Concert Week

Vacation week has come and gone. It went by fast as vacations always do. I’ve been lazy (not posting) and I’ve been sick. Another round of antibiotics (actually DURING my vacation week), and now I’ve got a horrible head cold. I’ve also started guitar lessons with a real teacher! More on that some other post.

The vacation went great even though I didn’t feel 100%. We went to all of the concerts. I was determined to go even though the antibiotic gave me intestinal issues. Public toilets, especially at concert venues where people are drinking, smoking and toking, are nasty and unsanitary, and I’m glad to say I managed to avoid any extended stays in any of those nightmare spots.

48E7E91E-2926-4B54-91D8-33004B03B71C.jpegI’m not sure my dear husband enjoyed the week off as much as I did. I was short-tempered at times because it was hot and humid, and I felt poorly. Metal music is also not his thing, but he was a trooper, and he soldiered through it all. 

Monday night we were supposed to see Bad Wolves, Nothing More, Five Finger Death Punch and Breaking Benjamin at Darien Lake. For this show on Labor Day, it was a family affair. I bought tickets for the whole family, and my two adult sons joined us.

 

The tickets said 7:00 p.m.  We got there around 6:15, and the show had already started. We’d missed Bad Wolves, and Nothing More was just taking the stage. We’re not sure what happened there, but a big thunderstorm had rolled through before the concert, and Ivan Moody, Death Punch’s singer, did say they’d wanted to cancel the concert so we figured they must have started early to try to get the concert in since more rain was forecast for later. Nothing More was nothing memorable for me. They were just okay.

Death Punch was awesome. We’d gone to see them, and they put on a great show. They did most of their favorites, visually the lasers and lights were great, and they sounded incredible. My boys enjoyed the show as much as I did. I was on my feet, screaming, singing and dancing. We didn’t stay for Breaking Benjamin. We wanted to beat the crowd out of there, and we’re not fans of their music.

We lost my hubby on the way to the car because the crowd was so thick leaving. Of course his phone was dead so we couldn’t call him. That was a pain, but he eventually joined us at the car. I’m sure it didn’t make his experience that evening any better. My hubby is a gentler person than I am. He thinks metal music makes listeners angry and violent. It’s a release of sorts for me, and it makes me feel good, not angry. I can see the meaning behind the words. There’s anger at times, and there’s also pain, but there’s humor, lightness and love, too. I get jazzed up, not pissed off.  

Wednesday evening hubby and I went to Darien Lake again to see Judas Priest and Deep Purple. He looks thrilled, doesn’t he? I wanted to see Priest again even though I’d seen them multiple times in the 80’s. One of the original guitarists KK Downing, has already left the band, and the second one, Glenn Tipton, was just forced to cut back to only occasional appearances because of a Parkinson’s diagnosis. I wanted to see them again before Rob Halford also had to quit because of age or infirmity. 

Priest was awesome as usual. The music was great, Rob sounds just like he did thirty years ago, and Richie Faulkner has been an excellent addition as a guitarist. I found I missed the blazing guitar solos and duels that KK and Glenn provided, though. You could count on them to play back and forth and then together in each song. With Richie covering most of the complicated solos now on his own, it loses something. Andy Sneap is there as a second guitarist, but he only plays the rare, short solo bits. That’s a shame. I’m glad I saw them, but it wasn’t quite the same. Hard to explain.

We only stayed for a handful of Deep Purple songs. They closed the show. They sound pretty much the same to me, too. I used to follow them in the 70’s. Ian Gillan’s voice is still good. I do miss Richie Blackmore, and my hubby misses Jon Lord. Lord, sadly, passed away, and Blackmore took his ego and guitar and went elsewhere years ago. They had a complicated, multiple screen theater experience going on behind them which basically showed closeups of what was going on on the stage. That was nice for the folks in the nosebleed seats. 

Thursday we drove six hours to York, PA. My hubby delivers all around there in his truck, so he got to show me most of the places he stops for deliveries and also where he sleeps most nights. We had a hotel room for two nights, and that was a nice break away for us.

The Cooper concert was Friday. This was the show I’d looked forward to the most. The only negative to the whole event was the International Parking Lot event where I was supposed to meet his guitarist. That didn’t work out. He was supposed to be at the merchandise stand only there was no stand anywhere. Turns out he was at the side of the stage, and I didn’t know that until afterwards. 

The concert itself was great. Alice Cooper is 70. You’d never know it. He looks damned good for his age. Here’s a comparison for you. Death Punch sang 13 songs, Judas Priest sang 11 songs, and Alice Cooper did 21 songs.  Alice had no opening act. It was all him. He doesn’t need an opening act. He played a long show, and he was incredible.

