Friday I was miserably sick with a cold, but I sucked it up to go meet Travalon’s friend who teaches in Japan. He was visiting with his Japanese girlfriend, to whom he had proposed just days before in Door County, and they both seemed like wonderful people. They gave us beautiful ceramic mugs without handles, or small bowls, or something, from Japan. They even included the receipt, which was in Japanese – in case we wanted to return them? Afterwards Travalon and I went for a walk by Lake Geneva, but it was very brief because I had no energy. I really wasn’t sure about going to the KISS/Def Leppard concert that night, but we already had the tickets, so I soldiered on. We missed the opening act, a band called Dead Daisies; being a musician, I empathized with them and hoped at least a few people were in the audience when they went on! We got there just as Def Leppard came onstage, and our seats were right up front so we had a fantastic view. Their Irish guitarist, Vivian Campbell, is really good, and he looks fantastic for his age. The one-armed drummer is aging well too, but I have to say the rest of them looked like they’ve been living the rock ‘n’ roll life for three decades! At first they played their ballads, so I was getting kind of bored and sat down. Did you realize nobody sits at a rock concert, even though they have seats? But toward the end of their set, they pulled out all their rockers, so then I did stand up.
Then KISS came on, and they are weaker musicians but have a way more entertaining show. Gene Simmons spit up blood, waggled his tongue, breathed fire, and got pulled up above the stage. Paul Stanley swung out into the audience like Tarzan, and both of them kept throwing picks out into the audience. I never dreamed I’d actually get one, since none seemed to come my way, but toward the end of the concert, I looked down and saw one right at my feet. How cool! It is a commemorative 40th anniversary pick signed by Paul Stanley, and it’s for a guitar, but I’ll try playing the mandolin with it. The crowd was animated but not rowdy, and I blended right in with my black T-shirt with a skull on it from one of the Daughter of Dennii’s biking trips. Most people were Generation X like me, but there were a few older and younger, even children! I guess KISS is kind of cartoonish, so they appeal to kids. My brother was always a big fan of theirs when we were kids. Here’s the weirdest thing about the whole night: my cold was completely gone by the end of the show! Did all the explosions onstage scare it out of me, or did the heat of the crowd make me sweat it out? Who knew the cure for the common cold was a rock concert?
Saturday Travalon took me to the Steely Dan show, maybe as sort of a consolation prize for having to sit through all that loud rock music, but he’s a fan too – this is the sixth time he’s seen them live. The crowd was much older, mostly Baby Boomers, and they mostly sat through the concert, but surprisingly they were much worse-behaved than the previous night’s crowd. People kept cutting into line, and the guy in front of me held up a T-shirt like a curtain so I couldn’t see the opening act. Everyone was talking during the opening act, and the guys next to Travalon talked through the whole show. Are Baby Boomers ruder than Gen Xers? I can’t help noticing how they will say Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was this amazing record because of all the recording tricks, but then they’ll turn around and criticize today’s music for using too many recording tricks. Which is it, Boomers? Is it amazing or laziness? You can’t have it both ways. Steely Dan didn’t play Travalon’s favorite song of theirs, “Deacon Blues,” but otherwise it was a fantastic show put on by highly talented musicians. It’s a shame their fans are bigger jerks than KISS’s and Def Leppard’s.