Top 10 WWE Moments at Izod Center

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The Meadowlands Arena has a minor amount of prestige, but it’s not in the same legendary league as Madison Square Garden is. With WWE releasing the collection of best matches from Madison Square Garden DVD/bluray collection soon, it’s a perfect time to look back at an article from the Bleacher Report that’s a couple of years old now. The article puts the spotlight on the Rodney Dangerfield of arenas, one that most likely will never receive the same DVD/bluray tribute that MSG is getting.

The Izod Center in East Rutherford, NJ never really got much respect. I always felt that New Jersey got the shaft when it came to getting killer WWE/F events. It doesn’t make much sense either since the Meadowlands has always been a huge supporter of WWE. The arena indeed held WWE events and pay per views, but not many of them are considered classics.

As a guy who’s spent his entire life as a WWE fanatic, it’s a pleasure reading about all the great WWE moments that happened at the Meadowlands through the years. The problem is that the 10 best WWE Izod Center moments are probably, well, ALL OF THEM. The good stuff rarely happened in Jersey – they usually saved it all for the Garden, and rightfully so.

The tri-state area has always been WWE’s central location to run shows. I’ve read articles through the years in WWE magazine that barely acknowledge Jersey as one of the WWE’s hotbeds for live shows. Simply an outrage. New York fans will travel to Jersey for an event and vice versa. There’s also fans coming in from Pennsylvania and Connecticut as well, so it’s not a place that people despise going to. Just because the Meadowlands Arena building itself is not as prestigious or as historic as The Garden doesn’t mean that it shouldn’t be a venue where big stuff happens.

Yes, it was certainly cool to have Wrestlemania 29 here in Jersey, not New York like most of the advertising materials would leave you to believe. ‘Mania wasn’t at Izod Center because Vince McMahon set his sights on stadiums for the big event long ago, so, Izod’s big brother, Metlife Stadium was home to the event. Izod settled for housing WWE’s Fan Axxess. We’ll take what we can get.

Back to the article I’m pointing you to at The Bleacher Report. It’s far from being a favorite site of mine, in fact, I can’t stand the site. Websites that presents every article as a slideshow and make you click NEXT to continue to the next part piss me off. It’s not the fault of the writers, because they do a bang up job, it’s just the site in general tries to be so elite and they come off as too mainstream for my taste. I prefer more fan-based coverage when it comes to pro-wrestling, not a football writer assigned to report on wrestling.

In this case, writer Robert Aitken does an excellent job putting together an in-depth look back at some of the most historic WWE moments that took place at the Meadowlands area, then known as Brendan Byrne Arena, later Continental Airlines Arena, and presently Izod Center. It’s all information that can be found around the Internet, but it’s nice to read it all in one spot. The article takes us from Saturday Night’s Main Event all the way through 3 Summerslams and various other events along the way. There goes the rest of my old school WWE content! This article pretty much uses it all up. Thanks Bleacher Report, you jerks!

Until I found this article, I thought I’d be the only one around to be compelled to write something like this, since Izod Center is not even a bastard stepchild of MSG, it’s more of a third cousin with a limp. I’ve actually attended many of the events that Aitken writes about and, if you are so inclined, you can also check out my column about WWE/WWF Event Cards from New Jersey, one of which I even made custom for the article! These posts highlights event card sheets from WWE house shows, TV tapings, and other events I attended through the years.

WWE comes to Izod Center on September 7th, 2013
For more info click here.

New Jersey’s Great Pop Culture Moments Vol.59: Seinfeld’s Face Painter


Earlier tonight in preseason NHL action, the New Jersey Devils beat the New York Rangers. But, as you know, this isn’t a sports blog. Although, there aren’t many things that get people as passionate as they do for sports, except maybe The Simpsons, and Seinfeld.

Seinfeld freaks know every episode, so this one is for you! In the 6th season (1995), Elaine went on a date with hardcore New Jersey Devils fan David Puddy played by Patrick Warburton. Just before they leave to go see the Devils/Rangers game at the Garden, much to Elaine’s shock and dismay, he reveals himself to be a face painter. Puddy was just one of those crazy fans who the camera pans over to after a huge play or when the home team is trying to get a rally going. Elaine will have none of it because she thinks “it’s insane.”

