Archive for the Middle School to Early HS Category

Journey with Loverboy

Posted in 1981-1985, Middle School to Early HS on April 2, 2009 by concertproject

journeyBands: Journey with Loverboy

Venue: Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA

Date: December 1981

Back in the early eighties, the period of a school child’s life now known as middle school was referred to as junior high school. I don’t know when the nomenclature changed but since I used to work at a middle school, I do know for sure that it has changed.

Even though the name has changed, the general composure and demeanor of a junior high school student has not. In 1981, I was a nervous, straight A earning, no girlfriend having, rocker wannabe whose taste in popular music was just about to grow it’s first root on it’s own, without parental assistance and/or pressure. Even though I was a few albums and concerts away from an adolescent level of musical independence, this was the time and place that it began.

I remember for my birthday in sixth grade I received as a gift from my Dad my first “real” rock album. It was the Eagles’ “Hotel California”. Before that I was listening to lots of 50s and 60s rock and roll (1955 to 1965, American Rock and Roll, to be precise) on our family’s jukebox, Sha Na Na, Elvis Presley, Star Wars soundtrack albums, and various Disney lps. This album, “Hotel California”, was the first record I could actually proudly display and show off to my friends.

One day, months later, I was hanging out with my friend Matt Berry and he played for me Journey “Captured”, a double live album that featured all of Journey’s major hits at the time. I loved the harder rocking edge that this disc featured and so I cajoled my Dad into purchasing that record for me as well. I listened to this record over and over and over again, until, in 1981, Journey released the follow up record, “Escape”.

“Escape” was freaking huge. As popular as Journey was during the “Evolution”, “Departure”, “Infinity”, and “Captured” era, “Escape” dwarfed the success of those great records and garnered a massive new fan base. Suddenly everyone was singing “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Who’s Crying Now”. Junior high school cafeterias that doubled as dance floors on select Friday nights were jam packed with hormone crazed adolescents looking to get close to members of the opposite sex.

And the best thing was, I was there on the ground floor because I had the record (and the one before it; I was no poser). I knew all the song lyrics by heart; I even had the sheet music. In fact, it was the aforementioned songs “Don’t Stop Believing” and “Who’s Crying Now” that catapulted me into getting noticed by girls. I remember hanging out at lunch time near a piano one fateful day at school and I sat down and began to play those two songs. The next thing I know, I am surrounded by all these girls asking me to play them again. It was pretty much then and there that I realized that all those years (since first grade) of taking piano lessons from Fred Cadiente at ABC Music were worth every torturous scale and fingering exercise I had endured, if the payoff was going to be female attention and hopefully, affection.

So, here I was, feeling like I was riding a personally discovered wave of cultural popularity, what with being like the hugest Journey fan ever, when one day my Dad came in and made an announcement to me that set me on a path that I am forever grateful; a path that I still travel to this day. He informed me that we were going to go to see Journey in concert at the fabled Cow Palace. He had arranged for us to go to the show with his buddy, Stubie, who was at the time a rock critic for a local newspaper. Not only were we going to the show, we got to sit in a special press section, which included a super cool, cloth material press pass sticker. save_the_cable_cars_ticket_0011

jrny81Even though my memory of the show is pretty much forgotten, I do vividly recall where we sat; so much so that if I were to go to the Cow Palace today, I could most likely lead you to the exact area we occupied for those three and a half glorious hours that Journey and opening act Loverboy played. I’m sure that Journey played all their hits from albums new and old alike, but I honestly do not remember any of it. They could have played middle c for the entire time, it wouldn’t have mattered. What matters was that I had arrived on the scene. Going to concerts and shows would remain a vital and important part of my life from that moment in time forward. Just like Steve Perry sang, “Don’t Stop Believing”, I didn’t then and I haven’t now.

Scorpions with Bon Jovi

Posted in 1981-1985, Middle School to Early HS on March 2, 2009 by concertproject

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hband32Bands: Scorpions with Bon Jovi

Venue: The Cow Palace in San Francisco, CA

Date: April 1984

The Scorpions were really the first band that I remember getting obsessive about. And before you get to thinking that I had built a shrine to lead singer Klaus Meine or that I had wall to wall posters of lead guitarist Mathias Jabs adorning my room or that I owned drummer Herman Rarebell’s solo album, allow me to clarify what I mean by the word obsessive. Starting with Blackout and Love at First Sting, I began collecting every Scorpions album that existed. I picked up Animal Magnetism and Lovedrive (both the American version and the naughty and gummy original European release), as well as all the half dozen or so earlier albums. I was so into the band that my friend Roger Arbelbide bought me Lonesome Crow, the available as an import only debut album, for my birthday one year. And yes, I did, and still do, own Herman Ze German’s solo album.

So, needless to say, when I read in the Sunday Pink section (of the SF Chronicle) that the Scorpions were coming to town with some band called Bon Jovi, I was so going to that show.

16144All I knew about Bon Jovi at the time was what I vividly recall hearing some random caller to a local radio station say about how they should change their name to Bon Gerbil because the singer looked like a small rodent. All appearances aside, I was impressed enough by their short set to go out and purchase their debut album the very next day.

hband2I remember the Scorpions played nearly every song that I wanted to hear that night. In fact, if you give their World Wide Live album a spin, you would have a very good idea of the quality of the show I witnessed.

