Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Pearl Jam - 2000

Dunkle and I cruised up to Starlake for the Pearl Jam show back in the late summer/early fall of 2000. We snagged the usual dumpster spot at the top of the steps and set up shop. The Maxima was nearing its demise. Right next to us was a giant bin filled with ice and Citra. For those of you who are unfamiliar with Citra, it's kind of like Fresca but without the nutrasweet/aspartame zing. They even had a male and female Citra representative from Coca Cola. I guess they were there to field questions and oversee giveaway operations. Anyway, I snagged a few gargabe bags from the "beer bottle police" and went to work. When the Citra reps moved off, I went to the bin and started filling up. Probably made about 5 separate Citra trips. I was loading up the trunk of the Maxima until it was full and then started in on the back seat. During one of the final trips, an undercover had busted this girl for underage drinking. He had her cornered up against my car and was filling out the citation. She's crying up a storm. Meanwhile, here I am on an entirely different mission. I'm hauling the garbage bag of Citra and it busts open leaving a trail of cans. I look at them both as I approach my car. "Excuse me you guys, I need to get in here." The cop gazes at me with this look of disbelief as I start dumping the garbage bag full of cans. Even the girl temporarily ceased her crying as she had trouble figuring out exactly what was transpiring. After all that commotion died down, we started to make our way into the venue. I saw the female Citra rep and she was back in action, promoting her cause and offering up free refreshment. She looked at me and asked if I'd like a sample can. I told her, "no, that would be stealing." She assured me that it was complimentary and I could have as many as I'd like. I told her that it just made me uncomfortable - getting something for nothing. After a few more back and forths, she just shrugged her shoulders and said ok. We continued hooping it up and slamming beers. For some reason, we decided to walk down to the other entrance. Before we left, I approached the Citra girl and told her I needed to show her something. She walked with me over to the car. I popped the trunk and, lo and behold, there were about 300 cans of Citra and the back seat probably had a couple cases in there as well. She looked at me with the same sense of disbelief the cop gave me an hour earlier. In fact, the trunk was so full, the car was weighted down. My struts were in pretty bad shape leading up to the incident to begin with.
We waited until the crowd died down and Dunkle decided to sneak some beers into the show. He lined his shorts with 3 beers. I was a little skepical of his brazenness because they ask you to lift up your shirt and spin around. Sure enough, the girl asks him to lift up his shirt. Dunkle complies and a beer can hits the ground and starts spraying her. Dunkle looks at her and points to a large pile of confiscated blankets. "These are mine." He picks up the stack and walks off into the distance. The same look of incredulity. This time from the gate attendant. All these looks of astonishment, wonderment and awe. You'd think these morons had never seen a rock concert.
Great show. They played a long encore and it was getting cold so we bolted. As the Maxima limped off the lot (due to the weight of the Citra), I came to the conclusion that it might be time for a new car. Unfortunately, that would lead to the worst decision I ever made - the 1997 Jeep Grand Cherokee aka shake, rattle and roll. However, on a lighter note, there would be plenty of Citra giveaways for weeks to follow.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Oasis - 1998

Cleopatra Carmen and I went up to this show at the AJ Palumbo Center. She got her neighbor to babysit and we rolled up in the Maxima. We got a late start and she was a little nervous about my driving - just keeping up with traffic. We skipped the opening act and made our way in. We walked down to the floor during the break and found some seats about 10 rows back. There was this diminutive kid in front of us who resembled the lead singer. Looked exactly like him. He even had the same mannerisms and identical gestures. We both found this really amusing. They band came out on stage as if they were playing a massive stadium in Europe, not a basketball arena at the Duquesne University. They had this total arrogance about them. The lead singer would frequently drink from his water bottle and spray the crowd. He must have gone through a 12 pack that night. As pompous as the band was, they definitely rocked. Just a straight-up pure rock concert.
After the concert, I told Carmen that we had to zip by 3 Rivers Stadium and check out the tail-gating scene. She was very skeptical but I explained that the Denver (-2) at Pittsburgh AFC Championship game was the next day at 1pm. I was pretty sure it would be a lively tailgating scene, despite the fact that it was bitter cold. Sure enough, there were a bunch of cars waiting to get on the main lot. We hung out at a few tailgates, but the one I really remember was these rednecks in a van with PA plates. They actually had a live black pig with them. Its name was Slash and if the Steelers lost tomorrow, they were going to "slash, Slash and grill/eat the pig right on the spot." If you could see the look in their eyes, you knew these guys weren't fucking around.
Broncos 24
Steelers 21
That poor pig. He probably never saw it coming.

