SHARING THE SHOWS
Metallica & San Francisco Symphony Orchestra: S&M2 - Studio Movie Grill - Hampton, VA - October 9, 2019
So this would be the second hump day in a row I’d be going to see a concert film. To get myself psyched up, I blared Metallica’s Death Magnetic, their 2008 return to their thrash metal roots, on my office computer. Once I got in my car to go home, Hardwired…to Self-Destruct filled my car’s speakers.
Drew and I would do our bro meal at my apartment. We’re both trying to save cash on eating out, and we’re on low-carb diets, so I air-fried some salmon fillets with a side of broccoli. Good eats, indeed. We talked about those badasses who hike the Appalachian Trail and shared our lives since the last time we hung. Him getting involved at his son’s school, me getting more involved with my book.
Anyway, I couldn’t find my Iron Maiden shirt, and was too wiped out from work, so I put on the Goofy (the Disney character) shirt Drew gave me for my birthday last year. An anecdote explaining it: On January 20, 2017, Drew and I drove to Richmond to see Umphrey’s McGee. After a nice Thai dinner at Carytown’s Thai Two, we drove around downtown Richmond trying to find a parking lot, but we kept turning away. Eventually, we found out but saw a billboard for Disney on Ice at the Richmond Coliseum. We then re-enacted a dialogue exchange from Rob Reiner’s classic, Stand by Me (what the hell is Goofy, anyway?). I also jogged after work, wearing that same shirt, and an elderly lady stated, “Thank you for having the courage to be different.” Lady, you don’t know the half of it!
Anyway, after a short drive down 64 to the Studio Movie Grill, we parked behind a minivan with a license plate that read “Slave to the Traffic Light,” which reminded me of Jesse’s minivan all decked out with the Phish stickers, including the one that reads “This car climbed Mt. Icculus,” or something to that effect.
After talking with a couple of teens about the hot new flick Joker, we headed inside. Once in the theater, I pulled out my bag of Skinny Pop popcorn, Diet Raspberry Snapple, and Atkins Bar. A waiter then approached us to ask if we had orders. The food was blatantly positioned on my tray, to which he said, “You’re actually not supposed to have that. I’ll let it go, but don’t let anyone else see it.” I then hid it under my jacket. I’m used to sneaking snacks into the theater, but not used to having a waiter come up to me there, so note to self: be careful until the lights go down, and even afterwards. Of course, Drew and I started singing, “Busted, in the Movie Grill” to the tune of the Grateful Dead’s “Truckin.” One thing I love about Drew is he’s always willing to burst into song with me (“Have mercy! Been waitin’ for the bus all day!”).
We saw previews of Ford vs. Ferrari, the new Terminator flick, and Zombieland 2, right before Metallica’s four horsemen interviewed about the Metallica Scholars program, a charity they’ve established that helps kids get community college educations and job training. As an educator, I can get on board of that (I wouldn’t even have to be one to admire that).
So we learned that S&M2 was the concert to open San Francisco’s new Chase Arena, a venue Dead & Company will play at for New Year’s Eve and the Golden State Warriors will sink baskets in for the foreseeable future.
I’m pretty sure I heard an “Unforgiven” tease to open, but the band launched to my second-favorite instrumental of theirs, “Call of Ktulu” (my first is “Orion,” which is also my second-favorite Metallica song ever, next to “Jump in the Fire”). It was amazing hearing Kirk Hammett’s solos in sync with the violins. “For Whom the Bell Tolls” was next. If my junior year English teacher, Mr. Robert Wilson, had taught the Ernest Hemingway novel of the same title that year, I would have made the association with the song and might would have been more engaged with class. Oh well…I did play an Iron Maiden song for an introductory literature class at Bergen Community College back in 2010 (the name escapes me) to introduce my students to poetry, so at least I did something right. And my students were engaged.
“The Day That Never Comes” was next, which brought me back to 2008 when I played Death Magnetic nonstop on my iPod. I was ecstatic to hear Metallica was going back to thrash metal, which prompted me to burn the CD and pipe it through my headphones during workouts. No more commercial stuff!, I thought. “Moth Into Flame” from Hardwired was next, followed by “The Outlaw Torn” (I had to write down the lyrics and Google them to find out the song title, since I never actually listened to Load all the way through (the Cliff Burton era was the only Metallica I listened to for a long time). “Halo on Fire” closed the first set.
The second set began with Lars giving a shout-out to fans who had descended from all over the world to bear witness to this monumental occasion. They had come from places like France, Israel, Panama, and I even saw a flag that read “Mexitallica.” I say, Excelente!
He then called up Michael Tilson Thomas, Music Director of the San Francisco Symphony Orchestra. He gave his props to Metallica before having them play a tune called “Scythian Suite, Op. 20, Second Movement,” sans the four horsemen. They then collaborated with Metallica on a song called “Iron Foundry.” The combination of the two seemingly disparate groups playing this tune gave the song a Psychedelic feel. “The Unforgiven III,” was next, and “All Within My Hands” was played as a tribute to Cliff, which sounded a bit like “Orion.” “Anesthesia” came next, followed by “Wherever I May Roam.” “One,” Maggie’s favorite tune from the boys, came next, which leads me to another anecdote.
I’ve mentioned in previous blogs how Beavis & Butthead got into metal through the boys’ “critiques” of the videos. “One” was my first exposure to Metallica, as fifteen-year-old Craig banged his head, played air guitar, and sang “darkness imprisoning me” along with the dynamic duo. “Master of Puppets” was next, followed by Black’s “Nothing Else Matters” and “Enter Sandman,” which closed the show.
When the lights went on, I turned to Drew and said in a facetious manner, “What! No encore!” The lady next to me said, “Oh, it was only $15.” My dry humor doesn’t seem to play too well with most Southern folks. C’est la vie. It was still a good time, despite my eyes being at half mast for much of the second set. Since I started rising up at 5:30 to write, I’m a zombie by 9 at night. But I fought through and enjoyed the show. And a midweek bro night rocks too. Love you, Brometheus!
