Monday, January 30, 2006

Concerts 1984

ARTIST VENUE
Gomez/ The Libertines The Jockey Club
Van Halen Cincinnati Gardens
The Romantics Timberwolf Amphitheatre
Dez Dickerson&The Modernaires/Billy Idol Hara Arena, Dayton
Honeymoon Suite The U-Turn, Middletown
Saccarine Trust/Black Flag The Jockey Club
Yes Riverbend Amphitheatre
The Replacements The Jockey Club
Yes Riverfront Coliseum

I’d heard The Libertines on Robin Plan’s “Planet X” late night show on 97X, and she mentioned they were playing some place called The Jockey Club. It was the middle of my senior year and I felt isolated and alienated. The crazy things Dakni and I had worn to school (glitter-splattered trash bags, multi-colored hair, face paint) and the crazy things we discussed (mostly punk and new wave music) labeled us as “weirdos.” She graduated in 1983, moved to Florida that autumn and I had no one. I was relegated to eating lunch by myself, or occasionally with some other misfits. The only thing any of us had in common was that we were all friend-less. Our lunch table was known as the “freak zone.”

So on a cold weekend in February, I drove down by myself and caught local bands Gomez and The Libertines at The Jockey Club in Newport, Ky. The place was an absolute dive, the neighborhood blighted, the crowd rough, and I was scared shitless. By the end of the show, however, I was over the moon to discover likeminded souls out there that dug the same music as me. Even though I was by myself I felt less “alone” than I did at school. Suddenly I “belonged” and it was a great feeling.

I caught the Dez Dickerson/Billy Idol show a few months later with another blind date—this time a true punk rocker named Marc who wore thick eyeliner and had a safety pin through his cheek! He was a distant relative of someone I knew, who thought we would hit off well because we were both “weird.” Marc was sweet and I learned within twenty minutes that he was gay. I ended up hooking up at the show with a suburban punk from Enon named Scott, and Marc ended up hooking up with some leather biker mate of Scott’s.

I told Scott about The Jockey Club, and we drove down together in July to catch the Saccarine Trust/Black Flag show. We didn’t know what to think about that show because Henry Rollins looked like a metal head with his long hair and bell-bottoms, but he and the band were a whirlwind of seething energy! Mostly I remember drinking Foster’s Lager in oil cans, trying to stand clear of the mosh pit churning out of control on the tiled floor. I was eighteen, which back then was the legal age for beer, so I was the one going to the “bar” to buy the booze, since Scott was still seventeen for another month. We were surprised and relieved that no one seemed to care that Scott was an underage drinker. And the “bar” wasn’t really even a bar at all! There were no barstools, no taps, no liquor. It looked more like an abandoned luncheonette with two chill cabinets against the grimy wall and a scary skinhead taking orders. Although you couldn’t really order anything, because the only thing they served was Foster’s in the oilcan. No glass was allowed because it could be broken and used as a weapon—but holy fuck those Foster’s cans were the perfect projectile missiles. They weighed a ton and were cheap as chips.

In October Scott and I went to back to the Club and caught The Replacements. Bobby Stinson wore a dress, Westerberg was drunk, and they rocked our asses off. I loved them. They were raw and so alive—the real deal—and they looked just like us: torn jeans, Chuck Taylor’s, t-shirts. It was a bittersweet show, however, because Scott’s military parents had pressured him into the service. I was shattered when he told me, and a few days after the ‘Mats show he was shipped out to Biloxi, Miss., his spiked hair shorn.

We wrote a few letters to each other—him mostly bitching about getting into more and more trouble—but I had started university and wasn’t about to sit home alone on the weekends and pine for him.

There were other shows I saw in 1984:

Van Halen: two freshman girls in my typing class paid me to drive them there, and bought my ticket. I ran into an old girlfriend, LA, at the show and we vowed to stay in touch.

The Romantics: They played Kings Island’s Grad Nite and I caught a couple of songs. They sucked.

