So I am doing a little bit of work for The Fashion Spot during this fashion week and last night I was on my way to cover a Patricia Fields party in Midtown. But right before I left my house I got a text from my editor there telling me I needed to get over to the John Varvatos store because Guns and Roses were doing a private set. Yeah, that’s right, Guns and Fucking Roses were playing for like 200 people in the same location that CBGB’s used to be. Fashion Spot was on the list and I just had to go over there and drop some names. Of course when I got there it was at max capacity and they weren’t letting anyone in. I was cold and frustrated and about to give up when I saw that the bouncers were all wearing PBR hats. I knew that NYC PBR rep Dan James had to be inside. I hit him up and he came out and they still wouldn’t let me in. He wasn’t sponsoring the event but he had a bunch of PBR shwag. One of the bouncers asked him for another hat and he traded them hats in trade for letting me in. That was a huge move. It almost makes up for him being a Jets fan.
So after an hour of waiting packed like sardines in a 120 degree clothing store Guns and Roses made the stage… Well at least Axl did, I am pretty sure none of his backing band were actually in Guns and Roses, but I didn’t really give a fuck. I met Slash at Sundance last year so I’m all good. Guns and Roses were pretty much all I cared about in 1991. In the late ’80s and early ’90s all I listened to was rap and metal. And by rap I mean shit like Young MC and Run DMC and by metal I mean Poison, Motley Crew and G’n'f’n'R. I wanted to see Guns and Roses with Metalica in ’91 so fucking badly but my mom wouldn’t let me go with all my friends. Well, if I had told my 11 year old self that I would be two feet from Axl Rose singing Sweet Child o’ Mine I would have lost my shit.
Now, admittedly 20 years later it’s not quite the same thing. There were 200 people there instead of 20,000, Axl has put on a few pounds and my enthusiasm for ’80s hair metal is not quite what it once was, but I was still pretty excited. I told a girl next to me that I was going to take off after 25 minutes, but Axl fucking brought it. I stayed for the entire set and it was nearly 2 hours long. Brooklyn Vegan has the set list if you care. Speaking of set lists, I escaped with Axl’s set list, so that was pretty fan boy of me. I think it’s probably the only set list I have ever taken.
Anyway, the show was actually really great. They played some of the new stuff that people didn’t really care about, but they played the hits and they did an AC/DC cover which was great. Axl was much more relaxed than I imagined him to be. He was joking around the whole time. People waited hours to see them and actually a ton of people left before he even showed up. Because of this people were calling him “Asshole” when he got on stage. He was joking about how he had never heard anyone rhyme Axl with Asshole. He just took it in stride. He was actually really hilarious. He kept smiling the whole time. He was clearly having a blast, joking about someone had stolen his shirts. He was not nearly the Asshole Rose I assumed he would be.
I have to say it must be sort of weird for him to be playing for a bunch of people who don’t really give a fuck about being there. There were a few serious fans but most of the people were just fashion week types and people who have the pull to get into some exclusive G’n'R show. A lot of people sang a long to the hooks on the hits, but the bouncers didn’t really have to keep any screaming fans from tearing his clothes off. Even when they finished their set to Paradise City the crowd just sort of started filing out instead of demanding an encore. The band had to run band on stage before the crowd left so they could finish their set. It could have been sort of awkward and embarrassing but Axl just kept going and he fucking killed it.
It was really great seeing Guns and Roses on a $5000 PA. By the end you could barely hear the vocals. It was like they were playing in an actual punk club. At once point Axl excitedly screamed something about playing CBGB’s. It was sort of epic. Again, I just wanted to say, before I finally go to sleep, that despite the sound system, and the shitty crowd and the heat and the fact that he is old as hell, Axl really put on a great show and I could not have been happier to have been there. I figured when the entire 1990s passed without me seeing my one time favorite band that I probably was not going to get the chance, but here we are a decade later and I was shooting them live from 5 feet away.
Lastly, it was insanely hot in there and I was shooting over people’s heads and I was generally a bit disappointed with the shots I got, but none the less, there are some images here that I think really capture the night. I hope you dig them because this show is something I am going to remember for a long time.
Click here to see all my pictures of Guns and Roses at the John Varvatos fashion week party.
Ps. I forgot to mention this, but I sort of have to say something about it. On the same table where Axl kept his beer, he also had a box of tissues and he kept going over there and using them between songs. I am not sure he would have had a box of Kleenex on stage with him 20 years ago, but if he had the sniffles you have to admire his dedication.
Ps. These were posted on TMZ.
PPs. GNR Fans… these images are available as 16″x20″ archival art prints. Contact me for details.