Friday, July 26, 2013

Survivor - America's River Festival

Adversity is a phenomena that plagues everyone at some time in their lives.  What happens to a person that faces adversity is really up to the individual.  Yes we all have faced some type of adversity whether it be a test in high school or one's station in life but survivors overcome adversity.  Sometimes one has to have guts just to get to the glory and at other times you have to go the distance and never stop.  Sounds familiar doesn't it?  Why you ask, well...

Survival is a response to ones need to overcome a situation or an event that threatens the ability to remain in a position of living.  Yes that is a crude definition but at times that is what survival is.  Its interesting when you think about it really, to survive in some capacity despite the conditions we are immersed in.  The necessity to survive some incident can be based on a situation you have put yourself in, or it can be a response to something unforeseen.  The act of survival is primal, its the fight or flight response we all have hard wired into that mess of cottage cheese we have between our ears.

Inside the borders of the United States it is fairly rare to be in a struggle to not be eaten by a crocodile, run over by a wildebeest or being struck by a meteorite but bizarre things happen every day that makes a person wonder first of all "What the Hell just happened" and secondly "How did I survive that".  I understand weird things happen for no apparent reason (being hit by that meteorite for instance), I am the king of weird things happening to me.  One time when I was much younger I happened to notice that our water heater was leaking and I bent down to see why that might be.

I think some background might be necessary to mention that I was barefoot.  I was standing in the puddle of water too.  Oh and there was the fact that it was an electric water heater.  I was kneeling  and I lost my balance a little so I reached my hand toward the water heater and well it didn't end well.  Can you imagine what it looks like when you get hurled through the air and into a door?  Did I mention it was an electric water heater?  I may have had a couple of small burns on the balls of my feet but I survived.

Many times that is what survival is, yes it was stupid that I did that but I had no idea that would happen (Water Heater - 1    Me - 0).  But there are times when survival can be based in inanimate reasons, meaning that the reason may be steeped in dates and inconsequential events.  Take for instance when a parent tells their children "I survived high school, so will you".  Remember survival is at times nothing more than an inane time frame that means nothing to you but could mean the world to another.

When one thinks about it the music of the '80's the era has had its fair share of survivors but to survive one must be facing something.  The '80's is a veritable treasure trove with bands that had squeaked by the era and then made it into the '90's to only fade away.  Too often we dance about to the sounds of "one-hit wonders" and to only ask ourselves "what became of...".  Unfortunately that is what became of many artists but to survive they had to adapt to the new world that was transforming the landscape of music.  The real survivors were many of those that took chances, some were pure luck but then there were those that just had to stay themselves.

On June 15th, 2013 I saw one of those "survivors" live for the first time.  When the band "Survivor" hit the stage at "America's River Fest" in Dubuque, Iowa I was prepared for them.  I say prepared because I devoted serious time to listening to their music not because I didn't know any of it, rather because I wanted to reacquaint myself with their music.  With the songs "Burning Heart", "The Search is Over", "High On You", "Is This Love", and from the "Rocky III" movie soundtrack 'Eye of the Tiger", Survivor had FIVE Top 10 hits.

Survivor really was a survivor, the late '80's and the '90's forced the issue.  When people began to move away from just "rock" music and toward music that had to have some sort of a pedigree or description as to the type of music they were listening to rock music really suffered.  When "grunge" became the latest fad, Survivor continued forth with few bumps.  Allow me to preface that statement, "grunge" rock was just a label for bands that wanted to escape the social "norm" of hair metal.  Grunge was simply metal without the hairspray.  To summarize, grunge was simply a pig with wearing lipstick (or off I suppose), despite the lipstick the pig is still just a pig.

Survivor continued forward despite the "grunge" world, despite lineup changes and this thing called life, the band took the stage under what could be best described as ominous skies.  The band came out to a very impressive reception of the crowd and immediately the band took us back into those '80's days.  That sounds corny but I stand by that statement, the band was what I remember from that old Sanyo "boom box" I had in my bedroom, the one I had whence I was a teen.  What I found astonishing is that the band sounded like those days and with each song they played I had memories flow back.

I remember riding around in my crappy old Nova and an incident with some people wearing shields whilst hearing "Eye of the Tiger".  I remember being with a friend and them playing "Is This Love" over and over following a breakup (after that I used to cringe when I heard that song).  Survivor really was engrained in the fabric of the '80's and with each song they played I listened to a drunk woman demanding, screaming actually, the name of one song over and over, I almost begged her to shut up.

When Sylvester Stallone asked the band to provide a theme song for "Rocky III" the band responded with "Eye of the Tiger".  I was never a "Rocky" fan but I did like the song and apparently so did that drunk woman because she screamed, begged, pleaded and demanded the song incessantly I hoped that she would somehow develop laryngitis and just stop.  At one point as the woman belted her demand out just one too many times, a member of the band responded with "We're not playing that tonight" but that too elicited her response.

As their set began to wind down, and the words "Eye of the Tiger" began to draw forth my ire, the skies opened with a deluge of rain.  I'm not kidding, it seemed almost Biblical (I didn't build an Ark, not enough time) and the band scrambled off the stage to try to not get killed by all of those cables strewn about.  In a few minutes the rain stopped, the stage crew began to pack up and there stood one drunk woman who was actually silent, life was good.

Following the rain (which never returned) I stood looking at the stage and a smile slowly crept into the present.  It was a long way from those days but it became apparent that Survivor was everything I ever remembered.  From the sad memories of "Is This Love", the connotations of love with "The Search is Over" that smile was well deserved.  The set that Survivor gave "America's River Fest" was that little taste of the past that made me smile.  Survivor was fantastic and fortunately for me I will be seeing Survivor at "Halfway Jam" later in July.

As I walked away that drunk woman was still standing there, her mouth agape and I stopped, looked at her and said "I guess they didn't lie did they?  They didn't play that song".  Her look seemed to sour as I walked away and that smile I had became even bigger.  Great job once again!

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