The crowd itself was disappointing. Maybe it was the venue (the York fairgrounds), or maybe it was just the Pennsylvania crowd. They sat on their hands. They didn’t clap. They didn’t stand or scream or dance or cheer. The people next to me came in late, sat like statues, and left halfway through. Why? Why didn’t they just stay home? I believe in getting into a show, and the crowd kind-of spoiled it for me. I get into music I like. I seat dance if I can’t stand and jump around. I felt so out of place there.

When asked afterwards which show he’d liked the best, my husband said Alice Cooper. He said he was the most polished. He certainly packed the most in to his show. He isn’t profane. Hell, he doesn’t even talk to the crowd in between songs. He just performs. The theatrics were all there – the straightjacket, the guillotine, his wife playing Nurse Sheryl (gotta love Sheryl Cooper). 

In my opinion, Death Punch was the best at getting the crowd to participate. Priest was pure nostalgia for me. Alice was definitely the most entertaining and worth seeing. My vote for the best concert goes to Alice, too. I’m so glad I got the chance to see him. I’d go again if I had the chance.

Fear the Reefer

Music has always been a huge part of my life. I remember listening to 45’s on a record player in my bedroom as a kid. I had to be all of three or four; it was definitely before I went to school. I’d put music on and ride my rocking horse! I remember listening to ‘Charlie Brown’ by the Coasters (“Why’s everybody always picking on me?”). From there I progressed to one of the original, “boy” bands, the Osmond Brothers. Thank God I graduated to Neil Diamond not long after that.

My mother listened to Johnny Cash, Glen Campbell and Tennessee Ernie Ford, but I didn’t get into country music until I was much older. My older brother was listening to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones and Jimi Hendrix. I remember him listening endlessly to ‘Iron Man’ by Black Sabbath. That song was released in 1971. I also remember him listening to rock music on an FM radio station in his room every night, and if he was in a good mood, he’d let his kid sister listen, too.

Music was a constant at our house. What’s that cheesy slogan? Cotton is the fabric of our lives? Well, music is the fabric of mine.

Although I listened to music all the time growing up, we really didn’t see any of it live. My mother didn’t care for crowds and socializing wasn’t really her thing. We didn’t do concerts in the park or music at festivals. My family preferred their music on the radio or the record player.

One day my cousin and I decided to try our first live concert. I couldn’t recall exactly how old we were, but an online search shows the concert tour we were interested in took place in 1975. I was 16 and my cousin was 15. What my (naive) parents were thinking at the time, I have no idea.

At 16, I was quiet and shy and not at all worldly. In plain words, I had no fucking clue.

As big fans of Rod Stewart, we decided to go see his tour with the Faces (his band) when he played the Rochester War Memorial (now the Blue Cross Arena). Blue Oyster Cult was the opening act.

Rod Stewart and the Faces

My parents drove us downtown and turned around and went home. Innocently, we walked into the arena, excited to see our first show. We’d seen all kinds of concerts on television. They looked like a lot of fun.

We had seats right down on the floor. We were only a few rows back from the stage. We were so excited. We took our seats, and people began to settle in around us.

Everything was going great until the lights went down for the start of the show. A tremendous rumble almost like thunder began. The seats were hooked together in groups of twos or threes. Unfortunately, mine was not fastened to my cousin’s. The man on my other side leaned towards me and yelled, “Pick up your seat and run!”

Terrified, I asked what was happening. The rumbling roar was the people in the nosebleed seats rushing down towards the stage. They were going to run in and stand in front of us. Not knowing what else to do, I did as he told me. I almost lost my cousin in the rush, but she managed to stay close to me.

No longer comfortable or relaxed, we looked up in real fear and confusion as Blue Oyster Cult took the stage. They opened with their big hit, ‘Don’t Fear the Reaper’. To this day, I think they’re singing ‘don’t fear the reefer’ because as soon as the music began, that thick, sickening, sweet smell filled the air.

Up to that point, I’d lived a pretty sheltered life. I was as straight-laced as they came. I’m 59 today. I fess up. I’ve never tried weed. I had the opportunity. My brother offered it to me, at his house, just the two of us there. I was too scared to try it. He smoked it all the time. I wasn’t interested. I’m still not. I’ve smoked cigarettes. I never had the desire to try pot.

My cousin and I looked at each other. The scary crowd, the loud music we didn’t like, the grass in the air… This wasn’t what we’d signed up for. We got the hell out of Dodge!

White Tower (somewhere, not Rochester)

We walked back down the street to the White Tower restaurant. (This was well before cell phones). We called my parents who had just gotten home and made them come back and pick us up! So much for our first concert.

I can look back and laugh at this disaster now, but we were in tears when it happened. Of course, I’ve since been to many concerts, and I’ve seen and done things that would have shocked my 16 year old self.