Honeymoon Suite: The friend I’d reconnected with called me up for an evening of fun. Our plans to get drunk at the drive-in were thwarted by the sight of a huge tour bus pulling into the bar across the street from the Star*Glo. Curiosity got the best of us and we pulled up beside the bus to find out who the band was. We didn’t know them but chatted with them, and ended up cruising around Middletown with the guitarist and drummer in the bitchin’ Camaro. They bought us dinner, helped drink our 24-case of cheap Busch beer, and put us on the guest list. How could we refuse?

Yes: A month after the Honeymoon Suite gig, LA and I had plans to see the re-formed Yes, who were riding high on their 90125 album. Two days before the show, LA’s favorite cousin Kevin was killed in an auto accident in rural Kentucky. After much soul searching, she decided that she couldn’t handle seeing Kevin in a coffin, and she came to stay with me for a week while the rest of her family made the trip down south. Yes put on a great show, with lasers galore, but neither of us could properly enjoy the show with Kevin’s untimely death hanging over us. I still have the concert shirt I bought that night. It’s raspberry red, sleeveless, glows in the dark (which I didn’t know when I bought it) and because I love all things luminous, I have thus far refused to hawk it on eBay.

Ratt/Billy Squier: I had seen LA staggering around at the Nazareth/Billy Squier show the previous year, and she convinced me that we needed to go see him again. So we did. I can’t remember a single thing about the show. I might have been very drunk. I’m pretty sure I was.

Yes (again): Can't remember who accompanied me to this show and I don't remember much about it, but I have the concert stub so I must have gone. I also must have BEEN GONE at the show.

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Concerts 1983

ARTIST VENUE DATE
Molly Hatchet Cincinnati Gardens 1983
Triumph Cincinnati Gardens 1983
Kansas Hara Arena, Dayton 1983
Jethro Tull Hara Arena, Dayton 1983
Phil Collins Cincinnati Gardens 1983
Joe Walsh Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati 1983
Stevie Nicks Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati 1983
The Raisins Timberwolf Amphitheatre 1983
INXS Timberwolf Amphitheatre 1983
Men at Work Timberwolf Amphitheatre 1983
Loverboy Timberwolf Amphitheatre 1983
Chicago Timberwolf Amphitheatre 1983
Girls School Hara Arena, Dayton 1983
Twisted Sister Hara Arena, Dayton 1983
Quiet Riot Hara Arena, Dayton 1983

Briefly.I saw Molly Hatchet/Triumph together at the Gardens in the early spring with the guy I was dating. Abiding memory? Being on the floor in the 2nd row when Triumph’s flashpots erupted with such fury that we were blasted back several feet, landing on the poor fools in the 5th and 6th rows. I am fairly certain I lost at least 20% of my hearing that night. Bastards.

Kansas/Jethro Tull: The boyfriend insisted I attend this show with him. Didn’t want to be there, didn’t enjoy it, thought it was crap. Plus some asshole spilled an entire bucket of beer down my back. Over 20 years later, whenever I hear “Dust in the Wind” on that Subaru commercial, I cringe.

Phil Collins: The boyfriend again. Didn’t want to be there, didn’t enjoy it, thought it was crap. Plus Phil Collins came out in a suit & tie. I felt old.

Joe Walsh/Stevie Nicks: At last! A concert I wanted to see—and I made the boyfriend attend the show as penance for the trifecta of tripe he’d forced on me. Stevie was gorgeous, witchy, throaty, had nine costume changes and I’m fairly sure was drunk off her tits. She actually fell down on the stage twice. I didn’t care. I loved her with Fleetwood Mac, and I loved her solo stuff. This was The Wild Heart Tour, and she did everything from the album, plus everything from Bella Donna, plus several of her Mac songs like “Dreams” and “Gold Dust Woman.” I took a few pages from her dress manual, and to this day still have a penchant for capes, long skirts and silver jewelry.

The Raisins/INXS/Men at Work: By the summer I’d ditched the boyfriend and his bad taste in music and reconnected with Dakni for a bit of fun at the INXS show. We took the bitchin’ Camaro to Kings Island Amusement Park for the day, her thirteen year old sister tagging along because she was “in love with” Colin Hay.

