Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Stranger Nightmare X: An Evening with Alice Cooper

Music (good music, anyway) always has a tale to tell. Alice Cooper, one of the best best storytellers in the biz, knows how to set the stage like no one else -- which is why Stranger Nightmare #10 is dedicated to a recent experience I enjoyed featuring the king of nightmares himself, the founding father of shock rock (not to mention "Golf Monster").

This past Sunday, I was lucky enough to finally cross off one big item on my bucket list: attending an Alice Cooper concert. During Halloween week, no less. Following a sunset drive and a quick preemptive explanation of "Dead Babies," a friend and I found ourselves at the one and only Hard Rock Live venue, she looking vaguely lost (she hasn't been too exposed to the Coop's genius -- yet) but still pretty excited, and I grinning from ear to ear and dressed to kill (not literally -- maybe) in faux leather and lots and lots of hairspray. In short, we were ready to rock.

I wasn't quite lucky enough to get front row seats, but we had a pretty darn decent view, and in as small an auditorium as that one, there really weren't any bad seats to begin with. It was a little disappointing that the crowd didn't jump up out of their seats and lose it -- as it was, I must have looked like a loon rocking out in my chair -- but the screams were wild, the applause deafening, and in the end I know I wasn't the only one who walked away with a twisted, satisfied smile and a head full of dancing demons.

While the Evening's setlist didn't lend itself to as obvious a narrative as album-based shows like the Brutal Planet or Nightmare concerts, running through all the old (and new) classics was like a creepy nostalgic graveyard tour of Alice's evolution -- one long, terrific crazy train of thought weaving in and out of time, a nightmare which started all the way back in the '70s and from which we've never completely woken -- and, deep down, don't really want to.

"Hey, Stoopid," "Poison," "Feed My Frankenstein," "The Ballad of Dwight Fry" -- they were all there, all the standards in their full grimy, gory glory, along with fan-favorite props like the super-sized FrankenAlice and ye olde reliable guillotine. Playing every song I wanted to hear simply wasn't possible (it would take days), but every song he played was one I wanted to hear. Or should I say, experience? Because the thing about a Cooper concert is, it's not just music (though that part stands alone quite well, thanks very much). It's theater, the art of the horrorshow, and it's every bit as brutally beautiful now as it was when it began.

I can't wait to do it again. Except next time, I'll be sure to snag a spot in the splatter zone.

". . . I am the Moriarty of rock. I am the consummate villain. I am the Hannibal Lector of rock, and I play it like that. Alice just seems like an arrogant bastard or villain who is making the audience feel as though they are lucky to be there when in reality that is exactly the opposite of my personality. With Alice though…it is great to play him or portray him as an Alan Rickman type character who is very condescending. That’s what makes him fun to watch — he's Captain Hook." -Alice Cooper

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