Thursday, December 11, 2014

Nurse the Hate: I Saw AC/DC

I have been to an astounding number of rock concerts.  I have seen almost everyone of note in the last 35 years with the exception of Dave Mathews, who it would take a team of wild horses dragging me nude across Public Square to make me enter the facility where he is playing.  I do not understand why he is popular and people willingly attend his shows.  Hell, even Leo, the most agreeable man on the planet told a soundman in Cologne Germany to “turn that shit off” when the guy blared it from the PA during set up.  The authority with which Leo barked out the order caught even this German by surprise, a man that lives like most Germans in a state of constant confrontation.  So allow me to be upfront about not seeing Mathews, and God willing never seeing him in a live setting.  (Note, I will confront him about his unbelievably shitty Dreaming Tree wine if ever given the opportunity though. )

I think all men are by nature collectors.  As a boy I collected matchbox cars, then baseball cards.  I became a voracious record buyer.  When I got into wine, I amassed an admirable cellar.  It’s how I am coded.  This has led me to see certain bands well after the point where I was enthusiastic about them anymore as a way to “check the box” that I had seen them.  Look, I’ve seen Flamin’ Groovies, Loverboy, and the New Riders of the Purple Sage well past their expiration dates.  I took no particular joy in attending these shows, but I really needed to know in my mind that I had been there, done that.  It was in this scenario that I first saw AC/DC.

I would have really loved to see AC/DC in the early 1980s when they seemed impossibly dangerous.  All parents reflexively gave a frown at even glancing at the “Highway To Hell” album cover.  They sang about all kinds of things that seemed like a lot of fun but I hadn’t actually had any exposure to whatsoever.  And that guitar sound sitting on top of that perfect rhythm section!  Many ill-informed arguments raged in my high school gym locker room over who was the superior guitar player, Angus Young or Jimmy Page (while the answer was clearly Johnny Ramone).  Every single high school party I attended in my last three years had “Back In Black” playing to distortion from whatever shitty stereo was nestled in the corner by the Stroh’s.  That record was in the background in every stupid memory I have from that time.

Living in Erie PA has many disadvantages.  The weather is absolutely awful.  There is almost no culture to speak of.  The roads are filled with potholes.  Restaurants at every price range put french fries on everything as a nod to the long dining tradition in NW Pennsylvania of starch +starch= Happy Customer.  AC/DC would never come to what is politely referred to in the industry as a “tertiary market”.  In Erie we got Nazareth/Blackfoot and one time Aerosmith when they were at their rock bottom of drug addiction and commercial appeal.  I had no chance to see AC/DC when they were a big deal in my world.

By the time I got to see AC/DC I was a jaded music fan in his late 20s.  My girlfriend at the time, a sort of scary sociopath that had a murky past that definitely involved a high school “smoking lounge” and keg parties in the woods with “the bad kids” was all in on seeing AC/DC when it was announced they would play the sports arena.  I worked at the Rawk Station (make devil horns with your hands now) so I had easy access to comp tickets.  What the hell.  I’m in. 

By this time in my life I was all about club shows with amazingly obscure bands that I would champion to my completely disinterested friends.  It didn’t occur to me that not everyone would love The Mummies, Mono Men, or Uncle Tupelo if they were exposed.  My time of stupid arena rock had passed.  This filled me with some concern as I drove to the arena.  Would I destroy all my good memories of AC/DC in one fell swoop, like when you see the Prom Queen at the High School Reunion and she is revealed to be just another horsey looking farm girl approaching middle age?

We walked to our seats in the sold out arena.  What is now the Quicken Loans Arena seats 20,000 or so people.  At this show, there were 19,867 dudes.  My poor girlfriend was looked at like a piece of meat as all social niceties had gone out the window 7 beers ago for most of the concert attendees.  We sat down in our row next to black t-shirt guys on either side.  I struck up a conversation with the guy next to me.  He had an IQ of about 80.  This event was maybe the biggest thing that had ever happened to him.  We sat and made small talk waiting for the show to start.  The houselights dimmed for AC/DC.  That’s when it happened.

The guy turned to me and said, without a trace of irony, “Time to get up…. Time to rock.”  He wasn’t kidding.  Not even a little bit.  He then stood up and proceeded to unashamedly rock out to every stupid AC/DC song in their freeze dried time tested live show.  I thought he was going to burst into flames in some sort of excitement driven spontaneous combustion when they rolled the cannons out “For Those About To Rock”.  He almost killed the people in front of him grabbing at the paper money that was dropped during “Money Talks”.  I was sorta bored.  This ship had sailed for me.  I wasn’t that bummed out through.  The goal was accomplished.

I saw AC/DC.        


At December 11, 2014 at 12:21:00 PM EST , Blogger Walter Zoomie said...

ACDC is a fun guy thing. If you can't dig it, turn in your man-card.

I saw them four or five times from Back In Black on. They've never failed to deliver.

I'm too old to deal with the high prices and the bullshit that come with arena shows anymore, but I just bought their new album. It's fun. It rocks. I'm happy.

Enough said.

At December 11, 2014 at 1:51:00 PM EST , Blogger Greg Miller said...

I'm on board with AC/DC being a kickass band. I'm especially jealous of you seeing the Back In Black Tour. I wish I had seen them then instead of when I did when I watched the show and crowd like a wildlife observer.


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