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It Came from the 80s: A Tale of Generations Past
By John Foxworthy, Garage Radio
(more articles from this author)
2003-03-30
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I may date myself by reminiscing about the first Iron Maiden concert I attended. I could even be guilty of attending Poison shows when they were still a local act in L.A. My darkest admission is still having ticket stubs from almost every "butt-rock" event in California between 1983 and 1994.

Big hair and Spandex were the order of the day and leather gauntlets lined in metal studs garnished zebra-striped bandanas of every shade donning every limb of my adolescent years. The top rock acts were Great White, The Scorpions and Ozzy Osbourne. Metallica had just broken into the scene, but not getting radio play. The aforementioned Iron Maiden was huge among the metal crowd alongside bands like Merciful Fate and Gwar.

This was the hey-day of guitar rock. Concerts kicked and instantly became the topic of the week amongst the rockers at school. The upcoming US Festival was the current subject matter. My intention? Music was a blast when I was a kid … is it still?

I recently attended a concert headlined by The Scorpions, possibly one of the most popular rock bands of the 80s. Whitesnake and Dokken, acts that made their mark during the MTV revolution, joined them.

I got into Dokken in 1983 after buying a K-Tel cassette named Masters of Metal, which contained the track "Breaking the Chains." Whitesnake hit the scene a little later and was popular among the girls, therefore also popular among the boys. The Scorpions, well what can I say, they already had a name.

To close the point, I was, needless to say, excited to have opportunity to catch these three together for the first time. I am a 35-year-old man with a wife and three kids. I don't do concerts too often anymore. My wife was as excited as I was because she had never seen The Scorpions in concert. As I pull into Sacramento's Arco Arena, I find that parking by the door was in abundance and most of the men walking in were bald or balding. The lot was full of mini-vans and station wagons and I saw more sweaters than at a Martha Stewart convention. There were no tailgate parties and very few leather jackets. I started to wonder if I should just eat the ten-dollar parking charge and go home at this point.

Once inside it was a little more like I remembered. Although many of the girls were in their late 20's on up, they were still dressed sleazy, like I remembered. The only really "hot chicks" were the daughters of the women who saw these bands in the 80s. I was aging quickly.

We found our seats and Dokken lit up the stage, but their energy level wasn't what I remembered. A little disappointed that George Lynch wasn't on guitar, I got up and banged my head anyway, while everyone else around me drank their six-dollar beer and gazed in wonder at the madman in section 103. I shook my fists in the air stomped my feet and did ALL the things I had as a kid... hoping the rest of the crowd would do the same... they never did.

Dokken wrapped up and after a short intermission Whitesnake took the stage and the energy level was astounding. Now these guys have had almost as many lineup changes as Blackmoore's Rainbow, so I didn't care about that. Once again I stood up and thrashed about, screaming every lyric to every song until I had no voice left. My wife was having a better time watching me than the band. Still the crowd was catatonic, save for a few die-hard fans in the front row. When they finished I noticed the arena was close to packed.

"Ah-ha!" I thought, "The Scorps would bring this crowd to life."

Certainly they rocked … the crowd was a little more lively, more people were standing and I was still the crazy little boy headbanging in the stands. That's when I noticed people were leaving. The couple in front of us had left quite some time before. Their neighbors said it was because of me.

"It's a Rock Concert!!!" I replied.

But now people were leaving to beat the traffic out. Those people missed the two encores that followed The Scorpions' set. When it was finally over I was pumped. Out in the parking lot there were a lot of younger folks who were also jumping and yelling, but they never knew what the 80s Rock scene was all about.

I turned to my wife on the drive home and in a crackly voice, asked her how she enjoyed the show.

"The show was awesome … but I think you made all the other guys feel old!"


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