concert memoirs pt. 1 – kansas

This is going to be a lengthy series. I intend to run through what I can remember of the concerts I’ve seen through my lifetime. The idea came from my going through, in a fit of nostalgia, the ticket stubs I had managed to hang onto. There are quite a few. My hope is that it will be interesting to a total stranger. And, at the very least, it will be something for my son to read and see how cool ol’ Dad was in his day.

Now, I only have memory to go on (goon?), memories jogged by the ticket stubs themselves. I did consult my friend, John, with whom I had gone to most of the shows; my brother, Bob; and my wife, Amy, for the later shows. They were of some help on a few of the more foggy points. These recollections go back to more than 25 years ago, so not much of this series is going to be crystal clear on the details.

In fact, some of the ticket stubs don’t bring back anything at all. I look them and nothing comes to mind. Not a thing. This happens quite often with the opening acts. But there are many shows of which I have strong, clear memories.

I must have been pretty selective, because most of the shows I’ve seen had been pretty good. Some were even stellar (how’s that for hyperbole?). A couple were, well, less than inspiring.

Most of the shows were viewed at the legendary Minneapolis nightclub, First Avenue. John and I had become fixtures from late 1984 into the early 1990’s. We were regulars of Kevin Cole’s Club Degenerate, the Tuesday night dance club at which you could dance to the coolest music of the day. Punk, post punk, new wave, industrial, world, local, and Sweet’s ‘Ballroom Blitz’ and anything else Cole wanted to throw at us. But, that’s a story for a different blog.

First Avenue, for us, became the place to see concerts. They were able to book many of the best acts of that era and we could get an excellent view for a decent ticket price.

By the way, there is a documentary about that storied downtown danceteria which, more than likely, no one will see. A filmmaker named Rick Fuller made ‘First Avenue Hayday: 1985 – 1992’ chronicling that wonderful time-period. The time-period which just happens to be exactly when John and I were making the scene at First Avenue. The reason, as far as I’ve heard, that it will be difficult to see the film is because Fuller didn’t have the money to secure the rights to most of the songs featured in the documentary. Pity, I would have loved to have that on DVD. You can see the trailer on YouTube.

I’ve wandered off now… Where was I?

Concerts. Right. I wasn’t one of those concert-going kids when I was in high school. I remember hearing other kids my age at the time talking about going to concerts. On one occasion, there were some stoner kids who made up a big ol’ banner to bring to an upcoming Motorhead concert. Banners were big in those days with local rock stations offering prizes for the best displays (with the station’s logo prominently displayed, of course). Do they still do that?

So, I only went to three concerts while in high school. No money. No interest. No parental permission. I was probably too square. I didn’t really start hitting the concert trail until I was in art school. And it wasn’t until September 5, 1984 when I first stepped foot in First Avenue.

The list will be chronological from the earliest show to the last. I will also include what I can recall of shows for which I don’t have ticket stubs. Those won’t be in order, my memory ain’t that good. I really wish I had kept a concert journal.

So, I’ve yammered enough. I hope you will find this interesting…

Kansas w/Prism
Summer 1982 Met Center w/group of high school friends Ticket price: $11.50

This was my first concert. I went with some friends from school and we tailgated in the Met Center parking lot. (It’s not there anymore. It’s been replaced by the Mall of America.) We consumed Blatz Light Cream Ale and we were underage. Naughty, naughty.

This was Kansas without Steve Walsh, but they still were a soulless arena rock band anyway. I didn’t think that then. I liked a lot of crap in those days.

Anyway, what stands out most is the young woman down the row from our group, in a heap on the floor, sick from way too much beer or something. She was heaped that way through the opening act until the end of the night. She really had a great time.

I also remember getting home, buzzed, and then watching the video of the film ‘Warriors’. “Come out and play!”

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