2003: This page contains all I know about Blue Oyster Cult for this year - and all I know is what you folks send me, so if you want to see more info on this page, there's an easy solution...
Have you got anything to contribute to this page? Reviews, missing info, ticket stubs, posters etc etc - if so, let me .
Well guys and girls, here are my impressions of the first of last weekend's B.B. King's shows.I'll try to keep it under 10,000 words :-}. Second show comments will have to follow later thanks to time constraints.
I always get primed before a Blue Oyster Cult show (or shows), but this time I was especially ready, for two main reasons (among 50 others): I had seen them twice in the last two months, and as you all know, seeing BOC only makes you want to see them more. And, I had heard from Eric, via his web site, that the shows would include five or so songs not performed in years.
I got to the club early, but had to wait for friends that eventually showed up late, so I got a decent but not prime seat for the first show. I got to say hi to Eric and Danny before the show-Sandy, Zeke and the rest of her party went by before I could get their attention-and also got to see many of my on-line friends before the band started. Seamus, glad to see you walking around OK! Alex, Gloria and their crew arrived fairly late, but didn't miss a note. (Gloria quickly grabbed my mayo boat.) Sorry I missed some of you, but that's how it goes at rock and roll shows. The place looked sold out, or close to it.
The opener, "Stairway," quickly snapped me into focus-here we are again, witnessing the Amazing Blue Oyster Cult live! It's like a Pavlovian reflex for me-"Stairway"=the beginning of a great time! The band seemed to be warming up, getting into it gradually - but remember, BOC's warm up is like most other band's peak nights. Something struck me as intangibly different about the band-I only realized it later when Eric announced that Bobby had quit smoking! No butt hanging out of the drummer's mouth! Congrats, Bobby, smoking is a tough nut to beat. Eric's voice sounded great right off the bat.
Then I was stunned to hear "Dr. Music!" I stopped seeing BOC in the late '70s/early '80s as a result of a number of life circumstances I won't go into now (not all good), so this was my first time hearing this live, and it sounded terrific. Funny, I had a suspicion they were going to do this.
A digression: when I was younger and more foolish, I was initially turned off by the "Mirrors" album because it had musical elements I thought should not be on a BOC album - female vocals, percussion, instruments other than guitars, drums and keyboards. I liked the live version better. When I heard it at B.B.'s it struck me as more "right" than either recorded version - as what the song should be-a powerful and intense rock song! Nice to hear Allen getting a keyboard spotlight early in the set.
"Burning" was a perfect follow-up - it just felt exactly right at this spot in the set, and lifted the crowd to a higher - no pun intended - level. I love the fact that this song-like all BOC songs live-is never the same twice, so it always stays fresh for me. I never tire of it!
"Dance on Stilts"-great to hear this. This song is growing on me more and more and the process hasn't stopped yet. Wonderful feeling and groove on this one, and I love Buck's guitar work at the end. Danny and Bobby were sounding great here.not that they weren't the rest of the show! In fact, one of the many great things about the band is the way the interlocking musical interplay and actual sound of the band just hits you as a physical entity immediately as they start a concert-you guys and gals know what I mean!
"Tattoo Vampire" - now that was a surprise! I would have never guessed the band was going to do this, and absolutely could not place the "chugging" beginning as the beginning of the song (usually I can guess a song by the end of the first note). I admit this has never been one of my favorite BOC songs (I know others utterly love it), but it came off far better live than on the AOF recording. In fact, it was intense. A little rough - it actually tightened up in the second set-but that was cool; heck, we were the first to hear it live in 2003 and the moment was a total rush.
"Perfect Water"-it was wonderful, sublime, just beautiful. No other band could do this song. After the first show, a number of people commented on how great it was.
"Cities on Flame"-an all time classic and for good reason. This song is simply what rock and roll is all about, a great showcase for a great rock and roll band. And Buck, don't ever stop doing the middle-of-song bit with the flexing fingers, pick eating etc.. it's required now! Seriously, this raised the crowd's energy level up another notch - it's clear that people simply love this song.
"Last Days of May"-one of the friend's I was with was hoping fervently to hear this song (bellowing out the title at every opportunity) - and as soon as Eric went into his intro, we just looked at each other and made an unintelligible collective noise that sounded something like, "Yeeeaaaarrrrggghhhrrrrr!" Man, what a titanic, titanic song, Buck going to the Andromeda galaxy with his solo, the band right there with him. This song is a natural resource, a force of nature. Amazing.
