Turning Stone Casino

Turning Stone Casino
Verona, NY
May 3, 2007

Turning Stone Casino

I woke up at about 8:30 to take care of some last minute packing and details. My dad came over at about 9:00 to do some work in my basement, and Jackie came over at about 9:30 and by 10:30, we were on our way. The drive was mostly uneventful, though it seemed longer than it probably was. We stopped at a rest area about an hour into the trip and ate lunch at Roy Rogers. Shortly after we got back onto the highway, we hit our only traffic jam. Apparently they must have been giving away free money or free ice cream or something at this one exit, because everybody was getting off there and it was backed up about a mile onto the highway. We hit quite a bit of road construction too, but nothing that slowed us down too much. Two odd things I noticed on the drive. The first was that there were a lot of NY state troopers out and almost all of them were pulling in the little U-turns in the middle of the median just as I drove past. And second, the mile markers on the side of I-90 almost exactly corresponded with the mileage on my trip odometer.

We got to the Days Inn at about 3:00 and it's a small little place right next to a little Dunkin Donuts and across the street from the International Boxing Hall Of Fame, which is oddly about the same size as the Dunkin Donuts. When we arrived, we were the only car in the parking lot. We took a little nap and headed over the casino. It's only about 10 miles away, and it's right off the highway so it's really easy to find. We went to the box office and got tickets for Brad Sherwood and Colin Mochrie on June 16. We missed them when they were in New Jersey and decided we'd drive up here in a few weeks again to see them. We could hear Al and the band doing sound check. They were rehearsing "Close But No Cigar." I looked through the cracks between the doors and could see Rubén Valtierra on keyboards and "Weird Al" Yankovic singing.

We aimlessly walked around the casino for a bit and wound up near the showroom again. This time Al and the band were rehearsing "Amish Paradise." By this time, it was almost 5:30 and we headed over to the buffet to see if Trixie had arrived yet. She called to say she would be getting in a little later and that Helen would most likely not make it in time to join us for dinner. As we're waiting for Trixie, Steve Jay walked by through the casino lobby. He was too far away to see us or for us to say hi. Shortly after, Alison flagged me down and said hello, then went off to check into the hotel. Trixie and her son Steffan, and son's friend, Andrew, showed up, and as we were saying our hellos, Jim West comes wandering by, looking lost. He looked preoccupied, so we didn't stop him to say hi either. The buffet was pretty good. I loaded up on seafood, and Steffan entertained us with stories of how he managed to sneak two liters of soda into the movie theater in his pants

After dinner, we headed over to the showroom. First stop was the merchandise stand. There were a whole bunch of new and cool t-shirts there, and some new hats. Everything was $25, with the exception of the hoodie, which was $40. I pretty much told the woman behind the stand that I wanted one of everything, except the hoodie, and she said I was the best customer of the night. As I was waiting for my merchandise, someone I had never met before, Ethan, stopped me and said he recognized me from my website. He asked to see my tattoos, so I gladly showed them off.

It was getting close to show time, so we headed into the showroom. The venue is really small, and there are tables and booths instead of the traditional rows. Jackie and I were seated way up front in the first two seats on the second group of tables. A little after 8:00 a voice came over the speakers and announced that the show was starting soon and was very adamant that there was to be absolutely no photography. Since they made such a big deal about it and I was pretty highly visible spot, I decided not to even try. So, you'll have to use your imagination as I describe things.

The most noticeable change to equipment this year was that at the back of the stage were three giant projector screens. These were, of course, the screens that they use to show video clips between songs. They also project videos and graphics onto them during almost all of the songs. The projectors are somehow synced up so that they can project a video or image across all three, or have each screen show a different video or image, which lead to some very cool effects.

The show started off, as usual, with the pre-recorded "Fun Zone" and into a new medley of video clips, followed by Al and the band coming out doing the dance movements for "The Chicken Dance," which of course, lead into "Polkarama!" Al was dressed all in black, with a red tie on. On the video screens were sped up versions of the original videos. At the end of the song, the stage filled with bubbles.

Next, Jim started to play something on the guitar, but stopped. It appeared he was having guitar trouble, so Al called for a drum solo by Jon "Bermuda" Schwartz. Jon hit the drums a few times, and by then the guitar issue was resolved and they went into "Canadian Idiot." They put the new projector functionality to immediate work on this song, as relevant images were displayed throughout the song. For some reason, Al did a little scat-like thing in the middle of the song. At the end of the song, red and white streamers fell from the ceiling. They landed just out of my reach, but I did pick some up off the floor after the show ended.

Al called for a drum solo reprise, and then he came out in an Impact drums hat and sunglasses and a weird looking instrument in his hand for "Close But No Cigar." Al started singing the second verse first and by the time he caught himself, it was too late to do anything about it, so we were treated to the second verse twice. He also did a little boneless boy dance during the musical part.

