when i was 13 years old my musical tastes dipped briefly but intensely into the heavy/hair metal that was popular at the time. my favorites were guns n' roses, aerosmith, skid row, slaughter and of course, mötley crüe. from my shelterted suburban vantage point these guys were the loudest, the craziest and had the best music. i loved tommy lee the most, and still have a guilty pleasure affection for his brand of obnoxious irreverence.
i was always dying to go to shows, but my overstrict mother wasn't having it. i'm sure the hairsprayed whiskey-slugging rockstars flipping off the camera in the posters that adorned my walls didn't help. i'm not sure what she thought happened at these concerts, but she was sure that it was dangerous, mind-polluting and definitely not appropriate for her innocent teenaged daughter.
so it was with a sense of vindiction, relief and anticipation that i attended my first heavy metal show last friday with the perfect buddy, the one who probably got me into this music in the first place, my cousin steve. we had free passes to crüefest at great woods. i would finally be seeing the rock heroes of my youth at the venue i had begged to go to so many years ago.
these free passes were courtesy of steve's neighbor, a guy named rob with slightly glazed eyes, cutoff denim shorts and what i took to be the mild defiance of a leftover hippie. his ex-wife's stepson was in one of the opening bands and had supposedly left us tickets at will-call. when the tickets failed to materialize we were left in the parking lot, speed-dialing the ex-wife in cali to contact the dude on stage to let us in. things were looking bleak.
suddenly our luck turned around and we found ourselves knocking on doors of tour buses looking for this kid. surprisingly, this strategy worked and then we were kicking it in the bus like real rockstars or groupies, or hangers-on. sheepishly we made small talk while the tour manager procured our passes.
our luck took another precipitous turn when our tickets turned out to be mötley crüe guest pass stickers and suddenly we're backstage, like wayne and garth, trying to be cool but eyes akimbo because tommy lee was afoot. i spotted a blond head watching tv in a makeshift living room outside a bus, complete with leather sofa, flatscreen tv, potted plants and rocker babe. vince neil? oh yes. he turns to look at us. i drop the ball and play cool, missing a golden opportunity to have him sign a body part -- we even had a sharpie! we're shuffled out of the backstage area and into the venue with the rest of the rock peons.
but not all is lost. we have great seats in the center near the front and the first two bands, papa roach and buckcherry, totally rock it. nothing compares to the crüe though, they blow the roof off with pyrotechnics, flames, fireworks, ridiculous solos, tommy lee antics and everything i had ever dreamed a rock show would be. i screamed my voice away and shouted at the devil with all the angst and joy that had been almost 20 years in coming. thanks to tommy and the rest of the crüe for a kickass show, to my cousins steve and lisa for bringing me along, and to for crazy rob for making it happen.
for more on mötley crüe, i suggest nikki sixx's autobiographical heroin diaries, a wrenching, sometimes funny, always fascinating look into the year 1987 when sixx was battling his addiction demons on the girls, girls, girls tour with whitesnake and guns n roses. i picked this book up and then put it down a day later when i finished it. a must-read for anyone who loves rock n roll, drug memoirs, behind the music rockumentaries or believes that chicks=trouble.