“We’re the DEVILS!” (to the priest)

With his diabolical looking face paint on, Dave even scared the crap out of Kramer at first! With a Brodeur jersey on and his face full of grease paint, Puddy screamed at the top of his lungs during the game. The Devils wound up winning and Puddy rubbed it in everyone’s face, including a priest’s! The priest thought he was the actual Devil! Sports fans out there know the kind of intense fan Puddy is. I’m a fan of Patrick Warburton and he was the perfect casting choice to pull off this character. I think he’s a funny dude and if you aren’t familiar with him, you’ve probably heard his distinctive voice overs everywhere.

At the end of the episode Elaine tries to break it off with Puddy because of how much the face painting is weirding her out. He tells her he’s going to stop for her and all seems fine after that. Later, they are messing around on the couch and Elaine opens Puddy’s shirt to discover a big red “D” painted on his chest so he can spell out Devils with other guys in the crowd at the game.

Lady GaGa Likes THE BOSS

Lady GaGa’s enthralling Monster Ball Tour stopped at the Prudential Center in Newark on April 22nd, 2011 and The Sexy Armpit was there to witness the spectacle. Since I previously saw GaGa in Atlantic City, I wasn’t surprised when I saw her dramatic Monster Ballads type performance of “You and I,” during which she pounded away on the keys of her flaming piano, even occasionally foregoing her fingers to use her stiletto heel. She usually dedicates “You and I” to someone and this night it went out to her grandfather, a New Jersey native. I’m glad that YouTube member music4life324 captured GaGa’s intro to this song because here GaGa elaborates on her other associations with New Jersey. GaGa always makes it well known that she’s from New York, but it’s interesting to see how many New Yorkers have plenty Jersey connections as well.
Even several years after her debut, GaGa is still winning fans over. Recently, HBO premiered their presentation of The Monster Ball Tour taped at Madison Square Garden. Even the queen of glam rock on the Internet, Allyson from Bring Back Glam recently described GaGa’s latest video for “Judas” as “Metal,” and I fully agree. Of course there was a barrage of comments left on her post, many of which took exception to putting the pop icon in this category. Unfortunately, there aren’t many rock or metal bands who are badass enough to be called METAL nowadays! Isn’t it sad when our pop icons have more metal attitude in their petite 5’1 firecracker of a body than most actual metal bands today? I’ll take GaGa’s stiletto heels, pyro, and exposed butt cheeks any day.
It’s also pretty cool to know that GaGa knows who the BOSS is and I’m not talking about Judith Light. Many of the tracks on GaGa’s latest album “Born This Way” (available today) are influenced by Bruce Springsteen. She even had “The Big Man” Clarence Clemons do a guest spot on “Edge of Glory.” The following GaGa quote from an article on is taken from an upcoming MTV documentary, Inside the Outside, airing 5/26:

“Springsteen had such an influence on our home,” she says. “My father gave me, I believe it was for Christmas, a Bruce Springsteen songbook for the piano and on it was ‘Thunder Road,’ which is my favorite Bruce Springsteen song. My dad said, ‘If you learn how to play this song we will take out a loan for a grand piano, a baby grand.’ So I remember it was the hardest thing for me. I was playing these huge (classical) pieces, like 15 pages long, … and then there was this Bruce Springsteen song. I opened up the book and there was like chords, guitar chords. I was so confused. I didn’t understand it, so I just started to read it and eventually, eventually I got it down.” – Lady Gaga Reflects on Springsteen Influence for ‘Inside the Outside’ Doc by Phil Gallo 5/18/2011

He’s Dolph Ziggler and He Needs Google Maps

WWE Superstar Dolph Ziggler, who formerly paraded around as a male cheerleader in The Spirit Squad, has proven himself a capable singles competitor on Friday Night Smackdown. Ziggler impressed me so much in such a short time and has soared high above another WWE Superstar who was supposedly destined for mega-success. Who is that other wrestler? Why it’s…(mic drops from rafters)…MISSSTTTEEERRR KENNEDY! Kennedy! Drawing comparisons between these two comes to me as easy as vomit travels up into my mouth whenever I see Vicki Guerrero.