Friday, October 26, 2007

King Diamond/Flotsam - 1988

My old friend Ed Montgomery and I wanted to go see King Diamond at Bogarts in Cincinnati. No vehicle though. So we enlisted the help of a strange upperclassman named Rob. Actually, he was alright but his driving made us both a bit nervous. He seemed to jerk the wheel a bit too much. We cruised down to the club and ran into some other Daytonites - Trasher Mike, Steve, Cleve and Anthony Semirale - aka Stone.
Flotsam and Jetsam opened the show and a huge pit emerged in front us. I'm a little leery of charging into these pits - it's a good way to get a bloody nose or at the very least, stomped on. Instead, I like to hover on the outskirts. Every once in a while you get bumped around but it's no big deal. Also, you don't have some fat ass who's sweating profusely rub up against you. That is not my idea of a good time. Flotsam rocked. During the set break, I saw the stage manager (Ole Bang, that's really his name) helping set things up. I asked him if we could get an autograph of the King and he surprisingly was very cool with it. In fact, he claimed to remember me. I thought that was odd but played along. After the show, Ed and I were led backstage. There was a a very peculiar dude in the corridor holding a clock. He asked us if were going to meet King Diamond and I said "that's the plan." He explained how he was hoping to get his clock signed - on the face of the clock was a painting of King Diamond's head (full satanic makeup and it looked pretty sharp). We also met these two groupie chicks from Dayton who we'd run into a few more times at these metal shows. I forget their names.
Anyway, Ole Bang comes up to us and says "the King is ready to see you." Ed and I open the door and there he is - no makeup. I must say, the King looked pretty haggard. Must have been worn out from all that screeching and that bizarre stage show. Anybody who has seen King Diamond would know what I'm talking about. He opened his mouth and in a haunting soft voice said "Come forward." Ed and I look at each other and nervously approached. He asked us if we enjoyed the show and we both mumbled "Yes, Mr. Diamond." He then signed my fan club letter which I kept in my wallet for years. He wrote the standard KING DIAMOND with two inverted crosses on both sides. I wish I still had that memento. Maybe I'll search through my files.
This wasn't the best show I've seen. I thought Flotsam was much better, but no way was I going to miss King D on that Welcome Home tour. All his friends were there - Missy, some giant mummy/Frankenstein thing, and don't forget Grandma. Not one of the best shows, but probably one of the strangest. It's always time for tea.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Paul McCartney - Cincy, 1989

In anticipation of a big sold-out one stand at the Riverfront Coliseum, I decided to buy as many tickets as I could for an upcoming Paul McCartney show. I slept out overnight with a buddy (Ed Montgomery) of mine in front of a department store in downtown Dayton. When they opened the doors, we charged to the ticketmaster machine in the back of the store easily outrunning everyone in the place. We each bought 8 tickets (the maximum). Our plan was to scalp them without even going to the show. Just put up a few flyers around campus. Needless to say, we got rid of them in no time. People at the back of the line were quite upset when they announced the show had sold-out in a record 45 minutes. Not the fastest sell-out by today's Hannah Montana standards, yet rather impressive for the late 1980's.
Anyway, one of the calls I got was from a sophmore girl who lived a floor below me. She was very interested in buying 2 tickets and taking her mother to the show. I told her I was out of tix, but still planned on going to the concert if she was interested. This was back in the day where we'd go to Bogarts (a club on Vine Street near UC) and purchase 3 buck tickets for some kind of waltzing fest. Then, we'd just use them at the coliseum. It worked just about every time. In fact, I used that same method to get in to my first dead show (also at Riverfront). Anyway, I explained the process to her and she was very skeptical but still wanted to go to the show. I think her name was Linda. Anyway, we got together and made plans. I asked to borrow this guy Steve's Nissan Stanza provided I fill it up and give him a case of long neck Bud bottles - that was the price. In retrospect, not that big a deal.
Anyway, we made it down to Cincinnati and tickets were going for big bucks. All of downtown was really whipped into a frenzy for this one. I think the mayor even gave Paul McCartney the "key to the city" - whatever, the fuck that meant at the time. Wow - what an honor to bestow upon someone - the city with the highest percentage of rapes, violent crime and murder per capita. Nice.
We merged into a huge line of people waiting to get in. They actually had a "checkpoint" set up to verify that you did indeed have a ticket. We flashed our tickets and walked right through. Linda, or Lisa, or whatever her name was confided that she was very nervous and didn't think it was going to work. I assured her we did this all the time. Just follow my lead. I looked for the oldest ticket-taker. It was a 75 year old who probably had never even heard of the Beatles. I made some small talk as he ripped my ticket - I honestly think it was a 3 dollar ticket stub for some kind of dance/waltz contest or maybe something called Buckwheat Zydeco. Anyway, not bad considering tickets were going for a couple hundred right outside.
Anyway, we looked for seats on the upper tier in the back of the arena but like I said, totally sol-out. So we sat in the aisle which made us fodder for the flashlight police. When the lights went out, the place erupted. They opened with a generally mellow song - Figure of Eight, which to this day I still like. The setlist is from a live recording of "Tripping the Live Fantastic" - an absolutely killer live cd.
Anyway, the Linda girl ran into someone she knew and they crowded her in with them a few rows ahead as the flashlight dude persisted. Fortunately an older couple saw my plight and "took me in to their row." I felt bad since my presence made it a little cramped, but I didn't have much of a say in the matter. They even got me high. Unfortunately, I put my finger on the top of the pipe instead of the side carb thing. It burned the fuck out of my finger and made the rest of the evening very uncomfortable. My finger actually throbbed in pain the entire night - it was that bad. No exaggeration.
This concert is definitely in my all-time top 5. Great show. Great crowd. Super-charged atmosphere. As we drove back to Dayton, I couldn't help but notice "how dark it was outside.
I asked Linda why I couldn't see any of the cars that would pass us. She ignored my questions and kept talking about how great the show was and how she wished she could have seen it with her mom. We were on two totally different wavelengths. I persisted about the "degree of darkness" and asked her to get me a beer out of the cooler in the back. When she turned around, she looked back at me and said, "Eric, do you know the trunk is up?" In retrospect, maybe that's why the ride home was a black-out.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Grateful Dead - Chicago, Soldier Field 1991