Hump Day! The next two hump days would have me seeing filmed versions of concerts at Hampton’s Studio Movie Grill, a movie theater that also functions as a restaurant (your servers deliver the meals right to your seat). Their prices are reasonable too, and the food looked great! Note to self: do this next week.
So now that the free advertisement is complete, the day consisted of an awesome 5:30 a.m. writing session, a vibrant English 101 class on Rhetorical Appeals, a lunchtime power nap, some productive conferences with students, and a helluva lot of grading. After a turkey burger dinner, I rocked out to that oldie, Piper at the Gates of Dawn, on the way to the theater, which is in the picturesque Peninsula Town Center.
Maggie and I shot the shit outside the theater while waiting for Sandy, who was stuck in that parking lot known as the Rush Hour HRBT: Westbound Version. Some teenagers asked us if we were going to the movie (I guess Maggie’s Brit Floyd shirt and my Rush shirt must have gave it away). One of them said, “Rush rules, man!” which made my heart pitter-patter. Real music transcends generations indeed.
Anywho, we got a bunch of previews, including the upcoming Joker movie. After about the third one, I started whispering to Maggie, “Bring on Floyd! Bring on Floyd!” It was reminiscent of that Simpsonsepisode with Homer keeps yelling “Start the movie!” after one too many previews and ends up getting chased by ushers brandishing giant Kit-Kat bars.
Eventually, I was told to “Breathe” through Waters’s opening tune. My second biggest regret in life is never seeing Pink Floyd or Roger Waters “in the flesh.” My frist was not seeing Rush at Madison Square Garden during their farewell tour. Oh well.
“San Tropez” was next and Maggie called “Time” by the sound of the ticking clock. I’m impressed at how the editors sync up visuals of audience members singing with the sounds that emanate from Waters’s mouth. I was also thinking how much Waters looked like Richard Gere while he was singing and that if they ever make a biopic about Roger Waters, Gere should play him.
Maggie then called “Great Gig in the Sky” (she knows her Floyd). “Welcome to the Machine” was next, and then came a bunch of tunes off Roger Waters’s recent solo album, Is This The Life We Really Want? First came “Lay Down Jerusalem (If I Had Been God),” “The Last Refugee,” and “Picture That” (I had to write down lyrics from these songs and Google them in order to find out the songs’ titles). Roger slowed down for “Wish You Were Here,” and during “Another Brick in the Wall,” a bunch of teenagers sporting shirts that read “Resist” started dancing on stage. Yes, resist those so-called “teachers” the White House has provided. “Dogs,” from Animals, was next, which was accompanied by a pop-up image of a Dickensian-looking factory. A sign that read “Pigs Rule the World” then appeared, followed by another, which read “Fuck the Pigs.” “Pigs (Three Different Ones)” naturally followed, and I’m guessing the three pigs are Trump, Pence, and McConnell (if you’re a Trump supporter, slowly back away). Pictures of our Cheeto-in-Chief graced the screen, and his famous quote, “Grab em by the p***y” appeared. We also got “Trump is Een Varken,” which is German for “Trump is a pig.” When I went to the bathroom, I noticed that the theater was nearly empty; my theory is that most Floyd fans in Hampton Roads are Trump supporters, so they boycotted this film. Hey, whatever, it’s just music, but what do I know?
Dark Side of the Moon’s classics, “Money,” “Us and Them,” and “Brain Damage,” graced the stage before “Eclipse” closed the show. The “Resist” kids played their instruments over the closing credits, and as a post-show, we were treated to a mini-documentary on how Waters prepares for his performances. I was fading fast, so I couldn’t pay attention. I did smile for the picture of our foursome right before heading to bed.
This morning, I found out the Blogging course I proposed at my school was approved for the spring semester. Ohhhhhhh, happy day!!!!
I’d been looking forward to this all week. I find shows are even more enjoyable during the school year, because they’re offsetting the energy expended at work. After a day spent working on my book, running, and starting Season 2 of Disenchantment, Maggie picked me up at 2, and we headed north.
After some rubbernecking on I-95 (see the “I-95 Asshole Song”) and conversation set to the soundtrack of some Grateful Dead, we stopped at our friend Nicole’s in Arlington, where she made us some delectable fish tacos and we got to play with my nephews, Boba and Lando. Lando climbed on the back on my neck and said, “I’m on the back of your neck and you’re gonna like it.”
I took over the wheel to get us to the Anthem, and I was reminded of why I generally don’t drive in New York City. The traffic going to the venue inspired some nice invectives on my part, directed at the other drivers, and we were turned away from two parking garages. Third time was a charm as we made it into one right on the Wharf, but finding a space proved to be a challenge. Fortunately, we got lucky when we saw someone leaving their space.
The next obstacle was the line, which stretched all the way back to the end of the pier. We were instructed to “stick with this friends, this is a battlefield” by one of the attendants. The DC skyline was beautiful, even if some of its inhabitants are, well undeserving.
At any rate, we made it in at around 8:15, and we ran into Keith just as the band was opening with “Easy Wind.” Normally a slow song, this group did a nice fast-paced jam around it. That ruined my prediction of an “Alabama Getaway” opener, given the political locale and the recent strife around abortion, but I still dug it. In fact, I was 0 for 4 on my calls (“Throwing Stones,” “US Blues,” and “One More Saturday Night” did not close the show).
Still, JRAD was like nothing I’d ever seen before. Any disillusioned heads who are calling Dead & Co “Dead and Slow” need to see this group: JRAD is the antidote. I’m calling them Postmodern Dead. I think I liked JRAD’s version of “Easy Wind” even better than the Dead’s original. “Feel Like a Stranger” followed, then “Cumberland Blues.” Subsequently, “China Cat Sunflower” graced the stage, but they did not go into “I Know You Rider,” like the Dead and most cover bands do. They just looped right back into “Cumberland.” At that point, I saw a dude in a long beard that looked like Dusty Hill. Or Billy Gibbons, it doesn’t really make a difference. Definitely not Frank Beard.