Mr. Kennedy vs. Dolph Ziggler
It would be hard to determine a winner in this bout since both of these WWE Superstars sport bleach blonde hair, elicit strong crowd reactions, and introduce themselves repeatedly. In this competition, Kennedy excels thanks to the experience factor and cemented fan base, while Ziggler edges out Kennedy in mat versatility and ability to draw heat from the crowd. Ziggler’s determination will skyrocket him to the top of the WWE, but not before he pays his dues in matches against jobbers like M.V.P. who’s been riding off the fame of View host Sherri Shepard. Ziggler doesn’t need Joy Behar to get people to notice him, he’ll grab your attention whether you like it or not.

In this clip from WWE Smackdown, Ziggler refers to New York as New Jersey, “…I am gonna win the United States Championship tonight, right here in NEW JERSEY!” This is the ultimate sin to the ears of New Yorkers, especially those in the crowd packed into the world’s most famous arena, Madison Square Garden! May I call that a “Ziggler Zinger?” Oh, but of course we Jersey folks have to suck it up every single time a band or a singer shouts “How you doin’ New York?” when they’re in The Meadowlands in East Rutherford, NJ and when that same band is performing in Atlantic City greeting the crowd with a geographically erroneous “What’s up Philadelphia?” Why does Jersey always get the shaft? Right on Dolph Ziggler, you tell ’em where they’re at! After his “Hi, my name is Dolph Ziggler” intro, he should add a “What’s up New Jersey?” to his gimmick regardless of what state he’s wrestling in. Referring to all the states as New Jersey seems to be the supreme slap in the face. Regardless of good or bad press, thanks for name dropping NJ, Ziggler, we’ll take it! 

Vintage Concert Program Cover Art from The Capitol Theatre to Convention Hall

I recently Googled The Capitol Theatre in Passaic, New Jersey to see what I could find on this legendary, local concert venue. One of the first results I clicked on was an amazing site,, that presents the black and white program cover art from the stage lighting director of the Capitol Theatre (71-86) Moyssi. Moyssi was not only responsible for lighting up the stage, but also creating original art for various concert programs at a host of local venues such as The Capitol Theater, MSG, Convention Hall in Asbury Park, Giants Stadium, and The Meadowlands (then known as Brendan Byrne Arena). For nostalgia freaks, rock aficionados, and anyone who was actually present at one of these classic concerts, many pieces of his cover art collection are available for purchase at his website. also offers a dedication to The Capitol Theatre complete with a few vintage photographs and some written recollections from the production manager, a perennial guest, and a co-founder of the theatre. For those of you in The KISS Army it’s interesting to note that a large portion of the tracks featured on Kiss’ Alive II were recorded in an empty Capitol Theatre in Passaic, NJ.

If you’d like to browse your favorite bands, here’s a detailed list organized by artist and venue.

The Sexy Armpit Has Joined The WWE Fan Nation!

Sunday was the 20th edition of WWE’s Summerslam Pay Per View. I can’t believe that the first ever Summerslam event is already 20 years old! Damn, I may as well check myself into an old age home! Summerslam ’88 was an awesome event packed with classic WWE moments. Most notably, when Miss Elizabeth ripped away her skirt to leave Million Dollar Man Ted DiBiase, and everyone else in the arena stunned. This made way for the Mega Powers to score the victory at Madison Square Garden in New York City. The Mega Powers, the greatest force known to man, paired “The Madness with The Mania.” When Hulk Hogan and Macho Man Randy Savage were together on-screen sparks always flew. They always put on great matches together and cut even better promos. ‘Til this day, no WWE superstar has come close to exuding the outrageous amount of charisma that these two superstars did.

20 years later, after watching Summerslam ’08, I can’t say that the WWE talent quality is at the exact same level but the WWE is still putting on top notch entertainment. The enthralling and dramatic montages WWE creates grab you right off of your couch and suck you right into the story lines. Today’s WWE climate is different, it’s less of a traveling carnival and more of an actual late night soap for guys AND girls, but mostly for kids. The themes WWE hits on are bold, topical, and often times…actually groundbreaking. For example, Chris Jericho is really gonna get his ass beat after accidentally popping Shawn Michaels’ pretty wife right in the mouth. But Shawn didn’t retaliate!?!?!? Now we’re dealing with psyche and morals, not just piledrivers and atomic drops. You might go through your days thinking “Damn, I forgot to pay the electric bill!” while I go through my day thinking “I can’t wait to see Shawn lose his shit and go ballistic on Jericho!” I’m pretty sure that means they’re doing a great job.

