Best Barefoot Rock Concert Story Ever!

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(This is another of those barefoot-heavy entries… if you think that’s “weird” or it simply bores you… move along… nothing to see here!)

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen's feet with concert ticket and souvenir...

(Barefoot) Justine Mara Andersen’s feet with concert ticket and souvenir…

Though I kinda work at not living in these moments, I think we all keep track of the things we missed out on. I no longer keep track of them to stock the shelves of my inner-bitterness library, I keep track of them so I can damn well do the things I missed out on. Last night I made good on one of those things I had missed out on… and I made good on it in a BIG way! I didn’t get to enjoy those heyday rock concerts, my adolescence was wasted on bad timing (among other far more frustrating things), so I kinda missed a lotta stuff. What I’ve really missed is that today, pop culture sucks, but then again I’ve been looking back and bemoaning the garbage on the radio and everywhere else since I was 14. Boiling it down… what I really missed were good old fashioned dazed and confused rock concerts. Nope, I ne’er got to get high and sneak barefoot into a rock concert. Last night when I went to see Cheap Trick in Ocala Florida… I got to make up for all that… and I couldn’t have done any better than seeing Cheap Trick barefoot, dazed (“with a little help from my friends”), and surrounded by palm trees in beautiful sunny Florida!

First off, before I get into the narcissistic “Me me me” wallow that is the cornerstone of this blog, I just wanna say… Cheap Trick kicks ass! They always did… and still gloriously do. It does my heart good to see aging rockers who only age skin deep, these guys still play hot and tight! More importantly, they seem to be having a ton of fun. Lots of rockers do turn into dinosaurs, they get ragged around the edges as they age, but unfortunately they sand away all the ragged edges in their music, phoning in lackluster lifeless highly polished and sweetened low-to-no energy music… NOT Cheap Trick! Like McCartney, these guys still have it… and they have it big time. Funny thing is, I wasn’t really a huge Cheap Trick fan (not so far as I knew), and for no particular reason… other than that I was simply obsessed with the Beatles (who came along well before my time), so no other band was really able to get through the magnificence of the Beatles to make much of an impact, but in the background of my life Cheap Trick were just kinda there. Not only were they there, but like Badfinger (who I eventually fell dippy in love with), Cheap Trick’s songs had made an impact, one deep enough that I have found myself lately returning to “Cheap Trick At Budokan” over and over again, and before I knew it, those tracks that weren’t hits, and that hadn’t interested me much, were slowly becoming my favorite songs (“Need Your Love” for example… WOW!)

On a whim I thought, “I wonder if these guys are touring anywhere near me,” so I popped on their site… and talk about timing! Hell yes, they were coming in like a week and half right here to Silver Springs! I was ecstatic, and didn’t even know why… as like I said, they weren’t my favorite band, but I did realize something. I realized that every time I heard “I Want You To Want Me” or “Surrender” I felt myself melting, falling back into the warm embrace of that good old seventies magic (yeah, I know Cheap Trick were a big deal in the eighties, but in my heart they will forever be a seventies band–even though I was, again, too young to have enjoyed the seventies properly). They, like few other bands, put me right in that very particular headspace. The brilliant part was that as they played last night I realized that Cheap Trick were a NOW band as well… nothing tired or lifeless about their performances or music at all.

The big frustration was I couldn’t find a single person to go to the show with, so I had to go alone. This sucks… but then… I’m used to doing every damn thing alone anyhow, so I guess it just didn’t much matter. In the end I was glad I was alone, as I was able to sink into a highly personal experience. The other anxiety was… am I gonna be able to get past the cops and gate barefoot? I won’t wear shoes (haven’t in years), and I don’t even have any to pack, so I had to depend on the illusion of soleless sandals and a long skirt. I got right in, and once out of eyeshot of the cops, security personnel and staff, I stripped off my skirt and went happily along in my bleached cut-offs. I wasn’t fooling around here, I had dressed the part, little shorts, a scarf for a belt, and a flowery top that shows my belly button and buttons low… and of course the usual array of ankle bells, toe rings and accessories.

