I’m a Rocker, I Rock Out

The previous entry got me thinking about my early teenage years and some of the concerts I went to back then. My first was Rush. I was 13 and it was the Signals tour. Good timing, as that was when they began their decline into synth-dominated crapola. At the time I was waaaay into Rush, going so far as to borrow a Rush t-shirt from my next-door neighbor so I could go suitably attired. Later that year I saw “supergroup” Asia. After the show I tried hard to convince myself that it didn’t suck, but really, it sucked. They didn’t have enough songs for a whole concert so every member (including the bass player) got his own solo. Dude, it was like, so dude-tastic. Carl Palmer’s drums rotated and shit. Whoa.

When I was freshman in high school, I got into U2. This was during the War era, before asshole jocks and mall denizens embraced lil’ Bono and the gang. Naturally, I got flipped all kinds of shit for the very daring U2 badge I wore on my coat. Three years later these selfsame assholes were filling concert stadiums for the band. Reminds me of why I hated high school. Anyway, I missed the War tour but caught the next one (Unforgettable Fire, I think; if so, perhaps misnamed).

This was the period when I discovered the “alternative” music that eventually led me to punk. Later that same year, as an awkward and depressive social outcast, I heard the Smiths for the first time. Depression and Morrissey go together like peanut butter and chocolate and for a brief period I was shamefully obsessed with the Smiths. I saw them on the Meat Is Murder tour, with opening act Billy Bragg. Bragg was great and a total riot. It so happened that Tears for Fears had played in Boston the night before and many folks at the Smiths show had their Tears for Fears t-shirts on. Bragg ripped on Tears for Fears from the stage, calling them a bunch of wankers and so on, which caused many of these people to suddenly zip up their coats to hide their t-shirts. That was funny shit. I saw the Alarm in that same period. Don’t remember much about it, except the version of 68 Guns that went for over ten fucking minutes. Ack.

My sophomore year was when I started going to punk shows, catching bands like the Meat Puppets, Black Flag, DOA, and the Dicks. I also saw the Replacements that year, in a small club in Providence, RI. Now that was a great show. The late Naked Bob Stinson did indeed get naked, but the band wasn’t so drunk that they couldn’t play. They did take a break at one point, at which time Washingtonians the Young Fresh Fellows jumped on stage and seized their instruments. They said, “We’re the replacements for the Replacements,” and proceeded to play wacky shit like the Gilligan’s Island theme song until the Replacements came back to finish their set. I remember being really angry at the crowd because no one would slam or pogo or anything. Everyone just kept crushing forward, turning the front of the stage into an airless sardine can.

Musically, the next couple of years were wacky. I was getting more and more into punk, but I didn’t immediately dump the stuff I used to like either. So my junior year Iwould listen to a hardcore band like Minor Threat and then put on a King Crimson album. I did pretty much stop going to big arena rock shows though. I say pretty much because my senior year I had one last hurrah. I was, you guessed, Iron fucking Maiden. Some friends of mine were going to go and they asked me I wanted a ticket. I said what the fuck.

Imagine 15,000 metalheads…and one punk. Let me tell you, I could feel the hate as we walked down to our seats. I got countless “what the fuck are you doing here?” looks from the greasy-haired dude brigade. Luckily, I was with my friend Tony, who was a totally nice guy, but very large and very Italian. I suspect big Tony was the only thing between my head and the pavement that night. The show was a fucking riot. Completely over the top rock and roll bullshit. Lasers, UFO looking things flying through the air, a metric ton of smoke, and of course a giant skeletal Eddie. And that was the last night I ever banged my head. Dude.

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