Yes, you read that correctly, and no, she hasn’t lived that one down to this day.

Dakni and I loved The Raisins and INXS. We owned all their albums (one in the case of The Raisins, and 3 at the time for INXS—this was the Shaboo Shoobah Tour) and knew all their songs, which we sang along to with gleeful, tuneless abandon. After INXS left the stage but before Men at Work came on, we ditched Livia and lit out into the parking lot to try to scope out the INXS tour bus. By the time we found it the band had already boarded and the bus was pulling out. We jumped in the bitchin’ Camaro and followed the bus all the way to Lexington, some two hours away. Which is when we realized that Livia was still at the park! We quickly turned around and rushed back, arriving sometime after midnight to find poor Livia sitting forlornly on the curb in front of the park entrance.

Chicago: The ex-boyfriend wanted a second chance, and said he had a surprise for me. Whoop-dee-doo, the “surprise” was taking me to see Chicago. I should have wheedled out of him what the surprise was before agreeing to go on a date with him. My bad.

Girls School/Twisted Sister/Quiet Riot: I accompanied some dude named Whick. That’s right—his name was Whick, and it was a blind date. He looked way too clean cut to be a metal head. There is a very convoluted story about how I came to accompany Whick to the show, and how I ended up losing a friendship with Melissa because of it, but it’s not worth repeating. The show was decent, the crowd entertaining, and Whick the consummate gentleman. We never went out again.

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Concerts 1982

ARTIST VENUE YEAR
Greg Kihn Band ATP Tennis Ampitheatre 1982
Rick Springfield ATP Tennis Ampitheatre 1982
Nazareth Hara Arena, Dayton 1982
Billy Squier Hara Arena, Dayton 1982

In the summer of 1982 I got my driver’s license and a brand new bitchin’ Camaro--red with grey pin-striping—and christened it several weeks later by hauling some girlfriends to the Greg Kihn/Rick Springfield show. There was Dawn, who had procured the tickets, Alicia, Cyndi and myself, and although I can no longer remember what we wore (although day-glo micro-mini’s spring to mind) I remember that we thought we looked, like, totally bitchin’ to the max. Fer sure!

Springfield was riding high on the success of the “Working Class Dog” album, in particular the tunes “Jessie’s Girl” and “I’ve Done Everything For You.” The added bonus, according to Alicia, was that he starred in some daytime soap (was it General Hospital?) and was, like, OHMYGAWD dreamy, totally!

A couple of things stand out in my mind about the show: Opener Greg Kihn wore the coolest pair of Chuck Taylor’s and I was FREAKEN GAGGING for them; Rick Springfield wore a linen blazer with a t-shirt— long before Don Johnson copped the look for Miami Vice; the show took place in a tennis stadium with our seats right on the court; and it was a gorgeous evening for a show.

We all bought t-shirts (white with teal three-quarter-length sleeves) and mine sold for a small fortune on eBay a few years ago.

Fast-forward several months:

My girlfriend Dakni produced Nazareth/Billy Squier tickets for my birthday. We’d heard that Hara Arena was a cesspool with a parking lot akin to a smash-up derby, so the bitchin’ Camaro was left at home. Dakni “borrowed” a beat up baby blue pick-up truck from a relative or neighbor or someone and away we went. It had to be started with a screwdriver (or at least that was the story) and was banged up enough that it wouldn’t matter if a few more dents appeared during the course of the evening.

Nazareth was awful. Dakni and I had pushed our way right to the front of the stage, only to find that the lead singer was dogbutt fugly, and was wearing tight white satin slacks with no underwear. We could pretty much see it all, and we didn’t want to.

During the intermission, some BAGYOURFACE drunk guy kept telling Dakni she was wearing the wrong kind of shoes. When someone knocked into us and a bucket of beer spilled all over her pink satin ballerina slippers, we realized he was right.

