Well, here we go again! All year long, and that’s no exaggeration, I’ve been waiting for this! The 2015 MORC experience is already absolutely over the top awesome and we haven’t even gotten on the ship yet! The euphoria of meeting friends from all over the world as we arrive in Miami and run into each other at various hotels, pre-parties or at the CVS loading up on supplies (booze).
So far, Wednesday and Thursday have been filled with hugs, drinks, stories, drinks, sun, drinks, music, and drinks. Wednesday was spent in the surrounding area of the Aloft Brickell Miami hotel with friends enjoying catching up. One thing that I was determined to do this year for my Monsters of Rock Cruise over the previous years was not to rush. I decided that I am going to relax this time around, no more go here, go there to meet people or see that band, run, run, run. I knew it would be hard to achieve as I always want to “do and see it all”! So Wednesday I missed meeting more friends at a get together at the Hard Rock Cafe that evening, sorry kids but remember I love ya anyway. Even repeated texts and Facebook messages getting steadily more and more berating and abusive, peppered with colourful language quickly turning to a barrage of insults from one Kate Campbell (Decibel Geek staff writer and very good friend) could not convince me, I was chill. (Can’t believe I just said “I was chill”!)
Thursday started out much the same with frosty cold Heinekens flowing freely by 9:30am, well I am on vacation! Filled with the best laid plans of hitting the always fun Rockerz Gone Wild Pool Party in the afternoon before venturing to Magic City Casino later that evening for the official MORC pre-party, things went quickly awry in a good way of course! In keeping with the theme of relax and go with the flow, lunch at a Mexican place with some very dear Canadian and UK friends quickly lengthened into the whole afternoon. Plans adjusted to heading to the casino and why not finish up at Rockerz in the wee hours of the morning instead. We arrived to participate in the tasting of Michael Wilton (Queensryche)’s Whip Ale beer, an event limited to only the first 100 email responders. More warm and emotional greetings with cruise friends from around the world continued as I became the social butterfly. Decibel Geek photographer Brian Ronald and I even met two gents from the Toronto area on their first MORC experience at the beer tasting. I was also introduced to cruise creator Larry Morand and we had a few moments to chat about MORC and some upcoming ideas he has along with the EH Team (a group I began last year for all Canadian cruisers). Moving from the meeting area to the outdoor amphitheater for Lillian Axe, it was great to meet tons more new friends along the way. Lillian Axe presented an incredible performance (a couple of videos will soon be appearing on the Decibel Geek YouTube). I had seen Steve Blaze and the boys a couple of years ago, so I knew they would deliver in the first official MORC 2015 performance. This year the VIP only area down on the dog track in front of the stage had been changed to general admission so I was able to be right at the stage. With the beers at Magic City Casino being quite reasonably priced, I added to the good base that had already been formed. Having seen Queensryche several times since the diminutive powerhouse of Todd La Torre took over the reigns at the helm of their stage show, I relinquished my spot on the rail to some other friends. I circulated the crowd while rocking out to Queensryche, socializing with friends new and old, even making the acquaintance of some who I will soon see again at Sweden Rock Festival in June. As expected Queensryche left the crowd in wide-mouthed wonderment after their engaging performance, Kate of course (the huge Queensryche fan that she is) right down in front. Deciding to forego Rockerz upon return we conglomerated in the hotel lobby for a nightcap and heard the adventure of obtaining food from a Wendy’s drive-thru window while on foot. Before long we were joined by more folks and soon members of the band Kickin Valentina, who had played at Rockerz Gone Wild, as well. This is a band that I had heard some things about and had wanted to catch at the Rockerz Pool Party had we made it there. Their debut album will soon be available (Kickin Valentina-Super Atomic) and look for the album review here on Decibel Geek in the next few weeks. Again it was drinks well into the wee hours and stumble up to the room, another successful evening!
