Wednesday, March 19, 2014

ROCKING (as in rock music) WITH YOUR DAD

When your dad was fifteen years old, his favorite music was heavy metal rock and at least for a time his favorite band was "Metallica."  One day he told us that the group was performing at the World Theater near Chicago and that he and his two best friends were going to the concert.  I had no problem with this, but when he said that his friend "D", who had just turned sixteen and gotten his driver's license was going to drive I balked.  No way was I going to trust my son's life to a novice driver in rock concert traffic.  Since they were determined to go, I told them I would take them there and wait for them in the parking lot.

A few days before the concert, they surprised me with the announcement that they didn't think I should just sit in the parking lot so they had bought a ticket for me as well.  I had no real idea what I was getting into, but I had grown up with rock and roll so I figured I would enjoy it and was pleased that they wanted to include me.  When we arrived at the World, an outdoor amphitheater holding thousands of fans, I found my fears of the traffic completely justified. It was bumper to bumper for at least a half mile leading into the parking lot, and I knew that the after concert traffic would be total madness.

The theater had seating under the pavilion roof, and standing room in the grass covered open air bowl.  In theory you could sit on the grass, but in fact no one did because the crowd was constantly moving and frequently "mosh pits" (more of them later) would spring randomly into existence.  The crowd was boisterous and happy, enjoying every minute while waiting for the show to start. 

My first revelation of what I was in for came when they began testing the sound system.  One of the technicians walked onto the stage and thumped the bass drum.  I didn't hear the thump, I FELT it. That thump, amplified through enormous speakers on the roof, hit me in the chest like the concussion from a Fourth of July aerial bomb.  THIS WAS GOING TO BE FUN!

Now back to the mosh pits.  This is a little like bumper cars without the cars.  People start good natured pushing and bumping and suddenly a circle opens in the crowd as non-participents back away and there you have a mosh pit. When one of these opened up right in front of us I was watching and enjoying when suddenly somebody pushed me from behind.  Since the ground sloped down from where we were standing, I couldn't stop but had to travel right across to the other side.  Once there, I had no way to return to the boys except to charge uphill bouncing off the other moshers.  I arrived back at the top to find the boys doubled over with laughter and just a little bit in awe of the old man mosher. Did I mention that at forty eight or nine I was probably the oldest person in the entire crowd?  None of the boys would admit to being the one who pushed me and still haven't to this day.  I too thought it was pretty funny and am actually grateful to whoever gave me that memorable experience.  I have Moshed!

The actual music of the event was something that I think I enjoyed just as much as the boys.  The opening act was trying too hard to be cool and not that great musically.  The second group was much better and for a time I thought they were Metallica.  When the headliners finally did take the stage, I was just as blown away as the die hard fans.  They were great!  There is something special that happens at a live performance by really talented people and these guys had what it takes to make it happen.  Of course, I couldn't actually hear any of the vocals, only the instruments, because it seemed that every member of the audience knew all the words to every song and sang right along with the band.  That didn't matter, because it was the shared experience that made it all so memorable.

Getting out after the concert was every bit the nightmare I had imagined, so I simply insisted that we sit in the parking lot not even trying to move until the madness had subsided.  Finally, four tired but happy fans were able to safely drive home, with memories I am sure we all still hold.

One more thing came out of the event.  Not long after, Grandma B was looking at a mail order catalog and found a T shirt with an image of the title character from Metallica's "Sandman" album on it.  She saw how much the picture looked like my dad so we got the shirt and gave it to him. Here is the result.



  1. I would have waited in the parking lot, I don't like the noise or the kids, but good for you. And great memory for the boys. Now if it were Hendricks...

  2. This took me back to my first concert in West Texas: Willie Nelson. My dad was a journalist and he *knew* Willie from interviewing him. He not only got front row tickets for me and friends, but a backstage pass as well. It was no place for 16-year-olds. But, man did we have fun!

  3. You must have been the coolest Dad on the block! We really did grow up in the best possible generation for the best music ever! I think it taught us to be more open minded to people and other musics, too! Great memory!

  4. Mom and dad (for you Brining kids, your Great Uncle John was my dad) waited for us in the parking lot in Germany for the Foreigner 4 concert to get out! We were stationed in Wildflecken Germany at the time. It was a 2 hour car trip to go to the concert in Wurzburg. It was a great concert and a wonderful memory. Dad even let us listen to the band on the way home from the concert!

  5. Oh, you made me laugh out loud at your moshing. You brave dad! You are awesome!

    I was at a stop for this very same Metallica tour! In Denver. My husband won tickets — and a limo ride to and from — from a radio station. We weren't quite as cool and moshing as you. First proof of that: When the limo driver arrived at the house, we asked if he'd please take our three daughters (and their babysitter) around the block for a spin since they'd never been in a limo. Second proof: We wore earplugs at the concert. BUT... we could still hear all the music, loud as it was. We enjoyed the show thoroughly and still do enjoy Metallica.

    That shirt for you dad is great! Love that.

    Again, you rock, you mosher you! :-D

  6. Ah yes, I do remember Metallica from my son's young teen years! Not my type of music but I sure heard a lot of it! Good for you on the moshing -- it would have scared me senseless! And an even better good for you for raising the type of son who would want you at a concert he was attending, much less buy you a ticket!
    Great shirt for your dad too!!

  7. This is the best one yet! I too laughed out loud at your proud declaration "I have moshed!" Priceless memory for you and your son! :) Our son was 16 or so and had tickets with his buddies for the Genesis concert in Detroit...2 hours away. We were okay with them driving......until a week before one of their dads spotted them in a local Mickey D's dumping beer bottles into trash cans. Can you believe that dad called the other parents...those were the days..... and they were all grounded of course. My husband hated the waste of good said they could go, but HE was driving! They suffered the embarrassment and went. Jim found a place to hang out and read and then went back to wait in lot. He enjoyed the kids' stories and listening to Phil Collins all the way home. My son says that cured him from drinking and driving.....yeah right! Thanks for fun memories as usual Bob....LOVE this!

  8. Great story! Metallica was one of my son's favorite bands, too, and he always pointed out examples of their musicianship and creativity. Those who dismiss rock music as mere noise are missing a lot.

  9. What fun family memories. I've taken my granddaughter to a few Christian concerts - a long way from Metallica but they get REALLY LOUD too! My granddaughter definitely enjoyed it the most, but I had a grand time as well - both for the music and the fun time with her. These are memories we will treasure forever, aren't they? :) :) :)

  10. It sounds to be a hilarious and memorable experience! My husband has taken all my daughters at various ages to rock concerts and there always seems to be a story to tell. He even took them to see Metallica. Thanks for the fun read!

  11. Finally I have taken time to review comments on past posts and I came across your visit to my blog. Thank you for stopping by. Regrettably I cannot say that I have ever "moshed". You must be one brave soul to have ventured into this realm. The shirt for your dad was great.

  12. :D A beautiful read! I can imagine just how much fun you must have had!