Sunday, December 21, 2008

kiss


kiss
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc

Yeah, yeah, yeah....I saw KISS. Twice.

Fuck you.

This is the point in my blog posts when I typically try and absolve myself for seeing a shitty performer, because -in my mind, at least - they had not by that point in time embarrassed themselves to the point that they currently have within the context of pop culture relevancy, artistry, human decency, or whatever.

I'm going to spare everyone of that charade this time around, because - despite the fact that this was the great big original-members-back-in-the-makeup tour that everyone was excited about - everybody also knows that KISS by this time had embarrassed themselves and their goofy legacy a thousand times over - be it via the "Dynasty" album, Gene Simmons' terrible solo record, the "Music From the Elder" experiment, that disaster with Vinnie Vincent, or the lyrics to "Let's Put the X in Sex" or "Spit" (...We really could go on with this game all night, couldn't we? I hadn't even mentioned "Kiss Meets the Phantom of the Park" yet....).

Short form - KISS had killed any cred they had a long time before they put the makeup back on. Any way you slice it, there would be some explaining to do for seeing ANY KISS SHOW basically after, say, 1977.

My love/hate thing with KISS is nearly endless. It seemed so wrong to see them on that lame-ass tour when I was in college, and I wanted to try and tap into the KISS aura I'd been vaguely aware of since second grade -- that awesome bored-suburban-teenager-with-a-bag-of-weak-weed thing that had both frightened and fascinated my young self.

I DID want to see them in make up!

I DID want to see a set of nothing but songs from the first five albums!

I DID want to see Ace Frehley!

Dammit, there's no denying that I wanted to see this show. And there's no denying that as much as anything associated with the marketing of KISS makes me feel ill today, I totally enjoyed every second of this stupid band's concert.

Yes, I fucking did.

I went to this with a few co-workers....this guy Jeff and his then-wife, Joanna; and my buddy Brian.

The opening band was pretty terrible and we skipped it so that Jeff could have a smoke and some nachos (classy).

Aside from the opener, I can't take much of anything away from the show itself. It had all the trimmings - fire breathing, vomiting blood, Gene flying around like a fat, Jewish Sandy Duncan during "God of Thunder", the over-the-top drum riser, the burning guitar with the bottle rockets. The set-closer of "Black Diamond", complete with the 182 howitzer-style explosion chords.

It was absolutely everything that I ever wanted out of seeing KISS live.

I don't need to tell you what KISS is all about today. It's all about the cash. It's all about fleecing the fans. It's all about terrible reality TV shows and merchandise so ridiculous that it's not charming anymore. I truly hate them and their "brand."

And that's sad. Because I've backed into saying this six ways to Sunday, but the fact is that if Gene hadn't put so much effort into being a dislikable dickbag for the past ten years, I TOTALLY would have considered seeing this tour one more time....even today.

Totally.

Cuz I love it loud...........

Monday, December 15, 2008

ozzy


ozzy
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
Don't think for a minute that just because me and my new musician friends caught one fancy-pants David Bowie show that I had now shed my dubious musical leanings.

Quite to the contrary; one week later I was off to see Ozzy. AND Danzig. (Again with the Danzig....argh).

I well remember standing in my guitar player's, kitchen telling the guys that I couldn't make it to practice the following week because I'd be at this show. I even attempted to made a joke about it, because I knew of their disapproval towards my sad-ass musical tastes - and looking back it's pretty obvious now just how insecure I was becoming about this heavy metal nonsense. But they said nothing - glancing briefly at one another and allowing this to slide.

(This knowing look of silent resignation among my older peers vaguely reminds me of the time that my little brother and I nearly had a fit in the Erol's Video on Rockville Pike in 1985 or something when my Dad unsuccessfully tried to prevent us from renting the Great American Bash. One could say that it has been a lifetime of disappointment for those loved ones who sought better culture for me).

I often wonder why my bandmates put up with me at all. I was immature as hell, I tended to be oversensitive to any kind of criticism, and I had the most god-awfully shallow understanding of music, despite everything I thought that I knew about the Stones and David Bowie and jazz and the blues. I was such a little suburban dork.

(But I was pretty f-ing good drummer if I do say so myself. And I brought beer to practice.)

So anyway, relieved from my practice duties, the following week Fran the Man and I headed out to Columbia, Maryland (the site of repeated bad-taste moments for me) to check out the “fat and bloated” tour.

For some reason I feel the need to point out that this was before Ozzfest and the Osbournes had made Ozzy totally safe for public consumption, and before anyone knew who Sharon Osbourne was (except, of course, for those of us who read liner notes and bought Hit Parader magazine.....). Ozzy was a lot less of a comical fuddy duddy and at least slightly more of a lunatic in those days. He may not have been the “Behind the Music” bird-eating, Alamo-pissing, ant-snorting, fox skin coat-wearing crazy man of the 1980’s, but he was still that motherfucker from Sabbath. Not some medicated old stroke victim.

Where was I?

I have a little trouble remembering the dates, but I *think* that this was the "Retirement Sucks" tour......Ozzy had retired from the road at the end of the tour behind "No More Tears" (THAT tour, I believe, was called the "No More Tours" tour), and something like....oh, I dunno, three months later he took his ass back on the road.

Why? Because, of course, Sharon Osbourne is pretty much the biggest fucking enabler this side of Malcolm McLaren.

Now, I'd been a little crestfallen that I'd missed the "No More Tours" go-round, so I was determined to see this one. AND he was touring with Mr. Danzig, which FTM and I were probably pretty horny about (against our - or at least MY - better judgment).

Also on the bill were Sepultura - who I'd been hearing pretty rad things about at the time - and Prong, who I believe actually had some kind of local connection to the Baltimore/D.C. area, but I have never actually known what it was. (I have a bad feeling that it was because my old friend from that era, Jenny, might have given Tommy Victor a blow job at some point in her past, or something....but I also have a bad feeling I made that up a long time ago, and it has since become fact in my head).

So, anyway, we were running late and we rolled in at the end of Sepultura's set. Never in my history of missing bands have a regretted missing a set more than I miss this one. We basically walked into the amphitheater as these guys finished what I believe was Refuse/Resist. As I remember it, one guitar player played a riff over and over and over, while all the other guys threw down their instruments and started wailing in synch on these acoustic, tribal drums. This was not some pussified, hippie-ass Meridian Hill Park drum circle; this was music to sacrifice virgins to. It was bad ass, and it was over in a minute's time. I remember thinking that the other bands were going to have to work their asses of to top that.

Little did I know that I'd just witnessed the pinnacle of the evening.

Up next was Prong, who kinda underwhelmed me. They were rocking some kind of vaguely industrial pre-aggro thing, and it just wasn't doing it for me. While Sepletura sounded savage and raw, Prong was fully measured and controlled. Tight, but lacking any kind of teeth. Fortunately it was a short set, so FTM and I wouldn't have to wait long before getting our punnanis all wet for Mr. Danzig.

What happened next, however, was unexpected: A little guy got on stage with what looked to be a battery-operated microphone and explained that the power in the building failed shortly after Prong's set, and that they were working with the county to fix it.

As you might expect, this was something of a bummer to the thousands of white trash metal heads in Columbia that afternoon. The first 20-30 minutes weren't really a problem at all, but after the crowd consumed the next three or four rounds of cheap beer, things got increasingly frightening. People were getting antsy. Memories of riots in Montreal and St Louis weren't really that far removed at that point, and as fate had it we were seated in the pavilion (i.e., down stream from the thousands of far drunker people who were sitting on the grassy knoll....who would only be too happy to stampede FTM and myself in the hopes of pillaging some guitars).

