Those Roadhouse Blues: The BOC Experience

Sun 01 Feb 1998: Blue Oyster Cult plays local roadhouse (The Mill Camp) right here in Spring-a-leak-field.

This morning [[Mon 02 Feb 1998]] my head/ears feel like they're stuffed with cotton

This morning my brand-new, luscious, beautiful, dusty-aqua, edged- in- lacy- chrochet, deliciously soft and comfy sweater- of- wonder smells like an ashtray

= = = = = = = = = = INTRO = = = = = = = = = =

Once we arrived at The Mill Camp and the evening's festivities finally "began" in proper, the thing that impressed me about this experience as I stood there surrounded by the local fan-throng, was how out-of- place I felt. The men tended to look rough and rowdy, some with beards (always a point in a man's favor, when I was younger), some with long hair, ponytails, tatoos, etc. The general look of the men didn't bother me in the slightest. I found the average male appearance to be pretty much what I expected.

But the women there at the show came in two distinct varieties, neither coming anywhere close to where I fit myself into the general scheme of things. In a crowd that was predominantly male (I'd say there was a two-to-one ratio of men to women) I looked around and continued to marvel as I classified the women neatly as either a)young and thin and beautiful with carefully-curled hairdo's, or b)older, harder, lotsa makeup, the same carefully-curled hairdo's, not always as thin as society demands - in short, not so much "cheap" as just... HARD.

It distressed me - I felt sorta sad - to see these types of bar-fly women looking so carefully done-up: the hair, the clothes, the make-up - all dressed-up, gussied-up, dolled-up to what they felt was their best or at least their most-attractive. I looked around and said to myself, there are no women here who are *like me*

There was one, only one, exception - a woman who looked older than the sweetest- young- things there but younger than the older-ones; delicate wire-frame eye-glasses, short brown hair pulled straight back into a little bob of a pony-tail, no make-up that I could see (ie noticable), serviceable parachute pants. The one thing that made me think she wasn't *quite like me was the series of small loops that graced the entire edge of her ear right up to her hair. I thought, ok the ear-thing isn't what I'd go for, but otherwise she looks like she's got something going for her between her ears and doesn't depend on face-paint to get by. I thought, yeah, she looks cosmic. If it wasn't so hard to hear in this joint it might even be worth talking to her.

We arrived close enough to show-time so all the available chairs and seats at various tables and bar-surfaces were taken and guarded jealously. I had wanted to arrive much earlier, but Lindsay said he didn't want to "stand around" for any great length of time prior to the show. Turns out if he'd taken the trouble to get there earlier we would *not* have had to "stand around" for the duration of THE ENTIRE SHOW MY FEET KNEES LEGS ON FIRE MY NECK ACHING BACK BREAKING etc.

Live and learn, Lindsay! This was an excellent lesson in why it pays to arrive early to a "General Admission" event, not only because it was down to standing-room only (the venue holds just slightly over 400), but because by the time we drove into the parking lot the spaces were at a premium and we only barely managed to find a spot reasonably close.

The best lessons are the ones the significant other takes to heart purely for their own reasons, not because yours truly the queen of all things lectures the s.o. about the whys and wherefores. He figgered it out all on his own. Now when we drive for two hours to see an other general admission show up in Portland in about six weeks, he will have already internalized all the best reasons for leaving early in a real, concrete, and tangible sense.

Meantime, we found a reasonable spot in which to stand to see the opening band play - good view, no one behind us complaining, and not so close as to do major damage to my ears (this was MY lesson from that evening: do NOT under any circumstances forget the ear protection! I was all set to retrieve my plugs from my bureau drawer and I remember heading that direction with precisely this in mind but somehow managed to get side-tracked en route and then found myself at the venue without them. %$#@!).

[[do roadhouse bars sell ear-protection? every rock venue should!]]

= = = = = = = = = = = OPENER = = = = = = = = = =

"Ozone Baby" played straight-on classic rock and roll, kicking off their set with that unmistakable hook, the get-down Bad Company standard, "Can't Get Enough of Your Love". I started rockin and groovin right away - oh yeah. I sipped slowly on the "big splurge" of the evening - one kamikaze straight-up. I felt very relaxed and joyful, listening and watching this quartet of hot young studs do their rock and roll thing up there at the other end of the room. This was a great time - I was diggin it, this was peachy-keen I'm a rock n roll queen, just play that thing, luvta hear ya sing you hot young thing.....

Dint rekkanize the next song but who cares, I'm cool, it's good and loud, I dig the beat, I'm just there with it, no requirements. Next came another *treat* when they played what Lindsay later told me he recognized as an arrangement by Cheap Trick of the retro-standard "Ain't That a Shame" by Fats Domino. YES! I'm feeling better and better - I'm hugging Lindsay and rockin and movin in time and feeling just plain old really good and fine.

The band continued to rock the house with songs by the Stones, Judas Priest, Led Zeppelin, Kiss, Metallica, Collective Soul, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and BTO. It didn't bother me in the slightest these are standard tunes, standard white-bread (white-bred), standard-issue "classic" rock and roll. I said, "hey, that's fine - I love it!"

