A big sponsorship deal brought Motley Crue back to a small hall over the weekend in Dallas. The group played a special, semi-public show on Saturday at “Fast N’ Loud” host Richard Rawlings‘ Gas Monkey Live concert club as part of the Dodge Rocks Gas Monkey event put on by the car manufacturer and sponsor of the Crue’s Final Tour.
It was a far cry from the arenas and amphitheaters the group has been playing since early July, and the hit-heavy 14-song, nearly 90-minute show was short on the Crue’s typical spectacle — save for CO2 jets on a couple songs — but still had plenty of raw, rowdy spirit as the quartet was clearly energized by the up-close-and-personal presence of the 2,000-plus fans.
“We got nothin’ — just the music and the four guys that started it, and that’s it,” Crue bassist Nikki Sixx said on his tour bus before the show. “It’s very rare that we play a smaller place like this and it’s kinda cool. We grew up playing in bars and clubs and in theaters, so this is not foreign to us. It’s kind of like coming home.”
The Crue’s show capped a larger event sculpted around Dodge’s sponsorship of this year’s leg of band’s final tour, running concurrently alongside the company’s 100th anniversary. Open to Dodge car owners who pre-registered, Dodge Rocks Gas Monkey brought an estimated 1,000 vehicles of various vintages into the club’s parking lot, representing 38 states and Canadian provinces as far away as Manitoba. Kim Legg and Todd Duley made the eight-and-a-half-hour trip from Odessa in the western part of Texas, big enough Crue fans that they even traded a Ram pickup truck for a friend’s Charger in Austin because trucks weren’t allowed to be part of the show.
“It doesn’t matter what we had to do; it’s Motley Crue in a small venue, and I’ve never seen them in a venue this small,” said Legg, who sported a military cap similar to those Sixx has worn on stage in the past.
Dodge President and CEO Tim Kuniskis, a Crue fan himself since childhood, said that the band “fits the brand perfectly,” especially as Dodge moves from an family-friendly vehicles such as the Avenger sedan and Caravan minivan to becoming a “mainstream performance brand.”
The Crue and Dodge began working together in 2013, when the company licensed the group’s 1989 hit “Kickstart My Heart” on an as-needed basis for ad campaigns. Kuniskis said that when it came time to renew late last year, Crue’s management told Dodge about the then-upcoming final tour and asked if it would be interested in sponsoring the trek. The company and the Crue also aligned on a new video for song — much to Dodge’s surprise, according to Kuniskis.
“It’s the 25th anniversary of ‘Kickstart My Heart,” Kuniskis explained. “The music video is very iconic, with a lot of clips of (the band) onstage and scenes of drag racing and things like that. We said, ‘Can we remake that music video for you and relaunch it on our social channels, and can we split in running footage of our cars?’ We thought it was a crazy idea and there’s no way they’d ever let us do that, but they said, ‘Yeah, that’s awesome…’ ” The video is also shown at each of the Crue’s concerts, and Dodge has been displaying cars on the concourses when possible.
Kuniskis said the tour sponsorship goes through the end of the North American tour on Nov. 22 in Spokane, Wash., and that extending it to 2015 hasn’t been discussed yet. The Crue will pick things up again during February in Japan and, according to Sixx, will be touring globally, including Australia, Europe and other territories before returning “for just a few select dates in America” towards the end of the year, finishing with a Dec. 31 show in Los Angeles at a site yet to be determined.
“We have a lot of great things in front of us,” Sixx said, including the film adaptation of the 2001 band autobiography “The Dirt” that’s being directed by “Jackass’ ” Jeff Tremaine and a likely live DVD and documentary from the tour. But he adds that nothing so far has altered the band’s resolve to call it a day at the end of next year.
“I’ve been asked every version of that question and all the trick questions — ‘What if it’s $100 million for five shows in Dubai?!’ ” Sixx says with a laugh. “Let’s just get to the core of it; do you want us to renege on our word? We don’t want to. I don’t need to name the bands that have, and it’s OK if they want to do that and their fans accept it. But we don’t want to do that. We know we want to end at a peak, and I know at the last show I’ll be able to look at my band members and say, ‘Wow, dudes, everything we said we were going to do at that very first band rehearsal, we did it.’ That’ll be a very proud moment.”