An hour or so later, they figured it out, and Danzig came on out and played a shortened set.

I hate to say this (because I’ve made it abundantly clear how gay I was for Danzig when I was younger), but I honestly can hardly remember a damned thing about his set.

I know he played some song off the X-Files soundtrack (WTF, GLENN?), and I remember that during “Long Way Back From Hell” the hillbilly girl in front of me totally dissed the 6’5” mullet dude she was with, turned around, and shook her hair and her boobs at me for basically the whole song.

It was not pretty.

I also have a feeling that none of the other original members of Danzig were on this tour, which bummed me our completely. (I could be wrong, but the guys in Prong actually might have been backing him up….)

Anyway, Danzig does 35 minutes of (apparently) unremarkable performance, and next up comes Ozzy.

I don’t know what to say here. I had looked forward so badly to finally seeing Ozzy live, and yet again, I remember hardly anything about this concert. It’s not like I was drinking or doing drugs; I was stone cold sober that night. Ozzy just happened to fart out a completely unremarkable show that evening.

What I do remember is that he opened with a crazy ass retrospective video/music montage of his career. I remember that there was some sick-ass video playing during War Pigs, full of stock footage of villages being bombed in Vietnam. I remember that some jackass ran onstage and climbed the stacks then fell off of them. I remember that there was no Zakk Wylde on this tour – just some skinny-ass kid who sorta looked like him.

But in general, I can’t remember the set list very well, or anything that I thought was particularly good about this show.

Most vividly, I remember Ozzy’s voice cracking unmercifully every single time he hit that high note at the end of the verse in “No More Tears” (Your lips are so cold/I don’t know whUUAAAAEUEUEUElse to say”. It was truly cringe-worthy, and it happened every fucking time.

(Seriously, it was the SINGLE WORST concert moment I have EVER heard. I have never, ever been temped to see Ozzy again after that moment. I’m serious. It was Just. That. Bad.)

And then a few songs later the concert was over.

It was night time and it was crowded, and FTM and I were both feeling like we’d rather go home and get past this evening.

Running up the stairs of the amphitheatre, I vaulted the low guard rail that separated us from the sidewalk, and I landed squarely in the path of a hard-looking, rolly-polly, tank top-wearing, 40-something woman with very sun burnt skin. My spider senses indicated that she might have been somewhat intoxicated, even by Ozzy’s standards.

I glanced backwards. Her bloodshot eyes slowly squinted as they came into focus on my face, and her lips pursed around the Marlboro Light dangling from her swollen lips.

“Well, EXCUSE the flying fuck outta me,” she spit out as I ran past her.

My thoughts exactly, Mr. Osbourne. Excuse me, indeed.

Sunday, October 19, 2008

bowie cap ballroom


bowie cap ballroom
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
One of the only things that makes it possible to write a whole bunch of self-deprecating posts about having bad taste and attending lousy concerts by the likes of Springsteen and Extreme and L.A. Guns (wait for that one, kids) is the fact that I was in attendance at a dozen or so shows like this one, where the planets just aligned right and the show was a blockbuster by anyone's standards.

One could call this evening the redemption of a lifetime for Mr. Bowie, after twice witnessing the train wreck that was the Nine Inch Nails/Outside tour.

Plain and simple, this was one of the single greatest shows I have ever witnessed....perhaps THE greatest. And it ruled on about a thousand levels.

At this point in time, things were changing for me - slowly but very surely. I was in my first band....an odd sort of band in which I was the youngest member by nearly 10 years. The song structures were complicated and the sheer volume of obscure covers we played was......it was troubling actually....making the Queegs sound like an odd mixture of a classic rock band and a prog/math rock sort of thing.

The great thing about getting myself in a band is that my musical tastes were opening up in a huge way. Suddenly it DID kind of matter that my bandmates thought is was dumb for me to be listening to Aerosmith and KISS and Danzig.

And it DID matter that I was hiding the fact that I owned that dreadful "Jagged Little Pill" album (...my God, I would give anything not to have such a soft spot to this day for that song "Hand In Pocket").

And it DID matter that there was music out there - music that wasn't on MTV or on the radio - that I was missing out on.

BUT it also mattered that these guys gave the thumbs up to certain fascinations of mine, including various metal acts, certain classic rock bands, and most importantly, my ridiculous worship of Bowie.

So, anyway, most of us went to this show together - which was really awesome for me. I was still 21, and despite the fact that PMT somehow managed to tag along, this was a big transition OUT of that period when I spent all my time with people - people just like me - who lived with their parents. Out with the big kids, once again.

Bowie was doing a four or five city pre-release tour for the Earthling album. I was amazed that D.C. was one of the stops, so when tickets went on sale, we were ALL over it.

And it was in a CLUB - The Capitol Ballroom (A club that would go on to become the slightly more legendary Nation, and is no longer in existence today. And as every elitist music snob knows, this is one of the most effective techniques to trying to sell your place in history to all the other people you tell the story to - the club MUST be gone when you tell the story, so that you can most effectively torment your listener with the fact that you have somehow tattooed the scene in a fashion in which they will never be able to. BWAHAHAHA).

(Being a scenester is so fucking immature. But then again, so is blogging, isn't it?)

Anyway....

This night ruled because Bowie was in world class form. This was the tour where he was wearing the torn up Union Jack trench coat. His new material was fan-fucking tastic; Hearing "Little Wonder" for the first time blew my mind, because I was slowly becoming accustomed to being underwhelmed at all my favorite artists' new music....But that track - live, no less - was undeniably strong.

It ruled because we pressed up against the stage and got within spitting distance of rock royalty.

It ruled because Bowie played "Aladdin Sane" that night -- a song I'd never seen or heard of his playing live.

It ruled because he covered Iggy ("Lust for Life") and the Velvet Underground ("White Light/White Heat"), while throwing in "All the Young Dudes" and "Under Pressure". And he played "Heroes", even though I thought he'd retired that song.

AND it ruled because much like Billy Packer's historic contribution on the afternoon I got to see Alan Iverson play in college, there was a moment of tasteless behavior that night, and for a change I had nothing to do with it.

My bandmate Matt - who is honestly almost the single most gentle individual I have EVER encountered - get a little punk rock on everyone and tried to start a mosh pit. It worked for about 15 seconds before he got attacked by a chick who didn't want any part of his nonsense. Fueled by Bowie fervor, Matt freaked out and kinda sorta swung on the girl. It was messed up and it all happened real fast and I'm not really sure he knew what was happening, so I forgive him.

But my God, it was fucked up and scary.

At the end of the day, I guess the lesson is that there's no room for a mosh pit a David Bowie show. Even an awesome one.

Monday, October 13, 2008

georgetown vs. villanova


georgetown vs. villanova
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
No arena rock here. And no bad taste - at least not on my part. For this particular evening, I left that up to Billy Packer.

If you grew up in Washington in the 1980's, it was all about Georgetown. They had Patrick Ewing. They had John Thompson. And they were a Jesuit school. I liked everything about Georgetown.

Maryland?

Fuck Maryland.

Sure, they had the mighty Len Bias....but we all know how that tragedy unfolded.

They also had Lefty Driesell, who my dad informed me at a young age was a crook.

And they got themselves sanctioned my the NCAA while I was in high school.

And their students burn shit when they win games.

THEN they burn shit when they LOSE games.

And Maryland is part of the ACC - the veritable epitome of BAD TASTE. To this day I can't really bring myself to root for Maryland, and I find myself rooting against Carolina and Duke any opportunity that I can, too.

Seriously, the ACC can blow me.