When Squier hit the stage (wearing grey parachute pants and a ripped white t-shirt) the crowd went nuts. At the time I weighted 90 lbs soaking wet, and as such really got pummeled by the stampeding, heaving mass of humanity. Long before the days of barricades, a line of burly bouncers stood at the edge of the stage with the single purpose of beating the living hell out of anyone they took a dislike to. Dakni and I got separated in the melee, and a bouncer snatched me up, flipped me sideways and began using my body to push back the surging, sweaty swarm.

Finding it increasingly difficult to catch my breath between screams for help, I managed to twist my head around just enough to bite the fucker on the arm. It had to hurt, which was the intention, but instead of simply turning me loose, the bouncer heaved me into the air and I sailed about thirty feet before crashing hard onto the shoulders and heads of fans, who parted just enough for me to slip onto the slimy concrete floor.

Knocked around and stepped on, I felt myself suffocating and panicked that I’d be trampled like those poor fans at The Who show in Cincinnati a few years before.

And then an angel scooped me from the floor and held me aloft, gasping for air. When he set me back down I was shaking so much that my legs wouldn’t hold me, so he did. He asked my name and was amused when I told him. He and his mate dubbed me “Miss_K” for the evening, and evaded my repeated attempts to find out theirs. When told he looked familiar, he asked who he looked like. I said, “I dunno. A little like Mick Jagger. Taller.” His mate roared.

Some drunk chick, reeling like an intoxicated elephant, plowed into us and somehow I managed to momentarily lose a Nike. My hunky savior tracked it down, slipped it on my foot and said, “Hey Miss_K, I ain’t fit to tie your shoes” or something along those lines. His friend chimed in with “she’s sassy, she’s brassy” and then together they sang “but above all she’s classy.” I couldn’t help but giggle.

Finally I glanced up at the stage, and to my surprise Dakni was sitting on the edge of the stage with Billy Squier holding her hand, singing to her. “Holy crap! That’s my friend up there!” I yelled to the guy. “No man, that’s MY friend up there on the stage!” he hollered back. I just grinned and rolled my eyes at him, all the while pulling him toward the stage.

Dakni saw me in the throng and leapt from the stage into my arms, squealing with the type of delight only young teenage girls can. I turned to introduce her to my mysterious savior, but he was gone.

A year later I’d see him again, singing on MTV.

Tuesday, January 24, 2006

Concerts 1980-1981

ARTIST VENUE YEAR
Black Sabbath Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati 1980
Blue Oyster Cult Riverfront Coliseum, Cincinnati 1980
Air Supply Timberwolf Ampitheatre, Kings Mills 1981

So yeah, total ends of the spectrum in 1980-81.

I caught the Black & Blue tour in the autumn of 1980 with a guy named Wayne. We dated on and off during that school year, and this show was one of the better dates we had. One time we double dated with another couple and went to the Haunted Caves in Lewisburg--only Wayne got lost and we ended up getting to the caves nearly an hour after they had closed for the night.

Wayne was a weird stoner guy, and it didn’t help matters that he looked an awful lot like Powers Boothe in “The Guyana Tragedy: The Story of Jim Jones.” I always half expected Wayne to hand me a Kool-Aid filled paper cup, and was suspicious enough of him to buy my own sodas at the show, and keep them well away from his potentially spiking fingers.

The show itself is a blur to me now. It was Sabbath’s first outing after Ozzy packed it in for a solo career, which sadly meant I had to endure listening to that warbling hobgoblin Ronnie James Dio and watching him lug a giant cross around on the stage. I actually still like a few cuts from Heaven & Hell, but holy crap I can’t stand Dio, so the album (heh, actually it was an 8-track!!) has been long purged from my collection.

BÖC was much better, as I recall, and when they played “Godzilla” a huge paper-maché monster belched smoke into the crowd. The monster and the sheer wall of sound are my abiding memories of the show. For several days afterwards I heard everything as if listening whilst snorkeling underwater. My ears were clogged with guitar solos, crashing drums, and wee little trolls screeching about the world being filled with kings and queens, who blind your eyes and steal your dreams.