There was a long buildup to “Jack Straw.” Apparently those are a trademark of the group. “Turn On Your Love Light” closed the first set, and it had a nice piano solo from Marco Benevento.
Set Two started with “Alligator,” which seemed to have a “Feelin’ Alright” tease. “Me and My Uncle” was next, followed by “Scarlet Begonias.” But instead of going directly into “Fire on the Mountain,” “Cream Puff War” followed it. I was surprised by The Band’s “Ophelia;” I had only heard Widespread Panic play it. Then came “Fire.” At that point, a woman passed us and yelled, “I lost my husband.” I said to Maggie, “On purpose?” I then laughed really loudly at my own joke, and some guy looked at me.
Speaking of laughing at my own jokes, something that defines my personality, I invented a new one. During “Space,” I wanted to sing loudly, “This is what space smells like!” That’s from the Phish song, “Say It to Me S.A.N.T.O.S.” so I’d expect no laughter, and I’d then laugh at my own joke for a few minutes while my friends would roll their eyes and strangers wouldn’t stop to shake my hand, but they’d just stare. The whole situation would be entertaining to me. Sadly, they didn’t play “Space,” so I couldn’t execute. I’ll just have to save it for Dead & Company in November or DSO in December. “Black Muddy River,” one of Maggie’s favs, closed the set.
The band announced that this would be their last show of 2019, so they’d do it big. Marco teased “Tennessee Jed.” At some point, I’d like to see Dead & Co or a Dead tribute play in Tennessee, so I can say “there’s no place I’d rather be” and then laugh at my own joke.
But they tricked us, a staple of their shows. The Band’s “The Weight” was the first encore. Eponymous band member Joe Russo started to play what sounded like “Drums.” Upon hearing my theory, Maggie went out to smoke a cigarette. About 30 seconds afterwards, they launched into “Samson & Delilah,” upon which I started to text Maggie what they were playing, but she beat me back. The big surprise was their third encore of Spacehog’s “In the Meantime,” which brought me back to 1995, when I was a senior in high school mopping the aisles of Nyack, New York’s Cinema East in exchange for free popcorn and money to spend on my growing cassette and CD collection (I couldn’t pick just one). Those were fun times, and it was a great show. Blew my mind.
Anyway, we met up with Mark outside the venue post-show and chatted about upcoming Dead-style shows. Some great times coming up. Not so great, however, was the $45 we spent on parking, just as much as the ticket. Next time I see a show at the Anthem, I’m parking somewhere outside DC and ta king the Metro. It was craziness. We switched drivers at an Exxon in Arlington, and upon enjoying some New York style rainbow cookies and Virginia-style peanuts (purchased from Ynot in Virginia Beach, and the Peanut Shop in Williamsburg, respectively), I was out like a light. My 3 a.m. arrival was greeted by Chester jumping on my leg and demanding treats. I seem to be a cat magnet.
And my Sunday’s been enhanced by a free download of last night’s show, which was posted almost immediately after it ended. It will grace my office computer this week.
It had been a month since I had been to any type of live music-related event, in person or on screen. Since the school year started back up, I’d been getting up at 5:30 in the morning to work on my book; this is when I’m at my sharpest on an intellectual and creative level. So my energy has been focused on my writing, teaching, and recuperation from the energy exuded in both things.
Today was a typical day, filled with two lessons that appeared to engage both of my classes, grading, meetings with students, and the usual chaos. Following a post-work run and dinner, I headed to the theater to meet Maggie. Dinner was accompanied by that episode of King of the Hill where ZZ Top appears and spends half of the episode pissing off Hank, including at 0:36 of this clip.
Maggie and I talked for a bit before Adam came by to chill with us. Gary then arrived, and we were in the theater. Previews consisted of biopics/documentaries about historical figures Judy Garland, Thomas Edison, and Roy Cohn. We also got previews of the Roger Waters concert film, Us and Them, the upcoming Metallica concert film, S&M2, and the Bruce Springsteen documentary, Western Stars. So many movies, so little time and money. Gary also treated us to some pictures of the soon-to-be-rebuilt Surf Rider, which he’s framing after the unfortunate fire that destroyed it a few months ago.
The film opened with an overhead shot of what I’m assuming is LaGrange, Texas, as their classic “LaGrange” played over the soundtrack. Actor Billy Bob Thornton described his experience seeing ZZ Top as like “seeing Bugs Bunny in person.” I felt the same way when I saw Phish for the first time. John Homme from Queens of the Stone Age had an even more apt description: their choreography created a mystique; since they were so flashy, it kept you from knowing who they really were. Made sense the way he put it.
We were treated to a history of how the band formed in the late 1960s; they saw a poster blues artist ZZ Hill, right next to one of BB King. At first, they combined “ZZ” and “King,” until one member (I forget who) said that King is “up top.” Hence the name, “ZZ Top.” When their organist left for Mork & Mindy, guitarist Billy Gibbons and drummer Frank Beard (the only beardless member of the group) found Dusty Hill to play bass, and the trio was born.
Some random items that stuck out to me:
The band started out as a simple blues rock group in the 1970s, but during a hiatus, they were treated to the punk movement, and their new sound was slightly more aggressive. Hence came Eliminator, the 1983 album that spawned the songs for which ZZ Top are most known (“Legs,” “Sharp Dressed Man,” “Gimme All Your Lovin’”). According to Homme, Eliminator functions as most people’s introductions to ZZ Top. Side anecdote: I found 1985’s Afterburner in my Dad’s CD case and pretty much wore the heads out on it after two weeks.
We also saw that with the onset of MTV, ZZ Top was part of the innovative new combination of music and video. Director Tim Newman had the vision of incorporating narrative into music video, so “Legs” told a story about a cook and a salesgirl overcome some harassers and bullies and find love.
In Adam’s words, the movie ended quickly, an assessment with which I agree. There was a quick montage of a couple of their videos and an appearance of Johnny Carson before final reflections from the band. I might have liked to know about the 80s through today, including their popular culture appearances, like in King of the Hill and Back to the Future III (“Doubleback” is my favorite song of theirs).
