Wednesday, June 29, 2011

ON BEING A JERK

I feel that if ever there was an expert at being a jerk, I would at least be in the running.  I have been a jerk more times than I can count over the years to my sisters and little brother.  Most of those times were when we were all still children but there were a few times after we grew up and ventured out into the world.  I know I have been a jerk to friends and class mates while I was growing up.  A lot of those times shame me, but they happened and are a part of my life.

I have been a jerk to my wife a lot.  Mostly these episodes were during our early years of marriage.  I am not like that to her anymore.  I came to realize that she deserves better than that.  I am lucky to have her and she should have the respect that she is entitled to.  This is the story of one of the times that I was a real bad jerk to her.  I will never forget it and I doubt if she will either.  I didn't feel like I was being jerky to her, I felt I was being smart.

It was summer and it was hot.  It was in the days of the huge stadium super concerts where several bands would perform for an almost festival atmosphere.  My little brother went with us to Arrowhead Stadium that Saturday afternoon.  We had arrived early to try to get good seats but ended up in the upper level of seats.  Not great but not bad either.  Of course there is no such thing as a bad seat in either of the stadiums we have here in Kansas City.

It was a party atmosphere and everyone was having a good time when the concert finally started about an hour late.  It was worth waiting the extra hour.  A group called Star Castle came on first to perform.  They had just released their first album and not a lot of their songs were well known.  They had broken into the radio charts but did not have any huge hits yet.  For them being on the same stage as some of the acts that would follow was a big coup for them.  They played for a little more than an hour and did a fairly decent job to get things started.  When they left the stage we had another hour to wait for the next group.  This would become the norm for the evening.  Instead of taking some planning and having some of the following groups stuff set up in advance, they had to completely tear down the one groups equipment and put together the next groups equipment.

It was late afternoon heading towards evening when Firefall took the stage.  What a performance.  They had been around a couple of years and had some very well known songs out on the airwaves.  They were a folk country mix of music and they obviously were perfectionists.  They played for about an hour or so and received a well deserved huge ovation  It was at this time that I thought to myself that this was going to be a great night.  A group like this, playing this well and only the second act on the playbill surely would indicate that this was going to be great.

As evening settled on the crowd a local favorite band that had made it big in the world of music came out to a rowdy and loud response.  The Ozark Mountain Daredevils were simply an awesome band from Springfield, Missouri.  Everyone in that stadium knew the Daredevils and knew the music.  Every song was well known whether they were hits or not.  These guys had started out playing bars in south Missouri and had eventually worked their way up to Kansas City to play the renown Cowtown Ballroom several times.  They had played high schools and anywhere they could find to play.  They played at my High school one evening and I will never forget it.  It was the first time I had heard them and immediately fell in love with their music.  I would later seem them a couple of times at Cowtown.  I was not alone in my experience with the Daredevils.  I imagine everyone in that stadium had a similar story to tell about how they came to love the Daredevils.  Now they were really in the big time.  They were on a stage in front of forty thousand people who loved everything they did.  On the playbill they could either be considered the last of the under billed or the first of the headliners.  I considered them the first of the headliners.  When they finished their concert the crowd demanded two encores from the band before it was decided that they had to move along with the concert.  Yet after they left the stage the crowd still wanted more of them.

One of rocks greatest guitar players was next.  Jeff Beck had teamed up with the Jan Hammer group for this tour.  Now there are a lot of things to take into consideration when talking about what was about to happen.  IT is important to remember the crowd was still very high over the Daredevils and they were still wanting them to play more.  The crowd did not care if Beck was on stage, they wanted the home town boys to play some more.  Second, Beck was not really at his best that night.  I am not sure if he just wasn't on or he was stoned out of his mind or possibly the heat was getting him.  I think it was because he was following a performance that the crowd obviously loved and wanted more.  Perhaps it unnerved him.  At any rate Jeff Beck did not sound like you would expect Jeff Beck to sound.  The crowd was making a lot of noise all during his performance, mostly calling for more of the Daredevils.  When Beck finally left the stage the crowd went wild.  There were cheers and hand clapping, and under the white noise of the crowd was a chant for the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.  Beck must have mistakenly read the crowds response and came back onto the stage for an encore with his hands raised in the air.  The cheers quickly turned to a short wave of boo's and Beck dropped his hands and turned to walk off the stage.  The boo's turned to cheers and the chant for the Daredevils continued.

