June 28, 2011

The Heart of Rock 'n' Roll

My parents married very young and had kids while they were still very young. Our house was a house of rock 'n' roll, race cars and beer. It was the house that all their friends would come and hang out at. I can remember my parents shuffling us girls off to bed with specific instructions to NOT leave our rooms while they hosted a weekend party in the other end of the house. We would peek our heads out our bedroom doors in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the grown ups dancing, laughing and having a good time without us. In the morning, we would wake to find the evidence of that good time--empty chip bowls, discarded beer bottles and passed out bodies. My parents were always good about making sure those who had too much to drink slept it off instead of attempting to drive home.

I grew up listening to AC/DC, Judas Priest, Van Halen, KISS, and Ozzy Osbourne. When I hear songs like "Barracuda" by Heart and "Another One Bites the Dust" by Queen it takes me back to when we would listen to my parents' vinyl records and cassette tapes and dance around the living room ourselves. I have a crystal clear image of my Dad rocking out and singing along, doing his contortionist act and dancing in a way only he can do.

Weddings in our social circle were always followed by a reception that featured a DJ and plenty of alcohol. That combination ensured there would be many happy dancers. I can remember tearing up the dance floor with my family and never getting tired. Every memory I have of us all dancing together is filled with smiles and laughter.

As we've gotten older, our dancing opportunities have dwindled. My sisters and I still make an effort to go out together about once a year and while I was getting ready to move, my younger sister (who lives the closest) took me out 3 times. Somehow I married a man who does not enjoy dancing the way I do but that hasn't slowed me down. It was actually his idea to get tickets to a "Throwback" concert being hosted by the local radio station. It featured cover bands of Queen (Queen Nation), Van Halen (Fan Halen), Guns 'n' Roses (Guns 4 Roses) and AC/DC (Back in Black).

We got a babysitter and went on Saturday night with my brother-in-law and his wife. Of course, it's summer time in Texas so it was hot. Brilliant me decided to wear a tank top (good) and jeans (bad). I can't explain what I was thinking when I decided that the 2nd time I would wear pants since I've been here would be on the day that we're going to a concert at an outdoor arena. The sno-cones we bought helped to cool us off but there was no avoiding the sweat.

Every type of person was represented at the concert. There were quite a few people my parents' age and even older but there were also families with small children, teenagers, heavily pierced and tattooed people and very conservative people. Everyone was out there to enjoy great music.

And it was. The bands were all really good. It wasn't just that they sounded like the originals, but they made a big effort to emulate their looks and moves as well. Queen Nation was up first and then Fan Halen. The men agreed that Fan Halen was their favorite. Next up was Guns 4 Roses. The singer had Axl Rose's look down pat and did a decent job with his sliding/hippy/shuffle dance. "Slash" even had his signature top hat and mop of hair. They played "Welcome to the Jungle" and I thought, "It's not going to get better than this!". Then they played "Paradise City" and I thought the same thing. It was only when they started "Sweet Child o' Mine" and I felt my heart race and I couldn't have sat down if I wanted to that I realized THAT was the ultimate GNR song.

During the break before AC/DC came on, we walked around a little bit to take advantage of the breeze outside the walls of the arena. As we were walking back to our seats, I caught a whiff of beer. I was about to be blasted by the sounds of "TNT" and "Whole Lotta Rosie" and I was surrounded by the smell of beer. I suddenly missed my Daddy. He would have loved that concert and he would've been up on his feet dancing with me. I got a little teary eyed and then I laughed because the smell of beer made me homesick!

The concert organizers knew what they were doing when they put Back in Black on last. They were the best band of the night. I may be a bit biased, however, considering that the crazy talented guitar riffs of Angus Young were my lullabies growing up. I consider "Shook Me All Night Long" to be the greatest rock song...EVER. There is so much nostalgia wrapped up in "Dirty Deeds..." that I'm instantly taken back to elementary school and feel like a kid again. When Mike Mroz ("Angus") popped up in the middle of the arena for his epic guitar solo, my adrenaline spiked and my heart was pumping. It's like listening to the roar of my Dad's racing engine or the rev of a Harley. You can feel it in your chest and you find yourself with a big ol' smile on your face. For a moment I forgot that there was anyone else in the band. I could've watched his fingers fly over those strings for hours.

Back in Black had the crowd on their feet and screaming the whole time. Eventually, though, it had to end. I walked out to the parking lot still singing AC/DC songs and smiling. I never had a chance to see AC/DC in concert but I imagine Back in Black was a pretty good substitute. I guarantee that I will see them again if I have a chance. They were fun, loud, entertaining and I got a good dose of home from 3000 miles away.

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