Before we get started, let’s have some background story for context. On the day of the show, I was working at my day job (which, in case you’re curious, is a quirky little antique shop on the outskirts of the city limits, because of course it is.) One of my customers was looking at crystals, tarot cards… And an Ouija Board! Neither of us had ever used one before, but we were both curious, so we shared our first time together. We both lightly placed our fingertips on the planchette, just barely touching it as softly as humanly possible, and she asked it: “Is anyone here?” Then the planchette seemed to move itself to “No”. Huh? What? That doesn’t even make any sense! If nobody was there, then how did the planchette move? And if the customer was just messing with me, then why didn’t she just move it to “Yes” for maximum spookiness? Go figure: my first Ouija experience was more comical than creepy!
Later that day, my uncle and aunt visited me to drop off some gifts. She gave me several t shirts that belonged to her son – my late cousin Greg, who was murdered last year. Napalm Death, Iron Maiden, The Misfits, Guns n Roses… I love the shirts, and I appreciate the bittersweet nature of Memento Mori, but I probably will never, ever wear them. I just keep them in my closet for sentimental value. The coincidences are so profound that it sounds like I’m making it up. He was killed on the late night of October 31, or early morning of November 1, 2022. Halloween/Day of the Dead. It was a full moon. Meanwhile, I was partying at a WASP concert with my (now ex) boyfriend, unaware of Greg’s fate until it was already too late. A few weeks prior, my aunt had seen a psychic, who had eerily predicted the tragic death.
This, in turn, reminded me of the synchronicities surrounding my dad’s death by brain aneurysm in 2012, over a decade ago. When he passed away, he was wearing a t-shirt that I made in elementary school for Father’s Day. Guess what it said? “Night of the Living Dad”. What was once a cute punchline, was now a sick prank by a cosmic joker. I wish I had stayed home on the night that he died, instead of sneaking out to mess around with one of my toxic boy toys. I don’t even remember his name, but I know he was a Squid, aka a Navy Guy. That bad dude even “accidentally” (?) chipped my tooth, as he grabbed the bottle of booze straight outta my mouth while I was still drinking it. To this day, the jagged edge of my top right canine still occasionally cuts me. Despite being a good kisser and buying me dinner, I now knew Navy Guy’s true colors, and I did not sleep a wink as he snored loudly beside me. I knew something was wrong, so I walked home from my one night stand, as the sun rose, just to see my house surrounded by ambulances and cop cars, and my stepmother weeping and sobbing hysterically on the front porch. Several miles away, my uncle, a retired firefighter, woke up to the sound of my dad’s voice, calling his name. And when we took my dad to the hospital in a vain attempt to save his life, a youngish doctor with long pretty blond hair delivered the terrible news. Guess what her name was? Dr. Pepper. Yeah, really! Meanwhile, I paced the nightmarish labyrinth of fluorescent lights and clinical tiles of the hospital, after my sleepless night with Navy Guy, wanting nothing more than to take a nap and get some rest. Then my phone was ringing nonstop because, of all people, my stupid idiot weed dealer kept pocket dialing me. So instead of having a dignified meeting with my family during my dad’s final hours, I just felt awkward and embarrassed the whole entire time!
Tragedy plus time equals comedy. Laugh to keep from crying, you know? Just like me, Alice knows exactly what it feels like to have one foot in the grave, and the other on a banana peel. His music is like a microcosm of life itself: Scary, funny, profound, silly, sexy, cool, weird, awesome, flawed, and imperfect, all at the same time!
Despite the mosh of mixed emotions raging in the pit of my stomach, I put on a brave face. Even if I broke down crying, I would just pretend that the running mascara was part of my Alice Cooper outfit. My mom, niece, and I were ready to party! Three generations of rocker chicks, painting the town red with a girls night out. Top tier parenting! Now this is what la familia is all about!