"Godzilla" - this version seemed more "musical," somehow-slightly different, different drum and bass solos-nothing I could put my finger on, but there, nevertheless. Good intro by Eric, noting the band's lobbying efforts to play the song live at Yankee Stadium on opening day, when Hideki Matsui makes his first appearance. Now there's a great idea - c'mon, Yankees management, get with it!
"Reaper"-this song is always sublime, and this version was no exception. You could feel the excitement in the audience, and rightly so - the song is one of the greatest ever written, period, the end, a musical monument to a great band.
Encore: "Shooting Shark" - wow! Another unexpected choice - I love this song, but for some reason, never thought I'd hear BOC do it again live. (I'd heard it once before, at Tommyknockers in 1995.) I think some of those in the crowd were expecting a more "kick ass" encore, while others in the crowd (like me) were riveted. Its force and beauty were compelling, and it was thrilling to hear it once again.
Hi again everyone. Because of an unexpected assignment, I don't have time to do another magnum opus report on the second show, so I'll have to just hit the highlights..
For the second show, I got really good seats up close and just off to the center, in front of Buck's amp, sitting next to Artie and his girlfriend. Even before the show started, you could tell the energy level in the crowd was higher.literally, more of a crowd "buzz." And once the band lit into "Dr. Music" - what a great show opener! You could see the band was warmed up and primed to fire on all cylinders after what was an extremely satisfying first show.
Great to hear "E.T.I." as the second song-it just seems "right" there, the perfect spot for it. It was terrific to hear "Pocket" again after some months-I don't want to see that song dropped from the repertoire! I think it 's cool to alternate that with "Stilts" in double-show bills, so the faithful get to hear both. We were treated to a fine, energetic version this time around.
"Harvester of Eyes"-is it possible this song is still growing on me after all this time? Ummm, yes.
Then.Eric told us the band was going into "unknown territory" once again, and that they were "really stoked" to be playing the following tune..
And then a shock wave jolted through me as I heard the introduction to "I Love the Night!" I was stunned, amazed; I am sure massive amounts of adrenaline shot through my body. Unbelievable! I have always dreamed of hearing that song live, and was hoping against hope that they'd do it, once Eric let on that they were going to mix up the set a bit - but I didn't actually think they'd do it! It was mesmerizing, one of the greatest musical moments of my life. I was overwhelmed by emotion.
I think "See You In Black" was about the only BOC song that could have followed it. Go from sublime emotional bliss to being pummeled with musical force. It was a fantastic version, astonishing energy level. Which was taken even higher by "Buck's Boogie."
Then. I was still so stunned that I didn't realize, from Eric's introduction about a song "that's as topical now as it was when it was written," that BOC was about to go into."Divine Wind!" The crowd flipped out. Many were making devil signs and bellowing out the "then let's send him to hell!" chorus. The playing, arrangement and Buck's soloing were spellbinding here.
Then the Big Three in a row.I don't know if I've ever heard them presented as a one-two-three punch before which made for an EXTREMELY intense end of show! By this time, the band's playing and energy level were fantastic. "Tattoo Vampire" worked well as an encore-as noted before, you could actually hear the performance tighten up from the first set's version.
BUT all it did was work the crowd up even more, and the band gave it to 'em in a rousing version of "Dominance and Submission," which, along with the other amazing performances of the night, assured the second set of January 24, 2003 if a place in Blue Oyster Cult history. There is no question in my mind, and among many others, that this was one of the greatest BOC sets of all time.
I was thrilled to attend the BOC show at BB's that night. As a former employee and collaborator, I was overwhelmed with the warm greeting I received from the band members and their families. For me, a BOC show is like a family reunion, not dissimilar to a gathering during the holidays.
After 30 years of playing together, the band was as tight and as dynamic as ever. Donald's guitar delivered galvanizing power and dexterity, while the rhythm section rumbled furiously. This was one of the few times I saw BOC play a club. When last I saw them in concert, they performed in arenas where it was a highly choreographed show with the special effects. The no frills BOC best focused on the music, with Allen's dual mastery of guitar and keyboards and Eric's powerful vocals being showcased in an amazing fashion.