That’s a minor quibble. Overall, it was a nice break in a hectic week, and it was nice to hang out with good friends, even if it was only for a few hours.
P.S. Drew, "Waiting for the Bus" wasn't played, but Winston Marshall from Mumford & Sons referenced it, saying that was the first ZZ Top song with which he identified.
So after a three and a half month “vacation,” I went back to work. The week before classes start is a week of meetings. Show up at this time, sit, listen to the same people say the same things they’ve said year after year, yada yada…Today was productive, though. My fellow faculty and I met the freshman English and Foreign Language majors, and they’re an engaged bunch. They asked good questions about opportunities offered by the department, and we offered them solid advice about how they can have the best possible college experience. I also MAY be teaching a course on blogging in the spring semester, which was inspired by my experience with this blog. Thank you, concerts!
Anywho, after a short post-work power nap, Maggie picked me up at 5, and we rocked to her Pink Floyd mix through the traffic-laden roads that comprise Newport News and Hampton during the rush hour. We ended up at Doumar’s, where I enjoyed a greasy cheeseburger and fries; I would have tried a hot fudge sundae if not for my carb-counting. We discussed our favorite Floyd songs. Hers are “Mother” and “Pigs (Three Different Ones)”. Mine are “Sheep” and “Learning to Fly.” Maggie relayed a pic of her flipping off the White House, as well as her wish to make a meme with that picture overlaid with the text “Hey You, White House, Ha Ha, Charade You Are.”
As we drove to Chrysler Hall, I flipped off the Chik-Fil-a on St. Paul’s for their support of anti-LGBTQIA organizations. Maggie also taught me that the Animals albumwas based on George Orwell’s classic, Animal Farm. I’ll have to reread the book and examine the lyrics. Getting in was easy; our seats were located up top in an isolated area similar to where Statler and Waldorf from the Muppets would sit as they offered scathing critiques of the rest of the cast (I, ummm, definitely did not laugh for 10 minutes in a row at the previous link…ummmmmm, yeahhhhhhh).
The show was scheduled for 7:30, and the band was right on time (I love when that happens). They opened with The Wall’s“In the Flesh” and “The Thin Ice” before launching into “Another Brick in the Wall,” which was accompanied by an inflatable finger-wagging schoolmarm. I thought they were doing a Wall tribute when “Welcome to the Machine,” off Wish You Were Here, graced the arena. Before the transition to that album’s eponymous song, we were treated to some Australian pop culture imagery (Crocodile Dundee’s “This is a knife” lineo and snippets of Men at Work’s “Down Under” and AC/DC’s “You Shook Me All Night Long”). Then it was onto Dark Side of the Moon tunes, consisting of “Great Gig in the Sky,” “Money,” and a set-closing “Eclipse,” replete with images of conservative pundits laid out under “The Lunatic is in my Head.”
During setbreak, we met up with Shannon and Snady on the smoking patio, where we got song pics. Set 2 opened with my third favorite Floyd song, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond,” followed by my #1, “Learning to Fly,” during which Maggie showed the influence I’ve had on her by yelling “Drums and Space!” “The Final Cut” was next, collowed by Maggie’s fav, “Pigs (Three Different Ones),” during which we were treated to political commentary, such as “Pig Brother is Watching You,” “Only the Pig Party Will Make Sheep Great Again,” and “Don’t Vote Pig.” Well, I can’t say I’m easily influenced by words on a screen, but whatever you say, Mr. and Ms. Australian Pink Floyd Show.
“Time,” a song I dig, was next, but I wondered why “1988” came onto the screen when the song came out in 1973. “One of These Days”, off Meddle, had an amazing light display, and “Run Like Hell” gave the crowd permission to dance, of which Maggie and I took full advantage.
We met Shannon and Sandy outside the venue and walked and talked with them for a bit before we spent about 20 minutes trying to locate Maggie’s car before I remembered to pindrop the location (‘preciate ya, Fred). The ride was misty and traffic-laden (dang HRBT construction), but also filled with good conversation. The introvert in me was happy to get home early (11:30) and to go bed at midnight.
It’ll be a month before my next show and subsequent posting here; school’s back in session, so my days will be getting busier, thanks to the habit of writing this blog, I have a book contract, so my energies will be going toward teaching and writing. I’m also working to save up some cash to start promoting my book once it’s ready to roll, and I’m hoping to build capital to build a coaching/consulting business based on the ideas in my book. Stay tuned.
So after a few days showing my brother the historical spots in Hampton Roads (Colonial Williamsburg, Jamestown Settlement, Mariners Museum), he took off for Maryland, and I took off with Maggie for the screening of Rush: Cinema Strangiato. While I love bands like the Dead, Phish, and Widespread Panic, Rush hits me in a visceral way those other bands can’t quite accomplish. I got into them around the end of my senior year in high school, when I transitioned from slacker into academic. That year, my English teacher, Mr. Leonard London, had allowed me the freedom to make connections between film (something I loved) and literature (something we were studying). From there, I became enamored with academics, hence leading me to the career path I’ve been on; at that time, I was introduced to Permanent Waves and Moving Pictures, albums I played nonstop. During my freshman year of college, Test for Echo hit the stores, and I drove my roommate, Pete Rosado, crazy by planning it nonstop, so much so that he requested his own room the second semester. Ahhhh, good times. And I saw them six times during their career.
After what felt like an hour of previews and commercials (was this a screening or an infomercial?), we saw…another commercial, this time for Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass. After that came one of the psychedelic cartoons reminiscent of the ones that went up on the screen during the Rush shows I saw. The plan was to play the setlist from their final tour back in 2015. Side note: I have very few regrets in life, but one of them was not seeing them at Madison Square Garden during that tour. I had saved up a bunch of money to travel to Ireland and England and was trying to save money. If I could go back, I’d have subsisted on generic macaroni and cheese for a month and just hit the show, but hey, we’ll always have the memories.
