Like many Americans allergic to adulting, I often zone out on Facebook when I should be doing something more useful – like scooping the litter box or lecturing my children about the dangers of social media. Inevitably, I come across one of those surveys posted by Facebook users who are probably planning to hack into my account and steal my pet selfies.
I recently saw a survey that asks you to identify various rock concerts you’ve attended, and since my teen years were in the 1980s, attending rock concerts was a rite of passage that ranked right up there with cursing at your Rubik’s Cube and sporting your first fuzzstache.
So hold on to your Hacky Sack, and let’s do this!
In August of 1985, a friend’s parents dropped off two of my fellow 15-year-old nerdlings and me at the legendary and slightly dilapidated Hirsch Memorial Coliseum in Shreveport, LA, for the “World Infestation” tour of the hair metal band Ratt – with Bon Jovi, ironically, as the opening act. As we sat at the back of the venue’s top row seating with our mouths agape, we could actually feel our undeveloped mullets standing on end as we were initiated into the world of live power chords, drum solos, and overly excited girls with impressively permed, crimped, and teased hairdos as far as the eye could ogle.
Since my wife and I are now the parents of three teen daughters who would rather fold laundry while watching Wolf Blitzer discuss geopolitics on CNN than hang out with us, we’ve caught a few concerts on our own over the past couple of years. Our most recent event was the Billy Joel concert at Globe Life Park in Arlington, Texas. The show was fantastic, and it was great to remain comfortably seated with hundreds of other boring, middle-aged couples singing along to hits from our teen years while waiting for an opportune moment to take a bathroom break.
I witnessed the epitome of 1980s British metal and poor spelling when Def Leppard performed in Shreveport for the “Hysteria” tour in 1987. Not only was I amazed by the laser show and Leppard drummer Rick Allen’s inspiring one-armed performance, but standing near the stage in my sleeveless Union Jack shirt, I was surrounded by hundreds of squealing teenage girls who didn’t seem to mind that I was there – or that I probably forgot to wear deodorant.
Nothing against the R&B legend, but I only went to see Keith Sweat in 1988 because the girl I was dating at the time liked Keith Sweat. I’ve got about as much rhythm and blues as Mr. Rogers on his least-funky days in the neighborhood.
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but the 1988 Rush concert in Shreveport was a true revelation – despite the relatively small number of bodacious babes in attendance. From Neil Peart’s phenomenal percussion work that demonstrated what a truly inadequate drummer I was, to the Toronto band’s cerebral lyrics, the show left me feeling exhilarated, more respectful of Canada – and slightly smarter.
The concert that probably contributed most to the fact that I often can’t hear my daughters asking for money was the 1988 Texxas Jam “Monsters of Rock” festival at The Cotton Bowl in Dallas. The lineup featured such eardrum-slaying legends as Van Halen, Scorpions, Metallica, Dokken and Kingdom Come. Van Halen’s Sammy Hagar actually lost his voice at the concert – and I lost my ability to tell the difference between the smoke alarm and the microwave beeping when my chicken taquitos are ready.
It’s nice that my wife and I can still occasionally get away to see elderly 1980s icons taking advantage of the fact that their fans are now old enough to carry a line of credit. But these days, I mostly get my head banger fix from the praise band at church. And if I’m feeling particularly nostalgic, I’ll rock out to Def Leppard on my iPhone while I scoop the litter box and take a few pet selfies.
Graves is an award-winning humor columnist from East Texas. His columns have been featured in Texas Escapes magazine, The Shreveport Times, The Longview News Journal, and The Kilgore News Herald.