first shows: cows, creem and bras
by Michele Christopher
No one's first show or gig was something incredible. We know that. I know that. Sometimes it's completely unbelievable when someone tells you the first show they ever went to was something like Woodstock or Monterey Pop. Sounding like they were the one right next to the shooter at Altamont. I mean theoretically, it could happen, but if that was your first show, man, you need to get out more. We here at FTTW know that ours will be a little bit, um, lame. Well, not in my case. Cause I had cool parents. But, we strive for the truth here a FTTW, so now you will get to read what our first shows were. We defined these pretty much as the first time we were covered in people, got our ears blown out and smelled the air of a crowd. All the smells, sounds, and feelings. This should be fun.
Neil Diamond - Cow Palace, San Francisco
I always get off lucky on these. Don't ask my why, but with all these "What are you listening to now" and video game posts, I always seem to get off easy. Sometimes I feel bad for Michele. Well, not really. But, I always think it's funny that I get the cool shows, video games and songs playing. I think it has something to do with that little black cloud that follows her around and rains on just her.
As I said before, I somehow, ended up with cool parents. They weren't cool when I was in High School or when I was living on sofas, but they were cool when I was a kid and somehow they are cool now. Don't ask me. You would never hear me say something like, "You want to go play golf today, dad?" like ten years ago. I don't know what happened. You would never see me without a shirt on around them ten years ago. They think tattoos are the devil's work. But now I think they just gave up and accepted me for who I am. Although, they always try to convince me to get them burned off. They even took pictures of my back and sent them into a tattoo removal shop to ask how much it would cost to remove them. I found out later the bill came and the subject was dropped.
But I digress. The show was in San Francisco. Some place called the Cow Palace. My parents wanted us to feel the power of Neil. See the city lights. See what it is like to live in the big time. Ok. I'll go. Well, I really had no choice. I was still a little kid. Wherever they said I go, I went.
Back of a car. Traveling. Listening to some punk rock music thinking how bad this was going to suck. I was like twelve and hated the world. Yeah dad. I see. Theater District. Yeah dad. I see. Market Street. Yeah dad. I see. FAO Schwartz. Yeah dad.
So basically a pissy young kid who really didn't want to be there. And if he didn't want to be there, he was going to make sure his parents knew about it. At least I can admit I was a little asshole back then.
Cow Palace. Well, that name just sounds lame. Cows? Oh, this will be interesting. I'm not a fan of cows but it would be kind of funny to see cows on stage. Actually, that would be neat. Some guy I don't know singing on stage with cows moving at him slowly. If you have ever experienced a slow move stampede, you will know what I'm talking about. They gang up on you and just walk step by step. I'm not fucking around. Put a city boy in a field of cows yelling at the cows while drunk and stoned. See what happens. They see the fear in your eyes. The cows feel this fear. They know you are weak and vulnerable. They will gang up on you. Like 200 of the fuckers. Walk at you slowly. You can see the look in their eyes. They are thinking that if they take you out, freedom will be theirs. No more of this cheap hay crap. They are making a jailbreak and you are the only one that stands in their way. Looking back at the farm hand. Asking the owner of the farm if this is normal for cows to do. "Fuck no, boy! Move your ass out of there!" Running away while looking at the saddened cows who couldn't keep up with you. Their hopes dashed. Their dream destroyed.
It's kind of funny.
But anyways, that's kind of what I thought was going to happen that night. I was a kid. I didn't know. Well, I hoped it would happen. Cause that would be kind of funny.
Getting in the arena was a different story. I think this is when I started my dislike of parking next to cars and huge shows. I admit it. I am a huge basketball and hockey fan, but all my teams sucked this year and I didn't bother to go to any games, so I never really deal with the amount of idiot parkers there are in this world. Take a middle age woman, load her up on cheap wine, give her the keys to a car and tell her to park in a giant parking lot. Now multiply that by 1000. You can see why I don't like those parking lots now. If you are going to be driving around drunk, fuck man, at least be good at it. Don't rub your crotch with a cheap buzz while singing "Girl, you'll be a woman soon" while trying to park. There are kids around for christ's sake.
What was I talking about?
Neil Diamond. Sorry about that. I go off sometimes.
Dragged into the show. Even back then, I kinda had a feeling my dad didn't like these type of things.He didn't and still doesn't like going to shows. How do you think I end up seeing all these bands. He doesn't want to go. Mom does. "Turtle, here are two tickets. Here's money for dinner. You two go out. Take her somewhere nice and make sure she has a good time. Just remember to not talk about me, ok?" How do you think I saw Neil so many times? Dad backed out at the last moment while mom was a rabid fan.
But tonight it was different. It seemed like he went out of his way on this one.
I'm going to go on record as saying Neil Diamond, that's Mr. Diamond to you, puts on one of the greatest shows ever. He really owned the place that night. Sure, it was filled with middle age hairy old women, but it was still cool. I'd say the crowd was a hundred times better then the crowd at the Cher show I took my mom to for her birthday. Imagine asking someone in a sailor suit if he is a fan of Turbonegro and him asking you if that's a new sexual position. One thing I learned about Cher fans. Don't ask questions. Just keep your head down.
I got off track again.
I always get off track.
Neil put on an amazing show. I was struck by his style. His music. That was he could hypnotize an audience. To this day I've seen Neil Diamond twenty-three times. I started following his tour around and scheduling shows in the same area he was in. I've seen him with my mother, gamma, punk rock friends, normal friends, taken dates to see him, being drunk at a bar and hearing he was playing that night. Neil called all of us. He wanted us and needed us like we needed him. It was amazing.