After a “Jacob’s Ladder” soundcheck, the Holy Trinity opened with the “Anarchist” and went into “Headlong Flight,” two awesome tunes from Clockwork Angels, which came out the summer I was studying for my comprehensive examinations during my Ph.D. program (which I passed). Let’s just say that album provided an additional soundtrack for my academic prowess. “Roll the Bones” was next. Fellow Canadians the Trailer Park Boys (one of whom referred to the singer as “Freddy Lee”) made an appearance on the video behind the band, as did guitarist Tom Morello, actor Peter Dinklage and I Love You, Man co-stars Jason Segel and Paul Rudd, who play diehard Rush fans in that movie (this video was a nice highlight of the Time Machine Tour). We went back in time with 1984’s “Distant Early Warning,” and Jonathan Dinklage was interviewed on his violin-playing before we saw him play “Losing It” with the boys. “Subdivisions” closed the first set (what Rush fan can’t identify on some level with the kid in the video?).
During the intermission, we heard a bluegrass version of “Tom Sawyer,” and we met Geddy Lee in a pirate costume, Jerry Stiller, Jay Baruchel, and the South Park kids playing the part of Rush with Cartman butchering the lyrics to “Tom Sawyer” before we were treated to the real thing. Taylor Hawkins from the Foo Fighters graced the screen discussing how after resisting at first, he agreed to play “YYZ” with Geddy and Alex. We then saw them play it with Neal. “The Spirit of Radio,” “Cygnus X-1 Book II,” and “Closer to the Heart” followed. In between those songs, we got to see a photo session with Alex and Geddy (introvert Neal was absent). “Xanadu” and “2112” closed the set. We were gifted with a four-song encore: “Lakeside Park,” “Anthem,” “What You’re Doing,” and “Working Man” (my theme song from August through May, and for parts of the summer months). After the encore, the boys returned to find their dressing room hijacked by, not Jason Segel or Paul Rudd, but some drunken puppets. As usual, they were calm, cool, and collected about it.
Over the end credits, Alex sang a song he had made up (the title escaped me), but his voice was very reminiscent of the Violent Femmes’s Gordon Gano. It was nice to see a different side of him.
Sadly, this is the last blog post of the summer season. As of August 26, I get up at 5:30, yeah, and I’ll go to work around 9 (This is for my teaching gig. Starting at between 5:40 and 5:55, the plan is to devote an hour a day to writing my book). So I won’t be blogging as frequently, but I will outline the shows I plan to see this fall season thus far (and there may be a few more in there):
Tuesday, 8/27 – Australian Pink Floyd Band – Chrysler Hall – Norfolk, VA
Saturday, 9/28 – Joe Russo’s Almost Dead – The Anthem – Washington, DC
Wednesday, 10/2 – Roger Waters: Us and Them (movie) – Studio Movie Grill – Hampton, VA
Friday, 11/1 – Dead & Company – Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Friday, 11/8 – Dead & Company – Hampton Coliseum – Hampton, VA
Saturday, 11/9 – Dead & Company – Hampton Coliseum – Hampton, VA
Saturday, 11/23 – Fade to Black (Metallica tribute) – The Vanguard – Hampton, VA
Thursday, 12/5 – Dark Star Orchestra – The National – Richmond, VA
Saturday, 12/7 – Dark Star Orchestra – The Norva – Norfolk, VA
As I type that, I realize that for most people, that’s a lot of concerts. But for me, of course, it’s…
Love y’all! Thanks for reading!
So between the hour I spent working on my book and the time I went to meet a client I’m coaching through the process of writing her Master’s Thesis, I found out that my friend Mark was “Interested” in going to Dead & Company at Hampton Coliseum in November. Were the rumors true? I went on Jambase to find they’re playing two shows at the Mothership (five minutes from my place of residence), and the weekend prior to that, they’re playing two shows at Madison Square Garden. My cousin Alison is getting married that same weekend, and one of the shows is the night before her wedding. Alison, I can’t thank you enough for having your wedding that same weekend. You totally made my day (don’t worry; I’ll be awake for the ceremony and subsequent festivities)! In all seriousness, though, congrats on your upcoming nuptials.
So after a day of writing, course planning, coaching, and research, Maggie came by my place at 4, and we took off to the Wal-Mart on Rochambeau in Williamsburg to pick up Johnny Mac for the DSO show in Richmond. We were jubilant about D&C’s upcoming arrival at the Mothership, and we discussed costs and how Phish tickets cost $85 a pop. “People pay money to see Phish?” Johnny asked. I love Phish, but I laughed; I thought it was funny. We got a little “box of rain” on the way there, but by the time we got to Anthony’s Pizza, “here came sunshine.” The pizza was surprisingly good (I’m from New York, and we don’t mess around with our pizza). At around 6:30, we made our way to the venue. Johnny’s handicapped sticker got a spot superclose to the entrance. Immediately on our way in, we saw Keith, who gives awesome hugs. We then ran into Bert and Eve from Richmond. He then said, “I enjoy your blogs” which leads to me a tangent.
I have to thank Last Fair Deal for posting my blog on their Facebook page. I was ecstatic to see Patrick’s response to my posting, and since it seems to be expanding its readership, this will be the first blog to appear on Not Enough Concerts’s Facebook page. Y’all inspire me!
We also ran into Dawn from Fredericksburg, who also gives great hugs. Soon enough, we made our way into the pit to be up close with the band. As we asked a random dude to take our picture, Mark, Drew, and Gary A. (cool dude from Richmond) ran in, and our tribe grew.
Bert asked me to predict the show. With two drum sets, it was looking like an 80s or 90s show, and since the band played an elective set the previous show in Delaware, I was thinking they’d re-enact an actual show.