Lindsay was not satisfied with our "spot" on the floor, so I followed him as we moved a bit closer, down the center "aisle-of-sorts". I found an elbow-height edge of table-surface to lean on to my left side, and was happy with this arrangement for several songs until the pretty young blonde sitting at the end of that table informed me, kindly, my hair was getting in her drink. I apologized and within half a song moved to the other side of the "aisle-of-sorts".

After another song or two a gal behind us complained, "we can't see - you're both very tall, you know" (I'm 5'10", Lindsay is 6'4". It's impossible to stand anywhere without the possibility of someone behind us not being able to see! obviously). She pointed out we'd been standing over there to the left but then had stepped right in front of her and now she couldn't see. We both voiced our hapless frustration with the situation, whereupon she sensed what had happened and volunteered with sympathy, "oh did they say something too?" and I told her about the hair and she didn't say anything else.

But after one more song we both moved back towards the corridor leading in/out from the front bar, and I found a ceiling-to-floor 12x12" post to hold up, thereby ensuring I was not, could not, now or ever, even possibly remotely be blocking someone's view. Unfortunately, the space in front of me was taken up by a sizeable throng of he-men somewhat taller than me, so *I* couldn't see a thing unless I hopped up onto my tippy toes for a brief moment. Right then it was worth the trade-off.

My earlier brio had dimmed considerably through this quasi-ordeal, and I found myself holding up that post and feeling rather squashed, deflated, morose, what-have-you; just not as happy cheerful and full of joy as I'd previously experienced at the start of the opening band's set.

(But I certainly wasn't blocking anyone's view, that was for sure!)

Lindsay wandered about in search of a more suitable location. I thought I recognized a neighbor of ours from the mobile-home park who lives several spaces down [[he plays drums - he was in a real, true- life heavy *heavy **HEAVY Metal band]] but I was feeling so "out-of- it" I didn't want to take a chance that it wasn't him so I didn't make eye contact and stayed within myself holding up that post. I continued to watch the people as they came and went to/from the front bar, pondering the genre of "rock n roll", and pondering the sorry little town where we live and the fan-types in attendance for this show - in particular the "women- of- the- two- standard- flavors".

= = = = = = = = = = INTERMISSION = = = = = = = = = =

After the opening band had cleared the stage but before BOC took over, Lindsay wandered back to say he'd found a good place to stand and see, to the side of the stage, so I gave up my very-secure spot to follow him. We took up residence directly to the side of a massive speaker, and had a perfect view of the stage. I was very pleased with Lindsay's choice, with the possible exception it was closer to the sound than I would have liked, given I'd forgotten my ear plugs.

= = = = = = = = = = = = = B.O.C. = = = = = = = = = = = = =

Buck Dharma played a headless seven-string job (cordless), Danny Marino played this absolutely GORGEOUS bass (auburn-colored wood), Alan Lanier played a Strat and one or two other guitars I wooden rekkanize cuz what do I know about guitars? very little - Eric Bloom played a black guitar with the Cult's symbol appearing inside an air- brushed splash of white on the face, Eric and Alan traded off on the keyboards (a KORG, Yamaha, and Roland).

I couldn't see the drummer very well [["Bobby" - last name? sorry]], but he wailed righteous lemme tell ya! (Big, chunky guy with a wild head full of black curly hair)

What a treat to see BOC up close like that! My ears just gave up completely so I didn't worry about not catching the nuances of the sounds of the performance, but concentrated instead on watching the band as they played, and PLAY THEY DID - they ROCKED that place - the crowd LOVED them (Lindsay's face was wreathed in bliss the whole time), they were SOLID - absolutely SOLID - great tunes, great vocals, tight harmonies (forget that I could barely understand the words and wasn't familiar enuf with the songs to know what they were singing and could hardly hear the details by that time anyway) they sounded GOOD and were they having a good time? DON'T EVEN ASK: that bass player Danny Miranda was a KICK AND A HALF to watch - talk about someone enjoying their job and giving everything he had to the music - what a fun FUN time, and watching Buck shred on that headless seven-string was a sight to behold.

About 2/3 through the set Buck switched to what Lindsay tells me was a Les Paul Jr - and I managed to notice he was plugged-in directly rather than playing cordless. I have to say the SOUND on the LPjr was cleaner and stronger - more clear and defined. I really liked it. (But I could be prejudiced, knowing I've heard other guitarists contend playing cordless doesn't sound as good. So maybe I imagined it but maybe not. I do think Buck did his most complicated guitar-work on the headless axe. I just preferred the difference in sound of the LPjr.)

[[Personally, I think headless guitars are a crime against nature. Just a stoopid opinion - I know they have their adherents and maybe it's purely aesthetics and I'm just not used to seeing them - I'm not the one who has to play the thing so why should I care? well I just think the balance *looks* wrong but... whatever.]]

The Cult played several new songs from an album slated for 24 Mar 1998 release. Even though it was difficult to appreciate the nuances (my ears were totally in revolt) I was still impressed by an emotional performance by Buck of a new song - as near as I could make out from the introduction, the song was about an incident in the Arizona desert? It was a moving performance of what appeared to be a gut- wrenching sort of song for him, whether lyrically or just musically it was impossible to tell, just that I saw a lot of feeling on display. When he finished, it seemed to me he accepted the appreciation and applause of the audience on a deep, personal level.