I loved the classic BOC songs the best for they are the soundtrack of my life. "Stairway...." "Godzilla," "Cities On Flame," "Harvester," "Reaper," and especially "Tattoo Vampire," which was dedicated to my dear friend Helen Wheels, left me both joyful and sad that my dear Helen was not there to share the moment. But I could feel her spirit applauding in rock and roll heaven.
During "Reaper" I was in the front table by the stage. I stood up rocking away and Eric came close to my table. He recognized me cheering him on and signaled to Donald i was there. That was way cool.
As I told the guys, when I hear their music, my health problems disappear. There are no thoughts of pain, medicines or sickness. Only the wings of their fantastic rock and roll exist and they bring me back to a time of health and happiness.
The happiest time of my life was when I was part of the BOC family and I was just so elated to see and hear their music again.
Ralph, didn't know if you had this already, but the 2/9/03 show in Eugene had a local blues band called the Revelators open for BOC that night. Thought you might want to know.(If you didn't already.)
I attended the show at 11-feb-03 and while your list look pretty close, I am sure that Shooting Shark was played. At least fairly sure...
I don't know what to say. I was not substantially out of my head at that show, but I sure thought that I remembered Shooting Shark. I didn't take notes or anything, but it's a great song that I've always wanted to hear live... I sat down that same night while things were still reasonably fresh (it's about two hours of driving for me) and gave it my best shot.
If there's a consensus that it wasn't played then I'll not argue... I'll just stay happy with my pseudo-memory of having heard the song. :-)) I surely liked the show, it was far better than last trip which was just a county fair one-hour "stock" set that wasn't inspired, though it was not poor in any way.
Though it was not advertised AFAIK, there turned out to be an opening act. I was actually quite disappointed as I was hoping for a really long BOC show instead. The openers were a rather large ensemble, a local group who were really pretty talented musically. They did all covers as I remember, some blues, some reggae, some Clapton, some country rock I think. They were named (not from any poster, but from what they stated) The Smokin' Bananas. It's kind of a local joke, the University of California Santa Cruz campus in town has named their school mascot the Banana Slug (you can see it at http://www.ucsc.edu/about/campus_mascot.html).
Okay, I've now recovered to the point that I'm no longer hovering three feet off the ground with delerious joy. Good thing too, as it made trying to type almost impossible. I'll try to compose my thoughts coherently, so that those of you who were not able to see the show can you at least get an idea of what it was like to be there.
If you're in a hurry and don't want to listen to me ramble, I'll give you the Reader's Digest condensed version.
And now for our viewers with time to play b sides....
A heavy rain poured down on San Diego most of the day, and I was hoping that everyone would make it to the show safely. The roads were a mess here, I apologize profusely on behalf of my fellow San Diegans who simply cannot drive in the rain. They really are nice folks once you get them out from behind the wheel, I can assure you.
I made it to 4th and B about 9:30 pm, and managed to secure a legal parking spot three blocks away. Stood around outside for a bit looking for BOCFANBOB who was about the only onliner I think I'd recognize anywhere. I was finally smoked out by all the tobacco puffers and decided to go indoors. "Doesn't anyone smoke pot outside concerts anymore ?", I thought to myself. LOL !
I wandered the floor for a few minutes, and found a couple of "sweet spots" on the Buck side of the stage where the sound was pretty good. I saw BOCFANBOB and introduced myself just a few minutes before the Böys hit the stage.
What a wonderful fellow, just as I imagined him to be.
Shortly after 9:45, the house lights dimmed and the Bladerunner end theme began to pulse through the sound system. I always love that part of the show. The curtains parted, and the Öysterboys lit up the stage with a fiery version of Dr. Music. Buck ripped into a killer solo, and Danny looked like he was having a blast with the "Call me Doctor" backup vocals. His enthusiasm and stage prescence are fantastic. I'll admit I'd gotten pretty tired of the old Dr. after hearing it as an opener for a few solid years in the early 80's, but after twenty years it sounded fresh again and had good energy.
Next came "Take Me Away" which I think is always a great tune to hear them play live. Then Eric introduced Buck playing a rousing version of "Pocket", first time I'd gotten to hear that one live and it really rocked.
Overhead there's a rumble, it's not thunder, - it's Blue Öyster Cult !
