Runnin’ With The Devil

Van Halen

I don’t recall if it was Thursday, July 6, or Friday, July 7, but I know it was 1978, and I do know what I was doing on either one of those two nights — catching Van Halen on their inaugural world tour.

If it wasn’t in July I’d guess it would have been the Friday night show, cause I wouldn’t have been allowed to catch Thursday’s show; would your mom have let you go to a concert on a school night? But it was summer vacation, and I had just finished 8th grade, and I was about to become a freshman in high school, and I was in a car with 5 of my best friends with someone’s mom behind the wheel (I don’t remember whose mom), and we were all on our way to our very first live concert.

We were so fucking cool.

Until we got there.

KDKB (93.3 FM) is a local FM station in Phoenix, and they were having a “$3.93” special concert featuring Van Halen; a band called Borealis opened. My mom gave me a ten dollar bill, which not only got me into the show, but got me a frosty beverage or two.

Maybe even a hot dog.

Ten bucks was a lot of bread back then, and I’m starting to sound like a grandpa.

I remember thinking it was cool that the stage at Celebrity Theater spun in a slow, lazy circle as the bands play there…making every seat a good one. I remember thinking why doesn’t everyone know about Borealis? I remember my mom wasn’t one of the moms who drove us to the show. I remember wondering why David Lee Roth would wear women’s make-up around his eyes. (Does that mean he’s gay?) I remember being convinced — beyond a doubt — that Michael Anthony was Gene Simmons sans make up. (Sound silly? Look at the credits on the back of the album for the obvious clue).

Other things I remember:

1) I spent every dime my mom gave me — not on food or drinks — but on a VH t-shirt.

2) There was a fist fight in the parking lot after the show which, to this day, is the most brutal fist fight I’ve ever witnessed.

3) My pal Brian got served booze (drinking age was 19 then, and checking ID’s wasn’t as prevalent as it is now) and after drinking up a few rum and cokes, Brian blew chucks all over the people in front of us…none of which were amused at all by his behavior.

So now they’re back, and Wofgang’s on bass, and their reunion is a big ol’ hullabaloo.

I like Dave way more than Sammy, but I understand why no one can stand being around Dave.

I just got back from traveling to see Wilco play in Berkeley last week. I caught their show in LA Wednesday night, too. I’ve never actually traveled more than, say, 30 minutes to see a band play live, let alone catch a band twice on the same tour.

Van Halen to Wilco…what’s my point here?

As usual, I have none.

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