Dispatches, thoughts, and miscellanea from writer Jon Konrath


So the Fozzy show on Friday night went well. I got to Times Square at about 6:30 and grabbed a hot dog and a Coke before I got in line at the World. There were a fair number of people there, and I was further back than when me and Ray went to a Smackdown broadcast earlier this year, but luckily it wasn’t 34 degrees or whatever this time. The line went in fast, and I had some time to kill before the show, but there wasn’t a mad mob of people. The stage had about three or four people deep, but the rest of the floor was open, and the place has some weird ramps and balconies and stuff that allowed a lot of good vantage points.

I got a place just right of center, about four or five people back. The first band was Sick Speed an Atlanta band formed by Stuck Mojo guitarrist Rich Ward. Fozzy is essentially Stuck Mojo with Chris Jericho as the lead singer, so Ward pulled double-duty that night. I had no idea of any of this until I got to my web browser later that night, so all I knew was that the band’s name was Sick Speed and they were opening. I actully dug these guys a lot; they have a melodic feel like Creed, but with much more of a metal thickness and tone. Ward’s got an incredible stage presence, and really knew how to work the crowd and get things going. They also had incredible sound, excellent tone with everything well-mixed; that’s unusual for an opening band, especially in a small place like the World.

After Sick Shift, there was a big equipment shift, and I thought the roadies were getting some stuff ready for Fozzy. Turns out the “roadies” were actually the next band. They started their set without telling the crowd who they were, and plunked away a very low-energy set. These guys sounded like a bad garage band, like some dudes that listened to the Meat Puppets and maybe some Maiden and decided to get together and jam. The lead singer/guitar player was rumored to be Jericho’s brother, but nobody could confirm it. After the first two songs, people were yelling “WHO ARE YOU?” and I think the singer was going to start crying. I was surprised I was in a club full of wrestling fans who weren’t heckling him worse, so I started the Kurt Angle “YOU SUCK/YOU SUCK” chant, and three seconds later, everyone in the club was chanting “YOU SUCK.” They tried to dig themselves out of that hole by playing a Billy Idol song. To end their set, they played a slightly more metalized verion of “Are You Experienced,” and I have to admit that they did a good job musically with it, but it wasn’t the right thing for this crowd. They managed to escape with their lives, and then we went through another equipment shift while I talked to some other guys about the horror we just witnessed. I mentioned the story about how in 1997, I saw Dream Theater at the Fenix in Seattle, and a fresh-on-tour-and-unknown Creed opened for them, in what was the worst mismatch since Hendrix and The Monkees.

After several minutes of roadies and tests (but not as much as you’d think – turns out Sick Shift and Fozzy shared a lot of gear) the classical music intro from Happenstance started, and the band ran out and started their full-metal cover assault. I forgot that Fozzy has three guitar players now, and it’s amazing there were no collisions on the smallish stage. Jericho ran out – sorry, I think it’s Chris Irving, or whatever fake name he uses for Fozzy – and I was amazed to see him there in the not-larger-than-life size. When you see pro wrestlers on TV, you’re amazed and think they are nine feet tall. But when you see one and they are the same height as you, it’s a bit weird. I mean, he’s a big guy muscle-wise – he could kick my ass – but it’s always weird to see people as people instead of what TV distorts them into.

I don’t remember the entire setlist, but it wasn’t incredibly long, and it also was more covers than I thought. They did do “Crucify Yourself” and the single “To Kill a Stranger” was the encore. But they did a lot of great covers, like Krokus/”Eat the Rich,” Twisted Sister/”Stay Hungry,” Motley Crue/”Live Wire,” and Accept/”Balls to the Wall.” New covers not on either of their albums included AC/DC’s “TNT” (which turned into a big sing-along with all of us chanting “Oy! Oy! Oy!” and a dude getting pulled up on stage by Jericho to sing a verse), ‘Priest’s “Breaking the Law” (how could you not cover that one), and Iron Maiden’s “Wrathchild.” Also a minor contribution to my 15 minutes of fame: Jericho took a big hit from his bottled water and then spit it into the audience, and some of it hit me. So that should make you rasslin’ fans jealous.

The show ended by 11:00, so I caught another hot dog and got home. My knees were killing me from standing on a hardwood floor all night, but overall it was worth it. I also went to the Sick Speed site and PayPal’ed them ten bucks for their self-released CD, so I’m anxious to hear more from them.

Speaking of Fozzy, my review on Amazon for Happenstance is the featured review, which is always cool…

I had a decent day yesterday, too. I went to Times Square and this time found my friend Rob at his job (The Yankees Store). He was going to eat lunch in an hour, so we agreed to meet up and go to Applebee’s where they have this all-you-can-eat riblet special. I killed the hour at Virgin, looking for a bunch of old metal CDs that I suddenly wanted, after talking to people about old-school bands the night before. I picked up two Helloween CDs that I used to have on tape (Keeper of the Seven Keys part 2 and I Want Out) and the Sabbath album Mob Rules) before walking back in the pissing rain to meet up with Rob.

Lunch was cool, and it’s always good to hang out with Rob. He’s also an Indiana expatriate and we met a few years ago at one of the alumni association things. I laid a copy of Rumored on him, and he picked up the check, which was cool. We didn’t get the all-you-can-eat riblets, and I’m glad, because the cut was sort of fucked-up, like Rocky was practicing his boxing on these ribs and there were all of these little pieces bone in there. I predict that Applebee’s will have some kind of major choking lawsuit in their hands within the next year that will make that McDonald’s parking thing look minor. You heard it here first.

Because the conversation somehow got to comics, after I talked to Rob, I went to Midtown Comics. I used to be a big comic collector; more specifically, I loved Spiderman. For some reason, in my second year of college, I went Marvel-crazy and was on this huge quest to get every single comic that had an appearance of the web-slinger. I realize this is nuts, or at least I do now. But back then, I was spending an entire paycheck on a single Amazing Spiderman, and still wanting more. This was back in 1990, 1991, when the self-titled Spiderman was just out, and there was also Web of, Spectacular, Amazing, and all of the other stuff Spiderman appeared in. There was a Fantastic Four crossover going on then, and who knows what else. But I finally wised up, (I think it was when I realized I would be completely undatable if all of my time and money went to comics – this was before they became insanely popular again) and decided I wasn’t buying another comic ever again.

My friend Ray has been nutso about comics for forever – he’s got about 15,000 of them in his house, and he buys maybe $50 a week of stuff he regularly reads. So he’s always bugging me to get whatever neato title he is reading at the time. (Of course, he’s into all kinds of japanese-samurai stuff that I don’t really like, so it’s hard to get him to shut up about it.) Also, I keep seeing various movies that threaten to pull me back into buying comics. But the main reason I’m curious about it is that it’s a subculture that a lot of people subscribe to, and it’s interesting. I mean, most people these days plug into a larger common thing that I find repulsive, be it sports or boy bands or bad TV shows. And I am not currently into anything that is the other side of that. So there’s a strange draw to it for me, similar to the way zines appealed to me years ago, and how heavy metal used to be interesting.

Anyway, I was amazed by this store and the amount of stuff available. I wanted to get something, and I’d heard about a new version of Spiderman called Ultimate Spiderman, but browsing a collection of the comic didn’t really impress me. Something about the artwork was just too weird to me, so I decided to pass on that.

Not much else is up. I went through my CD collection last night, cleaned things up and got my online list in order. You can see a list of everything I own here. 761 CDs, more or less. I haven’t bought a lot in the last year, and I wish I knew what I liked a bit more, so I could start collecting, getting into it a bit more.

Okay, I’ve been typing forever, and I need to get out of the house and get some shit done today.