May 13, 2005 - Montage Mountain - Scranton, PA

Sometime in April my friend Katie (a.k.a. Mara) called me and asked me if I wanted to go with her to see Velvet Revolver in Scranton. Of course, I said "YES!" Who wouldn't want to go see one of the coolest bands around with one of the sexiest women they know? She asked me if that would get her on my site. Again, I replied, "YES!"
Katie then told me the whole deal. She had gone through a service called "I Love All Access" and gotten two 5 Star VIP tickets to the event. The VIP tickets would allow us to bring cameras, plus we would get early admission, a pre-show party, and we got to go to the soundcheck with a chance at a meet and greet with the band. I could hardly wait. The following weeks seemed to drag by. Finally, the day of the show arrived.
May 13th was a perfect day for a road trip. The sun was high, the clouds were sparce, and the temperature was perfect. I woke early, showered and waited for the lovely Miss Katie to show up and get me.
Katie arrived exactly on time (I LOVE punctuality) and we were off.
Scranton, PA is about three hours south of Syracuse and the drive went well. Katie and I chatted, listened to tunes, and were both very excited about the day's events. We followed the directions to the letter and were not disappointed when we arrived at Montage Mountain about an hour early.
When we got to the parking area for the Ford Pavillion, security told us we couldn't park yet and that we would have to come back in an hour. So we drove to the nearest fast food joint which was a Wendy's and had lunch.
I had a burger and Katie had a salad. True to form, just before we left, I ended up spilling my drink all over myself. (D'oh!) But, it ended up drying out before the actual show.
We drove back to the parking area as other VIP's started to arrive. We were all suppoosed to have VIP parking as well, but the security guys couldn't tell us anything. So, we parked near the fence, which was actually near the middle of the parking area, and walked about a half mile or so to the actual venue.
When we arrived at the entrance, there was a big tent waiting for us and the other VIP's, but no sign of our "guide." As we stood and waited at the tent, we began talking to others that were waiting and wondering what was going on. Some were talking about how other people had been scammed by groups on the internet that were supposedly selling bogus VIP passes for the same kind of offer and hoping we were not in for the same thing.
But luckily, at five minutes to four, the "guide" showed up with her staff and laid out a big buffet of food, that included subs, chicken fingers, cheese sticks, nachos, cheeses, crackers, pepperoni, sausages, chips, pretzels, and much more as well as sodas, beer, and wine.
After the food was all laid out, they called each of us up and gave us our laminates. We got ours, went in, found seats at a big round table, and met some of the others VIP's. There were about 75 in all and they were all as excited as Katie and I.
Sitting with us was a lovely young woman named Chris. She was there by herself and we began to chat with her. She was really cool and Katie and I ended up hanging out with her for the entire event.
As we ate and drank, our guide passed out bags to each of us. The bags contained raffle tickets for cool prizes, a souvenier Tour Book, (but mine was not in my bag...) as well as an exclusive Velvet Revolver t-shirt that was only available to VIP's. They were white with a cool drawing of the band. Mine was too small and I tried to find someone to trade with to no avail. I mentioned to our guide that I didn't get a tour book and she set about to get me one.
While we waitewd to go to the soundcheck, a local cover band played in front of the main entrance. They played modern rock songs from the likes of Godsmack, Sublime, Staind, and others.

They weren't too bad as cover bands go, but, as everyone knows, I am not a fan of cover bands. My theory: If you have enough talent to play other bands' material, you should have enough talent to write originals... 'nuff said.
It was nearly an hour after we got into the VIP tent that the guide announced that we were just about ready to head in to watch the sound check. We were not allowed to bring our drinks with us and we weren't coming back so I grabbed two more big glasses of wine and chugged them down as we were leaving the tent. It caused me to be a little buzzed, and it was great. Katie, Chris, the rest of the group, and I all headed for the VIP entrance. It was so cool. All the other people waiting to get in were looking at us and wishing they could go in as well.