Anyway, about this game. I went with Fran the Man and a whole bunch of his buddies who went to Villanova with him, as well as a sinister individual known only as Drunk Tim, who brought along a few members of his crew of fuck-ups from South Jersey.

The plan was for everyone to meet up at Fran's parents' (Mr. And Mrs. The Man's) house, grab some lunch, play some hoops, then proceed to the game. Somehow this didn't quite happen. I forget what exactly went wrong, but somehow Drunk Tim didn't make it down to Maryland on time (shocker), so we left without him.

And somehow, Drunk Tim misunderstood how he was supposed to claim his ticket (again - shocker), so he and his white trash friends had to enjoy the game from some run down sports bar (Drunk Tim in a bar -- great big fat shocker) in Landover -- a run down town in and of itself, while the rest of us got to see Villanova get hammered by Alan Iverson in his one college season.

But who really had the richer experience? Because we were in the stands, it was hours later before any of us in attendance learned about the historic "tough monkey" comment.

Drunk Tim? He, and his friends -- all of whom were terrified of black people in that way that seems to be central to the New Jersey existence -- got to hear it in real time, surrounded my a bunch of Landover residents, few (if any) of whom, were Caucasian.

Hahaha - Drunk Tim is stupid.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

springsteen dar


springsteen dar
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc

Zzzzzzzzzzzzzz *snort* Zzzzzzzzzz CAUGHCAUGH *zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz* Whu? Huh?
Where am I?? What's going on?!?! OH GOD, IS BRUCE STILL PLAYING? Please, SOMEONE make it stop!

SOMEONE STOP THIS JACKASS BEFORE HE
PUTS A REPUBLICAN IN THE WHITE HOUSE!!

(TWICE!!!!)

Oh, ok.

Its ok.

Deeep breath. It's allllllright. That was just a flashback.

A flashback of the longest, most boring, indulgent, stupid, pretentious fucking concert I've ever been to.

(BY THE WAY - THIS IS A LONG ONE)

To be perfectly clear, I entered into this concert experience with the greatest of intentions. Arena rock leanings aside, I really thought that I might somewhat improve my taste by succumbing to the rock and roll phenomenon that is known as the Bruce Springsteen live performance experience. I'd been hearing about this since the "Born in the USA" tour, when I was 11 years old or something. Bruce was supposed to be a God live. The white James Brown. A man who could transform the concert experience into something more akin to a revival
or some kind of crazy rock and roll transubstantiation.

I thought that maybe people would think that I had better taste if I knelt at his altar.

Honest: I did aspire to good taste at one time.

And a solo acoustic set? Bruce Springsteen and an acoustic guitar, in a small, historic theater?? This was going to be awesome. This was going to be TOTALLY fucking awesome, and I was going to tell everyone on earth about it for years and years and years ("You saw Springsteen
in Jersey? Oh, man, that must have been great. Stone Pony? Oh, ok…you saw him at the Meadowlands. Cool. You know *I* saw him in a 3,000-seater. It was amazing.")

But it wasn't amazing. It totally sucked. And before I display to you how and why it sucked, I must first step backwards and explain all the ways that I should have known this would suck.

This was a point in life where, in fact, EVERY FUCKING THING in my life sucked. I'd been out of college for months, but I was still living with my folks. I was hanging out with the same goddamn guys I went to high school with, who were also all living with their parents.

And I couldn't find a fucking job, so I'd started doing auto detail for cash. For some goddamn reason I was promoted to auto sales at some point in the Fall, marking an insane two-month period as a car salesman.

I sold two cars. And someone stole my goddamn commission checks.

I didn't know ANY girls. None. Not that it mattered, because I was working six days a week and barely carving out enough free time to masturbate, much less date or have that awesome sex that involves two different people.

What free time I did have, I spent hanging out with two beautiful human beings who had, unfortunately, also missed the bus on post-college-crazy-fun-sex-and-booze lifestyle that everyone else was enjoying. My two best friends were John and Joey (or, as they were secretly known only to me: Captain Sensitive and PornMaster-T).

To be clear, John and Joey were then and still are wonderful people, and they were both good friends to me over several stages of my life.

But at that moment, it was clear that our association was furthering neither my social life nor my career goals.

PornMaster-T was a huge Springsteen fanatic, perhaps even dwarfing my own troubling fascinations with the Stones and Bowie. PMT was the first guy I met who collected bootleg recordings (which I'm pretty sure are more or less a dead commodity in the age of mp3's, right?). He was real excited for the three of us to go see Bruce together, so we made a plan to camp out at Tower Records in Rockville and get tickets, since Constitution Hall has such limited capacity and since the solo acoustic thing made the concert a sure thing for a fast sell-out. (Ok, fuck off you damned kids. Before your fancy cell phones and your Internets, that's what you had to do if you wanted to go to a show….sit in a parking lot and drink your face off and sleep on the sidewalk so you could get your tickets in the morning when the box office opened. Seriously, people LOVED this ritual – you met some of the very most fucked up and forgotten people in the area through this practice -- but I don't think they do that anymore).

So, Captain Sensitive was working late in whatever awesome retail job he had that month, so PMT and I trucked off to Tower Records, where we found some sad-looking 30-something misfits huddled on the cold concrete sidewalk, clutching a clipboard.

There was no line. Could we possibly be the only other people to have arrived?

No, it was not possible.

Apparently well-adjusted people don't sit out in the October cold waiting for overpriced concert tickets. They find some losers from the local chapter of the Backstreets fan club to do it for them, by simply jotting down the names of every person who came to the ticket office though the course of the night, listing out the order in which they showed up, and then telling people what time they should come back in the morning to purchase their tickets: Two tickets per person
limit. Don't be late. (They were firm about that part).

Fair enough. Well, it wasn't fair at all, but whatever. (Haha. Nerds.)

So, PMT and I had budgeted an entire evening for braving the elements….what the hell were we going to do now? We didn't have any money and PMT wasn't 21 yet, so we couldn't go to a bar. So I think we went to Howard Johnson's or Bob's Big Boy for a late night meal. (PMT was a large man – large in a way that doctors sometimes refer to in accompaniment with the word "morbidly" – and late night diner food was among his very favorite things about life, perhaps in a three-way tie with Springsteen and pornography...man, I wonder if he ever did that Seinfeld thing where you try and experience them all at the same time? Gross).

Ok, anyway, so we ate a pile of Monte Christos and drink a whole lot of HFCS-laden colas, and we realize that we still have like three hours to kill before the box office opened. The sun was coming up soon, but we just couldn't make it. PMT and I split up to catch an hour or two of sleep, and agreed to meet back at the box office to get our stupid tickets.

So, yeah, I overslept. I was working crazy hours, and the whole staying up all night thing was a stupid fucking idea, even with the brute strength and masculine vitality that an emaciated 22 year old screw up like myself was accustomed to.

I overslept by like three minutes, which I guess made it all worse. Because I still had a chance of making it to the box office on time, if MAYBE - just maybe - I could cruise down Rockville Pike fast enough.

But I couldn't. I still arrived several minutes before the box office opened, but I was still late as shit according to the mighty clipboard. A long line of big hair, tight acid washed jeans and cheap brown leather jackets proceeded to the corner, and these folks were intent on getting their Springsteen tickets. This didn't look good.

Screeching into a parking space, I jumped out of the car, raced up to the line and found PMT. I subtly tried to join him in line, but coming an at a rail thin 6'3" and standing in line with a guy who was easily tipping the scales at 275, there was no hiding from the mob of nerds. A grumble began to arise from behind us.

The nerd king, who was now holding the clipboard, approached me and asked who I was and if I was on the list.