The band started with “Let the Good Times Roll.” Mark surmised, “Alpine Valley ’89.” “Don’t tell me!” I responded instinctually. One of the fun, unique things about DSO is trying to predict the setlist, and I avoid Internet (I actually turn off my phone during shows so I can enjoy the moment the show provides). “Franklin’s Tower” was next, followed by “When I Paint My Masterpiece,” which I’ve had a new appreciation for since I’ve been working on my book. During “Jack-a-Roe,” a group of people wearing lime green Grateful Dead T-shirts came through. As I examined closer, I saw the Steely with a dancing shamrock bear in it. I guess it’s St. Pattie’s Day every show for some folks. Nah, seriously, I dig unity. A rockin’ “Walkin’ Blues” was next (feeling like late 80s), during which Gary W. rolled in to boogie with us, followed by a mellowed-out “High Time.”
At that point, I was delighted to see Shannon and Sandy hit the pit. They had gone to Black Flag at the Norva two nights prior, and this was a completely different world for them. Shannon commented how security here was way tighter than at the Black Flag show, where people apparently have snuck in weapons. Weapons okay, drugs bad. I don’t do drugs or carry weapons, but hey, welcome to the double standard that is our world, enhanced by our current political climate IMO. In honor of that, Shannon requested one of my “That Cheeto Guy: Keeping America From Being Great” bumper stickers that I made to honor our current regime. Good thing we have music to balance it out.
“Cassidy” was next, and “Don’t Ease Me In” closed out the first set (I remember when Mark sent me this picture of the Pillsbury Doughboy singing “Dough Knees,” which might describe my knees after that summer of good traveling and good food).
Set 2 opened with “Scarlet Begonias,” despite my requisite “Play Drums and Space!” yell, which was meant for Drew and Maggie’s entertainment, and, of course, mine. I shook two people’s hands when Jeff Matson sang, “Strangers stopping strangers to shake each other hands.” I was never this extroverted before, but this music has brought out parts of me I never knew I had.
“Fire on the Mountain” was next, followed by “Estimated Prophet,” followed by Shannon’s favorite, “Eyes of the World.” Maggie commented, “Robert Plant keeps showing up.” This young kid with long blond hair similar to Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant kept passing by it, and I wondered if the band PLANTED him in the crowd, much like Ken Kesey and the Merry Pranksters of the 60s. Since it is the 50th Anniversary of the original Woodstock, it seems appropriate that they’d do that.
“Drums” and “Space” was next, during which Maggie and I move toward the back of the pit (it was getting hot in the crowded front, and the back allowed cooler air and more room to dance). Drew asked me why I wasn’t wearing my “Play Drums and Space!” T-shirt, to which I explained I have a rotation for my shirts at shows. The next time I’ll wear it will more than likely be at the Mothership shows. Ashley came by to talk to us, followed by Wes. Apparently, she thought the show started at 8, so she was only there for the second set. She said, “I don’t wanna hear the first set.” When I work out, I like to play certain shows on my Relisten app and
pretend I was at them (what I wouldn’t give to go back in time and see the Dead play at Madison Square Garden just one time). Another dude was walking around with a 5-euro bill saying, “I have a 5-euro. It’s worthless!” I advised him to save it; he might go to Europe someday.
“The Wheel” brought us back to Earth, followed by “Gimme Some Lovin’,” both tunes I LOVE hearing any band play. “Wharf Rat” was next, and during the lyric “Blind and Dirty,” I yelled, “James!” as a tribute to his band that goes by that name. “All Along the Watchtower” closed the second set. After that, I yelled, “Play encore!” Drew followed with, “Play song!” I yelled, “Bring on Special Guest!” That joke will never, I repeat, NEVER get old, just like my Widespread Panic joke (that starts the day after Labor Day, when students come back to school).
Maggie thought the encore would be “Touch of Grey,” but I heard the band teasing “U.S. Blues,” which they played. I guess being so close to DC, such an encore would be appropriate, given that political climate (no offense, Trump supporters, I still love you, I just can’t resist a good ribbin’).
Then came the reveal. The band would announce what show this was. Definitely late 80s/early 90s. And I was right. Matson said, “Tonight’s show was originally performed by the Grateful Dead on December 9, 1988 at Long Beach Arena in Long Beach, California.” I have a ritual: any show DSO plays goes on my computer, so as I write that, that show is downloading.
Two more cool exchanges. On the drive out of the lot, a drunk dude asked us if he could cut in front of us as he approached his truck. The line wasn’t moving, so I said “No problem.” He was fumbling with his keys, though, and the traffic started moving, so I didn’t have a choice but to drive. Maggie said to the guy from the passenger seat, “The traffic’s moving, so we have to go. Sorry.” The dude said, “Kiss my ass!” Maggie yelled, “You might like it if you kissed my ass!” LOL.
We stopped at a 7-11 to get post-show munchies, where we ran into Gary. As I paid for my Diet Dr. Pepper and Reese’s Outrageous Bar, hip-hop blared on the speakers, to which I naturally started grooving. Another customer started cracking up, and the sullen-looking clerk smiled furtively and said, “Someone’s got a sense of humor tonight.” I explained that I get very cheeky after shows.
That cheekiness had to be maintained with caffeine as I drove us through miles and miles of road work between Richmond and Williamsburg, and a few more miles between Williamsburg and Newport News. Maggie mused that this construction had been going on since before I arrived. Well, I guess they don’t do things in a New York minute here in the Commonwealth.
That being said, as much as I love to travel for shows, one of the awesome things about these Virginia shows is my tribe is here, and I always run into others I know. It felt good being able to experience that and come home to my own space. Looking forward to more shows!
Nicole got to my place at around 5:30 after a long slog through that dang I-95 traffic, and we headed over to Maggie’s. After our usual grind through the HRBT and what felt like a circuitous route, we parked in a lot parallel to the walkway going in. The crowd was more traditional than what I’m used to, more mainstream-looking folks, but I did see one dude wearing a Grateful Dead T-shirt and a few ladies donned up in Jett costumes (I don’t remember that in Tampa, 6/17/18).
We parked our lawn chairs came toward the tail end of Ella King’s set; I had never heard her stuff before. I dug it. Of course, I gave her my requisite “Special Guest” yell.
