Twisted Sister @ Irving Plaza

Twisted Sister (Olivia Taubner)NEW YORK, NY—Throughout the years, many a genre has been created, from emo (“They bitch and they moan about how life sucks sooo bad!”), to screamo, to flat out sucky, but Twisted Sister will always remain good old-fashioned rock-n-roll. Dee Snider—who crept onto the stage mirroring a maniacal Santa Claus for their annual “Twisted Christmas” show—may affectionately label it as “’80s-hair-metal-gibberish,” but I wouldn’t refer to good songwriting, strong musicianship, and a front man who belts out songs with a strong voice rather than a scream as such. Snider also has perhaps one of the fastest minds in music, where a quick comment for what he observes (“Nothing like a mosh pit during a religious tune…”) and ad libbing lyrics (“Christ was a Jew!”) are a common occurrence that seemingly go hand in hand.

In my opinion, Irving Plaza isn’t the ideal venue in the world for a Twisted Sister show due to the size of its stage. Snider was in agreement, saying “This is like the size of my bedroom!” Thankfully everyone’s energy and enthusiasm snapped him out of his momentary slump and he ended up truly enjoying himself. After all, having written such hard rock anthems that include “We’re Not Gonna Take It” and “I Wanna Rock,” in addition to reincarnating holiday classics like “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus” and “Oh Come All Ye Faithful,” how could you not?

Hard rock anthems aside, “The Price” is a stunning ballad that was written when Twisted Sister were recording in England, and Snider was missing the birth of his first son Jesse. It was inspired by something guitarist Jay Jay French’s sister-in-law said to Snider. She and her husband, French’s brother, were in attendance, having traded in their Philharmonic tickets to be there —sitting right next to me in the balcony.

As icing on the cake, the rest of the band is truly good at their respective instruments. Drummer A.J. Pero and bassist Mark “The Animal” Mendoza kept everyone in the groove with melody – sans a bashing approach—and solos that didn’t have you running for the bathroom, while French and fellow guitarist Eddie “Fingers” Ojeda shredded soulfully and harmoniously. Every member of Twisted Sister is on the same wavelength both mentally and musically, and that’s what makes them flow so well together. It’s a shame that more contemporary artists don’t have the same talent, drive and charm, but it’s a relief to know that there are parents out there who find no harm in starting their kids out early and bringing them to see Twisted Sister. Though Snider quickly pointed it out to sarcastically sneer “What kinda irresponsible parenting is that?!”

Perhaps one of the more entertaining moments was their rendition of “The Twelve Days Of Christmas,” which they dubbed “Heavy Metal Christmas,” where they held up signs for each day that mocked stereotypical daily metal-head staples (a tattoo of Ozzy, two pairs of spandex pants, three studded belts, etc.).

Though many people tend to associate Twisted Sister’s very being with the niche described in the aforementioned song, it needs to be understood that they go way beyond just that. They represent what a great band is all about.

Photo Credit: Olivia Taubner