This was my favorite dead show, hands down. I drove up with the infamous Lowe brothers and this other guy Rob Kohnfelder. A couple years later, I would grow to truly despise two of them. So much for the peace and love theory. We spent some time on the Southside of Chicago buying tons of beer at a distributor. Tom and John bought about a dozen cases which really weighed the car down. The suspension was bad enough on my little Charger 024 Omni. I miss that car - it was the original Saf mobile or as my father referred to it "the fucking jalopy and eyesore to the neighborhood." We arrived at the parking lot around noon and the place was filling up rapidly. I parked near these college kids who were dispensing 8 nitrous tanks. As the day wore on and the lines grew, I got to know them pretty well. They explained how they were from Cornell University, snagged a bunch of tanks and decided to hit the show. There were 4 of them - all business majors, go figure. They had given the security cops $100 a piece with a promise of another $100 each at the end of the night. Probably a good idea, since the lines were 20 people deep and the swooshing noise form the tanks was loud. At one time, they actually had two lines formed. This pissed off Tom at first since he was trying to sell imports and these guys were making a mint selling hippie crack. He eventually would sell all his beer anyway. The Cornell foursome probably netted about $16,000. Not bad for a days work. Not sure if they went into the show or not. I never even found out if they were Dead fans.
I had an interesting run-in with this Asian kid in the middle of the afternoon. We were standing by the car and we noticed this one hippie riding his bicycle while simultaneously hitting a nitrous balloon. I look to the Asian kid and said "that doesn't look like such a good idea." Before I could finish the sentence, the hippie slammed into a parked car and hit the pavement. The balloon went flying and he was pretty skinned up. Fortunately, he didn't crack his head. After a couple of minutes, the banged-up hippie managed to get to his feet and ride off. I started talking with the Asian kid - he told me his name was James. James and I started walking the lot talking about a variety of topics - where you from, you got a ticket for the show, the usual stuff. He then said that his band was playing tonight and told me "We should go check them out. I'm not going into the show tonight. I've got to play, but I wanted to come down here in the afternoon and check out the scene." I told him I was going to the concert and I doubted my traveling companions would be interested in seeing his show since we were heading to Kansas for another Dead show (that's another story). He mentioned that they were about to embark on a tour and said they'd be playing in Pittsburgh in a few weeks. I asked where and he said the Metropol. I was impressed and mentioned that the place holds almost 1,500. "Are you guys really that big?" He repsonded, "Oh yeah, there's about 4,000 people coming to our gig tonight. We're from Chicago and we're starting a tour to support our national release." I was a little blown away. We ended up hanging out for a couple hours. Right before we split to go into the show, I asked him, "Hey, what's the name of your band anyway?" He looked at me and quietly responded "The Smashing Pumpkins." A year or so later, it dawned on me that it was James Iha - guitarist of the Smashing Pumpkins. I always like that story.
Before the show, there was much speculation of the opener. Lots of people wanted to hear Shakedown Street which hadn't been played all tour. I explained that there's no way because it was Bob's night to open. They'll probably open the second set with it. On the way in, I noticed 2 great personalized license plates - one said "BUCKET", the other "SHKDWN." I wished I'd had my camera on me since I used to take pics of dead plates, but I had left it in the car. We walked by this group of crazed hippie/college kids and they were smashing beer bottles on the lot. Just for the hell of it, I guess. Laughing up a storm and probably tripping their brains out.
We made it into the stadium right after the opening act. The weather was crisp and really windy. The sky was filled with a ton of colors and constant lightning strikes, but it never rained. They hit the stage and the place went nuts. Bob opened with Hell in a Bucket and Jerry would follow with Shakedown Street. This would be my all-time favorite dead opener. I couldn't have written a better setlist. I loved this whole show. Just had a tremendous vibe. A one-night stand at Soldier Field. Now I get it. They closed out the second set with One More Saturday Night and encored with The Weight. Quite simply, my favorite dead show out of about 50. Like I said, now I get it.