I told him I was, then explained that I'd come over last night and signed up, but then my little sister had gone to the hospital with an asthma attack in the middle of the night, and I had to race here from Shady Grove's ER as soon as my parents could take over this morning.

(What a terrible, terrible, fucking lie. Why did I lie like that for fuckin' Springsteen? I didn't even like the guy's music that much. I don't even have a sister. I regret that lie, and I worry that God
will still hold me accountable for it).

The puffy eyes and rim of blue toothpaste around my lips probably didn't help my case.

The guy looked at me, rolled his eyes, and threw me to the wolves.

"I guess I don't mind if all these people behind you don't mind."

A bunch of nerds glared at me as I smiled and pleaded "Are we cool?"

(No. No one was fucking cool in that line).

Anyway, whatever. Twenty minutes later we got the goddamned tickets – PMT got two (one for me, one for him) and I got one for Captain Sensitive, who would have to sit alone. As we walked down the escalator, we heard a cashier announce "THE CONCERT IS NOW SOLD OUT."

I put my head down and walked as fast as I possibly could to the car, so as to avoid eye contact with all of those people I butted in line in front of. Took a shower, went back to work on an hour's sleep, with my dumb Springsteen ticket in hand.

Fast forward six weeks or something and we had come upon the night of the show. I remember that I was still living at home and that my penis was still dry as the desert, but I did have a new job doing something vaguely marketing-related (selling yellow pages ads…..if there is an industry or a company that more closely mimics Dunder Mifflin, I have yet to hear about it). I think I was somehow making less money than I was when I was detailing cars, but it did feel like maybe life was moving in a somewhat better direction.

I spent some time listening to Bruce's acoustic themed stuff. I imagined what it would be like hearing "Atlantic City" or "My Home Town" or maybe an acoustic version of "Brilliant Disguise". I even tried to listen to that stupid "look at me, I'm Woodie Guthrie" Ghost of Tom Joad album, but it always depressed the shit out of me. But the point is, I tried to work myself up for this show.

Ok, we get to Constitution Hall and we find our seats. Somehow, PMT and I ended up sitting at the top row up in a far corner of the venue (an intimate venue, said to not have a bad seat in the house, but honestly, who on earth wants to ever sit in the top row, especially after nearly concussing oneself at a ZZ Top concert years before?)

Meanwhile, we spotted Capt Sensitive in the crowd, who while sitting alone, was literally one row above the balcony boxes...Front row of the balcony. Fucker.

So, the concert starts. Everyone's got their lame-ass lighters out and they're all shouting Bruuuuuuuuuuuuce. Bruce finally comes on out, and everyone's screaming for him, and the guy just sort of scowls at us. He looks embarrassed for us. He looks like he doesn't fucking want to be there. And he clearly wants everyone to shut the fuck up.

He goes into the title track from the new album, and I'm riding it out. It's a neat little song and when he hits that "the highway is alive tonight" lyric in the turnaround everyone whoops and yells, even though – and don't' crucify me here, Springsteen nerds – but everyone who's heard half a Springsteen song knows that that was kind of Bruce's form of recycled particle board lyrics. Whatever. I yelled out too, because I wanted for this to be a fun night.

(And let's not forget the theme here: because I have very bad taste).

Ok, so he finished up this song, everyone claps and cheers and gets all Brooooooooooooooooooce!

And then, of all the fucking things he could do, Springsteen give a 30 second talk about how important the element of silence is for the songs on this album, and how he's appreciate it if people would not cheer or yell or interrupt him while he was playing, and to please turn the mobile phones off for the night.

So basically, while everyone was sitting there looking at each other, wondering if they'd just been yelled at, Bruce starts into the next stupid, boring depressing song.

This goes on for like six more songs. I don't know any of the shit he's playing. None of it. Maybe it's old obscure stuff that he's throwing in there for the real fans, and maybe it's all from his new
buzzkill of an album. Either way, half an hour into this show I was feeling some serious buyer's remorse.

After however many songs, Springsteen finally finds it in him to throw us a bone and play "Darkness on the Edge of Town"- a song I don't even fucking like, and didn't even fucking recognize until he hit the chorus. (In my defense, it was the most uptempo goddamned thing he'd played up to that point, so I was kinda lost. And I might have been a little bit asleep. Or at least trying to get some sleep. But the fucker played something fast and loud and everyone clapped, so I tried real hard to pay attention and figure out what the fuck was happening. Then he hits the chorus and I realize that this is actually one of hit hits, so out of nowhere I start clapping and the guy next to me – who looked kinda like an obese version of Night Moves-era Bob Seger – looked at me disapprovingly as though I were simply a lost cause. (Thank God he didn't know about those shenanigans in the ticket line!)

The rest of the concert is a blur. I know he did that shitty acoustic version of "Born in the USA" that no one likes, and that he fucked up one of his dumb harmonica solos and muttered an obscenity into the mic right after he did it.

I also remember that it being Christmas time, someone went to the stage and handed him a Santa Cap…..not so subtly begging for one of Bruce's famous Christmas song performances.

It was not meant to be, as he tossed the cap to the floor and complained into the mic "Why do people always give me this shit?"

(You know, I thought that this performance was really offensive, but as I write it all down, I can't help but be charmed by Bruce hating everyone in the audience. It kind of reminds me of that old SNL skit where Shatner goes off on the Star Trek nerds at a convention. Fuck, yeah, Bruce – sticking it to the Springsteen acolytes! Bruce Springsteen, you don't give a FUCK, you pimp!)

Um, so yeah. I guess the new song "Straight Time" was good that night. I remember that much. And I heard "Does This Bus Stop At 82nd Street" for the first time that night – a version that I would later learn was superior in ever way to the original jive-ass 70's version.

It was probably the highlight of the entire show. In fact, it looked like it was the only time all night when the guy didn't look miserable.

I know that it was the only time that I wasn't.

Sunday, September 14, 2008

bowie nin nissan


bowie nin nissan
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
More on Bowie...

Anyone who follows pop music probably has an opinion on when Bowie hit rock bottom. For some, it was the all-smiles-and-sunshine "Modern Love" era.

Others think of the Glass Spider/Never Let Me Down era (which gets my personal vote).

Still others pin it on the Tin Machine experiment, or the horribleness that was his cover of the already awful "I Took A Ride on the Gemini Shapeship" just a few years ago (Goddamn, Bowie, how about no more space songs for the next ten years?)

But to be honest, it was hard to watch THE David Bowie get slaughtered by a bored and hostile teenage suburban crowd without thinking that THIS - this sad night in a tasteless shed arena in Suburban Virginia - just might be curtains for him.

Seriously, I'd rather forget this show. If Bowie's fans didn't turn up in Hershey, then they all but protested this performance.

I went to this show with my little brother and his college sweetheart, a girl he'd been with for about three years by this point, and who was just beginning to illustrate that there were signs of relative mental instability at play. But she was also a great big Bowie nerd like me, which is what led me to give her my endorsement when they first started dating.

This evening just might have been the last time I saw her, come to think of it.

Back to the show....We missed pretty much the entire damned NIN set because we were stuck in traffic on I-66, but we caught the shared set of Warswaza, Scary Monsters, Reptile, Hurt and Hallo Spaceboy. (Another fucking space song...thank you David).

Once again, the shared set went over well with the crowd. But it all went bad the minute Trent & crew left the stage. Bowie got about one song of his list out before it all went wrong in a big way. Kids in front of us giving him the finger. People leaving. An isolated case or two of people throwing things. And, one moment that's honestly kind of painful to remember....some kid ran on stage, did a lap, then smacked/tapped David Bowie on the head before leaping back into the crowd.

To his credit, Bowie took it all in stride and carried on like a total pro. Still, you could tell he was reeling; God only knows how many other dates on the tour had gone so badly.