Nicole came prepared with a blanket and a bunch of snacks. She brought some string cheese as a tribute to the Cheesy String Trio moniker our group derived (see 3/16/19 for its origin). I started biting the string cheese, and Nicole looked at me aghast, saying, “Are you one of those people who bite the cheese?” “Yes,” I replied. “Does that make me evil?” “Yes, chaotic evil,” she stated. I paused for a few seconds and said, “I can live with that,” and resumed my biting style of eating string cheese. I then told her I was putting our dialogue exchange in the blog and warned, “Anything you say may go in the blog.” She then said, “Unless I say ‘off the record?’” I agreed. Journalistic integrity is important.
Joan Jett and the Blackhearts came on. “Victim of Circumstance” opened the set, followed by “Cherry Bomb,” which she recorded while with The Runaways (a great flick about them was made, starring Dakota Fanning as Cherie Currie and Kristen Stewart as Joan Jett. Another great movie, Dazed and Confused, provided my first opportunity to hear “Cherry Bomb” through its iconic soundtrack. “Do You Wanna Touch Me (Oh Yeah)” was next, and “Bad Reputation” (Freaks and Geeks gave me my first opportunity to hear that song). “Light of Day” was next, which came from a movie with that same title, starring Jett and Michael J. Fox.
Throughout the set, we were treated to some interesting history as delivered by Kenny Laguna, keyboard player and Jett’s songwriting partner. His New York accent brought me back home.
They busted out a few songs I had never heard before, including “Fake Friends” and “TMI.”
“I’m Gonna Make It After All” from the Mary Tyler Moore Show came out (feminism personified). “I Love Rock and Roll” closed the set, and “Crimson and Clover,” “I Hate Myself for Loving You,” and a cover of Sly and the Family Stone’s “Everyday People” closed the set.
During setbreak, I chowed down on a $13 burger and fries combo to fuel up for the Heart set. Tidbit from Nicole: Ann Wilson apparently started singing as a way to overcome a stutter.
They opened with “Rockin’ Heaven Down” (a new one to me), and then followed with “Magic Man.” That song, along with “These Dreams” were the first Heart tunes I had ever heard. Back in 1993, before I even knew who they were, I remember hearing those songs on the radio and recording them onto a cassette on my boom box (back in the days when cassettes and boom boxes existed, and we walked to school two miles in the snow both ways, yada yada…). The following dialogue ensued:
Maggie: What’s a magic man?
Nicole: A guy that seduces you and tricks you.
Me: That’s evil. Chaotic evil.
Indeed, the flute in “Love Alive” gave the atmosphere a Tolkienesque feel, and the covers Gladys Knight & The Pips’s “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” and Paul Simon’s “The Boxer” brought me back to the 1970s for real. “Little Queen, “Even It Up,” and “What About Love” filled the house, as did “Crazy on You.” For encores, Led Zeppelin’s “Stairway to Heaven” sufficed, as did “Alone” and Barracuda.” Maggie and I did our yells of “One more song,” “Three more songs,” and I belted out “2,638 more!” I then thought of an idea for an action thriller where a person holds their favorite band hostage and makes them play until they’re rescued by a SWAT Team (actually, the Simpsons’ episode “Marge Gets a Job” hinted at this, but, well, nevermind).
Getting out of the venue was a slog. We had to make it to Dam Neck Road, to which I joked, “Damn Neck. Damn bottleneck,” referring to the bottleneck we were stuck in. I then laughed at my own joke.
We stopped at a 7-11, and Nicole offered to buy us our snacks. I yelled to Maggie, “Get the steak and lobster!” I then laughed at my own joke. Bryan Adams’s “Summer of ‘69” was playing, and I sang, “Those were the best days of my life, back in the summer of two zero one nine,” after which I laughed at my own joke. I get goofier than usual after shows. The clerk even said, “Michael Scott,” referring to Steve Carrell’s goofball Dundler-Mifflin Regional Manager from The Office (“that’s what she said”). It makes sense.
I was drifting to sleep on the ride back. I let Nicole have Chester for the night while she crashed on my couch. I streamed an episode of the new season of Dear White People before crashing out. The following morning, Nicole and I enjoyed good conversation, along with some eggs with smoked salmon, turkey bacon, and Cuban coffee from Casa de Craig before she made that trek up 95 to Alexandria, and I sat down to write. A big thank you to Nicole for this outing’s inception; I wouldn’t have thought of going to this show without her.
So some of you know I recently got a book deal for a title called How to be a Happy Bachelor, which I might want to change to How to be a Happy Single Dude, just to be more user-friendly. And if you didn’t, now you do. I worked my tail off on it Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, but took Friday off to do some adulting (i.e., shoe shopping, cleaning, haircut), which cleansed my soul. At around 5, Johnny and Maggie both came over, and we were off to Elevation 27 for what would be Last Fair Deal’s last fair show for the foreseeable future due to the upcoming lung transplant surgery for Patrick, the rhythm guitar player. I send you and your family prayers.
Friday traffic was your standard grind through Settlers Landing Road, Emancipation Road, and the HRBT, but 90 minutes after our departure, we arrived at Elevation 27. I was hoping to use my cheat meal for some corned beef and pastrami at their restaurant, the Jewish Mother, but alas, we learned we had to make a reservation prior, so we jaunted across a four-lane highway to get to Five Guys for burgers and fries (apparently, French Fries in mayonnaise is a German thing; I dipped a few of mine in Maggie’s mayo, combined with ketchup, and it was almost like Thousand Island dressing.
We headed back to the club and met up with Drew and Mark. Darian also showed up, as did Keith, and we met a cool dude named Terry. I was hoping the “Play Drums and Space!” shirt I designed and bought off Funnyshirts.org to entertain myself would also entertain others. Mark, Drew, and Maggie were entertained, and a couple of people stared at it, but no laughter otherwise. Hey, my close ones and I thought it was funny, so that’s what counts.