Al introduced the next song about palindromes as the stage manager set up a stool for him. He removed his tie and put on a big white hat and performed "Bob" with the video segment from Al-TV playing behind him. There was some nice harmonica work by Al in this song.

Next up was the Jessica Simpson interview video clip, followed by "It's All About The Pentiums." During this song, Al appeared to recognize me in the audience and came over to the stage in front of me and took an extra long look in my direction and waved his fist towards me. There were some new graphics on the video screen, but the performance was pretty much the same as last tour. Next were video clips of the Mariah Carey interview, a clip of Al as Petroleum Joe from The Brak Show, the Celine Dion interview, and Crimes of Carelessness.

Al came out in a black windbreaker for "You're Pitiful." To accommodate for the unusual way the lyrics open the song, he started singing, stopped, looked confused, pulled the lyrics sheet out of his pocket, and then started again. During the whole song, Al was doing a slow striptease. He had a little trouble with the zipper on the windbreaker, but eventually removed it to reveal a shiny gold shirt. That got removed for a t-shirt that said, "Don't Hassel the Hoff" and again for a t-shirt that said, "Tom is my only friend". One more removal revealed a Spongebob Squarepants t-shirt. He then removed his shoes and started to unzip his pants. When he dropped his pants, he was wearing a pink tutu, red heart boxers, and fishnet stockings. Absolutely hilarious!

There was another video segment with the Madonna interview, a clip from Friends, the Steven Tyler interview, and banana off the roof clip. One thing I noticed about the interviews this year is that there were much more of them and they were much shorter.

Next up was "Wanna B Ur Lovr." Al was wearing a red suit and made his way down the steps into the audience. He stopped in front of Jackie and sang, "My love for you's like diarrhea, I just can't hold it in" to her. He then walked two tables over and stood on the table and danced for some women there. As he made his way back to the stage, he stopped and sang to the woman directly in front of me.

There was a video clip of the Eminem interview with got a lot of laughs and following that he did "Couch Potato." At first I thought he was going to do the whole song, but then he skipped some lyrics and when the music stopped, I realized it the start of the medley.

Al took off his hood to reveal short gray hair for "Do I Creep You Out." After that was a new song called "I'm In Love With The Skipper." I'm not familiar with the original and I didn't catch all the lyrics, but what I did hear was funny. And the video clips on the screens are quite appropriate too!

There was a new verse about Britney Spears for "Headline News" and then "Confessions Part III," "A Complicated Song," "eBay," and "Bedrock Anthem," which was nice to see shortened and without costumes. Al pointed the microphone at someone in the audience, who was taken a bit off guard, because he stumbled on the lyrics.

The stage manager came out and held a harmonica up to the microphone, and Al did "Ode To A Superhero." The stage manager stood by his side the whole time, periodically swapping the harmonica with another one he had in his front pants pocket. He almost missed the cue for the last harmonica solo, and smiled as he got it to the microphone just in time.

Al performed "Pretty Fly For A Rabbi" next, and then did the entire second chapter of "Trapped In The Drive-Thru" with the Doogtoons video playing in the background. Jim and Steve emerged from the shadows and went wild during the radio solo. Al did "Gump" next, and the stage manager brought out a wireless keyboard, and Al ended the medley with the traditional closer, "Eat It

The next set of video clips was the Mick Jagger interview, My VH1 Awards Sexxxiest Video clip, Keith Richards interview, and Gandhi II clip. Al came out dressed in dreadlocks and a dark army green jacket for "I'll Sue Ya." Jim was wearing a Boy Scouts uniform, and Steve had on a white t-shirt and tan shorts. Near the end of the song, Al bent down and all the lights on stage went off instead of the red light directly in front of him. At the very end of the song, money printed with Al's image on it, came raining down from the sky. I grabbed a few bills, but sadly I misplaced them after the concert was over.

The next set of video clips was the Paul McCartney interview, Ghost World clip, King Of The Hill clip, an animated Conan O'Brien (what is this from?), the Snoop Dogg interview, and The Naked Gun clip.

Rubén played a little teaser music, and the band came out in Jedi robes and did "The Saga Begins." As Al was standing up, his robe caught the stool he was previously sitting on and knocked it over. It lay knocked over for a couple seconds, and the stage manager came out and stood it back up. Immediately Al went over and deliberately and intentionally knocked it over again. That got a cheer from the audience and a smile from the stage manager who then came back out again and this time took the stool with him.

