Monday, March 28, 2011

Concerts - The Hammer of the Gods

Now that is one dramatic title isn't it?  It seems to me that the description, "Hammer of the Gods", does fit a concert setting but in a non-religious fashion.  What is a concert really?  Isn't it our attempt to connect with our musical heroes?  Don't most of us seek a connection in the realm of "hero worship" and what do we worship?  No not the "almighty dollar", we worship our gods.

Look, I love concerts, and throughout the years I have seen many, many concerts but the real point is this; concerts make the music personal to each and everyone of us.  I would bet that if you talked to anyone that has been at a concert they can tell you at least one story about the show (before, during or after).  Concerts give us the ability to hear the songs we love, yes I said love, and makes that song we hear 5, 10, 15 years later a trigger point to a memory.

Who have you seen in concert?  My list is massive but let me present some memorable ones.  Skidrow, Warrant, Slaughter, Ratt, Tesla, Bon Jovi, KISS and Ozzy Osbourne, and those have been since September.  Granted Ratt was really Stephen Pearcy's band and Bon Jovi was "Jon Bon Jovi and Friends" but if I hadn't listed their old bands you probably would have figured it the hell out.

I have seen Skidrow, Ratt, Slaughter and Warrant before in concert, many, many moons ago at the Five Flags Center in Dubuque, IA but sadly it appears that the aforementioned facility has become a shell of its former self and now hosts Dog shows, Roller Derby and high school productions, oh and the occasional country singer lest we forget.

Recently the concerts I have seen have been at "The Mississippi Moon Bar in the Diamond Jo Casino" in Dubuque as well as Moline, IL (iwireless Center), Tinely Park, IL (First Midwest Bank Amphitheater) and Chicago, IL (United Center) but far and away the Mississippi Moon Bar is THE place to see our rock gods, or heroes you decide.

Small venues have always seemed more personal, and for what its worth, the Five Flags Center always had that feel as well, while still allowing the fan to really get into the music and have one hell of a time.  The music is just better in the smaller room, period.  I realize that for those of us that remember "mosh pits" or the goal of getting as close to the stage during the good old days of General Admission, it really didn't matter where the show was.  I think for most of us then, they could have held it in the basement of the venue and it wouldn't have mattered one bit.  What did matter was the music and that is where the smaller venues beat the hell out of those large venues.

Look, I'm not a music snob, I have seen acts that still confuse the ugly out of me as to why I ever went (Dr. Hook, Kenny Rogers  really?) but of all of the shows I have ever attended, the bands from the "Wonderful World of Hair" are by far the most fun, and most entertaining and in the smaller venues they rule the roost.

Recently I saw Stephen Pearcy's Band and Slaughter at the MMB and it was the loudest show I have seen since KISS in the early '90s.  By far, both bands were there to put on a show to be remembered and after my hearing came back (kind of, its shot anyway) I was so impressed by the bands and the venue.  I remember seeing both previously and I remember parts of those shows, okay they're flashbacks, but these two bands made new memories.

I usually make it a point to listen to the music of the band I am going to see before the show just to get a feel of what is to come and I am still taken aback by the fact that almost all of the bands I mentioned earlier have added a darker, harder edge to their music and I really like it!  Slaughter for instance was louder and harder than anything I remember from them and in fact although the songs are still the same, the edge makes them even better.

For those of us that may still remember shows at the Five Flags Center and the quality of the bands, there was but one occasion I can remember that the lineup was just plain odd, and I still laugh when I think about it.  When I got my ticket for Pantera, SkidRow and KISS, I laughed, it was going to be a bloodbath.  Pantera opened, but 99% of the females there wanted to see Sebastian Bach, apparently he's dreamy, so before the show started, and the floor began to fill with meandering, semi wasted (who am I kidding), mullet wearing males and females, the teenaged girls had another idea.

The girls began to go up toward the front, anxiously anticipating Sebastian and his band mates but what they got instead as the lights went down, was the mother of all Hell.  As Pantera, fueled by Dimebag (R.I.P.) and that flat out psycho Phil Anselmo began to shred the eardrums of the crowd, the worst thing for the unprepared, uninitiated rock fan happened.  The "Mosh Pit".  When the music began I saw a steady flow of teenaged girls trying to fight their way out of the unleashed Hell.  They came through the crowd, over the crowd and I am fairly sure many of they crawled themselves to safety.

The smell of fear, mixed with patchouli oil, Aqua Net, cheap beer and BRUT by Faberge' filled the air and I am fairly sure I did nothing but laugh for the first two bands.  Hey that sounds like a memory now doesn't it, but it was by far the oddest lineup ever.  Now it seems that promoters and/or venues have come out of the haze and now they are putting on shows that make us want to go to the show.

What a combo MMB had, Stephen Pearcy and Slaughter, not to mention the Warrant / SkidRow show that came on September 11, 2010.  Those parings are why we go, those parings are the reason smaller venues rule.

Take some time, find a show, find a band that you remember from the hazy past, and see the show.  If your favorite band is in an arena, go and enjoy yourself, but find that small venue jewel (the Mississippi Moon Bar is mine) and watch their upcoming bands, get a ticket and be prepared to hold on tight, you will be sufficiently rocked.


  1. I agree, small venues are the best. Plus, it increases your options of hanging out with the band:) Remember Mike stating that he prefers them also because they are more personal? And the fan base is more welcoming. I look at this as an advantage of living in a small town.

  2. Absolutely. Its nice having the option here, I really think that its a huge plus! So many great bands can get here much easier.