John Kadlecik, formerly of Furthur, Dark Star Orchestra, and Melvin Seals & JGB, along with a bunch of other bands (including the John Kadlecik Band), performed an acoustic set to open the show. He did a little spacey jam to start, during which Drew commented, “He started off with Space.” He also played JGB’s “Run for the Roses,” along the Dead’s “Lazy River Road” and “Doin’ that Rag.” He also did a jam with what sounded like a syncopated drumbeat on his iPad (Drums?). Mark commented, “He’s playing Drums.” He also mentioned having written a couple of songs with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter, which he played. One was “Midnight Day” and another appeared to have a title of “Going Down to Eugene to see the Grateful Dead” (please correct me if you know the actual title). I also did my requisite “Special Guest!” yell toward John, to which Mark responded by saying “SG,” which is like “OG.”
After what appeared to be the quickest transition between bands in history, the band opened with “Might as Well” before going into “Cassidy,” “Ramble on Rose,” “Beat it Down the Line,” “It Hurts Me Too,” and “Loser,” from which Last Fair Deal’s name derives (“Last Fair Deal in the country”). “Lost Sailor” and “Saint of Circumstance” came next, which I find spiritual. I’ve been meditating lately on my life’s purpose and whether this book is meant to lead me to a different place than where I thought I was going to go (“Sure don’t know what I’m going for/But I’m going to go for it for sure”). It fits, but I have to remember to “keep my day job till my night job pays.” And my “day job” is inspiring to be sure and filled with cool anecdotes, like the time one of my students asked me if the Grateful Dead is the band with the one-armed drummer. A rain medley (“Looks like Rain” and “Box Like Rain”) led into a tune I didn’t know but fell in love, which closed the set.
During what felt like the quickest set break in history, Maggie said “I hope they play St. Stephen!” to which I followed with “I hope they play drums and space!” The following dialogue ensued between Mark and myself:
Mark: I hope they play Hit Single, Side A.
Me: I hope they play Song. (Yeah, I know, that was a lame one. I’m much wittier behind a keyboard.)
Mark: I hope they play Encore.
Me: I hope they play Encore 2. (Ho-hum).
Mark: I hope they play Second Set opener.
Me: I hope they play Second Set closer. (Better).
Set 2 opened with “Foolish Heart” and then “I Need a Miracle.” “Crazy Fingers,” Good Morning Little Schoolgirl,” “Playing in the Band” and “New Potato Caboose” before the band saw my shirt and heeded my request to “Play Drums and Space.” “The Wheel” led back into “Playing in the Band” and “So Many Roads” made me tingle. “Good Loving” closed the second set, while “Attics of My Life” and “Touch of Grey.”
Getting out of the parking lot was like driving around those cones in one of those old-school driver’s ed courses. My tire light had come on, so we stopped by a Wawa to get free air (good call, Maggie, on the tidbit). The tires were all full, so diagnosis: the sensor’s fucked up. It was good to know. So now I have to do more adulting next week and take the car in. Oh well, such is life. Johnny hooked me up with a Coke Zero and some Peanut Butter M&Ms for driving, which I used to keep myself awake on 64, which was traffic-free for once (2 a.m. is the right time to go across).
My head pretty much hit the pillow after Johnny and Maggie took off. I don’t do late nights like this much anymore, but when I do, I do it right. Great time, stellar music, awesome friends.
After a Saturday spent adulting (eye exam, Costco trip, including purchase of seaweed snacks, research/reading for my book), I made my way to downtown Hampton for the block party with Anthony Rosano and the Conqueroos, despite Chester’s attempts to prevent my exit from our domicile (all he has to do is lay on my legs or stomach, and I’m powerless).
I got there at about 7:15. I grooved solo for about an hour before Gary arrived. We grooved a bit before setbreak. I’m proud of myself for resisting the impulse to buy a CD (too much crap on my shelves as it is).
At setbreak, Gary and I grabbed some chow at a nearby restaurant called Brown Chicken Brown Cow. He informed me that name is derived from that iconic 1970s porn riff (and when I sound it out, it makes sense, hear it for yourself). Their chicken wings had a nice tang to them, but the burger and waffle fries tasted like they’d been sitting on the counter for a brief spell (alas, I forgot to get pictures of the band, but at least the entrée was aesthetically pleasing).
And it was adequate sustenance for the second set. Anthony brought out the pedal stell guitar, and the band played some cool teases, like Peter Frampton’s “Do You Feel Like We Do” and the Grateful Dead’s “Franklin’s Tower.” They also played a full “Dancing Days” (ironically, I dig Stone Temple Pilots’s version more than Led Zeppelin’s).
The following song was one a friend of Anthony’s dedicated to his wife. Immediately following that dedication, a drum riff that sounded similar to the opening of Iron Maiden’s “Run to the Hiills” started before he played an original (passive-aggressive?). Anthony had the audience clapping to the drumbeats, and as I was writing that observation, Gary slapped my right hand to signal me to clap with them. Now I believe that’s a true friend, despite the instinctual “stern teacher” look I gave him, as Mark likes to put it. Ahhhh, bros…
Before the encore, I yelled “Play drums and space!” Right before I told Gary what I yelled, I was more entertained by my own joke than he was. Nobody lease laughed either, which was, of course, due to the sound of the crowd. Ummm, yeahhhhh. But I was entertained, and that’s what counts.
They busted out “War Pigs” for an encore. My first rock album was a cassette tape with Black Sabbath’s Paranoidon one side and Heaven & Hellon the other, which I purchased from the Nanuet Mall’s Sam Goody in 1993 with money I’d earned from 6 a.m. deliveries of the Rockland-Journal News. I was fifteen and had started watching Beavis and Butthead, and I aggred with the assessment with their assessment of Sabbath’s “Iron Man” video (“This rules! Huh huh huh…”). The only YouTube linkI could find is in Spanish, so yo espero eres fluido (I hope you’re fluent). That unfortunate dance music phase (TLC, House of Pain) was over, and rock and roll had begun to fill my soul.
And that night, my soul overflowed. Six more days till another filling.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.