Friday saw me venture out to South Beach for the first time to meet up with some fellow Canadians at a bar on Ocean Dr. South Beach is exactly what I had been missing from the first two years when the cruise would depart from Fort Lauderdale versus the present port of Miami. Although overall I think that Fort Lauderdale is still a much better set-up with the beach and the strip that also includes a pre-party venue along with the usual tourist trap bars whereas Miami is a little more spread out. I still never learn even though I’ve been repeatedly warned by others and once again rather ignored the harsh effects of the sun as I indulged in several “adult beverages” again meeting friends new and old. From there it was a seriously expensive cab ride over to Magic City Casino (should have turned on data and incurred the charges for the few second it would have taken to use Uber) for tonight’s official MORC pre-party. After entering the casino and checking things out (ie: aimless wandering around) I ventured to the outdoor stadium set up on the dog track. Drinks and socializing brought me to stage front for what may well be my most anticipated MORC 2015 experience for me, Tyketto! I’ve probably said it to death, but they absolutely blew me away on last year’s cruise and I called them “The Best Show on The Boat”. I was not the only one echoing those sentiments last year and due to that “The Tykes” have been awarded this larger stage and pre-party gig as well as graduating from the small club lounge on the ship to the pool stage for their second set. Once again I was thrilled with their display, singing along to what I thought the words might be (sounds good in my head at least) and I’m not ashamed to say once again I experienced a religious experience of sorts as tears came to my eyes with the emotion that frontman Danny Vaughn puts forth on stage. Fantastic once again boys! On the upper-level, Gabbie Rae entertained us from a small stage with her covers of classic rock songs. I had missed seeing Gabbie Rae on last year’s cruise, but now having rectified that I can say that all the hype and chatter surrounding this young lady (16 or 18 age range) lives up to it. Her voice touches you as she delivers her own take and versions on these classic rock songs. Rumors flew around Facebook all day long before tonight’s event and they were proved true as Poison (well most of Poison) did indeed take the big stage next. Bret Michaels was absent and in his place Brandon Gibbs (Devil City Angels) expertly led the rest of Poison through a rousing set. It was certainly easy to see that C.C. Deville was happy to be up on stage as he and also Rikki Rockett and Bobby Dahl were on fire with their energetic stage presence. They ripped through all the usual suspects from the Poison discography and it was shoulder to shoulder down in front of the stage. Not being rabid about Poison, these guys really impressed me, were seriously ripping on stage and presented one of the best live sets I’ve seen in a long time. Great job to all, especially Mr. Gibbs, who needs Michaels anyway? Miss Rae again filled the time during set changes and my energy level was dangerously low, probably due in part to my alcohol level being dangerously high, so I opted for a stadium seat for Stryper. I have recently become a much bigger Stryper fan, heavily assisted by their fantastic No More Hell to Pay record, but I found their set tonight a little disappointing. Perhaps this was due to my fatigued condition or following my faves Tyketto and the absolutely electric Poison experience so I’ll not hold it against them.
From there it was into the casino with two friends on our way out to the front to catch a cab back to the hotel. The minute I got inside the sweet, sweet air conditioning perked me right up as what was to be a strong second wind took hold. There was a little house band set up on the floor by one of the bar areas and playing some covers. Pausing to check them out for a minute quickly led to us being sucked into their performance. Drinks again began to flow as the band drew a crowd of MORC rockers. They were incredibly entertaining and we stayed with them through two sets, finally making our way outside for a cab after they had began to pack up their gear. The events that follow are something right out of Two and a Half Men (back when that show was actually worth watching) and I really have no idea how this came about. My two friends (husband and wife team of Bob and Susie met on the first cruise) and I suddenly found ourselves at a Miami strip club. Not only that but our young lady cab driver had not just brought us here (on Susie‘s suggestion I might add) but was sitting having a beer with us at the bar as beautiful barely or totally unclothed ladies circulated the establishment! It was quickly apparent that she was a regular here as she seemed to know a few of the young ladies and more than once doled out a healthy ass-slap. Maybe I should just stop talking right there and no more details will be provided on the events of the next hour. We arrived back at the hotel finally and while Susie retired for the evening Bob and I stupidly were not finished yet. We basically harrassed the hotel lobby staff trying to get them to have a drink with us for the next while until realising that the time was 5:30am! They were awesome folks and I thank them for enduring a couple drunken but harmless rockers until sunrise (for the record they enjoyed our company as we took several photos together and became Facebook friends). What a great night once again, I’m having the best time and we’re not even on the boat yet!