Cheap-Trick-Rick-Nielsen-Robin-vintage-70s-retro-classic-rock-music-musician-photo-mono-stereo-lp-vinyl-pop-art-1Seating was no problem, there were plenty of spaces for me and my lone lawn chair right up close to the stage. The view I had was tremendous, a tad stage left. I missed the opening act (who were pretty grand in their own right, but I wasn’t there for them–and I needed to go find a discreet place to… let’s say… get into that seventies frame of mind), and when I finally sat down and Cheap Trick’s audio introduction came on I found myself getting goosebumps! It was a potent celebration of their music and accomplishments.

When they took the stage the most unexpected thing happened… I found my heart was fluttering, racing, and I was tearing up, and it wasn’t just ’cause Robin Zander has always been so superhumanly hot. I mean, this was it… there I was… barefoot at a rock concert, just like I always should have been–as it turned out, I hadn’t missed it at all, that experience was still there for me, thanks to Cheap Trick. The music came on loud and hard and swept me off my feet. They opened with the same song they opened with at Budokan:

“Hello there ladies and gentlemen
Hello there ladies and gents
Are you ready to rock?
Are you ready or not?”

I was ready! Below is their set-list.

Hello There (THE opener!)
Elo Kiddies
Big Eyes (Budokan… hell yes!)
That 70s Song
California Man
Tonight It’s You
Ain’t That a Shame
Magical Mystery Tour (Beatles… damn straight!)
Borderline
She’s Tight
Ballad of TV Violence
The House is Rockin’
Need Your Love
Stop This Game
I Know What I Want
The Flame
I Want You to Want Me (Be still my heart!)
Dream Police (Better than I remembered)
Never Had A Lot to Lose
Surrender (Hmmm yes…)
Goodnight (Naturally)

I let go, I let go of anything but that part that wanted to open up and have the experience I had missed… I was THERE! Before I knew it I was standing up front dancing and letting the music take over my body. I was simply ecstatic! And so were a couple of the men nearby, who I am privately proud to say, were stealing glances my way. It’s nice to still be able to catch men’s eyes. The grass and ground under my bare feet were moist and delicious feeling, and I could smell the aroma of rich trampled soil and lush green grass. As they played I realized that even the songs I didn’t know were turning me on, and the songs I never cared much for… well, now I very much cared for them. Cheap Trick convinced me utterly and wholly, and like Badfinger before them, I will no longer take them for granted, and like Badfinger before them, I will most definitely be seeking out their albums, slowly collecting the whole bunch of them… and yes, I will go see them every chance I get. Between you and me… I have a thing for the bass player (Tom Petersson), who has aged quite nicely.

Song after song I found myself in the moment, and nothing mattered but me, the band, and my bare feet on the ground.

One of their bits of schtick is to toss guitar picks into the audience, and by that I mean by gobs and handfuls! Finally, when they tossed the picks over to our side of the stage, they were flying all over and hitting the dark ground, booted and shod people tromping and rushing in after them. I got my ten toes the hell out of the way, there was no way I was entering into that melee. As I settled back into my place, my left foot sinking back into the grass, down in the dark I felt the tiniest little sensation of something as it tipped over against my toe (something I NEVER would have felt with shoes on) and I thought “THAT is a guitar pick!”) so I bent down into the darkness and picked it up… sure enough… there it was! See below…

(Barefoot) Justine scores a pick at Cheap Trick concert

(Barefoot) Justine scores a pick at Cheap Trick concert

And if you look at the top of this post, you can see my bare feet, the ticket and pick both pictured (against the toe it had leaned against) in a pic I had taken right after I had gotten home from the show.

Yep, folks, had I not been barefoot, I never would have felt or found that pick… and I didn’t even have to fight my way through the crowd to get it. My friend Joe Blue Sky says it was a sign. Yeah, I guess it is, and I think it’s a sign that I’m living life right–at least by my own rules.

And while I’m at it… you know who rules?

Fucking Cheap Trick!

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Cheap Trick… you were the fuel that fired this dream-come-true… thanks, and good night!

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