You won’t hear many TV critics or pop culture gurus giving any props to Vince McMahon and the WWE. It’ll probably continue like that until Vince McMahon kicks the bucket, and I mean for real this time! Not like the time he got into his limo and it exploded. They struck that from the record, so you should too! Just go with it, don’t ask too many questions. Let yourself be entertained. Stop being so pretentious. We’re all very similar in our makeup and WWE puts on a show that everyone can enjoy. Well, maybe not through the entire RAW broadcast, but at least when Santino Marella is out there. And Cody Rhodes! And if you can’t enjoy the hot looking WWE Divas, you’re out of your mind.

WWE has had some exciting developments. Recently they welcomed actor Freddie Prinze Jr. to their writing staff and they also unveiled their new social networking site called THE WWE FAN NATION. For a few months I’ve been hearing about this site during RAW and SMACKDOWN. Like all new Internet gimmicks my first instinct was to ignore it, but like the thought of Miss Elizabeth tearing away her skirt for my 8 year old eyes to see, it enticed me. If you’re a WWE fan, F–K Twitter, why not join the WWE Fan Nation? It’s basically WWE’s answer to MySpace. Click here to check out The Sexy Armpit’s slice of it.

Don’t feel like joining the Fan Nation? Well then, here’s a choose your own Sexy Armpit Adventure:

My “coverage” of last year’s Summerslam blogging from my cell phone live from the Continental Airlines Arena (now the Izod Center) in East Rutherford, New Jersey.

Here’s the Main Event from Summerslam ’88 which I found on You Tube. For all of you impatient, horny Miss Elizabeth fans out there, fast forward to 6:42!

Bon Jovi Madison Square Garden Review July 14th 2008

I’ve said before that it doesn’t seem possible for Bon Jovi to top themselves. They won’t leave the arena until they amaze the entire crowd. Throughout one of their concerts you’ll feel nostalgic, get lovey dovey, jump out of your seat, and have your jaw drop open from Richie’s guitar solos.

At MSG last night the set list differed greatly from the Central Park show. The concert was kicked off with “Lost Highway,” the title track from their latest album and a song that Jon Bon Jovi considers one of the best he’s ever written. The band also performed some songs I didn’t expect to hear like “Captain Crash,” and “On Any Other Day” from Lost Highway.

Any critic out there who likes to throw Bon Jovi to the wolves is clearly taking that stance to get a rise out of people. No, not everyone has to like Bon Jovi, but to say that they are untalented or pop fluff isn’t accurate.

An immediate rebuttal exists in a song off of their 1992 album Keep the Faith called “Dry County.” It’s a dramatic, intricate, and often times dark song. It’s definitely an outcast amongst the of Bon Jovi library due to it’s atmosphere and length (9:52). During this track the whole band gets to show off their chops. Here’s some of my shoddy camerawork of this performance. I used my Sony still camera, which I hate, but it’s all that I had with me. It’s also my first time uploading anything to You Tube! After I uploaded I discovered there’s about 30 of the same clips. It was a good first try though!

I knew I would enjoy seeing Bon Jovi at MSG way more than in Central Park. Not only was the sound electrifying but MSG is my favorite venue to see any event especially a concert. The place goes bananas and you can feel the rumbling and shrieks of the crowd. Toward the end of the show they blasted into a hard rocking performance of “Have a Nice Day,” and then a song I renamed “It’s Allright” a.k.a the New Jersey Tourism song “Who Says You Can’t Go Home.” The night ended with their classics: “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and a rousing rendition of “Livin’ on a Prayer.”

