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Oddchester: Memorable concerts span generations

September 12, 2018

This summer, with daughter Hadley home from her freshman year of college, we tried to jam in as much family fun as possible.

Since Hadley loves live music, that included concerts. We sat in the second row — and got to meet the band backstage! — at the free America show at Treasure Island.

Staked out seats for the Gin Blossoms at Down By The Riverside.

Road-tripped to Cedar Rapids for Maroon 5.

Spent two days (and watched a dozen bands) at Wisconsin’s Ashley For The Arts festival, where Hadley caught Rick Springfield’s guitar pick! While he was singing “Jessie’s Girl”!

To wrap it all up, Hadley and I saw the Beach Boys at the state fair.

I had seen them previously. In 1980. A surprising number of friends, when I mentioned we were going, said things like, “The Beach Boys? Are any of them still alive?”

Well, the Righteous Brothers (at least the one who is still alive) opened up, and John Stamos — Uncle Jesse from “Full House”! — played guitar and drums with the Beach Boys. So take that, friends who asked if it would be “a boring concert with a bunch of old people watching old has-beens!”

Anyway. Here’s the second installment of My Most Memorable Concerts.

The Time Rod Stewart Knocked Himself Out

Who: Rod Stewart, July 7, 1989, at Pine Knob, Mich.

What: My girlfriend at the time wanted to see Rod Stewart. I was 20, and it was early in our relationship. Too early, I remember, to ask someone to go see Rod Stewart. I knew right then we were on borrowed time.

I wore my Joy Division shirt just so people would think I was there to be ironic. Anyway, the concert started out way better than I imagined, with “Some Guys Have All The Luck” and “Young Turks.” By “The First Cut Is The Deepest” I may have been singing along without moving my lips. During “Hot Legs,” Rod Stewart started doing that thing where he runs in place with his knees very high, like he’s at football practice. Then he ran across the stage, hit his head on a low-hanging speaker, and knocked himself out cold.

The Time The Guy From REO Speedwagon Asked A Question No One Knew How To Answer

Who: REO Speedwagon, Aug. 9, 1990, in East Lansing, Mich.

What: My first ever concert was REO Speedwagon, in 1977. I was 8, and my 19-year-old sister dragged me along because she was forced to babysit me when she and her boyfriend had lawn seats for REO. I remember sitting on a tarp. I remember the cigarette smoke smelled different than other cigarette smoke I had smelled. And I remember I loved every minute of it. So, REO holds a place in my concert heart.

When I went to see them in 1990, they were more “I Can’t Fight This Feeling” than “Ridin’ The Storm Out,” but still. It was $4. My buddy Jon was also at the show, and he tells this better than me. But here goes.

REO had recently gotten a new drummer, Bryan Hitt, who previously played with Wang Chung. REO lead singer Kevin Cronin often tells long stories between songs, as the band plays little guitar riffs. So he was telling the story of meeting Bryan and trying to get him to join his band. Then, to the fairly disinterested festival crowd, Kevin Cronin yells “So I says, ‘Bryan …’” [little guitar riff].

“So I says, Bryan …’” [little guitar riff]. “Do you want to Wang Chung tonight?” [dramatic guitar riff]. “Or DO YOU WANT TO R … E … O?!!” The question appeared to be rhetorical, but few in the crowd knew what the answer was supposed to be.

The Time I Took Hadley To See Her First Real Concert

Who: One Republic and The Script. Target Center in Minneapolis, June 17, 2014.

What: When Hadley was 15, she asked me to go with her and a friend to see their first real concert of their bands — One Republic and The Script. I casually nodded and said something like “Sure. Whatevs.”

Then I ran upstairs and pulled my wife, Lindy, into the bathroom and kept scream-whispering, “They asked me! They asked me!” Deep down, I realized they needed an adult to go to the show with them and that I was their default choice. But, still, “They asked me! They asked me!”

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