= = = = = = = (Approaching the) FINALE = = = = = = =

As the set wore on, I became more and more fatigued from standing on my feet (I'm not used to this). The continuous breathing of the smoke- filled atmosphere finally permeated the deepest recesses of my stomach and I felt decidedly ill from the smoke (again, not used to this). My neck started to hurt, being sensitive to muscle fatigue due to old injuries from several car crashes. Physically I was feeling more and more miserable. But BOC pushed towards three rousing numbers to finish off two hours of pure rock enjoyment, "Burnin'", "Godzilla", and "Reaper".

The crowd joined in with gusto, "Oh No! They say he's got to go, go-go Godzilla! Oh No! There goes Tokyo, go-go Godzilla! It wasn't hard to throw myself into the lusty abandon of this shameless sing-along. Then came that showcase moment, as expected. Danny did an extended solo on the bass - predictably WONDERFUL - and Bobby [[whose last name I do not know and I'm very sorry]] - the drummer - got his chance to wail on his own to his liking. The better half of my ears had long since checked out on everything except the overall sound, but I could feel the sound in my gut. When Danny would plant his feet and do some fast picking on the bass, the rapid sixteenth-notes pounded my belly like machine-gun fire. I could *feel* the drums - it was GOOD and even though I was physically miserable I still got a thrill from these performances, emotionally. I sang along with the best of them when the band re-joined these two rockin rhythm-stalwarts, "History shows again and again how nature points out the folly of me-en: Godzilla!"

It seemed to me Buck started in on "Reaper" with obvious pleasure. The band and audience melted into one solid unit of joy experiencing this song, this performance. It was a cherished finale for them - certainly well-worn from BOC's standpoint, but delightfully well-received and performed with passion and generous love for their fans and for the music - exceptionally wonderful all-around for everyone. It was this song, this moment, this performance I think had the most profound effect on my psyche, the following day.

= = = = = = = = = = SUMMARY = = = = = = = = = =

One could argue how could I choose the best moment, there were so many - Danny on that bass (the Entire Show), the black satin padded wonder- bra thrown up on stage (Danny fetched from off the floor and tossed into the hands of the roadie) - a magic moment at the end of the show when Buck handed the one pick he'd used the entire time to someone in the front row - the regal bearing and persona of Allen Lanier with his Strat and other guitars - the two massive feedback jolts during the acoustic performance (oops!) - the acapella intro to the (first half of the) encore, "The Golden Age of Leather" (second half "Dominance and Submission") - the bliss on the face of Buck as he raked on that headless thing up down and sideways - the pure joy of watching these guys play their hearts out - how could one thing stand out amidst all this stellar cosmic glow?

I'll tell you how: I had never before seen BOC play live. Simply put, it was an intense emotional experience hearing that song played LIVE and seeing it performed up close LIVE. This song harks back to my final days in High School and my earliest days in College - over twenty years ago - long time - lotsa memories, good ones, strong ones, young ones.

I have a photo of the inside of the door to my wardrobe in my dorm room at college: taped there, plainly visible, are two 8.5x11" sheets of white typing paper and I had fashioned into homemade "posters" of sorts and decorated with magic marker. The one said "Conserve Electricity: Play Bluegrass" the other said, "Don't Fear the Reaper".

This was me coming full circle, coming back to something I never want to forget, and it was BOC going to the same space: something they don't want to forget, won't forget, and are still doing. A day or two before the concert, as he heard me singing the hook to "Burnin'", Lindsay commented, yeah, that was Buck's last big success. I immediately responded fervently,"Oh no, Lindsay, his success is having lasted these many years, continuing to do what he loves all this time." When I saw them sing that song I knew I was right, because it was very clear BOC got just as much enjoyment from performing it as the audience did hearing it.

Buck and Allen both wore BOC t-shirts that had this to say on the back: "I live from gig to gig". For this band to do what they love to do, for so many years, one day to the next, one town to the next, one gig to the next gig.....

=We should all be so lucky=


[[p.s. a little shy of 24 hours later, my ears finally stopped feeling like cotton imitations of the original ears, and more like real ears. This was a faster recovery than my *worst experience with ear-drum damage, so I remain grateful I still have ears *for awhile anyway* and I hope to report I never, ever, forget my ear-plugs again as long as I live!]]

(&&&) Links to ...

Three Essays on Live Music ... : ...Value... ...Yin and Yang... ...Let's Hear It...
Front Door ... : ... Contents... ...Dragon... ...What's Cookin'...
Notes re (1997) G3 Grammy Nominations ... : ...kudos to the kings of guitar!...
G3 Concert Review ... : ... River Queen Showplace 9/28/97
More BOC links ... : ...Concert Reviews... ...Workshop of the Telescopes... ...Free Music Philosophy...
"Questions" (c) 1997) ... : ...philosophy of sorts... ...(un)poem...

[[...15 Feb 1998...]]

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