Next was Harvester of Eyes, a little slower than usual, more like the tempo of the studio recording. A little echo from the bass drum was easily eliminated by moving a few feet to the right. There was a real pretty girl dancing, and there must have been at least three guys standing behind her who were trying to decide what to watch, her or the band. LOL !
Clearly a case where "picture in picture" technology was needed.
Then "I Love The Night" took the band's performance to a new plateau. Fantastic to hear this one again, I think the last time I heard it played was way back in the Spectres era. Such a beautiful song, Buck really outdid himself. Had a great time singing the chorus harmony along with them. Needless to say, with my astronomical tendencies that has always been a big favorite of mine. The day is okay, and the Sun can be fun - well, you all know the rest of the story.
Tattoo Vampire pierced through the ethereal haze left hanging in the air by the last song, or maybe it was just a cloud of pot smoke. Anyhow, those old "Grisly Smiles" still haven't flaked off in the 24 years since I last heard this song in the setlist. Fantastic addition to the mix.
Buck introduced the next song as "one you don't hear too often" but since Allen was playing his guitar and not keyboards, I knew it was not my dream come true.
Not yet. I'd never had the chance to hear Shooting Shark played live either, so this was another real treat for me. I saw several fans reacting in complete amazement at what they were hearing, two guys high fiving each other up front as Buck sang "3 times I've seen the Shooting Shark lighting up the sky." I love to see fans react like that to a certain song that is special to them. It was clear at that point we were all having another enchanted evening, courtesy of BÖC.
Eric introduced "Divine Wind" as "a song that was written twenty years ago, but it's still topical today". Man, I really needed to hear that one again. Those kamikaze dive bomb leads are the shiznit ! LOL ! All we needed was Daryl's excellent video playing on the screen up by the stage.
For the next song, Eric urged us all to sing along and even hummed the right note for us to join in and raise our glasses of beer on high. What a lousy time of the show to be drinkless, shame on me. "Golden Age" sounded great; another one I haven't heard since '78 except for the instrumental version they played at the Old Waldorf as SWU. And that was twenty two years ago anyhow, so it was some heavy metal fruit that was ripe to be picked from the tree of music once again. During the song I thought to myself, " You really can't complain at all if they don't play Subhuman tonight - look what you are getting".
And then it happened. You know how sometimes you're watching a football game, and even before the snap of the ball you just know that somehow it's going to be a deep post pattern for a big touchdown ?
Allen unstrapped his Telecaster and sat down at the keyboards. Buck said "You know we have all this online stuff now, the Buck Dharma board and all that stuff. And we've been reading on there that we haven't been playing enough stuff from Secret Treaties. "
My face lit up like a roman candle.
With perfect comic timing Eric replied "and you listen to those mother f**kers?" LOL ! He always manages to crack me up. It would be great to hang out and listen to the E man sometime. Maybe watch "Destroy All Monsters" with him. The dulcet tones of "Subhuman" graced my ears for the first time in many moons. Buck's soloing on this song was simply mind blowing.
I am becalmed.
He understands, he understands.
To have them play that song for me, well I doubt I'm eloquent enough to ever express how much that meant. I guess I felt like one of those kids might feel going to Disneyland with Make a Wish foundation. Behind my incessant (and hopefully not too annoying) teasing and joking over the last few months about this song was a deep and sincere desire that I might hear them play this song one more time in my life.
Thank you once again to Buck and the rest of the band, from the bottom of my heart for gracing me with this favor.
"Burning For You" came next, although at this point I was still in a daze because they had time to play my b-side.
Then Eric gave his Monster Island intro to Godzilla, and the big fella stomped through the venue leaving all of us bug-eyed fans screaming "My God!"
Or perhaps that was just some guy screaming "I lost my pot!"
The crowd seemed a bit subdued to me at points, but San Diegans are known to go into a funk at the first sign of drizzle and I think the heavy rains of earlier in the day had not only dampeneed the spirits of many in attendence, it had also dampened their socks and shoes.
The new Reaper intro is quite different, almost a song itself. Parts of it reminded me of Ronnie Montrose's solo in the Gamma tune "Razor King". Buck's got a brand new Boogie.
I have a hard time with Reaper nowadays, that was Dave's song and he had a Reaper tattoo and everything. But it was a fine performance and as always, a perfect anthem to all those near and dear souls who have ventured through the final curtain before us.
