Hothouse Flowers / Ziggy Marley and the Wailers / Midnight Oil (1993, Cleveland)
A triple bill. An absurdly mismatched triple bill. I went for Hothouse Flowers, Wendy went for Midnight Oil. We both grooved to the Wailers, although reggae really wasn’t my thing back then. I guess it still isn’t. Peter Garrett was huge. At least two heads taller than anybody else on stage. He’s in the Australian Parliament now. He’s probably the tallest man in the room whenever they meet. That’s got to count for something, in rock and politics both. Bono on the other hand is short, I think, probably too short for a serious career in electoral politics. I guess you can still try to save the world, even when you’re short, if you operate outside of elected positions.
But in 1993, Garrett was still a rock singer, and Bono, I don’t even know why I’m talking about him.
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?