Posted: September 5, 2019 in Body Count, Fridge Note, Music nobody listens to

Nearly forty years ago, I was on the home stretch of high school and thinking about college (not sure I was going yet, but thinking about it.  Mainly because my father insisted, and Dad, I Thank You).  And there was a song on the radio, a sound I had never really heard before and lyrics about sunglasses.  So when the band in question played the Madison Coliseum (hereafter called the Great Clamshell because: Original-Coliseum-1030x660

I decided I would roll the dice and go solo to check it out, as Joe Bob Briggs will eventually say.

Since I was flying solo, I didn’t bother drinking anything and after the opening bands I was sitting on the main floor, when two absolutely shitfaced girls came stumbling by, tripping over me, kind-of-apologizing then one of them barfed on the floor next to me.  I found it kind of inconceivable they paid to get in then got completely blotto before the main act even started.

ZZTop changed most of my thoughts on what a live show would be.  They had almost nothing on stage, other than a drum kit, two mike stands, and ranks upon ranks of Marshall 4×4 cabinets.  And then only three guys come out, with ridiculous beards.  But when they started playing, all ridiculousness stopped, and complete no-nonsense rock and roll commenced, with a Texas twang.  I knew hardly any of the songs, but I loved it all.  It was loud, and the synchronized shuffle and on-stage communication was entrancing.

I was not aware of the backstory, that after their run of their first albums, they all decided at the same time to go incommunicado, independently.  Nobody knew if they were coming back, not even them; but eventually they did, and started making a dent on radio with Deguello, containing songs like “I Thank You”, “I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide”, and, of course, “Cheap Sunglasses”.  But here they were, and they rocked me hard.

Since then, I’ve had the chance to see the “Texas House Band” (as Molly Ivins referred to them) several times, never disappointed.

So.  Tonight.  My concert buddy had asked if I wanted to go to the 50th anniversary (!) show, with Cheap Trick opening, and I figured, well, I’ve seen both of them multiple times, so felt no huge compulsion.

But things being what they are, and things going as they will, Concert Buddy’s date fell through, so I said I would go, nothing to lose.  Except I have been in the middle of trying to catch up on work after vacation, and I have a building walk-through for an RFP tomorrow morning.  The show was at the BMO Pavilion, easily the prettiest open air venue in the State. summerfest_bmo_2019_wp-620x400

So, after 40 years or so, I found myself in a similar situation. Watching ZZTop kicking ass, staying sober while the people around me were getting well lubricated (although way older than before) and more-or-less behaving myself.  They, and Cheap Trick were good as ever, and produced a pretty effective greatest hits overview of my high school and parts of my college years.

Although when I got home I poured a couple of bourbons and sent out about $15,000 in invoices.

  1. another kiwi says:

    Just this year I have discovered La Grange. I don’t know what I have been doing with my life.

  2. Mikey Hemlok says:

    I was never particularly a fan, except living in Fort Worth when Tejas came out – played the bejeezus outta that one.

    “She’s a heartbreaker” is the perfect description of young Texas women of the era….

    • I kind of get that; I am not normally a blues aficionado. But seeing them on the Deguello tour when I was so young, made me a ZZ Top fan, and their dalliance into keyboards paralleled my deep dive into punk and new wave, so the never really lost relevance. Plus, they are SO DAMN GOOD playing live. They know they are kind of MTV cartoon characters, but they also play hard blues and mean it, they aren’t faking a single dam thing. “She’s Got Legs” is played just as enthusiastically as “Jesus Just Left Chicago” or “Tush” or their sloppy cover of “Sixteen Tons”. They know who they are, they know the music history behind them, and they are aware that the MTV image made them superstars that made them superstars, and they meld that all together amazingly well. Plus, they played “Gotsta Get Paid”, I figure just for me.

  3. OBS says:

    Speaking of beautiful outdoor venues, if you ever get a chance to see a show at The Gorge Amphitheater (George, Washington), you should. (I’m assuming you haven’t already…)

    It’s a 7 hour drive for me but I’ve happily done it a couple of times and will do so again.

Go ahead, tell me how I fucked up this time.

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