The crowd in general was not nearly loud enough in my opinion, given the stellar performance they had just witnessed. Not to say that the response was quiet to the point of being insulting, but c'mon folks you are at a rock show ! Yell a bit, stomp the floor or something. Sheesh! The online fans can't do it all, you know!
The Black Blade was then unsheathed, and it cut straight to the bone. More jaws dropped open as the rain soaked citizens of San Diego watched the boys brandish the mighty but evil sword. I bet that thing is sharper than a Ginsu knife.
Our Back in Black encore theme continued with "See You In Black", and the same three guys and now a couple more were still watching that dancing babe work the floor. I doubt if any of them were lucky enough to see her in black, that she would be wearing those black articles of clothing for very long.
I mean really fellas, there are nightclubs up near the Marine base where the dancing girls are unencumbered by those silly and sometimes distracting rock concerts. One place even has Kick Boxing next door, my wife once suggested a merging of the two concepts could be a veritable goldmine. LOL, I really love that woman.
Afterwards I waited outside and met some more onliners. Really great to put faces on some of those names.
I really needed to see the band, after being shut out last summer. I really needed to hear them play Subhuman. All of my BÖC dreams came true last night, and I hope that happens for each and every one of you sometime soon. Okay, champagne wishes and Subhuman dreams to you all.
Blue Sky Bag I feel your love for this show. I was there, Stage left (Bucks side) and very clearly remember the dancing girl ("Susie dear let's take a walk just outside upon the beach") and incredible set list that night.
By far the best show of the many I have seen over the years but nothing will ever, and I mean ever, touch the '74 show at Golden Hall (see my comments in the '74 history section).
But this 4th & B show renewed my love for this band which has been my favorite since I was 15. I can remember standing next to a guy that night who could not have been more than 23 and seeing the look on his face as he watched the Oyster Boys kick ass that night. I asked him if he had ever seen them before and he said no and then replied "these guys rock harder than any new band these days".
That made my night knowing that it was not just me caught in this amazing show. "It's the nexus of the crisis and the origin of storms".
Saturday's St. Petersburg show was one of those combinations of the sublime and the ridiculous. From a weather perspective, it couldn't have been better. The temperature was in the 70s, no rain was forecast for the evening, the sky was clear... all important ingredients for an outside show. The venue, Jannus Landing, is actually a pretty popular place for bands to play when passing through, and with local residents, who are used to the casual, open, style you'd expect where sunshine is the number one export. Blue Oyster Cult, when they finally went onstage (see below for more on the less-than-perfect first part of the night), played well on all songs, and on most with evident enthusiasm. As an opening number, "Dr. Music" is driving and complex and engaged the audience right away. The mix suffered through "first-song syndrome" as the sound technicians struggled with the acoustics and typical problems, and Buck's guitar sounded a bit muted to me, but the crowd loved it. Next, "ETI" got people moving, and it seemed that the band really put some zest into the revised power chord ending of the song. The sound mix continued to improve through this song and the ensuing "Dance on Stilts", which rocked hard. "Harvester of Eyes" appealed also to the crowd, judging from their reaction, and I thought it sounded fine, too, as I sang along, much to my delight and the misery of everyone around me.
But what came next was pure joy for the die-hard BOC fan: Eric introduced the following songs by describing how the band had decided to dig into it's "discography" (his words) and bring a few songs into the set that they hadn't played in 20 years or so. Buck launched into "I Love the Night" and I think that the folks standing next to me were probably shocked at my howls of ecstasy. The live version has lost some of the ambience of the studio version, of course, but gains with a more hypnotic, driving pulse, a clear focus on Buck's lead patterns, and the mysterious new third verse. I'm sorry, I couldn't make the words out either, but my sense of the lyrics I could hear suggested that they were from the perspective of the aged vampire, long past the conversion described in the earlier verse, which of course, makes me want to know what they are even more than ever. The crowd liked it too, despite the somewhat thin arrangement, for the same reasons, I think.
But the band wasn't complete with their surprises yet, no, not by a long shot. After some rhythmic riffing by Buck, the band settled into the opening riffs of "Tattoo Vampire", a great choice which they played aggressively. If you could have been a floating observer above the crowd, you would have recognized me as the idiot dancing and thrusting my arms spastically into the air, spouting on and on about "grisly smiles that won't flake off" and (my favorite BOC verse), "carny-colored demons leering". Great fun.