At the same time, watching the whole horror show unfold, it was so abundantly clear just how arrogant Bowie was to even consider doing this tour. Just because Nirvana covers one of your weirder, more obscure songs doesn't mean that disaffected industrial poseur kids are going to fawn over you 30 years later....(especially if you completely tart the fuck out of it the second time around - seriously, the version of "The Man Who Sold the World" that evening was enough to make Mick Ronson and Klaus Nomi roll over in their graves).

And that's not even the half of it. The setlist was truly underwhelming, with duds like "We Prick You" and the abysmal "Teenage Wildlife" featured prominently throughout the show, while total gems like "Panic in Detroit" or "Width of a Circle" might have been just the thing to get these poseur fuck kids to pay attention. (Or not..."The Voyeur of Utter Destruction" is a pretty wild song, and that fell flat with this crowd as well).

The band was a weird fit, too. Despite the power rhythm section of Gayle Ann Dorsey and Joey Baron, the rest of the band just....well, they looked ODD. There was the phenomenally talented Reeves Gabrels, looking pretty much like rock guitar's George Costanza, there was super-pianist Mike Garson -- they guy who made SO many early Bowie albums awesome in about sixteen different ways -- wearing some awful industrial-flavored costume that just made him look old as shit; and then there was a flaming 50-year old back up singer who just looked....dammit I hate saying this....but he looked very fucking old and very fucking gay.

(Fuck you all....gay rock can be really fucking cool when it's David Bowie or Bob Mould or the Germs or Turbonegro or Bloc Party or whoever doing it. But this dude got totally Erasure on us).
Anyway, I hated seeing Bowie getting owned that way. All the while I knew that it wasn't *really* him, and that it was really that he was playing for a bunch of spoiled loser kids who didn't really have much (if any) historical perspective on music. But at the end of the day, it was his fault for orchestrating this dumb idea for a tour.

Trent woulda been kind to have warned him.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

bowie nin hershey


bowie nin hershey
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc

Here's the thing about being a David Bowie fan:

Being a fan of Bowie is not in any way, shape or form an indication of bad taste. Even the most droll, elitist, cynical, insecure music snobs agree that Bowie left the musical landscape far better than he found it (no doubt not hesitating to mention along the way that Bowie stole shit left and right and picked up a crazy chick who ushered his ascent all that much more impressively). But the point is, everyone basically agrees that Bowie is one of the few musical figures who achieved greatness over and over, at several ages and stages of his career.

But this same fact makes it exceptionally distasteful to be a Bowie fanatic. Because, honestly, how many times do we need to be told that Bowie is awesome?

Well, guess what? I am a recovering Bowie fanatic. And I sometimes still cannot be helped from running my mouth about the guy.

Even though I've tempered my fanaticism in my old age (am I really fanatical about anything anymore??), I'll still talk the ear off of anyone willing to listen to me talking about how and why Aladdin Sane is Bowie's best work, and why it irks me that people so frequently mistake the Aladdin character with Ziggy Stardust, when Aladdin clearly was far darker and more vulnerable and dangerous figure.

(Jesus, there I go again.....can you believe that I was even WORSE ten or fifteen years ago??)

Ok, anyway, Bowie does make it hard to be both an objective music fan and a fanatic. Because when David Bowie flops, he does it grand style (see: the Glass Spider Tour).

And, sadly, this tour was a flop.

There were a few weird things going on in music at this time. Nine Inch Nails was all the rage, and there was this ridiculous faux industrial "scene" coming up, that (much like grunge, metal and yes, punk) eventually became suburbanized and far more about personal style than music or even culture.

But then Trent starting saying things in interviews, about how deeply he was influenced by Bowie's Berlin albums, and how "Always Crashing in The Same Car" was the song he most wishes that he'd written. (Really, Trent? Really? Not "The Bewley Brothers"?)

Never one to miss out on an opportunity to whore out a popular musician, Bowie did the natural thing and released a fairly ok industrial-flavored album, and proceed to set up a tour with NIN. I'm sure he thought it was the latest round of New Romantacism, or the most recent glam revival, or the next version of mod pop. After all, every 7-10 years these things just sort of....well, they happen to Bowie. And it really helps when the generation's martyr covers you on "Unplugged" and releases your song as a posthumous single.

Well, it didn't happen this time.

To start with, the album was gimmicky and no more convincingly industrial than anything else coming out of White Flint Mall (not that I didn't enjoy "Hallo Spaceboy"and "Hearts Filthy Lesson"). But furthermore, Bowie and his invincible ego decided that since he'd retired (sold out on?) his greatest hits back during the Sound & Vision Tour, that he's just do an entire tour of lesser-known tunes this time around.

As USA Today wrote the week that he launched the tour, Bowie may have written rock and roll suicide in 1971, but he waited until 1995 to commit it.

There were other clues that this would not be a triumphant tour. Hersheypark Stadium failed to sell out by a large margin, leading the promoter to open up the field for anyone with tickets. This, of course, left the stands half filled at best.

But all things considered, Bowie weathered this show fairly well. There was a lot of interplay with the crowd, and the shared set between both bands proved to be a winner. But it was a young crowd - simply put, Mr. Bowie's fans didn't turn up for this tour, and a lot of the kids didn't get it, and didn't care to.

All in all, though, he seemed to convert a few people who were dancing in front of me most of the night.

The rest of the tour did not fare as well......a story for the next entry.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

van halen


van halen
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc

In it's own way, this little gem is far more embarrassing than Danzig.

I know.....that seems off. I mean, Van Halen is royalty. The single most wonderfully talented guitar player of his generation, and one of the great American bands of all time. How on earth could this be more embarrassing than a short little guy who looks like the neighborhood mechanic and spends most of his energy trying to convince everyone that he's evil?

Simple really: This is Hagar-era Van Halen. And Van Hagar was a horrible, horrible facsimile of everything that was awesome about Roth-era Van Halen.

There are people who sometimes try to debate this with me, and I can't even bring myself to form a full argument without losing control. When I think of the VH Roth era, I think of other great American bands like the Ramones and Areosmith and the Allmans.

When I think of the Hagar era, I can't quite think of anything much more impressive than Eddie Money. Or maybe Journey. I think of guys that I can only see as perpetually-middle-aged, slightly paunched, and past the point of being all that interested in groupies and blow. I think of guys that have sobered up, guys who hawk hot sauce, and guys who write weak-ass Buffett-style anthems about tequila.

Why, then, did I go see the Hagar-era Van Halen??

Because my roommates made me.

It was the last week of senior year of college, and my roommates were a pair of guitar nerds. We were all about to go our separate ways, and these guys totally thought that Van Halen at the Spectrum would be a great way to cap off college.

That....and they called the arena the day of the show to see if any tickets had freed up once the stage was constructed to the venue's specs (an old trick, but a very effective one).

Front row, stage left. How on earth was I supposed to turn this down?

So this was the Balance tour, a tour behind an album for which I can't even remember one single. Not one.

Still I can't honestly say that it was a bad night.

It was one of Eddie's first sober tours, and we were actually on his side of the stage. At one point he and I actually made eye contact, and I made some sort of shocked face when our eyes met. Without missing a note, he mimicked my facial expression, grinned, and moved on. It was pretty awesome, I must admit...In fact, I smile anytime I think of that exchange. It was a great, great moment.

At the end of the night, someone threw a hat on the stage, and Sammy Hagar threw it back in the crowd. I caught it and gave it to one of my roommates.

Collective Soul opened, and did a respectable job for themselves.

