Back In The Day…Attending Concerts

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Among the memories from my childhood, teenhood, and early adulthood are all the incredible concerts I had the good fortune to attend.  I grew up in the 1970’s – 1980’s, and was exposed to all kinds of music during that time.  I was able to see most of my favorite artists perform live, some in front of massive coliseum-sized audiences, and others in cozy local venues like the Troubador.  Little did I know that when I was cheering Poison and Ratt that those bands were about to hit it big on the music scene.

Here is a partial list of some of the artists I was able to see live between 1976 and 1989:

Elton John (Dodger Stadium, 1976)

Rolling Stones (1981, 1989)

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1980, 1981)

Pink Floyd

Mötley Crüe

Talking Heads

David Bowie

I thoroughly enjoyed being in the audience, rocking with the music, lighting my lighter (who remembers doing this?), and singing along when the lead singer would prompt the crowd to join in.  There was always a palpable energy at concerts, a buzz, and I’m not talking about the burning weed which circulated through the air.  The audiences were always so pumped, so excited to hear a favorite band play live.

I also remember wanting so badly to attend the US Festival on Labor Day weekend in 1982, but my mother staunchly refused.  Then there was another US Festival which I desperately wanted to attend on Memorial Day weekend in 1983, but my mother once again refused, pointing out that I had final exams the following week.  Some of the girls in my class threw caution to the wind and attended the festival, so I was able to live vicariously through them when they described the experience.  An estimated 570,000 people attended the 1983 Labor Day weekend US Festival, which is no surprise since tickets were a mere $20 for each day of the event.

Here’s a video of the full concert which Van Halen performed during the 1983 US Festival:

Other festivals have come to the forefront in popularity in, recent years, but now that we have spent the bulk of the year in lockdown, avoiding COVID, live concerts, with the audience standing in front of the band members, are nearly extinct.  We now rely on livestreams and virtual concerts, which don’t even come close to creating the same magic that a live concert in front of a packed audience can do.

Ventura County Fairgrounds recently hosted a drive-in setting for a live concert which apparently went pretty well.  The audience was limited to 500 cars, I wonder if this will be the new norm for concerts?  At any rate, I am thankful that I was able to see so many incredible artists live, when concerts were still fun.

 

I Miss Soul Train

From the time I was a kid, I remember watching Saturday morning cartoons, all the while anticipating the treat which would come after cartoons were over. The Soul Train theme song would play, and I would settle in for an hour of some of the best music around. I continued this pattern through my early 20’s, and would plan my Saturday around Soul Train, carving out time to watch like the faithful fan I always was. At the 45 minute mark, the Soul Train dance line would form, and I would be glued to the television set, watching all the moves, and looking at all the cool outfits. The Dance Line began as a couples line, then by the 1980’s, it morphed into singlets and the occasional group of dancers moving across the dance floor:

The first Soul Train episode aired on October 2, 1971, and the show ran through March of 2006. That’s 35 years and 1,117 soul, dance, R and B, and funk-filled episodes. Thanks to creator and host Don Cornelius, Soul Train brought black culture into America’s homes, broke down barriers, and wowed people like me. Don Cornelius would close out every episode with a sweeping thrown kiss and a wish to the viewers for “love, peace, and SOUUUUUUUULLLL”, a uniting and loving gesture which became a signature for the show.

For those of you who loved Soul Train as much as I did, you’ll get kick out of the following video, in which former Soul Train dancers share their experiences of being on the show:

Here are two video compilations, one which features the top ten female Soul Train dancers, and the other which showcases the top ten male Soul Train dancers: