry Cantrell’s pick!

At this point I felt like I had all I wanted. GNR was coming up and I did not really care.. I wondered if there was a “meet the band” area somewhere…

but maybe GNR would be a great show, I love their music… what to do?

Well in retrospect, I wish I had left there and then.

I stayed. And we waited. And the crowd got rowdy. So to calm the resentment the cameramen started showing girls in the audience. Then the girls started to show their boobs to the camera and so on… Sigh. But at some point that wasn’t enough. One guy shouted : we came for the music not to see tits… and the crowd started to chant : Guns And Roses… Guns and Roses… Nothing happened.

Then they started to chant : Bullshit, Bullshit, Bullshit… Nothing happened, only more boobs, pasties coming off, bras, shirts. We got to see a couple of girls with fake ones…

then they started to boo : Boooooooooo….

and then projectiles started to fly. Full beer cans to the stage. One hit a microphone directly. One hit a keyboard. One almost hit a cameraman… There is a not so good feeling in the air. We’ve been waiting for almost an hour and a half. Big burly security guys were deployed. There is a strange quiet tension building on the other side of that railing.

I’m thinking, if things go to hell I got to jump that rail. And it’s Axl Rose, and it’s a crowd of bikers looking for trouble so it could go to shit.

Strangely, in the midst of this crazyiness it was getting cold out, I was shivering, one of the security guys saw me shiver and handed me his jacket… how wild is that?

I then heard a good one by one of the security guys : Axl said he would not play on Friday the 13th so that is why he will show up at 12:30… maybe it’s just a rumor. Hopefully it is …. Because that is pretty lame. To risk so much, to have all these people that came from so far away to see GNR. Like the guys next to me drove 700 miles to be there.

Finally the projector guys climbed ladders to the ceiling of the stage. A delegation of press people walked in front of the railing to the press booth. Musicians came on stage. Beer cans are still flying…

Axl shows up. He started to sing and I just hated it. He was a parody of himself.

A huge guy posted himself right in front of me on the other side of the railing. He looked like Eric the Red. He leaned on the rail and crushed my fingers… I could not see anything… I was brash enough to tell him he crushed my fingers and to please move. And he said : I’m here, I’m staying here, blah, blah… He did not sound too bright. Or maybe he did sound drugged up. But he did move out of my field of vision.

I watched two songs. The singing was out of tune, he was screaming his head off, gesticulating grandiosely but unconvincingly. I told my two friends : “ I can’t get into it, I’m gonna go” and I left.

I found my way out of the packed crowd, the wind was blowing hard, I was frozen in minutes. It’s close to 1 AM. I got to my bike, got some clothes out of my bags, geared. But now they are inside my up, got on and headed back into town. Yeah. I should have tried to see AIC, I should have left right after the show. But now they are in my mind, in my heart forever and I even have a pick… What a night… And I’m glad I did not have my camera because I would have tried to take pictures the whole time instead of enjoying the show.


Alice In Chains : I love you!


2 Responses to “Alice In Chains”

  1. Steve Tayler Says:

    Hey Danielle! More great stories…glad to hear that your 6th sense is keeping you safe and just out of arms reach of the crazies! thanks for sharing and being so genuine with your observations…It makes me smile. I’m becoming a blog junkie…blonkie? blunkie? I have to go back to your archive now and catch up on your earlier work…..where next?
    🙂 Steve.

    • Hi Steve,

      Good to hear from you!

      I like “Blunkie” it has a ring to it 😉

      Next… well I am heading towards Altadena California. I went through Yellowstone park today and found myself face to face with a buffalo! Pretty wild and I got a picture to prove it! (you can’t see it, have to wait for the next blog, sorry!)

      All is well, and thanks again for fixing my clutch problem. It was stressing me out so much and it was so simple!

      talk to you soon!


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