Somehow, I still find it embarrassing, despite what a wonderful memory it is.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

danzig


danzig
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
OOoh boy. This one's gonna be tough.

Despite a singularly excellent debut album, I probably don't need to tell people why I was roundly mocked for liking Danzig so much. The pageantry, the macho bullshit, the cartoonish satanic imagery, the nods to bear-culture.....it's easy to forget that this guy was at one time, one of the better song-writers to come out of the punk generation, and arguably one of the single best vocalists punk rock vomited up.

Nope. Now he's just the MUUUUTHA!! guy.

Now, I don't quite remember whether this was before or after Beavis and Butthead gave Glenn their endorsement, but needless to say, even the smart kids with Misfits records thought that Danzig was a joke.

Me? Not so much, I guess. I like cartoons. I like scary stuff. I like camp. I like baritone voices. I like loud guitar rock.

And, yeah, yeah, everyone already thought that I was gay in the 90s, so I guess I'll go ahead and say that I like little short guys with big muscles and tattoos, even though I totally just thought that Danzig was just kinda cool and bad-ass, and I never actually wanted to suck his dick as bad an everyone assumed I did.

(Listen, fuck you all, ok!? I was not a particularly masculine individual and maybe I just liked to idealize men who were not as testosertonially challenged as I was. Not that anyone reads this shit, but I'm getting tired of defending myself around here).

Shocker: Ended up going to this one alone because my friend got really sick and I didn't know anyone else who wanted to go. This would be the first in a long string of concerts where I learned that if you're going to insist on having questionable tastes, you're just going to have to go see bands by your damned self.

This was the Danzig IV tour - probably his second-best album since the debut, and a fairly high point for his songcraft, I still believe.

Danzig had just fired Chuck Biscuits and I didn't much care for the new drummer. It took Glenn about one minute into the the first song (Brand New God) to leap into the crowd and start beating on a guy who threw a piece of ice at him.

Danzig is such a 'tard sometimes.

Eerie Von looked like a walking corpse (as advertised in videos and on album photos), and John Christ was stiff but had a pretty awesome guitar sound going.

I also remember that Danzig got his mic cord tangled up under the drum riser during "Long Way Back From Hell" and had a minor tantrum over that for a moment. Literally tug-of-warring the cord while his roadie ran around trying to free it up and looking like he was ready to throw a cup of water in the AC adapter.

"Snakes of Christ" and "Bringer of Death" both sounded good that night.

Type O Negative opened, and they totally delivered on all the underground hype around them. Peter Steele didn't pull and of that macho crap that Danzig was so big on (and that Steele regrettably came to embrace in a similarly homoerotic way), and yet the band was infinitely more scary and intimidating. They looked like complete dirtballs, and their music was loud and thick and layered and sludgy in a very good way (For real, it was an excellent performance, and the acoustics of the theater were very kind to their sound).

These three goth girls in the balcony with me actually shrieked during the intro to "Black # 1". You definitely got the feeling that you were tapping into an upcoming band at the right time.

Of course, I would ruin this for myself by obsessing over the band to the point that friends of mine literally stopped being their fans. More on that in future posts.

Sunday, August 17, 2008

stones at the vet


stones at the vet
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
At some point I'll have to explain myself for continuing to see the Stones over and over and over again. To a great many music snobs, this is simply unconscionable in the face of their rising ticket prices and declining studio output.

What can I say? They're my favorite band. And they've built an increasingly robust set list over the past several tours, eschewing the "by the book greatest hits" song selection that bands with half as much material prefer to do.

Second show of this tour for me. Not as stellar as the first, but at the very least they got rid of some of the cornier theatrics from opening night in D.C. (like the inexplicable guy in stilts that came onstage during "Monkey Man"... Yikes).

Opened the show with Not Fade Away. Awesome, awesome seats on the floor/field, maybe 15 rows back. Most of the set list was the same as the first night, but they did a different cover instead of "Can''t Get Next to You" and the swapped out "Memory Motel" with "Wild Horses."

No idea who opened for them.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

metallica


metallica
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc

Me and Metallica had some good times together. And as tired as it is to discuss how one band or another had some profound impact on one's life, the fact is that Metallica meant a lot to me for a long long time.

As someone who has spent the majority of his teen and adult years defending his questionable tastes, the very presence of that "Ride the Lightning" tape in my collection was a massive validator....even if it did appear along side of various duds by Tesla, Whitesnake, and that preposterous second album by Danzig.

Even with all the kids who scoffed at metal and directed their attention towards bands like the Cure and Echo & the Bunnymen and the Smiths (bands that it would take me years to come to appreciate), I knew that Metallica was quality, and that they were doing sometime pretty damned amazing that the "smart kids" were missing out on. I'd like to think they all caught on sometime in college, the same way that I finally begrudgingly accepted the awesomeness of Morrisey, but who the hell knows....Metallica crapped out "Enter Sandman" about a week before I touched down at college, forever damaging their cred to anyone who had worn a stupid patch on the book bag or denim jacket, or sketched a few hundred Metallica logos in their text books).

Whatever....

I guess the point I'm getting at is that this was kind of the beginning of the end of me and Metallica.

Now, this was supposed to be a triple bill with Suicidal Tendencies and Alice in Chains....interesting choice. Restate your thrash cred with the ST crowd, then grab a hold of one of the more interesting alt-grunge-rock acts on the big time scene. Given the number of rich kids and middle-of-the road music fans who had been on the bandwagon ever since the Black Album came out (not to mention that Guns'N Roses debacle), it totally seemed like a good way of staying grounded.

Well, no one knew that Layne would get himself a case of the heroin and not be able to make it, so Candlebox took over the tour.

CANDLEBOX????? Lars must have had his face in a Tony-Montana-sized mountain of cocaine when this decision was made.

(Gah...Fuckin' Candlebox!?!??!? This decision irks me to this day!!!!)

To be fair, Suicidal was pretty terrific. It was a rainy summer day, and everyone on the lawn went nuts, turning the slope on the lawn into a giant mud slide.

But Candlebox was horrible. Mostly, they were just a boring, FM radio band, but the dedication of "Far Behind" to Kurt Cobain was inexcusable. It's bad enough that they were the only 100% non-metal band on the bill, but to then go ahead and invoke the spirit of the guy who kind of single-handedly destroyed metal was a slap in the face. (Yeah, yeah....Nirvana was awesome. That's not lost on me, but it's also not my point).

Anyway, everyone cheered when he made the dedication, and at that moment a lot of my fears were confirmed. There was maybe a split second when the cheers went up when I found myself wondering if perhaps this crowd was especially open-minded for a bunch of metal fans on the East Coast...If perhaps people who loved metal were accepting that punk and grunge were perhaps musical genres that were complimentary and not competitive to that which is metal - not unlike the way that Motorhead and the Ramones are practically half-brothers, or how Mudhoney and the Crue might have actually combined for an enjoyable arena bill, had the record labels supported the idea.

Of course, I was very wrong for that split second. These were not open-minded metal fans. These, in fact, were not really metal fans at all. I was just surrounded by a bunch of Marines, blonde chicks and frat boys who really didn't give a shit about metal, grunge or punk, and who would be just as happy at a John Cougar Melloncamp concert as long as they served beer, and lots of it.

All of this somewhat distracts from my original point, which is to emphasize that Candlebox was the one band that took greater lengths - far greater lengths, in fact - than Soundgarden to at once cash in on 90s metal and grunge at the same time.

Yep, I just dissed the mighty Soundgarden.

On to Metallica's set...

Metallica, unfortunately, was much like Candlebox in that they also were forgettable. The highlight, without a doubt, was the performance of "So What?" during the encore.