Click Here for Soundcheck Photos
The band began to run through a few songs, without frontman Scott Weiland. It turns out he was still enroute to the gig with drummer Matt Sorum. Slash, Duff, and Dave, and the drum tech jammed out and mugged for the cameras of the crowd in front of them. As they dialed in their sound, we watched and cheered.
After a while, they stopped and chatted with us from the stage. I asked Slash if he remembered performing at Lost Horizon in Syracuse. He, in fact, DID remember and recalled drinking with me and my friends on that night. He retold the story to me and everyone around us had their mouths hanging open. It was so funny! I flipped him one of my buttons and told him to check out the site.
Soon, Matt Sorum arrived and the guys went back to jamming. Scott Weiland never came out during the soundcheck. After the guys were done, Slash came down and signed autographs for all of us. They made us line up along the front rail and he went down the row assembly line style.
I still had not recieved my Tour Book, which is what everyone was having him sign, so I waited until the very end of the line, hoping that they would get there with my book in time.
As I watched everyone getting their autographs, Katie informed me she was going to ask him to sign her chest! She is so Rock & Roll! As Slash approached, I got my camera ready and took a photo of him signing Katie's breast. Lucky Bastard! Her reaction was so cool! She had a smile that went on for miles!
By the time Slash got to me, it was obvious that I was not going to be able to have him sign my book, so, instead, I planned to ask him to sign the back of my laminated pass. When he got to me, he said, "Here... You gave me a button, so you get this." Then he handed me a guitar pick. He signed my pass as Katie tried to get a photo, but the camera took too long. I shook his hand, thanked him for everything and reminded him to check out my site. Seconds later, Slash was gone and people were asking me what it was like to party with him. So, I told them the rest of the story about hanging with Guns & Roses back in the day. I passed out a few buttons and told them to check the site and see who else I had hung out with. They said they would check it out. About that time, the guide showed up with my book and the crowd filed in.

Soon, it was time for the show to begin. The opening band was terrible. They were so bad, I will not even mention their name. How in Hell they got on the bill I don't know. I have heard high school kids play better and with more passion. They claimed to have won a radio contest or something, but I just can't find it in my heart to believe that even the most screwed up, corporate whore radio station in the world could possibly pick a band that bad. The only cheers they got was when they announced they were playing their last song. They left the stage and the entire crowd breathed a huge collective sigh of relief...Up next was Hoobastank.

Click Here for Hoobastank Photos

Hoobastank formed in the Los Angeles suburb of Agoura Hills in early 1994, after vocalist Doug Robb met guitarist Dan Estrin at a high-school battle of the bands competition. The two chose to join forces, and after adding bassist Markku Lappalainen and drummer Chris Hesse, Hoobastank was born.
In 1998 they released an indie record called They Sure Don't Make Basketball Shorts Like They Used To. As strange as the name was, the album generated strong local buzz, and soon the band had moved from backyard gigs to shows up and down the California coast.
The band signed with Island Records in 2000 and toured with bands such as Incubus and Alien Ant Farm. Hoobastank's debut dropped in November 2001, and the singles "Crawling in the Dark" and "Running Away" were hits at radio and MTV. The EP went gold and the band toured Asia and Europe. In 2003 Hoobastank played with the All-American Rejects and Ozomatli for the Nokia Unwired tour.
Though I was never really a big fan of Hoobastank's records, the band played a great live set. The band was tight and talented. The crowd was into them and they reciprocated with a high-energy show that very much impressed me. Bassist Markku Lappalainen jumped around the stage as if he had eaten Mexican Jumping Beans. It was obvious that the band was having a great time too. I would definitely see them live again. As Hoobastank wrapped up their set, singer Doug Robb seemed to speak for the entire crowd when he admitted that even he couldn't wait to see Velvet Revolver.