As much as I enjoyed both bands that evening, the real action happened on the ride home. Since my mom had dropped Roger and I off at the Cow Palace earlier, Roger’s dad, Pascal, picked us up to drive us home. Apparently, Pascal had been hitting the wine a little bit hard that night because he drove us the ten miles or so home on the freeway at a slow and steady rate of twenty-five miles per hour. To make matters worse, he kept turning around to face me and ask me how it was that I was able to get good grades when Roger couldn’t. Over and over again. I will never forget saying, “I don’t know, sir,” repeatedly to his question as cars whizzed past us on the left.

Dio with Dokken

Posted in 1981-1985, Middle School to Early HS on February 3, 2009 by concertproject

dokken001dio_851 Bands: Dio with Dokken

Venue: Oakland Coliseum, Oakland CA

Date: December 1983

When Ronnie James Dio made his way to the San Francisco Bay Area in the winter of 1983, the diminutive singer was on a major career upswing. Having completed successful stints as lead vocalist in Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow and the Ozzy Osbourne-less Black Sabbath, the early years of the burgeoning heavy metal friendly eighties were prime time for Dio to forge a path as a solo artist. He had two powerful albums to his credit, Holy Diver and The Last in Line, legions of hard rocking and rabid fans, and a headlining tour with arena newcomers, Dokken, in a supporting role.

But enough of the ancient heavy metal history lesson, let me tell you about the Dio/Dokken show from the perspective of a fourteen year old metalhead.

840824_generic_view_22This show was the first concert that my friends Roger Arbelbide and Toby D’elia and I were allowed to travel to on our own. Since we lived on the Peninsula and the show was in Oakland, our parents decided it would be best for everyone involved if we rode on the BART train to the Coliseum. That plan was cool with us because it gave us more freedom than we would have had if one of our folks had actually driven us there. So it was with a newfound sense of independence and maturity that we boarded the train in Daly City, our jean jacket pockets loaded with several cans of Coors each and a tin of Skoal between us for the ride.

840824_ronnie_3We sat about ten rows up from the floor directly behind the sound man. Even though we were near the back of the room relative to the stage, hearing the band was no problem; they were freaking loud. In fact, the only thing louder was the sound of the M-80 that exploded near Roger’s head when Dio first hit the stage. Thinking back on it now, the only person in attendance that evening who was spared the probable likelihood of Pete Townsend-like permanent hearing damage was the guy I saw on the floor below us who spent the entire duration of the concert, from the first note of Dokken’s set to the final power chord of Dio’s encore, hunched over, face buried inside a trash can, vomiting. I wonder what his blog would say about the time he went and saw Ronnie James Dio.

Loverboy with Joan Jett and The Blackhearts

Posted in 1981-1985, Middle School to Early HS on January 20, 2009 by concertproject

Bands: Loverboy with Joan Jett and The Blackhearts

Venue: The Cow Palace, San Francisco, CA

Date: September 1983

cow_palace_front1

This Loverboy/Joan Jett show back in 1983 was personally historically significant to me for a number of different reasons. I believe the title of Loverboy’s hit song, “Turn Me Loose”, adequately describes the sense of freedom I was feeling that night at the Cow Palace for this concert marked the first show I attended sans chaperones. Up until this point in my concert-attending history, I was deemed too young to see a band perform live without the maternal and/or paternal parental unit in tow. But this time was different, I was in high school now. Granted, my friend Matt Berry and I were dropped off to and picked up from the Cow Palace that night by the mom and dad taxi service but at least the time spent in between the arriving and departing was ours alone.

loverboy A second reason why this show carries the weight of personal and historical significance for me is because this show marked the first time that I was more excited to see the opening act as opposed to the headliner. Sure, Loverboy was a bigger band at the time (they had just released their third record and had a string of relatively big hits) but I had already seen them open for Journey a year ago. I was way more interested in checking out Joan Jett and The Blackhearts instead. At the time, she only had two records out but her song “I Love Rock n Roll” was blowing up the airwaves and there is always just that something special about being into a band before they get too big and sell out, man. Plus, Joan Jett was a former member of the female rock band called The Runaways so she had that tidbit of notoriety going for her as well.

joan-jett1The third and final reason as to why this show is memorable to me is because of what happened after the show. Since we were too young to drive ourselves, my mom had dropped us off at the concert and Matt’s mom was going to pick us up and drive us back home. Earlier that afternoon we had arranged with Matt’s mom to meet us a few blocks away from the Cow Palace on Geneva Avenue in order to avoid any potential traffic nightmares of her having to enter an all cars are exiting parking lot. Being the geniuses that we were (and still are), Matt and I decided to avoid the traditional parking lot exit, coincidentally marked exit I might add, and forge another pathway out of there: we tried to hop the six foot tall cyclone fence.

Long story short, Matt made it over the fence and I didn’t. Unfortunately for me, the back of my newly purchased grey and black Joan Jett jersey style t-shirt got snagged on the top of the fence and I was left with my feet dangling a good foot above the ground. After a few minutes of panicking at my affixed to the fence state, we figured out a way to reunite my shoes with the earth and we were on our merry way home. I proudly wore my battle-scarred and ripped concert t-shirt to school the next day and whenever I run into my friend Matt, we always share a laugh about the time I got stuck on the fence after Joan Jett and Loverboy.