There was one disappointment though.
I never saw any cows on stage. -T
David Cassidy - Nassau Coliseum, Long Island
Not the Partridge Family. No, this was solo Dave. On his own. No Shirley Jones or Ruben Kinkaid watching from the sidelines. No Lori banging away on the tambourine. No magic bus. Just David and his flowing hair and penetrating eyes and sultry voice and.....oh yea, I was smitten. Big time.
Come on, look at him. He was hot, in that 70's kind of way. So when my aunt said she was taking a bunch of us to see him at Nassau Coliseum, I got pretty excited. A concert? Way cool. I may have only been about ten at this point, but I was already supplementing my Teen Beat reading with heavy doses of Creem magazine. So going to a concert was high on my list of things I needed to do. At ten, that list is pretty short. Eat ice cream for dinner, burn down the school, go to a concert, marry Lief Garret. The simple things.
On the other hand, we’re talking David Cassidy here. Not something you read about in Creem Magazine. Sure he was gorgeous and beautiful and dreamy, but I didn’t really care for the music. I had already moved on to the Who. Looking at the guy was ok, but listening to his love ballads for two hours? Was it worth it? Well, I was going whether I wanted to or not. My aunt bought the tickets. We were David Cassidy bound.
Nassau Coliseum is a hockey arena. It’s a basketball stadium. A concert venue, it is not. Even though the place still brings in the big shows, it was not built with music in mind. The acoustics are terrible. If you aren’t sitting in the first ten rows on the floor, everything sounds like shit. But I guess when you are going to see an act like David Cassidy, it doesn’t matter. And really, I was kind of excited to be there. A concert. A live show. This was pretty cool, even if it wasn’t The Who.
We got to our seats and you could feel the excitement in the place. Every local girl between the ages of seven and say, 20 was there. All holding signs and banners. Carrying flowers that they wanted to throw on the stage for David. Later, someone would throw a bra on the stage. Girls. Crazy. I remained stoic and quiet. I wasn’t going to swoon or scream or rip my panties off and throw them in the air because I didn’t do stuff like that. Ok, maybe once I wrote to Lief Garret asking him to marry me, but no one knew that. I sat back in my chair and waited for the show to start. I’d spend the time focusing on David. Quietly. Looking at his hair, his gleaming smile, his swaying hips. Just being my cool self. Staring, but not swooning. No swooning. None at all. Nope.
The house lights went down. The stage lights went on. A small ripple of noise started moving throughout the crowd, getting louder and more vibrant by the second, culminating in an ear-piercing, blood curdling, unison scream of 12,000 horny, love struck girls as David Cassidy took the stage. Girls fainting. Crying. Screaming. He broke out into song but you couldn’t hear it over the screaming. I told you the acoustics there were bad. The screams of joy and love reverberated throughout the arena, and completely drowned out the music. No one seemed to care. He swayed and danced and moved and pointed at the crowd and smiled and swayed some more and the screams got louder and the girls got wilder and.....oh my god. What? Was that me? Was that me that just made that sound? Did I scream? I think I did. And then....I swooned. Good lord, I was swooning. I was screaming. I was ready to run down to the stage and throw myself on the altar of David Cassidy. I was one of them. One of the crazy girls. I was half mortified, half caught up in the frenzy. Ashamed but excited. When that one girl threw her bra on the stage I got a hold of myself. Ok, I would never do that. I’m not gonna be that. I am not going to grow up to be a girl who whips out her tits at a concert. But when he broke out singing “I Think I Love You” I knew that if I didn’t control myself here I could be screaming my way down a slippery slope to dancing naked on the speakers at a Who concert.
When I got home I redeemed myself by listening to “Tommy” five or six times while reading a Creem Magazine article on Blue Oyster Cult.
My real redemption would come two years later when I attended my first real rock concert. Twelve years old. Back to Nassau Coliseum, this time with a neighbor and her kid. KISS. That’s right. KISS. From the first time I saw this band on - I think - Don Kirschner’s Rock Concert I was hooked. Make up. Theatrics. Rock and roll all night and party every day. This is what all my time spent honing my rock fan skills had led up to. This was the big time. This would wash from my soul the still remaining black karma from my antics at the David Cassidy concert. KISS. Rock and roll. I had joined the KISS army and I was ready to serve.
I don’t know what I was expecting. Something completely different from the Cassidy show, that’s for sure. A different type of crowd. A different type of reaction.
The house lights dimmed. The stage lights went up. Maybe there were some explosions and laser beams and whatnot. KISS took the stage.
Oh Jesus, the screaming. The screaming! Not just the girls, but the guys, too. Screaming and I swear to christ, swooning. Girls holding up signs declaring their love for Peter Criss or yelling out things they wanted to do with Gene Simmons’ tongue. Guys whipping off their shirts and screaming out “Fucking KISS! Fuck yea!” in some orgasmic frenzy. Bras on the stage. Panties on the stage. Girls swooning. Swooning! What the hell? Not what I expected at all. I was confused, lost, frightened. This was rock and roll, not David Cassidy. This was the real deal, the stuff I read about in Creem Magazine. Why aren’t you throwing beer bottles at each other and lighting fires and kicking chairs around? Why the FUCK are you swooning? Shit. I had this all wrong.
It wasn’t until many years and hundreds of concerts later that would realize KISS was nothing more than a clownish boy band. Like four David Cassidys with make up and heavy grooves. A manufactured, press-ready, photo friendly boy band. That I had the same experience at a David Cassidy concert as I did at a KISS concert is rather telling, don’t you think? - M