Beck had played for at least two hours and it was dark when we saw the last of him.  Then we sat through a torturous two hour wait while they set up for the next act.  The chants for the Daredevils had calmed down as the crowd settled in for the wait of one of the top bands in rock of the day.

It was at eleven that night when The Doobie Brothers took the crowd by storm.  It would be their last tour with Tom Johnston at the lead.  Through the years Johnston and Pat Simmons had written some classic songs and they put all their energy into their performance.  This was also the first tour with a little known Keyboard player by the name of Michael McDonald.  McDonald would turn the Doobie Brothers form a hard driving rock band to a soft rock mellow sound that drove off not only a lot of their old fans, like myself, but also Tom Johnston.

They were on the stage for over two hours playing their hearts out on their classic tunes and driving the crowd wild.  Looking back I feel so lucky to have been there that night.  It definitely ranks among the top concerts I have been to.  The Doobie Brothers could have been the only band on the bill that night and forty thousand people would have gone home happy.  They had us in the palm of their hands.

When they said goodnight to forty thousand fans it was after one in the morning.  It was still hot and muggy in the stadium and people were sweating and tired.  It had been a long day that had many ups and downs.  There was the warm up groups of Star Castle and Firefall followed by the Ozark Mountain Daredevils who had worked the crowd into a frenzy.  Jeff Beck and brought the crowd back down but then the Doobie Brothers had the crowd pumped higher then they would be the whole night.  There was one last group to go though.

Barb has been a Beach Boys fan for a long time.  I have to admit that their studio recordings are pretty decent but not really my kind of music.  They came on a little after two in the morning and I was tired.  My little brother was tired and so was Barb.  I sat back in my seat to wait out the concert so we could go home after Barb got her fill of their music.

Now I am not just saying this because I was tired or it was hot or that I don't particularly care for the Beach Boys but let me say this.  They stunk up the place.  In my opinion it was awful.  The harmonies weren't in sync.  They sounded like a bunch of cats on a moon bright night wailing away at two in the morning.  I had heard groups that depend on their harmonies perform live before and most were really good.  It is a difficult thing to sing tight harmonies in a stadium late at night I suppose but as far as I was concerned there was no excuse for the wrenching sounds emitting from that stage, especially since we had been treated to a great set by the Doobie Brothers.

I sat there for three or four songs before the jerk in me kicked in.  I decided I could not stand to listen to this junk anymore and I did probably the most jerky thing I would do to Barb.  I told her that I couldn't handle it anymore.  These guys were stealing my high that I had got off of listening to the Doobie Brothers.  I was going to go on out to the car and when she had enough of this trash she could come on out and we could go home.  I then stood up and started to make my way to the aisle.

Of course Barb wasn't going to stay in that stadium by herself and I knew that when I told her my plan.  She got up and followed us out to the car and we went home.  I was happy.  I had seen at least two fantastic performances and had gotten out of having to listen to the Beach Boys.  I don't think Barb was so happy.

I was a jerk that night.  I was a big jerk.  I am not sure if I ever apologized to Barb for treating her like that on that hot summer night but I can't imagine that I didn't.  Just to cover my bases though I will say this right now.

Barb, I am sorry.  I was a jerk.  I didn't take your desires into full consideration that night and I am truly sorry.

Still the Doobie Brothers were AWESOME and I can honestly say that I really didn't miss not hearing any more of the Beach Boys.   I am very glad that the Doobie Brothers went on before the Beach Boys that night.  Probably saved me a few nightmares in the days following the concert.

Facts are facts.

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