Air Supply was rather forgettable, aside from it being the first time I’d ever seen lasers used at a show. The laser lights were green, and the shapes were rather shaky, but we got the gist of what they were trying to show: the shape of Australia, palm trees, kangaroos, koalas. The band sounded good and I already knew some of the songs because Angie had given me one of their albums for Christmas. It was she who convinced me to go to the show. We spent the day at Kings Island and the evening at the show. The entire concert was cheesy—there were lots of couples holding hands, middle-aged women wearing their Sunday best, and a multitude of acne-riddled teens with bad haircuts clutching newly purchased Air Supply t-shirts to their collective bosoms as they wept and sang along to the sappy love songs.

I was horrified by how totally “un-cool” the whole event was—and worst of all, I too had a bad haircut.

Friday, January 20, 2006

Concerts 1980

ARTIST VENUE YEAR
Maynard Ferguson The Ohio Center, Columbus 1980

I was proud to be a member of the marching band my freshman year of high school. The 1980-1981 school year was magical, and the senior class could seeminly do no wrong. The football team qualified for the state play-offs for the first time ever; the basketball team went all the way to the state semi-finals; amd the marching band received so many accolades at the state marching band competition that we qualified for the national marching competition that spring in Florida.

It was after the marching band competition in November that a bunch of us stayed behind in the state capital to catch Maynard Ferguson at the Ohio Center. Ferguson had been catching a lot of flack for dumping most of his orchestra, and for being seduced by commercialism, but none of that mattered to us. Our group of about 20 students sat agape at the musical gymnastics Ferguson performed with his trumpet. He could hit a double-high C that sent shivers down my spine and made the hair on my neck stand straight up. I never wanted the show to end.

On the ride home, and for weeks afterwards, that show was all we could talk about. I admit to wearing my black Maynard Ferguson concert t-shirt hundreds of times, and after I outgrew it I still kept it neatly folded in the bottom drawer of my dresser.

It was finally sold on eBay a few years ago. Although I could no longer wear it, and although it fetched a good price at auction, I sometimes wish I still had that shirt.

Because whenever I caught a glimpse of it in the drawer, I was transported back to being a gawky, geeky, carefree teenager again, if only for a brief few moments.

"Get a second-hand guitar, chances are you'll go far if you get in with the right kind of fellows"

ARTIST VENUE YEAR
Crosstown Rhythm Various venues around s/w Ohio 1977-1979
Gary Lewis & The Playboys LeSourdsville Lake, Middletown 1978

I can't even remember how many times I saw CTR back then, but I do remember distinctively the first time I ever saw them.

I was 12 years old and shopping with my Mom at the Mall one Saturday afternoon. The Mall used to hold entertainment events in the middle of the mall on the weekends--one time I remember seeing a Kenny Rogers look-alike contest--and this particular Saturday they had an Elvis impersonator performing. CTR was the backing band for the Elvis impersonator.

Mom and I stood and watched the show, and sometime during the performance I fell in love with the angelic, blond bass player. I fell in love quite frequently back then, but the infatuation I had for this guy lasted for a few years. After the show I went up and chatted with him. His name was Jon, and his older brother Ric was the guitarist. I asked about other shows, and Jon wrote down a list of venues they'd be playing in the near future.

I was hooked.

I went to see them every chance I got, and became friendly with the band and their sound & lights guys. Thankfully, they split with the Elvis impersonator and branched out on their own. Although they were only ever a cover-band, they were a damned good cover band, and I still think of them whenever I hear "Brick House" and "Taking Care of Business."
Already a budding photographer, I began to shoot their shows, and somewhere in my box of photo albums is an entire book devoted to my three years of geekdom as a groupie for CTR. I saw Gary Lewis & The Playboys because CTR opened.

Sometime in high school I lost my infatuation with Jon, and the band (all of whom attended local high schools) went their separate ways upon graduation.

Ric joined various bands after graduation, including a stint as guitarist with a semi-famous band.

I ran into Jon several years ago--a friend's band was playing some divebar and Jon did a surprise, solo acoustic set before they went on. He was still angelic.