- Royal Crescent Mob (1990, Hall Auditorium, Miami University)
I don’t remember this concert, or this band. Royal Crescent Mob was the midwest’s answer to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Unfortunately, nobody had ever asked that particular question. I went because I was working with one of the organizations sponsoring the concert. I can’t even remember which organization. I swear I was there and totally conscious and totally sober, but I also swear I can’t remember anything at all, other than I was there.
- James Taylor (1990, Millett Hall, Miami University)
Or maybe this was 1991. It was sometime my sophomore year at college, fall or spring I don’t know. I went with my roommates Matt McClure and Kevin Kearns. We had a fourth roommate, another Matt, but I don’t remember if he went to the concert. Years later, long after I had last seen him, this other Matt would go on to win $30 million in the Ohio lottery. I read about it in the newspaper. I’ve lost track off all the other guys too. Kevin is in Chicago somewhere. Matt McClure is an even bigger mystery. He went to Luxembourg and then seemed to drop off the face of the planet. Sometimes people do that. When the concert ended, James Taylor told the cheering audience, “Thanks, you make it easy.”
I’d forgotten at least one concert in the eighties:
- Ray Charles (1989, Millett Hall at Miami University)
This was a Parents’ Weekend Concert, my first semester at college. My parents came and Ray Charles was late. That’s about all I remember: the concert started something like an hour late. Ray Charles must have sang “Georgia on My Mind,” but I couldn’t tell you for sure.
For some reason, I’ve been wanting to make a list of every rock concert I’ve ever attended. Not that there have been a lot. I was never a big concert goer, which makes the handful I’ve been to all the more interesting to see listed. (Yet, as I start thinking about this list, I keep remembering more and more shows, though the ones I’ve forgotten, there’s usually a reason why). What’s even more interesting is not the actual bands or performances I remember, but those other small details: who I went with, the weather, snatches of conversation that have stuck with me.
I thought I’d break the list down into decades. Let’s begin with the eighties. While the rest of the kids in school were into Madonna and Duran Duran, I was listening to and going to see bands from the sixties and seventies:
- The Beach Boys (1985, the Boy Scout Jamboree in Fort A.P. Hill, Virginia)
What I remember: My first concert, ever. Hurricane Bob made it rainy, Nancy Reagan was on stage first, talking about something (probably just saying “no”), and I was there with a bunch of other pimply-faced boys whose main source of conversation was farts and burps.
- The Kinks (1987, Blossom Music Center)
I was sixteen. Went with my brother Jon, seven years older than me, and his best friend Scot. We set up a blanket on the lawn. I watched the show. Jon and Scot, I’m not so sure they saw much of it. At one point, Scot either fell asleep or passed out on the blanket. This was the first concert I saw people peeing into bathroom sinks.
- Boston (1987, Richfield Coliseum)
Saw the show with my friend Adam. (Hey, Adam!) It was thrilling to be at the concert, but disappointing, too, because I remember it seemed as if Boston played every song on all three albums in the same order that the songs appeared on each album. Could that be true? Either Scholz and company were extremely unimaginative, or I’m remembering incorrectly. I do remember that on the way to the concert (or was it in the car driving home?) we were listening to Roger Water’s K.A.O.S. album. Adam’s older sister, Karen, drove.
- The Who (1989, Cleveland Municipal Stadium)
I’d been dying to see The Who since 1982, when my brother Jon saw them. Whenever The Who played in Ohio, people remembered Cincinnati, 1979. But Cleveland is a long way from Cincinnati, and this was ten years later. It was the summer between high school and college. I went with Larry Morris, and I have no idea what happened to him afterward. Not immediately after the concert, I mean, but in life, like, where is he now?
Here is a lesson in ironic juxtaposition: A freeze-frame of President Bush delivering his State of the Union address, with the closed captioning scrolling the words “THE EVIL DEMOCRACY.”
Ironies abound in this photograph (which I found on the Flickr Bush cluster).
First, obviously, Bush is (purely accidently, purely coincidentally) linked to the idea of an evil democracy. Now, of course, I do not believe that America is evil. I don’t even believe that President Bush is evil. Misguided, maybe, but not evil.
The second irony is the word “democracy”–which is one thing the U.S.A. (symbolized by Bush) is not. It’s barely even the republic it formally declares itself to be.
The most subtle irony is the source of the caption. “THE EVIL” and “DEMOCRACY” come from two different lines of text, maybe even two different sentences. In Bush’s original speech the adjective “evil” does not qualify “democracy.” Because remember, DEMOCRACY = GOOD (except in the case of Saudi Arabia, where Dysfunctional + Misogynistic + Monarchy = GOOD as well).
But, with some clever cropping, we have a postmodern critique of President Bush and his foreign policies, a kind of Max Headroom for the new millennium.
Enthralled by this video, I’ve done some cursory research on this Danish wunderkind, and I discovered in 1979 he released an album called Disco Tango. Like the earlier music video, which features a Danish keyboardist in chaps and a fringed leather shirt singing about Native Americans on the Great Plains, while scantily clad Scandivanian women in headdresses dance by, this album cover epitomizes the pastiche of postmodernism. Disco? and Tango? Together at last? It’s a dream come true!!