Review of Alice Cooper gig at Merriweather Post Pavilion

So Sunday the 17th of October 2010 I drove up to Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Maryland for the Halloween Hootenanny concert. I had won a pair of lawn tickets from MPP’s Twitter account a couple weeks before otherwise I probably wouldn’t have paid to go. There were a lot of bands playing that day, 2Cents, the Murderdolls, Children Of Bodom, Clutch, Alice Cooper, Black Label Society and Rob Zombie. This was because there were two tours that combined for this final show of the season at Merriweather. Since the set times weren’t revealed I got there too late to see a few and honestly I really just wanted to see Alice Cooper the most. They also had midget wrestling going on at some point, but again I was too late for that. I’d have liked to have seen Children Of Bodom again but since they played so damn early I missed them. I did catch a bit of Clutch and Zakk Wylde with BLS, but I didn’t stick around for Rob Zombie’s show as I’ve seen it a few times and really, I’m not that into techno. Those bands I’ve all seen before anyways, so it wasn’t a big deal, but I hadn’t seen Alice Cooper before and of course I’d heard a lot about his live show. I guess my point is, he’s one of those guys I wanted to see live at least once, though after that show I’d probably go see him again and pay for better seats too. Still, I can’t complain with free tickets.

I got there early enough to get a decent spot in the center of the lawn about as close as I could get without being too underneath the large monitor above. It’s been a few years since I’ve headed up to Merriweather and I’d never seen a second stage set up there. It was sort of awkwardly placed on the lawn on the side of the main entrance to the venue. Not the end of the world, but the farther back you were the more downhill you’d be. It was nice being able to hear Clutch play from my spot on the lawn while I was waiting for Alice Cooper to hit the stage. It was dark by the time he did start playing which really helped the setting. Right away he went into School’s Out followed by No More Mr Nice Guy, which sort of seemed odd since I kind of assumed he’d close with one of them. I think maybe he knew he had to play them and just wanted to get them out of the way. He then went into I’m Eighteen, which is one of the songs I had hoped he’d play. It was his first hit and really the song that got him noticed and it was nice to see he still played it. The set was a decent retrospective of his career. He played old classics like Billion Dollar Babies and Poison, and also had a few newer songs in the mix like Vengeance Is Mine and Dirty Diamonds. I didn’t recognize some of that newer material, and some of the songs they played I hadn’t heard since I was a kid. So that was kind of cool, he didn’t play Hey Stoopid or Bed Of Nails, which I guess I wanted to see since I at least remembered those songs. However, he did play the song Feed My Frankenstein, which of course was made famous by that scene in Wayne’s World. It’s a pretty damn goofy song, full of even more overt horror metaphor as sexual innuendo than your typical Cooper song, but it was damn entertaining. Hell, the giant cyclops monster thing that came out on stage to fight him during that song was pretty cool too. And that’s the thing about this show, when Alice Cooper is on the stage he’s always entertaining. He’s constantly doing SOMETHING! Maybe just walking around flipping his cane around like a baton or getting the audience to join in on some of the chorus lines. And then there’s the props. He did the classic guillotine decapitation, which is something I had always heard about but never seen, so that was awesome to see. He also had some thing where he was put into a box and had swords run through him. He did a song sitting in a chair in a straight jacket as well as having other characters come out in costumes to interact with him on stage for various songs. In one case he had Nurse Rozetta come out and inject him with some neon green fluid in a giant syringe (it sort of reminded me of Re-animator). However, he did not do the famous gallows noose hanging, which I was hoping he’d do (he refused to do it for several years after an accident happened performing the stunt once). One cool thing was he sort of had storylines going from song to song, for instance in one he’d commit a murder, then in the next song he’d be executed for it, then in the next he’d be waking up in hell. As I said before, the entire time he was on stage was pretty damn entertaining, whether I knew the songs or not. But that’s the one problem with the show, he wasn’t always on the stage, most notably during a long instrumental segment that involved a drum solo and several guitar solos. This went on for entirely too long! Now I was kind of expecting Alice to come back on stage with some crazy costume or something that obviously required several minutes to put together, but he didn’t really have anything that crazy on when he came back for Vengeance Is Mine (I have video of it below). I know he’s not the youngest performer around, so maybe he just needed a break but damn that jam session went on forever and was certainly the low point of the show for me. Not that the guys in the band weren’t talented musicians, but it just seemed to go on and on and on to the point that we were making jokes about them being a hippie jam band. Regardless, the show was certainly worth seeing and I’m glad I got to see Alice Cooper at least once, though I could have done with a few less crotch shots on the jumbo trons.

Aside from all the bands performing, the Halloween Hootenanny had some other things too, midget wrestling (which I missed) as well as at least one ride that I went on and a haunted house as well. I went to the show kind of expecting all that to cost money, but was surprised to find they were all free. I went on that spinning ride that makes ya stick to the walls and then rotates up into the air. It was ok I guess, the view of the bathrooms was exquisite from the the top. The haunted house was much more fun though. They made you wear these 3D glasses and had painted things so they’d glow in a black light. Spinning rooms, the ground painted to look like steps that weren’t there, and people jumping out that really did blend in perfectly with the backgrounds when you had the glasses on, and other illusions were all part of it. There was a confusing part with checkered sheets you sort of had to fumble your way through. That was more confusing than scary. Overall it was pretty entertaining and was certainly worth the wait in line. After that I caught a bit of Zakk Wylde’s Black Label Society and then we decided to head out early to beat traffic. In all it was a great concert experience, especially since we got tickets, posters, buttons and rides all for free! I really wouldn’t mind seeing Alice Cooper again, though hopefully next time he’ll get to play a longer set and it’ll be a bit closer to home for me. Now below you’ll find the videos I shot there. Keep in mind I was on the lawn so they are by no means the best videos I’ve ever posted.

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