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. They opened with "Creeping Death", and over the course of the evening, they made Guns look foolish.

To be fair, Guns was fine. 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 held our breath, waiting to see if Axl would spend the summer in jail, and if 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. As things became rowdier, they had to turn on the "boobie cam" to get everyone to settle down.

Eventually Guns took the stage, but I don't even 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 two 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. 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 generally 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. It may not have been Bowie's finest moment, but it certainly wasn't his worst, either. In fact, the older I get, the more I recognize that the Tin Machine experiment was a leap forward for Bowie as an artist and a creatively curious force.

After the show, my longtime concert buddy, Fran the Man, wasn't looking where he was going and knocked over a 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 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 photography skills on display in this post 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 painfully 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. They were touring off of "Heartbreak Station", and seemed at a totally new level for songcraft. I caught Eric Brittingham's bass pick at the end of the show, 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. (Missing Extreme, that is; I'm still kind of jealous that he lost his virginity to a college girl).

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 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. They played all the classics ("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."

What more could you want at seventeen years old?

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 and more because Dave's parents thought I was a total fuck up who would sidetrack their 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.

I took my little brother as a Christmas gift. It almost makes up for being a total asshole to him throughout the rest of high school.

Friday, July 25, 2008


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 such an embarrassment to himself, the albums have been terrible for more years than they were good, 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. I have 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 on a bed sheet. 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 Fran's parents' back yard picnic table.

Holy week is the 18 year anniversary of that show.



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

Thursday, July 24, 2008

living colour

living colour
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc

My older brother and his college friends took me to this show. I can't honestly say that I remember much about it. It was my second or third concert ever and I was just happy to be out with the big kids.

I do recall that some poor kid got pulled into a mosh pit without his consent during "Times Up" and the guy literally fought his way out of it. My notes also say that they covered Traci Chapman's "Revolution" during this show.

The other lasting gift from this concert came in the form of a heckle directed towards the lead singer of the opening band. The band was not particularly good, and the singer was trying to buy a little time on stage by making jokes about their equipment problems. This prompted a large (and somewhat inebriated) man in front of me to shout out, "YOU CAN'T SING AND YOU'RE NOT FUNNY!"

It has proven to be a keeper over the years.

Saturday, July 19, 2008

joe satriani

joe satriani
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
Jesus, I can't believe I was as excited as I was to see this concert. I think this was my second concert ever, and I went with two total guitar geeks. Because, you know, that's who you go to see Joe Satriani with...

We were three suburban teenagers, and none of us had a lot of experience driving in the city, so we ended up asking a jogger for directions to Constitution Hall

Bad call.  The bastard sent us the wrong way down a one way street.

Honestly, the concert was kind of a mess....lots of solos that were (literally) painfully loud, lots of guitar geeks who had traveled a long way to see this show. This was the first tour (I think) when Joe was singing, and my notes say that they performed "Hey Joe" , but I don't remember that, to be honest. I do remember a bass solo and a drum solo that were a little on the indulgent side. (Sorry, Stu Hamm).

On a lark, I looked up Stevie Salas and it looks like he's still working with old rock stars....bully for him.

rolling stones steel wheels

rolling stones steel wheels
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc
My first concert ever. My older brother, Joe, is the greatest brother on earth for taking me to this show with his college friends, even though i was only 14. 
I have always had (and always will have) a thing for the Stones because of this experience.

Seriously...fuck the Beatles.

If you look closely, you'll see that the seats were obstructed view; I didn't see Bill Wyman until the curtain call.

It didn't matter - the show blew my mind....especially "2,000 Light Years From Home" and "Gimmie Shelter," but most especially "Sympathy for the Devil." Performed on a five-story high rise platform that was level with the top tier of RFK Stadium, Mick Jagger gave one of the single most magical performances I have ever, ever seen.

Living Colour opened. They looked a little lost on that great big stage. 

Eek. I just remembered that I totally bought their lame concert tee at that show.

Ian Mckellen

"Ian Mckellen"
Originally uploaded by tonbabydc

No one but theater nerds knew who McKellen was in 1987, so I guess there's some cache to this stub...

My mom forced me to go to this at the tender young age of 13, and the more I think about it, the more I'm convinced that she wanted at least one of her kids to be gay so very badly.

You see, my older brother was in the theater, but had taken an interest in females sometime during his senior year of high school. So, there's strike one for mom.

Meanwhile, my younger brother was definitely showing signs that there was an inner jock that was breaking free. Strike two.

That left the middle kid. I was skinny and good looking enough, and girls certainly didn't show any interest to me; I guess mom saw me as her last hope for entree into the fabulous world of high fashion, gossip, antiquing, and leather pants.

In fact, she was practically engaged in a social engineering project, between this and forcing us to go see "Side By Side By Sondheim" the year before, featuring Karen Akers (GAH! Why do I even know who Karen Akers is? Dammit mom, it was an NFL Sunday. All I wanted to do was be normal and play basketball with my friends and maybe sneak beers and kiss a girl some day! WHY?!?)

All of that said (....did I really just admit all of that?), even at 13 years old I recognized that this was a kind of awesome good night. McKellen was able to hold my attention span for consecutive hours, which was no small accomplishment at that age (...even more so now). He even brought audience members up on stage to be extras during one performance, and that included me and my brothers.

So, yeah, I performed with Ian McKellen. 

Or, as my fag hag mother would prefer to think of it, I got it on with Dumbledore.