The show started with Alice ripping through a giant newspaper with his face on it, as he burst into the opening numbers, Lock Me Up and Welcome To the Show. No More Mr Nice Guy was an all time classic. I’m Eighteen was also a fan favorite. Under My Wheels was pure nostalgia. Bed of Nails, Billion Dollar Babies, and Be My Lover were all catchy crowd-pleasers. Lost in America is another track that strikes uncomfortably close to home for my dysfunctional family. My mom, niece, and I exchanged knowing glances, as we sung along, together:
“I got a mom but I ain’t got a dad.
My dad’s got a wife but she ain’t my mom.
Mom’s looking for a man to be my dad.
But I want my mom and dad to be my real mom and dad.
Is that so bad?
Oh, I think I’ve been had!”
The lyrics related to us and our situations. Similarly, I appreciate the anti-suicide message, said with tough love and gallows humor, of “Hey Stoopid!” Again, my niece and I looked at each other, with a nod of mutual understanding, as we sang along:
“Now I know you’ve been kicked around!
You ain’t alone in this ugly town!
You stick a needle in your arm!
You bite the dust, you buy the farm!”
Welcome to my Nightmare was visually stunning, with special effects of a cloudy rainstorm, including rumbling thunder and flashes of lightning. Then there was severe mood whiplash, transitioning from the cheeky dark humor of necrophilia in Cold Ethel, to the sweet, sensitive, sincere, and serious ballad about domestic violence of Only Women Bleed. Poison and Feed my Frankenstein followed suit, with danceable beats and memorable riffs. Ballad of Dwight Fry had Alice in chains (heh) as he was restrained in a straitjacket, belting out the haunting lyrics of a brain broken by psychosis:
“See my lonely life unfold.
I see it every day.
See my only mind implode,
When I’ve gone insane.”
Marie Antoinette eventually put Alice out of his misery, beheading him with a guillotine. After the public execution, she then triumphantly paraded about the stage, weilding his decapitated noggin, a grim trophy of revolution and war, while singing I Love the Dead.
Black Widow, as always, featured a totally bitchin’ solo. Then Alice miraculously rose from the grave, like an undead zombie, looking rather sharp and dapper in a pristine white suit and matching top hat.
Elected is a political satire about the hollow, empty promises that politicians make during their campaigns. All of their rhetoric basically boils down to Pedro’s speech in Napoleon Dynamite. “If you vote for me, all of your wildest dreams will come true!”
For the encore, they performed the ultimate anthem of summertime rebellion and reckless youthful abandon: School’s Out! We pointed and laughed at the onscreen projection of a burning school building on fire. Alice used a sword to pop giant balloons full of confetti. Hell, one of the balloons almost made it’s way all the way up to our nosebleed seats in the far back! But that’s the great thing about stadiums and amphitheaters like Rio Rancho Event Center. Even when the seats suck, they’re still actually pretty good. You always get a decent view, no matter what! And thus, our night ended on a high note!
Alice Cooper is just like the perfect street taco from your favorite food truck. The drums are like the corn tortilla, a warm, earthy, hearty foundation with a mildly sweet aftertaste. The bass is like the cotija cheese, a sprinkle of savory flavor that’s just plain addictive. The guitar is like the meat, the heart of things, spicy and intense. (And it doesn’t hurt that Nita Strauss just so happens to be a bodacious babe!). The vocals are like the pico de gallo, sharp and distinct, a burst of energy that makes you go “Oh!”. The lyrics and visuals are the Valentina hot sauce that I always slather all over everything, and only serves to make it all even better.
I’ve seen Alice Cooper so many times that I’ve literally lost count. Let’s see, I know for sure I saw him with Cheap Trick at the Journal Pavilion/Isleta Amphitheater… Then the State Fair… Then at the Albuquerque Convention Center… Then again at Journal/Isleta, this time with Deep Purple… Now at the Rio Rancho Event Center… So I’ve seen him at least 5 times by now! Yet I have the nagging feeling that I’ve forgotten something? Perhaps watching the Brutal Planet concert DVD religiously counts as an honorary show? Oh well, who cares, Alice Cooper rules, and nothing else matters! 4 stars outta 5!