I won’t blow smoke up your ass, I don’t understand why Bon Jovi feels the need to cover Jeff Buckley’s “Hallelujah.” Nothing against Buckley but I’m not going to go along with the crowd who’s just getting into that song because Jon decided he wanted to start covering it. Bon Jovi has so many songs that they could be doing in place of a cover song. What about the stuff that brought them to the party? HEY Bon Jovi…Why do you guys forget that you used to play “hard rock?” Don’t tell me cause the girls don’t want to hear it because that’s a cop out. No matter how much I love the band I still can’t stand the fact that they won’t play songs that myself and many other fans desperately want to hear. Here’s just a few:

I Believe, She Don’t Know Me, Roulette, Breakout, 99 In the shade, In and out of love, King of the Mountain, Only Lonely, Tokyo Road, Something for the Pain, Hey God. I’m sure they’ve done some of these songs throughout the last few years somewhere in the world but I didn’t get to see them.

The All American Rejects opened the show. I’ve always been a fan of AAR and they performed at MSG with ease. They were appreciative of the chance to open for some of their idols and they were excited to be playing MSG for the first time. Along with their hits like “Swing, Swing,” “Dirty little Secret,” and “It Ends Tonight,” they premiered a new song “Mona Lisa,” which sounds like it will be all over the place once the album gets released in September. Appropriately they finished with “Move Along,” and they did just that as they made way for Bon Jovi.

Bon Jovi: Free Concert in Central Park Review

Bon Jovi has done pretty much everything a band can do but they didn’t play Central Park until Saturday July 12th. In honor of the MLB’s all-star week Bon Jovi decided to put on a free concert on the Great Lawn in New York City’s Central Park. It was rumored that there’d be close to 60,000 fans in attendance so I knew we’d have a hell of a time getting into the park. I’m not one who enjoys hassle or complications. I enjoy being laid back rather than rushing from Penn Station to hop on the subway to Central Park. Then from there we had to get checked, scanned, and frisked several times and wait in numerous lines. By the time we got into the audience area there weren’t too many people there but the ones that were there were relaxing on towels they brought. I didn’t think to bring a towel or a blanket and neither did anyone I went with. That was the least of my problems. It was only 3:00 pm, so we had another 5 hours to wait until Bon Jovi took the stage. I was betting on them not starting on time but they were in a public park so the rules were a little bit more tight. Go on at 8 and get off the stage at 10 pm you New Jersey rebel rousers!

By 7:45 the place was mobbed with people and the towels were getting rolled up and people started sneaking closer and closer to the barricades. After hearing representatives from Central Park, Major League Baseball, and Bank of America there was another short wait and then Bon Jovi took the stage on this beautiful summer night in NYC. Bank of America had such a damn presence at the show that they may as well have set up portable teller stands where people could do their banking. Their logo was all over the place, I really thought Jon would have worn a Bank of America jersey. Thankfully he didn’t and nor did he wear a Philadelphia Soul jersey either. And gee…all this talk of “jerseys” where the hell is New Jersey in this picture? He’s an owner of a Philadelphia Arena Football team, he’s doing concerts in Central Park and MSG so where does his home state of N.J fit in? They’re always singing “Who Says You Can’t Go Home?” so I guess apparently Jon himself is saying they can’t.

As for the setlist for the night, you can’t expect much of a departure when you go to see Bon Jovi. They kicked things off with “Livin’ on a Prayer” and “You Give Love a Bad Name.” After “Born to Be My Baby” they rocked with “I’ll Sleep When I’m Dead” which ended with their version of “Twist and Shout” which is always a fun song. Of course, I prefer it when Matthew Broderick is singing it on a float in a parade. “Whole Lotta Leavin’ Goin’ On” their latest single, made me realize that they should just change the title of the song to “Not a Whole Lot of Rock Going On” because the song makes people want to go country line dancing. Aside from “..Whole Lotta Leavin” they also performed “Lost Highway,” and “We Got it Goin On” from Lost Highway. While still managing to wow the massive audience with his guitar riffs, Richie stirred the crowd with his rendition of “I’ll Be There for You.” We also got to hear (not in this order) “It’s My Life,” “In These Arms,” “Have a Nice Day,” “Keep The Faith,” and “Bad Medicine.”

The band said goodnight but came back for an encore of “Always,” “Wanted Dead or Alive,” and “I Love This Town.” For a full set list check out my friend Anthony at The Screen Door. From there it was time to hop back on the subway and then find out what NJ Transit track we’d be on. Isn’t the train ride home always the best? Lots of obnoxious people, you get whipped around, and you’re just trying to sleep for a minute since you’ve been on a 9 hour Bon Jovi retreat.