The Lowlight? Cramming all the "Ride the Lightning" and "Kill 'Em All" songs into a Vegas style medley. ("Fuel" is great and all, but let's be honest: the fans who bought your albums before you went all MTV/DC101 want to hear more than 75 seconds of "Whiplash". And fellas? PLEASE tell me you've done away with the nut-numbing 14-minute version of "Seek and Destroy"...)

You used to go to a Metallica show expecting to be knocked on your butt. Nothing of the sort happened this night.

On top of it all, Hetfield was still refusing to chop off that fucking mullet. And I could be wrong about it, but I seem to remember that Lars had those goddamned stretch pant-shorts on. It was arguably the peak of Metallica's irrelevance.

Like I said, me and Metallica weren't really ever straight with one another again after that show. No doubt, they have done a handful of things I've enjoyed in the past 15 years. But it's pretty fucking hard to forgive them for boring the shit out of me that night.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

stones - opening night voodoo

Opening night of the Voodoo Lounge tour. I think Counting Crows opened, but I'm not positive on that one. I know we missed them, whoever they were.
This was my second time seeing the Stones, and there was some massive drama between my friends because not everyone could sit together. (seriously, what a bunch of little girls I hung out with back then...)
I do clearly remember that I was kind of being a jackass and standing up and dancing through most of the show, which got me yelled at by all the old people sitting behind me. As everyone knows, those old people who were all like "I was there in the 60's, man!" are the exact same fuckers who seem perfectly fine with paying $40 to rock out in a seated position.
I fucking hate hippies.
It was honestly a pretty exciting show. They opened this tour with a kind of heavy, plodding version of "Not Fade Away"...an odd choice, considering the frantic, nearly punkabilly interpretation they gave when they originally recorded it.
Highlights were "Money Man," which I'd never known them to play live), and "Shattered," which was great, except the rhythm section sort of fell apart during the bridge - something painfully evident in a bootleg of the concert I stumbled upon a few years later....
And then there was "Memory Motel," which was one of the single best performances of all the Stones shows I've ever seen. Jagger played piano, and the jumbotron shot him in a back and white split screen; half the screen was tight on his face, and the other half was grainy stock footage of run-down beach towns. It sounds corny as hell, but it worked. (Fuck you. I liked it).
Lowlights were the cover of "Can't Get Next to You" and a painful extended version of "Hot Stuff".  I love that band but some days they can't tell the shit from the peppercorns...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

keith richards


keith richards
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
It's not lost on me that I'm a fortunate person, who has led a fortunate life. And yet, it's pretty clear to basically anyone who has ever met me that moments of triumph have been few and far between for me on this planet. It makes those memories, as Whitman might say, both sweet and sad.
Everything about the decision to attend this concert was foolish. The show was in Washington on a Wednesday night. I was attending college in Philly...and didn't own a car.
But I bought the tickets anyway.
Imagine my surprise, then, when I looked at the class syllabus in January and realized that I had a test the afternoon following this concert.
Throwing common sense to the wind, I decided to take the train home to D.C., go to my parents' house, grab dinner, round up my brothers, and jump on the metro.
Keith opened up by covering Eddie Cocheran's "Something Else" and it just might have been the sharpest moment of the show. I remember that he played "999" and "Time Is On My Side", as well as a healthy number of other Stones covers.
But the moment of the evening was when the band went past their allotted time, and the sound was cut off during an extended vamp on the end of "Happy".
Yep, they pulled the plug on Keith Fucking Richards.
Don't ever let anyone tell you D.C. isn't a union town.
I overslept the next day but still managed to make my train back to Philly. And I got an A on the exam. 
And this, my friends, was probably the closest I came to a moment of triumph in the year of 1993.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Washington Bullets vs Atlanta Hawks

Is it an admission of bad taste to say that you're a Bullets fan?
I'm not talking about the Wizards, with their awesome downtown stadium that basically revived everything east of Metro Center
 I'm not talking about that team that boasts a handful of playoff wins and the league's wackiest player. I'm not talking about the team with which that The Greatest capped (crapped?) the end of his playing days.
I'm talking about the Bullets. The team that played in Landover, Maryland. The team that deducted laundry fees from their players' paychecks. The team who's owner was so cheap that he forced the team to stay at his brother's lousy motel every time the team came through Seattle, and who also managed to LOSE their franchise player for a day.
In the era of Magic, Jordan, Bird, Nique, Ewing and Barkley (to say nothing of Olajuwon, Rodman, Worthy and far too many others to name), choosing the team whose best defensive option, far and away, was this guy might better indicate immense loyalty rather than bad taste.
But either way, it certainly indicates bad judgment.
I remember nothing about this game, which is really sad. How on earth does one not remember seeing Dominique Wilkins play????? I think I went to this game with my friend Meghan.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Kiss


Kiss
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
It's hard not to like KISS. 
In fact, for me, it's hard not to love KISS. I spent a handful of my mid-teen years bouncing around my bedroom listening to "Alive," and I'd be dishonest not to admit that one of the very first things I did once I had an iTunes account was to make sure I had a digital version of "Strutter."
But the unfortunate reality is that it's also nearly impossible not to loathe KISS. The band's output through the 80's is beyond embarrassing; in fact, were there such a thing as art crimes against humanity, Paul Stanley would certainly be at the Hague at this very instant for crafting the lyrics to "Let's Put the X in Sex."
On top of that, these guys have embraced consumerism in a way that makes even Mick Jagger wince. Simply put: Gene Simmons is in a league of his own when it comes to whoring himself, selling out, and generally fleecing his fans for every penny they have.
And I suppose that's where my little ticket stub comes in.
My college roommate of three years was a huge KISS nerd. Totally obsessive, completely apologetic for the band, and boundless (infectious, in fact) in his enthusiasm in seeing the tour behind the completely awful "Revenge" album.
I have no excuse. He totally convinced me to go to this with him and his old high school buddy. 
(True story, these two guys were totally stereotypical North Philly Italian-American mulletted, unshaven, hockey-enthusiast hobbits. They stood maybe 5'4" a piece, they dressed in sweatpants 24-7 and they were possibly the two most homophobic kids I had ever met
 Together, these two fellers had formed a band in high school, and named it after a KISS song entitled - no shit - "Flaming Youth." 
Sweardagod. You can't make this shit up).
Ok, anyway....
I think this was the last (or one of the last) KISS tours before they put the makeup back on.
It was not a memorable show by any stretch. Actually, it was totally weak. Gene looked as though his thighs and ass had been coated in Crisco to get him in the XXXL leather pants, but that didn't stop him from attempting a handful of clumsy dropkicks that made Elvis look like Mr. Miagi.
On top of that, the whole damned band were all doing that really lame choreographed hand motion during the chorus of "Tears are Falling". (Well, obviously, except whatever substitute teacher was playing drums for them in that era).
I missed the first half of this concert because the college jazz band had a show that evening that I had to play. Not only did I miss them playing my favorite KISS song ("Parasite"), but I think that I also missed Faster Pussycat opening up for them.
I never thought I'd find myself regretting missing Faster Pussycat, but weird things happen as you get older...

Friday, August 1, 2008

black crowes


black crowes
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
Another fun night with Fran and this Greek kid Andy, who I believe also accompanied us to see Guns'N Roses that summer.

This was on the "Southern Harmony & Musical Companion" Tour, which I can't help to think of as the band's peak. (A handfull of mp3's I stole off the Internets, however, indicate that the Crowes never stopped doing awesome live performances and sick covers on tour).

Opened with "No Speak No Slave" -- seriously strong opening.