Velvet Revolver began with a spring 2002 jam session that reunited ex-Guns N' Roses bandmates Slash (guitar), Duff McKagan (bass), and Matt Sorum (drums) formerly of The Cult. With the discovery that their chemistry was still going strong, the trio began writing some new music and auditioning singers for what became known as "The Project."
By early 2003, "The Project"'s existence - and its quest for a singer - was common knowledge. Dave Kushner, who had previously played in Wasted Youth and with Dave Navarro, also joined up as second guitarist.
Former Stone Temple Pilots singer Scott Weiland came on board next. He and the band clicked immediately, and recorded a song called "Set Me Free" for The Hulk movie soundtrack. By June, "The Project" had been renamed Velvet Revolver, and Weiland was officially made its lead singer. With STP's vocalist and such a high percentage of ex-Gunners, Velvet Revolver really is a supergroup for the New Millenium. Slash, Duff, and company like stirring up their old demons, but they're not running a nostalgia show, so there are new tricks and sounds. Overall, Velvet Revolver sounds pretty much like you'd expect of such a collaboration of two great bands. The gasoline-fueled super-charged rush of Guns N' Roses mixed with Weiland's powerful vocals makes for great entertainment. And great entertainment was just what we expected as we turned our attention to the stage. Within moments, the lights dimmed and the show was on!

Sirens began screaming, lights swept the crowd, and then the opening guitar riffs of "Sucker Train Blues" cut through the cool mountain air and the crowd exploded! Seconds later, the band was joined onstage by Scott Weiland. The crowd roared even louder!
It was everything you could want in a Rock & Roll show. It was loud. It was decadent. It was sleazy. And it was AWESOME!!!
Weiland stalked the stage like a lion looking for prey while Slash, Duff , Dave and Matt laid the smack down. From watching the seasoned musicians work their craft, it was hard to believe that there were ever any drug problems. All the guys seemed to be on top of their game as they blazed through their set. The rest of the songs from the Contraband album, which by the way, went to the #1 position on the Billboard album chart, were played with just as much enthusiasm. One note on Mr. Scott Weiland: He LOVES his bullhorn. He pulled it out at every opportunity and it was really cool how he got the effect from it.
As a longtime Guns N' Roses fan, I was wondering how Weiland would handle the G-N'-R songs and I didn't have to wait long. When the band tore into "It's So Easy" all doubts about how it would sound were dispelled. Had anyone known it would sound so good, the Gunners might have dropped Axl years ago. Scott's voice brought a wonderful tone to the the song. And later in the set, the band played a ripping version of "Sex Type Thing" that was like an audience sing-a-long. STP fans and G-N'-R fans alike were satisfied.
After the conclusion of "Sex Type Thing," Scott left the stage and headed out into the crowd. He was lifted up by the crowd and addressed us. He said there was no need for there to be guards around him. We were, after all, family and that is what brought us together.
Returning to the stage, the Scott and the rest of the VR boys closed their set with "Set Me Free."
The crowd roared their approval and demanded more, and again, the band delivered as asked. Slash returned to the stage with a double-necked guitar and Weiland pulled up a stool and took a seat, which was quite the opposite of his accrobatic performance of the rest of the evening. What happened next was astounding. Velvet Revolver launched into a version of Pink Floyd's "Wish You Were Here!" It was beautiful. Also, during the encore, the band pulled out one more old Guns N' Roses tune. "Mr. Brownstone" deals with the subject of heroine addiction, a problem all too familiar to the members of this band. The crowd ate it up and the band closed with "Slither."
The whole show was a four-star, two-thumbs-up, Rock & Roll free-for-all that many newer bands could take a lesson from. Despite all their personal problems, the members of Velvet Revolver are great performers, as much fun to watch as they are to listen to! To quote Moe from The Simpsons: "It's great to see the spectacle back in Rock!" After the show I got the set list, much to the annoyance of a big jerk next to us that I nearly had to choke out during the show. He kept asking for it, and acting like a first-rate asshole. I asked politely, and I got it.
The ride home was relatively uneventful and I drove most of the way home so that Katie could sleep. About halfway back it began to rain very hard, almost enough to halt traffic, but i drove on...We got back and loaded the photos from the evening into Katie's computer and she burned them onto a disc for me. I thanked Katie for a wonderful time, then went home and hit the sack. It had been an awesome day!

Official Website

Official Site

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