It started innocently with Cyndi Lauper. Proudly clad in a purple stoned wash miniskirt while sporting high-top mint green Reeboks, I breathed in my first concert air. It was love at first screech. Each concert taught me a valuable lesson and this one was: Opening bands can be a necessary evil. At 10, I was cooler than opener Eddie Money.
Prince and all his filthy brilliance came next. I never knew someone could move like that. I remember blind folds, heavy breathing and squeals, but mostly, I remember the music. It sounded electrifying, dirty and important. I’d already watched Purple Rain more times than I’d brushed my teeth. I’d hit pause and watch as Apollonia disrobed, shocked at her voluptuousness.
The Madonna show forecasted my soon-to-be troubled teen years. 13 years old, I boldly swiped beers from a parent’s fridge and encouraged my friends to slug them seconds before entering said parent’s vehicle. Hustling into a Subaru, cheap beer on our breath, red lipstick smeared on our lips, we were caught.There were threats of canceling the night, but I knew how much those tickets cost, and I knew there wasn’t a chance. I had secretly borrowed a set of my mother’s rosary beads and her black bra. Soon after entering the arena, off came my Benetton rugby and out came my newly developed breasts and rosary beads. A star was born.
Cyndi, Prince and Madonna: the Holy Trinity of late 80s pop music. Mine for the night at the Worcester Centrum, Massachusetts. Throughout the years, beers and the hear loss, I learned more rock-show etiquette:
- Don’t gift your kid concert tickets unless you actually
know your kid. Are you flummoxed that I’ve seen Bell Biv Devoe? Ditto. A good pal’s loathsome mother gifted her Nirvana-loving daughter with…surprise…three tickets to Bell Biv Devoe! Always a good sport, I laced up my Doc Martens and dutifully shook my nonexistent arse to classics such as Do Me! and Poison.
2. One is never too young to fail at being a groupie: I started out small with a local band, but I had goals and aspirations for so much more. My 15 -year old mind focused on becoming a Mighty Mighty Bosstones groupie. It never really happened, but not from a lack of effort. I had what every wanna-be-groupie needs: a best friend that topped 5’10, a lusciously cascading mane of hair, a bona fide bad-girl girlfriend, absent parents and sheer recklessness. It was a recipe for groupie-galore.
My focus was on meeting rock stars more than classwork. I may have been just getting by in school, but I really wanted to get by with some B-grade rock stars. I schemed, I lied, I stalked, and I succeeded, maybe not in the biblical sense, but enough to be a lil’ rock star in my small world.
Concert-going taught me more than the nuns at my Catholic college. I soon graduated to see Hole, Beck, Nine Inch Nails and every Lollapoooza. My rock intellect was sharpening while my ears were constantly ringing.
3. Fainting at rock festivals is a downer. I was dehydrated while Lindsey Lohan was drinking baby formula. At 20, it was unfathomable to drink water when there were so many more attractive substances to drink in. Yet another health lesson gleaned from rock shows: Severe dehydration will cause a young me to faint. Fainting will certainly welcome the paramedics to visit you and your suspicious friends. These circumstances will sober you up, and ruin an evening. Drink water, bring sunscreen, and take it easy.
4. Rock music is religion. I spied God at a Hole concert. I remember when it happened, when I decided that I would spend gobs of time reading about Courtney Love, obsessing over her and even trying to look like Ms. Love. I was crushed against the stage at Lupo’s in Providence, RI after waiting over an hour for Hole to play. Exhaustion, paranoia and dehydration did not deter me, and right before I almost fainted, Courtney Love stammered onto the stage. I saw the light. I saw her underwear, her cleavage and a even bit of her battered soul.
The curmudgeon in me misses the old rock show. The smoke was always so thick, why not light up a Camel Light and contribute to the taint? Now, I spy teenagers at rock shows snapping picture after picture, what will they do with all those damn pictures? Don’t they know they’re missing out on valuable make-out time? Priorities, kids, priorities.