I’m looking forward to the Madison Square Garden shows because the sound seemed to get lost in such an enormous outdoor area. There was a good amount of delay between the sound way up in front and the sound coming out of the speakers that were in the middle of the audience. That was natural, it just got annoying at times. I kept thinking “what song is Tico drumming to?…that isn’t part of the song.” Actually it WAS part of the song…just 3 seconds before. Regardless of those minor details it was a welcome feeling to have attended a Bon Jovi concert where they sounded excellent as usual and I didn’t pay $200 to get in.

Goin’ Hollywood

From the swamps, fumes, toxic sludge, and the congestion of New Jersey, The Sexy Armpit flew all the way across the country to Los Angeles, California. Like alot of other kids I knew, I grew up with a bit of an inflated idea of Hollywood. As a kid, I pictured famous people everywhere, hot girls galore, and bright sunny days. Regardless of my love for the state I was born and raised in, Hollywood sits on a gold encrusted throne high above any other city I’ve ever visited. There’s a slew of reasons why this town offers so much more than just the random celebrity sightings. (Mena Suvari, Ian Ziering, and Rebecca Gayheart just to name a few) If you’re trying to keep up with “the scene,” then you know that everything in Hollywood IS based on you’re look. It seems like the only people there who aren’t beautiful are some of the tourists, excluding myself of course…ahem. joke. I looked like a mutant compared to some of the natives. Those hot, hot, natives. Even the f’n mannequins are hotter there.

The most minuscule details of life in Hollywood seem to make everything about my life in New Jersey seem meaningless. I’ve always complained that “nothing cool ever happens in Jersey.” Of course that’s a generalization but it’s mostly true. It’s a disservice to say that the only thing cool about Hollywood is that there are celebrities all over the place. Actually, celebrity sightings just added to the amazing times I had there. In fact I don’t know if I can say I’ve ever had that much fun doing anything in New Jersey. If I stood on one leg eating a leftover bowl of macaroni in the middle of a street in Jersey and then did the same thing on the Sunset Strip…something tells me that it would be about 250,000 times more fun on the Strip. Maybe it’s because it’s called “The Strip?” It’s no coincidence that The Strip is home to the illustrious gentleman’s clubs that Motley Crue’s Vince Neil shouted out in “Girls, Girls, Girls” like the Seventh Veil, and The Body Shop. I couldn’t believe I was walking past places that are mentioned in a song that I’ve sang along to about 4,000 times! Screw you, that was exciting to me.

North Jersey guido’s or Jocks who are still re-living their high school football memories need not even visit Hollywood because they won’t fit in. The freaks, the flamboyant, and the filthy rich create the city’s aura and keep it’s blood pumping. New York was always said to be the city that never sleeps but Hollywood is way more of a constant party. There’s always an after party, and you’re never at a loss to find somewhere else to go. The people of the town are way more sociable than the angry, uptight NY/NJ people. Being a lifelong Jersey native and a person whose hung out in New York more times than you can imagine, it’s a fact that we’re a cold, aggressive bunch of folks. Even with smog blocking the sun on some days, Hollywood keeps it’s positive, go getting, adventurous atmosphere. That atmosphere may be what fuels people to go there to follow their dreams. Whether it was playing in a band, or acting, everyone seemed to have talent and ambition to “make it.” Believe it or not, just going out and showing your face consistently gives you your own “fun size” sample of star power.

Going to New York to follow your dreams may only land you a job on Wall Street or at a corner store selling fruit, energy drinks, and flowers. New York City in comparison to Hollywood is nothing but business. Not too much fun to be had there in Manhattan. You like Opera? Show tunes? Working your ass off? Traffic and honking? Getting lost? Then Manhattan is the place for you. Hollywood is all about a laid back, party atmosphere and it looks like not much has changed there in quite a long time. We even stayed in the Hyatt, West Hollywood because of it’s rich rock history. Click the link for a great rundown of facts about the hotel at Wikipedia.