If Jannus Landing had had a roof, the band would have blown it off with the next song, "Shooting Shark". For those of you well-familiar with the song on The Revolution By Night, try to imagine the song accelerated a bit, with all of the rigid 80s' drum machine rhythms ripped right out of it and the sax replaced by searing, jaw-dropping lead riffs traded off between verses by Allen and Buck. Then add Danny's ultra-funk bass and Bobby's rock drum attack. For final measure, recall how the early Chili Peppers sounded when Flea was stretching and the band was locked into a thrashy metal-funk riff, but imagine if they were actually singing instead of shouting, and singing a dramatic verse that you too could sing along with, reminiscing about where and when you lived and whom you knew in the mid-80s, when you first heard this song. Only then do you begin to approximate how heavy, cool and energizing this song sounds like live. They thundered on this song. It still pumps me up thinking about it.
Finally, they closed out the middle section of new songs with "Divine Wind", which, like SS, sounded much harder-edged than the recorded version on Cultosaurus Erectus. It really worked well as a song, topicality or no. To the pacifists that may be reading this, I'm not sure what to say, but Saturday night about 1000 people or so were ready to send whomever we're fighting straight to hell. Pretty scary thought.
Then came the Final Four of the regular Big 6 BOC songs: "Cities on Flame", followed by "Burnin' for You", "Godzilla", and "Don't Fear the Reaper". All songs sounded great, but the highlight (sorry UK folks) was the bass solo and drum solo in Godzilla! Seriously! I saw Danny's ability in a whole new light, as he plays to the crowd, ripping incredibly funky riffs off with fantastic precision, interspersed with harmonic-laden melodies, demonstrating great musicality and tapping technique. But, more than that, Danny is just totally and sincerely fun to watch. A true professional. In fact, all of the band showed great professionalism as they worked through the same songs that they've played at least 1000 times before. Allen was really engaged with the audience, smiling, pointing, riffing with the other band members; Buck and Danny challenging each other with intense new riffs; Bobby pounding the skins like a rock robot god; Eric aloof above it all in a sort of humorous way.
The introduction to DFTR deserves special mention; those familiar with the Intro on "A Long Day's Night" know that was abbreviated and not the typical Dharm-ian exploration of sonic innovation. Last night, Buck really explored the edges, setting up almost contrapuntal melody lines by relying on a delay effect to allow him to build a multi-textured sound. I thought it was a great demonstration of his musical genius - a guitarist's guitar player.
I won't say much more about Cities, Burnin', Godzilla, and Reaper, except that everyone, particularly me, was sing-shouting the lyrics in the audience throughout all of these songs, staying with the band through complex changes, and hanging on every note.
After Reaper concluded, the band basked in the glow of the audience's appreciation on stage, allowing us to show our humble appreciation with the only instruments we had: our voice and our hands, as we yelled ourselves hoarse and clapped until our hands were man-burger. It was fun to watch as someone hurled their album sleeve cover of "On Your Feet or On Your Knees" on-stage, and Allen signed it, pointing it out to Eric.
They left the stage for only a few minutes, and came back with Eric declaring that they only had time for a fast one, and I knew what was coming and starting screaming in anticipation as Buck started the band off like a lurching rocket with "Dominance and Submission". Again, I'm screaming the verses, the chorus, hell every damn note, because this is the song I've taken my online name from, and one of the most compellingly dramatic rock tunes every made, in my humble opinion. Buck's excellent soloing burned through every second of the song; the band even made the audience call-and-response fun, despite what must have been (again) the 1000th time they've played it. After this song, the band hung around on stage a bit, with Buck signing someone's Tyranny and Mutation album sleeve, with a sincere and seemingly easy-going attitude by all of the band members. Then they left the stage, no more encores were allowed (downtown noise ordinance, you know, it was after 11, after all!), and they scooted off stage. As I left, I nearly ran into Allen as he made his way back to their bus; he and I both stopped to avoid running into each other; I thanked him for a great show, and ushered him on by. I'm sure he didn't hear it or see me but I was content with this one small courtesy I could show him in small appreciation for the enjoyment the band has provided to me all these years.