Thank God we had the nerve to try again. We opted for something very close to a “boy” band the next go-round. We went to see Gilbert O’Sullivan at a smaller venue, and we had a great time. Then we waited several years and grew up a whole hell of a lot more before we tried anything riskier. We never did see Rod Stewart (or God forbid, Blue Oyster Cult!). I still fear the reefer.

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Metalhead

I’ve always found music to be my solace and my refuge, and it’s odd because I don’t listen to quiet or calming music. Music soothes my soul even if I do like it loud. I prefer screaming guitars, pounding drums and lyrics I can scream or yell along with. I like to call it my scream therapy. When I feel stressed or unhappy, I crank the music up. My musical tastes are all over the place, but mostly I like it loud.

My first concert was a disaster. My cousin and I were both young and foolish, and apparently my parents were pretty naive, too. We tried to go see Rod Stewart and Blue Oyster Cult. It was the early 1970’s. What my parents were thinking, I have no idea, but they dropped us off at the arena and headed back home, assuming we were safe and we’d have a great time. They’d just gotten home when we called and asked them to come get us. We were so far in over our heads, we were terrified, and we’d walked out of the arena. When the lights went down, we were sitting in our reserved seats down on the floor in front of the stage, and there was this horrendous rumbling noise. The man next to us yelled at us to pick up our seats and “RUN!” We had no idea what was happening. The crowds in the nosebleed seats were rushing the stage. We had to pick up our seats and move them forward or they were going to stand in front of us. We had no clue that that kind of thing happened at big concerts. Blue Oyster Cult hit the stage. It was loud, it was scary, and the arena was suddenly awash in marijuana smoke. We got the hell out of Dodge. We walked down the street to a 24-hour diner and called my folks for a ride back home.

Needless to say, we didn’t try again for a while. Our next show was much smaller (a different arena) and much blander and safer. We saw Gilbert O’Sullivan, an Irish singer, right after he’d had a hit with “Alone Again (Naturally)”. There was nothing scary about his concert. It was cheesy but fun.

donna10-22-16We eventually worked our way back up again to rock bands. In the 1980’s we were all about metal, and I went to many concerts. I’ve seen Judas Priest (several times), Yes (several times), Trace Adkins (several times), Ozzy Osbourne (twice), Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Phil Collins, Meatloaf, the Moody Blues, the Fixx, Whitesnake, Quiet Riot, Motley Crue, VanHalen, Kiss, Brad Paisley, Vince Gill, Eddie Money, Billy Idol, Huey Lewis & the News, the Scorpions, Journey, the Police, Blue Oyster Cult, Metallica, Gilbert O’Sullivan, REO Speedwagon, Def Leppard, and Tesla. I’m sure I’m missing a few (it’s  difficult to remember some of the opening acts – especially if they never hit it big), but you get the idea. We went to a lot of shows.

I also went through a country music phase. I took my hubby and two sons to see Trace Adkins (three times). I did a meet and greet with him. I was the first one in line, and when he came in, I told him I’d seen him three times that year. His response? “Man, you must be getting bored.” Not really. He puts on a good show.

I saw Huey Lewis when he was just starting out. No one knew who he was. He played a tiny bar in town (the Penny Arcade), and my cousin and I were close enough to touch him. I sent him a fan letter, and I got a personally signed postcard back!

The loudest show I ever saw was the Scorpions. We stood right down on the floor, in front of the speakers for that one. My ears rang for days afterwards. It was awesome.

One of the best stage sets I ever saw was Ozzy Osbourne’s Ultimate Sin tour in 1986. My cousin had moved to Texas so I went with my brother. I was 27, and he was 35. Ozzy’s stage set was a huge sweeping staircase with huge statuary at the base of the stairs. It was shortly after the Ozzy/bat incident. To open the show, he came walking down the stairs, and when he reached the bottom, the statues came “alive”. They were giant bats with glowing red eyes, and they opened their huge, sweeping wings. So cool. Of course, the opening band was a mystery to my brother and me. It was Metallica! We weren’t fans. When the teenagers around us began to bang their heads to the music, we just looked at one another in confusion. My brother said, “I feel so old.”

I recently saw Def Leppard for the first time (in June). They were great. In another couple of weeks for our anniversary trip, hubby and I will see Keith Urban in Ohio. My hubby is good to me. He listens to lots of different music (he used to be a radio DJ), but he’s not the metalhead that I am. He likes jazz and oldies. I don’t. He’s more tolerant of my choices than I am of his. You’d think it would be the other way around.

I leave you with another favorite of mine. I have the lyrics ‘Just open your eyes and see that life is beautiful‘ tattooed on my forearm.