In any local establishment in NJ all you hear over their sound system is Rhianna, Leona Lewis, John Mayer etc. All I had to do was travel 3,000 miles and in every establishment, EVEN MEXICAN RESTAURANTS, you can hear a whole slew of ’80s rock. Everywhere I was I heard Motley, Guns, Van Halen, Poison, and Bon Jovi. Even though it was only a few days, it gave me hope that at least some place in the world still likes to ROCK! Jersey sure as hell doesn’t remember that one of it’s own stereotypes was BIG HAIR!

The rock music scene is still alive and flourishing. While there seems to be no place for rock in New Jersey, Hollywood wears their rock rags proudly. Whether you wear eyeliner or high heel boots, everything rock is accepted. In fact, all kinds of music get their fair share of stage time on the strip. New York and New Jersey are famous for certain venues but I guess I missed their golden age. Music venues in Asbury Park, Atlantic City, and Hoboken have become historic because of the artists that would frequently play there. Heck, even the Izod Center in East Rutherford and The Starland Ballroom in Sayreville constantly has huge concerts with all the big names. The problem is, they aren’t the type of places you go to just hang out and coincidentally catch an awesome band who might hit it huge in a few years. Regardless of the fact that Manhattan is home to the most famous arena, Madison Square Garden, as well as places like Roseland, Hammerstein, and the defunct CBGB’s, the good stuff takes a while to travel over to the East Coast. Perhaps it’s the vastness of the metropolitan area that hinders it from being as great as Hollywood. You can’t walk down a street and choose between 3 concert venues all featuring several solid acts. I can’t imagine how far it would be to walk from Starland Ballroom in Sayreville all the way to the Izod Center in East Rutherford. (According to mapquest it’s about 36 miles and it would take about 50 minutes depending on traffic…bummer) In Hollywood I can walk from the Viper Room to the Key Club, to the Roxy all in a matter of a few minutes. Venues like the Whiskey-a-Go-Go and all the clubs on the strip are legendary for the great bands and artists that have played there. When you visit the Jersey Shore, you can hit up Jenkinson’s and check out a cover band, and then also check out Martell’s Tiki Bar and then…check out a cover band! Now don’t get me wrong I love cover bands but after you had the time in Hollywood that I did, Jersey pales in comparison.

In about 4 days here’s the rundown of all the bands I got to see, and it wasn’t even a festival! Check this out:
The Donnas 15th Anniversary show, a very intimate gathering for the Donnas hardcore fans, and family members. Wow, these girls have worked hard for 15 years already and they’re music and performances just keep getting stronger. Back in ’01 I got to interview Torry, (The Donnas drummer) for my radio show and finally got to meet her in person at this show. Their latest album Bitchin is a kick ass rock party album and is in stores now.

Vains of Jenna – I first heard about these Swedish guys a few years ago on Stevie Rachelle’s Metal Sludge site and I picked up their CD (which was released on Bam Margera’s record label) as soon as it came out. I’ve always been a fan of Swedish rock bands (like Dogpound) because the folks in Sweden eat, sleep, and bathe in rock and roll. They are so obsessed with it that they study rock music that was popular in the ’70s and ’80s in the U.S. You might ask, for a bunch of guys so serious about their craft how can they be bad? Unfortunately I was actually disappointed in the recording quality of “Lit Up, Let Down,” and there wasn’t that many tracks that blew me away. It just seemed like a bunch of guys doing throwback sleaze rock from the ’80s. WAS I WRONG! Have you ever heard the old adage that you have to experience a band live to make an accurate opinion on them? Remember how the first few KISS albums weren’t big sellers but after people started seeing their explosive, loud, rocking live show the band started to blow up. This is exactly how Veins of Jenna is going to do it. They played one blistering set of tunes that sounded almost completely separate from the tracks on the album. Their CD does not do them justice. They also threw in a cover of Tom Petty’s Refugee which was heavy and friggin‘ amazing.

I also got to check out The Atomic Punks – The Tribute to Early Van Halen with lead singer Ralph Saenz, who coincidentally is also the lead singer of STEEL PANTHER. For those who have been under a rock for the last 8 years or so, Steel Panther (formerly Danger Kitty, Metal Shop and Metal Skool) are rock’s reigning kings of the sunset strip. Their original brand of Hair Band Parody sells out every Monday night. They play ’80s hair metal from Bon Jovi to Poison and always throw in one of their original comedy rock songs like “Death to All But Metal” or “Fat Girl.” Celebs are known to show up and sing with them from time to time like Kelly Clarkson, Jessica Simpson, and Pink. I was lucky to see Matt Sorum introduce the band, Scott Ian from Anthrax join them onstage, Corey Taylor of Slipknot, and Whitfield Crane formerly of Ugly Kid Joe/Another Animal.