There was actually a small amount of controversy surrounding this show, as Chris Robinson got into an argument with a security guard, resulting in his allegedly kicking the guard in the head from the stage. Assault charges were subsequent filed. (Anyone who remembers how sickly and thin the Robinson brothers were in those days can appreciate the ridiculousness of these charges).

Chris Robinson may have also been threatened with charges for inciting a riot, as he repeatedly urged the people from upstairs to rush the stage. A big no no in the ultra-posh Constitution Hall. (As was standing on the theatre chairs and doing the white-man dance during "Hard to Handle", for which Fran the Man received a stern warning from a DAR usher).

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

guns n'roses with metallica and faith no more

First night of the doomed metallica/guns tour.

It was damned hot that day, and metallica started their set well before the sun went down. Opened with "Creeping Death", and they made Guns look foolish.

Actually, Guns wasn't that bad, but it was a big, bloated arena rock set, with a crazy big band (horns, backup singers, keys) and lots of stupid extended solos. Meanwhile, Metallica just did their thing and did it better.

This was a few weeks after Axl had been arrested after the riot in St. Louis, so there was a lot of speculation as to if the concert would even happen. for a lot of the early summer, my friends and I sat and held our breath, waiting to see if Axl would spend the summer in jail, and the tour would be canceled.

Well, the tour went on, but Axl did his trademark bullshit of making the audience wait 2 hours before going on.

After a bit, things got rowdy in a way that things seldom do with Washington, D.C. crowds. And by "got rowdy" I mean that people started throwing things. At first it was paper cups. Then it was hot dog wrappers. Then refreshment cartons. Then food. Than anything people could get their hands on.

At one point, there was just a STORM of littler flying around RFK stadium. They eventually had to turn on the "boobie cam" to get everyone to settle down.

Eventually Guns took the stage, but as much as I hate to admit it, I don't recall what the hell they opened with.

Slash played his Godfather solo, and I remember that "You Could Be Mine" and "estranged" in particular sounded good that night. I also remember that Axl started the show so damned late that we missed the last Metro home and ended up taking a $40 cab home to Rockville in the middle of the night. (The jumbotron at RFK Stadium warned us about this several times, but amazingly, not one person in the huge group of friends I was with that night even considered skipping out before the show was over. Not my little brother, Kevin, who is admittedly smarter than I am. Not the normally level-headed Fran the Man. Not Andy Raptakis - but then again, Andy was Greek and all, and they don't even eat dinner until something like five o'clock in the morning over there).

I played a really terrible practical joke on Kevin the afternoon of this show. Just before we took off for the concert, I looked at him, smiled, and said "Make sure you've got your ticket before we leave!"

White-faced, he looked at me and said "I thought you were holding the tickets!"

"No," I responded, "you wanted to hold onto your own. Remember? You insisted on it."

"No way - YOU said YOU'D hang onto the tickets!!!!"

"No I didn't."

"YES YOU DID!!!!!!"

I think I gave up the joke before much longer, because I could tell it was really tormenting him.

That was a pretty shitty thing to do, I admit. But I'd bet Axl would think it was funny.

Note: I was thrilled to learn this week that a few chunks of this concert are featured in the otherwise kinda tiresome documentary "A Year and a Half in the Life of Metallica."

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

tin machine


tin machine
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
A poor man's Pixies. (Or, more to the point, a very, very, very, wealthy British man's Pixies).

This was on the Tin Machine II tour. Not Bowie's finest moment, but certainly not his worst, either. All in all, a confident performance of all new material (and a cover or two).

After the show, my longtime concert buddy, Fran the Man, wasn't looking where he was going an got yelled at by a cop for completely knocking over the police barricade that was closing off the street where the band would exit the theater. Because I'm a totally awesome friend, I just kept trucking down the street as though I didn't know who he was.

We saw the band leave that night -- Bowie pressed his face against the van window and waved to everyone. We jumped up and down and waved and giggled like little girls.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

David Lee Roth with Cinderella and Extreme

Last concert before I went off to college.

That's right....at the age when the smart kids were seeing Jane's Addiction, here I was with a ticket indicating that I paid to see those fucking "More Than Words" guys.

These were actually good seats (third row or something...not that my impressive still photography skills would prove as much), but the concert was one of the lamest affairs I've ever witnessed.

DLR was officially washed up, and gave a real forced show biz performance. He also touched almost nothing from the album his was touring in support of, which should give you some indication of how weak the "Little Ain't Enough" album was. Mostly "Crazy from the Heat" and Van Halen material.

Cinderella wasn't bad at all, to be completely honest with you. They were touring off of "Heartbreak Station", which had given the band a whole lot more depth. Fred Courry did an abysmal drum solo, though, which included samples of the Miami Sound Machine. Ugh. I did catch Eric Brittingham's bass pick at the end of the night, but I lost it years ago.

We missed Extreme, because my friend was dating a college girl who wanted to stop and get something to eat on the way to the show.

I got over it.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

zz top


zz top
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
Man, we had lousy seats for this show (top row -- my head touched the ceiling of the Cap Centre...in fact, when my friend Dave and I bought the tickets at the Hechts in Montgomery Mall, the guy looked at us and said "ZZ Top? Boys, where you been?").

Still, it was killer. Really brought out the old stuff ("Blue Jean Blues", "La Grange", "Tube Snake Boogie") as well as some really strong material off of Recycler ("My Head's In Mississippi"), and they even had a laser light show, conveyor belts on the stage, and go go dancers during "Legs."

I almost missed this concert because Dave, who was also my ride throughout the calendar years of 1990 and 1991, got grounded the day before the show. (I secretly think it was less about Dave's grades or whatever and more because Dave's parents thought I was a total fuck up who would sidetrack their golden boy son's odds at getting into UVA. By the way: fuck you, Dave's mom).

Black Crowes opened, but were booted from the tour a few dates later for consistently mocking the corporate sponsorship by Miller Lite from the stage.

Took my little brother as a Christmas gift.

Friday, July 25, 2008

aerosmith


aerosmith
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
Let me be perfectly clear about one thing:

These days, you couldn't pay me to see Aerosmith in concert. Steven Tyler is a complete embarrassment to himself, the band hasn't recorded a decent album since Pump (Get a Grip is half decent at best, and I'm being slightly generous there), and I recently realized that Diane Warren and Desmond Child are responsible for writing or co-writing a downright shocking number of their hits over the years.

But back in 1990, this was the event of the summer.

This was the last show of the Pump tour. I remember that they opened with "Train Kept a Rollin." Back Crowes were the opening act...making this the first in a surprisingly large number of Crowes shows I saw.

I went with a great big group, including my two best friends, a girl I had a crush on, and (according to my notes) some guy named Steve. No idea who Steve was....

98 Rock did a promotion where the person with the most creative 98 Rock promo sign or banner could get backstage after the show. Overcome with enthusiasm at the possibility of drinking mineral water with Brad Whitford (um, not really), my best friend, Fran the Man, and I made a giant banner. We did this on his parents' king sized bed sheet.

It took a lot of effort. By the time I had arrived at his house, Fran the Man had painstakingly sketched the groovy Aerosmith logo and the doofy cartoon eagle that was the emblem of that tour, on the bed sheet with a pencil. Underneath read, "98 ROCK - The Other Side of Rock" (as "The Other Side" was the single Aerosmith had out by this point in the summer). All that was left was to color it all in.

We brilliantly decided to do this particular part of the job in his back yard, on a picnic table, with a few cans of spray paint. Not surprisingly, the spray paint soaked through the bed sheet and stained a giant 98 ROCK on Mr. and Mrs. The Man's personal property.

Holy fuck....next week is the 18 year anniversary of that show.

Wow.

How?

Oh, yes, yes....We were not invited backstage.