Thursday, June 29, 2006

Why we're not going to see Blue Oyster Cult at Summerfest tonight

  1. Because nothing can top two of the most surreal rock and roll evenings of my life, both of which involved Blue Oyster Cult. Back in, oh, was it 2000? (Stella was about 2), we went to go see Blue Oyster Cult, at, get this, Old Heidelburg Park for Sprecherfest. If you're not from Milwaukee, Old Heidelburg Park is exactly what it sounds like: its this little bavarian park with little game stands, a swingset, and a big ol' outdoor beer hall stage which usually plays hosts to oompah-bands. The guy who takes your tickets still is wearing lederhausen, and you're expecting the St Pauli Girl to bust our of her shirt and serve you up a couple of steins. The place where the audience sits is rows and rows of picnic tables, on which you can set down your steins of pale ale and your little baskets of bratwurst and wienerschnitzel and fries. We're sitting at such a picnic table, and I'm changing Stella's diaper (she was exhausted from a day of playing and swinging) and right next to us sits this badass looking biker couple, with whom we strike up a conversation about the pros and cons of a 401(k) plan vs a Roth IRA. Then Allen Lanier walks past us with a guitar case. What, Blue Oyster Cult carries their own gear?!? The guys take the stage, and I've got two year old Stella on my shoulders and we're all singing along, fists and brews raised and swaying above our heads as though it were a old bavarian drinking song: "I'm burning, I'm burning, I'm burning for you!"

    Then last summer we find out that BOC is playing at, get this, "Lakefest" in Sheboygan. So we loaded up the car and drove north. Turns out its this little Lions Club/Kiwanis festival, with a bunch of local food booths, about 5 or 6 of those blow up "rides" for the kids (you could get an all day pass for five bucks and the kids could jump on those things to their hearts' content) and there's a giant tent about the size of your typical church festival tent. All afternoon there's people walking around aimlessly, wondering if they're in the right place, reassured by the little B.O.C stickers being handed out and the 5' x 25' hand painted poster advertising such, with opening act Lou Gramm. Then the sun starts to set, and Gramm actually shows up and reminds us all who the hell he is by belting out some old Foreigner. "Oh, yeah, him," we all nod, while he's wailing "You're As Cold As Ice." Well, he obviously took care of his voice, too bad his band and songs were lame to begin with. The families with their lawn chairs and blankets arrive and set up shop. Then, just as the night stars come out, from New! York! City! Please welcome BLUE! OYSTER! CULT! And they're just as blistering and incredible as they were back when my big brother borrowed my mother's credit card to go to Ticketron to get tickets to see them at the Chicago International Ampetheater in 1975: On Your Feet… Or ON YOUR KNEES!!!!!!. Stella is waiting to hear E.T.I. (which many people know as "Agents of Fortune") and Sammy is winding his way in and out of the standing crowd in front of the stage, met by smiles. He comes out later and we see the truly generation gap closing moment when he meets the GenX and GenY kids: I'd never seen anybody pogo so high as Sammy and the Gen Y teens were, as they kept challenging each other to jump more while moms, dads, teens, little kids, Kiwanis, punks and bikers are all screaming together in perfect unison: "Oh no, there goes toe-kee-yo, go go Godzilla! Yeeeeeeeeaaaaah!"

    Honestly, for ambience alone, do you think I'm going to be able to top either of these two moments at the Mountain Dew Rock Stage at Summerfest?

  • We're road tripping tomorrow and are leaving good and early to avoid the construction traffic in the Armpit of America (otherwise known as Chicago Skyway Merge with the Indiana Toll Road). Bummer too, since I'd really like to see Elvis Costello on this fab tour he's doing with Allen Toussaint but it won't be the first time I missed an incredible live show. Oh well.
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