Some of the other amazing bands I saw during my stay in Hollywood: Franki’s Broken Toys (Franki Doll=great frontwoman), Mack Winston and the Reflections,(original, pretty damn mesmerizing music) The Binges (BEST band I’ve heard in years) and the hard driving Bullets and Octane. And more! I don’t think a feat this cool could ever be accomplished in NY/NJ or for that matter, anywhere on the east coast. There’s always a band to discover there before it makes it’s way east. I originally intended the name of this site to embrace the good stuff Jersey offered but, man, I’m not far away from making it all about how it’s so not as cool as Hollywood. But really…not many places are.

Van Halen, Madison Square Garden 11/13/07

Last night at Madison Square Garden it felt like Van Hagar never existed. Dave, Alex, Eddie, and Wolfgang joined forces to bring fans a reunion tour. I know, I know…we all loved Michael Anthony but honestly, no disrespect, but I think all 20 some odd thousand of us were jam packed into the world’s most famous arena to rekindle our romance with the classic chemistry between Diamond Dave and Eddie Van Halen. There must’ve been a huge payoff because I would’ve never known these guys ever had a modicum of animosity toward each other by watching them on stage last night. The fact that David Lee Roth and Eddie and Alex Van Halen were nowhere in sight at their own Rock Hall induction ceremony didn’t even enter my mind. For me, this concert far surpassed any acceptance speech. Van Halen relentlessly pummeled their astonished audience with classics like “Everybody Wants Some,” “So This Is Love,” and “Mean Streets.”

I desperately want to be cliche and say that I took a time machine back to ’84 and that absolutely nothing has changed with VH, but it has, and it’s kind of impressive. Eddie’s a bit older now and reminds me of David Letterman, but he’s every bit the virtuoso he always was and that’s an understatement. If you’ve never witnessed Eddie Van Halen’s guitar execution it’s literally mind blowing. So, regarding Eddie being awesome on guitar, then it’s still ’84. He made that guitar his bitch and he did things you didn’t even know were possible with a guitar! It was like he studied the ancient art of Guitarma Sutra. Diamond Dave is still the master of ceremonies and a stellar showman, so that part is still the same. He’s opted NOT to wear spandex, tassels, or rock big hair, but he’s still twirling his mic stand and doing his random patented A.D.D spin kicks. Gotta love him…after all, he IS your Ice Cream man and he’s way more ripped than you!

To feel mesmerized at a concert if you’re not high is pretty remarkable. I just stood there letting these classic VH songs that I grew up with unfold before my eyes. I did get to hear alot of these songs when Van Halen toured with Gary Cherone, but this is really what many fans have been waiting 20 years for. With “Beautiful Girls” and “Somebody Get Me a Doctor,” the band’s chemistry just felt right, and not forced at all. That’s why I find it so strange why so many writer’s and critics are spreading the opposite word around. This show was as f’n organic as the pot in the audience that was giving me a contact high. At that point, “Dance the Night Away” and “Atomic Punk” just brought me more into rock euphoria.

Although “Jaime’s Crying” sounded a bit herky-jerky, getting to hear Dave’s banter throughout the show, though minimal, was a real treat: “Don’t stick that tongue out at me unless you intend to use it hot stuff!” The pinch to let me know I was actually in ’07 came when Dave referred to a “booty call,” since that term didn’t get big until Hagar was in office.

I sensed a vibe of relief onstage. It seemed like these guys were actually having a good time and happy to finally be “wrecking the place” together again. It’s not impossible since they still retain their title of world’s greatest party band and they always do it up big and thunderous. Naturally, this monumental night was capped off by Van Halen’s most recognizable song and biggest hit, “Jump.” Let’s just say I saw enough high fiving in the row in front of me to last a lifetime.

Some highlights for me were “Panama,” “I’ll Wait,” and “Hot for Teacher.”