A great evening out, a great show, a great band, everything was great...well, except for a few items... let me explain, starting with the opening act. They were, how shall we say, a nightmare: a local 70's cover band called "Rock Candy". This was the major source of the "agony" we experienced, while the promoter didn't help matters much by delaying the start of the show by one-half hour, with the objective, I'm sure, of making more time for people to buy drinks and food. Our other major sources of discomfort for the concert included the short-order grill in the back of the Landing. The greasy stench emanating from those hot plates made me long for the ridiculous Sarasota Dog Track show that I saw them at last summer, or possibly one of those "Rib/Beer/Summer-" fests that seem to populate the band's summer schedule. Anything better than smelling that flat, fatty cooking odor all freakin' night.
The opening act worked through competent but overdriven versions of Tull/Zep/Journey/Metallica hits that we quickly grew tired of within what I would say without exaggeration to be the first, oh, say, 30 seconds. Here's the problem: I respect the rights and opportunities of bands who are starting out to seek out any opportunity to open for an act of such stature as BOC. Hell, I remember when my band once opened for 10,000 Maniacs 20 years ago and the humbling sense of privilege we all felt. But we were an "original" band. We didn't do tired covers of old metal hits, or anybody's hits, for that matter. All tunes were locally conceived and powered by the kind of youthful naivete, energy, and creativity that you can find in a college town. So, there was something of interest there for everyone.
Not so last night. The 35 minutes that Rock Candy were excruciating for me. Even my hard-rocking spouse found them tiresome, even when they played her favorite Metallica song. The crowd reception of this cover band was decidedly mixed. There was a mob at the front that were highly amped on excess quantities of alcohol (and the weed whose potent aroma mixed with the hamburger stench wafting throughout the Landing to queasy effect), and sadly, urging Rock Candy to even greater depths of banality. The crowning touch came, I suppose, when a tiny, drunken woman and her date staggered by us, giving an unwitting impression of Quasimodo beseeching the jeering crowd as she exhorted us to "Dance, damn it, what' the hell's wrong with you?" I remember looking down at this troll-like creature with a look of complete disinterest, hoping she'd go away. Not to be deterred, she gave me a shove in the chest, and with even greater feeling, I think, although it was hard to hear her garbled message, given the alcohol her mental synapses were laboring against, urging me to "Dance, what's wrong with you?". Fearful of a troll-fight (I'm sure I'd never win...trolls can kick with great precision, I'm sure), I looked past her toward the stage, praying that the band's screaming tenor would end his tormenting shriek, let the freakin' Sandman enter, and hush the little children for once and for all. Mercifully, the troll was absorbed back into the crowd and we were left alone, surrounded by other equally bored folks, in the thickening miasma of hamburger grease, smoke from the great burning of a variety of legal and illegal leaves, and, of course, the flood of spilling beer that now coated the Landing in an increasing torrent as people began losing even greater amounts of motor control than they normally marginally possess.
And so you say, "What's my point?". Yes the above bizarreness is what you expect in a general admission, open outdoors place like St Pete where there are all sorts of 60s burnouts and acid casualties floating around. But seriously, I am appalled that either the band's management or the local promoter put these abysmally rank amateurs in with our boys as a "compatible" opening act, or however they billed it. It would be one thing, for example, if BOC had been billed with Steppenwolf, Foghat or some other 60s/70s rehab band, because in their time, those bands were attempting some originality in their music. I would've had some reservations, but still would have gone to the show.
In this case, in all likelihood, the band's management had been given insufficient information to make the call about agreeing to the opening band, if it was even theirs to make. By suggesting or agreeing to the local act, the local promoter showed a deep lack of familiarity with BOC and the reason they're so popular still...their long and continuing history of playing original rock music, not as hacks ripping off covers. Man. I'm burned up about this mismatch. It was really as bad as I'm saying.
On Saturday night, as we saw the dismal shape forming in the hamburger-and-potsmoke-stench mists of the opening act, our only hope was that Blue Oyster Cult would come on...soon, dammit! And as I've described above, thank God they did, and blew our socks off. Well worth the torture we endured. I hope they enjoyed it even more than we did, and I hope equally strongly that they return again, as often as they can for as long as they can. I'd even go to Jannus Landing again to see them...but I'll stand as far away from that freakin' grill as possible.