Rubén played some more Star Wars music, and then carnival music, and Al came out, accordion blaring, for "Yoda." They added a new verse to the chant. I believe it's in Hawaiian, and the lights on the stage turn red for it. Since "Yoda" has been the closer at every concert tour that I've been to, I almost felt like I should get up and leave as the song was ending, but the lights never came on, and video clips for the Cher interview, "Lousy Haircut" video, Justin Timberlake interview, and "Weasel Stomping Day" video came on.

The performance of "Smells Like Nirvana" was pretty much the same as previous tours, with cheerleaders and all. At one point, Steve came over to Jim and they faced each other and started bouncing. After Al threw the water into the audience, he threw the cup at me. It bounced on the floor right in front of my table, in between the guy sitting directly across from me and myself. We both reached for it, both kind of paused at the sight on the floor, and then realized that the cup Al threw must have been doubled up and split apart when it hit the ground. We each grabbed one, which diffused what could have been a difficult situation as to who the rightful owner of the cup was.

The next set of video clips had the Michael Stipe interview in which he and Al collaborate on a song about cell phones (this will be important later), and a clip from Johnny Bravo, the Avril Lavigne interview, and The Simpsons clip.

During the last arm waving segment of "Amish Paradise," Al stopped singing to stare down someone sitting at a table in the front who wasn't waving her arms. The crowd was kind of taken aback at first by the Kevin Federline interview clip, but I think they enjoyed it by the end.

For "White & Nerdy" Al came out on a Segway! He rolled around the stage a little singing the first verse, then handed it off to the stage manager and started rapping with Jim and Steve. Everybody was a little bit off, but in a few more shows, they should have it under their belt. The video clips behind them were funny and creative.

The last video segment of the night was the MTV unplugged clip, followed by a performance of "Fat." It was mostly the same performance as past tours, except that Santa was replaced by the stage manager in a blonde wig, short black dress, and even shorter red top that he has no business wearing! As he walked off the stage, he lifted his skirt and flashed Jon. A guy sitting at the table front and center took the stage bouncing at the end of the song very seriously. He popped out of his seat to stand up and then some. Al introduced the band and they got a standing ovation.

The crowd went into cheers of "We Want Al!" and Al came out in a black Hawaiian shirt with bowling pins on it, the first and only Hawaiian shirt of the night. He said he knew what everyone was waiting for, and burst into a full-length version of the cell phone song from the Michael Stipe interview! The crowd went crazy! Soon people started pulling out their cell phones and waving them in the air. I reached in my pocket and tuned mine on and did the same. The whole theater was doing it. It was one of the coolest things! I loved it!

Before people had time to react and put their phones down, he burst into "Albuquerque"! It was pretty much a word-for-word from the album, except Al threw in a few extra doughnuts at the doughnut shop and gave a shout out to Jon during one of the drum segments. At the end of the song, two cannons of confetti went off and covered the first section of the audience under tons of confetti! I could barely see. Everything was covered. What a great closer!

After the show ended, Alison, Trixie, Helen, and Ethan made their way down front and we mingled a bit and recapped what we just saw, hoping someone would come out on stage before security kicked us out. I filled the Nirvana cup with confetti, and security politely asked us to make our way out of the theater, as they had a lot of cleaning up to do.

We waited just outside the showroom door and ran into Michelle and her mother, who I had seen, but not officially met at Foxwoods. She's kind of hard to miss because she goes to every show dressed up in "Like A Surgeon" scrubs.

We did the obligatory photos with each other for a while, then someone had the brilliant idea to relocate us to where people with passes were exiting. Alison asked me to show my tattoos to her friend, and that attracted a small crowd, including one guy who was so impressed, he was flaging otuher people down to look at them.

The already thin crowd thinned a bit more, and we were just about ready to break and call it a night, when Jay Levey, Al's managetr came out and asked if we were waiting to see Al. We said we were, and he told us to come inside!

We waited in a long hallway while they sent in people in groups of two or so to see Al. I marveled at all the signed posters on the walls. When we got up to the room Al was in, I turned around and saw his name next to a dressing room door with a giant star affixed to it, and commented to myself how appropriate that was.

Jackie and I walked into the room and I was pretty much just Jay, Al, another woman, and a security guard in there. Al looked good, maybe a little tired or reserved. He said hello to me and shook my hand, and made a comment about my goatee, then asked how many shows I was going to this time out. When I said I'd be at Bamboozle, he asked if he should be worried (about the crowd and performers). I told him I was worried! My plan was to get in and out of there as quick as possible. He laughed and said he's been worried ever since he agreed to do it, and was having Missing Persons flashbacks. We asked the woman to take a picture and Al said he'd see us soon, and I told him I'd see him tomorrow.

After everyone had their chance to meet Al, we said our goodbyes, traded MySpace addresses, and figured out where and when we'd see each other again.

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