One of my blog missives has been to post all of my concert ticket stubs, year by year in order, starting with my first Van Halen concert in 1980. I recently finished posting all of my 1980-89 stubs and intended to move on to the ’90s. But then 2020 came along.
I started writing this post in mid-March, that baffling time in human history when we skidded our busy lives to a drastic halt and watched as a virus changed the world before our very eyes, sometimes by the hour, as if we were living in a movie plot. They said we needed to stay home, away from people and crowds, and suddenly my personal emotional support lifeline – concerts and live music, and traveling to them with friends – was just gone, banned, frozen. This can only be described as bewildering to those of us who are addicted to this particular human pastime.
Talk about taking things for granted.
I suppose the year 2020 is a seemingly prophetic sci-fi-ish year to a 56-year old like me, born in the last month of the last year of the baby boomer era. I’m very happy to have grown up when I did, to be old now, to still be here, to see what happens as our technology-dominated society gets thoroughly shaken up by a microscopic germ amidst rapid social and political upheaval. Whether the COVID-19 pandemic originated in bats, in China, in or out of a lab, or [I wouldn’t be surprised anymore] from an alien parasite, it has taken us on unexpected and eye-opening journeys.
By August, after our initial quarantine in March, we had reconfigured our home, school, and work lives, with many of us luckily working from home, stockpiling food and toilet paper, going outside for family time in the fresh air, doing puzzles, cooking more, eating out rarely. We adopted new terminology: self-isolating, social distancing, flattening the curve. Some of us got out to see people a bit here and there, wearing face masks and staying six feet apart. But it feels like we trekked through the forest, acclimated to the winds of change, forged through fires, swam with the tide, all the while fortifying the spirit with some involuntary quality time.
It’s now December in this weird new world of 2020, and I reflect on and wonder on a few things:
Are memes reminding us that laughter is the best medicine? If so, then humans are going to be just fine. I jest, but really, are memes not the best part of 2020, the way they make us laugh at ourselves? Talk about self-reflection. The best way to understand and document our new reality is through these brief but strikingly accurate portrayals of change. History books should include them to teach future students what humans were like during this era. They are ultra-amusing, often self-deprecating, always piercing truths of human beings getting jarred into a new reality. They have consistently kept me lolol.
Was REO Speedwagon my last “old school” concert ever? Sometimes I hold my breath, and sometimes I hold back tears (sorry to be dramatic but it’s true), as I wait and watch and wonder what live music will be when it’s revived, as surely it must be. How will things change? I’m having difficulty applying the concept of “social distancing” to an event whose joy seems to exist within a collective throng of human energy, a type of electricity that requires all the human batteries to be closely jammed together, happily connecting in all of their various senses. Cells of awareness. But I’m going to remain optimistic about the future of live music because there is a lot of positive going on in this strange new world. For now we will do our best to adapt and try to support the industry in other ways.
And finally I wonder….was the Universe preparing me for this nuttiness with my chock-full January to March concert calendar? I think so, and I thank the Universe profusely. I’ll be forever appreciative of the harmonious energies my friends and I put forth to create that kickass concert vortex we passed through on our way here…wherever here is. It simply can’t be a coincidence, just cooperative incidents, that allowed me to see over 40 amazing bands (that’s counting seven concerts and the Monsters of Rock Cruise) in the two and a half months before lockdown.
Stay safe, world.
Below are my concert ticket stubs and social media posts (the new “stubs”) from January to March 9, 2020…and below that the concerts that were not meant to be this year.
Tribute band favorites Highway to Hell and Ultimate Def Leppard on 1-3-2020 at Jannus Live, our always-fun downtown St. Petersburg, Florida outdoor courtyard venue. Free show. I WILL BE SO HAPPY TO BE BACK AT JANNUS!
Jeff Vitolo and the Quarter Miles Rebels on 1-11-2020 at Bar @548 in downtown St. Petersburg, Florida. Free show. Good-time rockabilly music. I’ve known Jeff from the Tampa Bay Area Music Scene since the early 1980s, in his RockPalace/Paul Mitchell, Entice, Tyger Tyger, and Mojo Gurus days. Happy to see him still playing around.
Queensryche with John 5 on 1-18-2020 at Jannus Landing, oops, I mean Jannus Live. Cost $27.50 plus fees. A group of friends went in together on a second floor suite and great times were had, times which are all the more amazingly memorable now. Queensryche with singer Todd LaTorre has an amazing sound and vibe. Big fan, as are many.
The Monsters of Rock Cruise happened as planned 2/8/2020 to 2/13/2020 with all 49 artists shortly after the Covid-19 virus was announced to the world, but before the insanity started. Always a good time! Check out some of my MORC reviews to learn what fun can be had when you get on a ship full of your bands and your people ;o).
UFO with Damon Johnson on 2-26-2020 at the Capitol Theatre in Downtown unClearwater, Florida. Cost $45 with fees. How lucky am I to get to see this legendary band this year? The rawest of rock, the best kind.
Candlebox on 2-27-2020 at Jannus Live in St. Petersburg, Florida. Cost $13.75 plus fees. Going out two nights in a row on work nights is a rarity for me, but some bands will get me there!
Profuse thanks to Adam Kury, bass player of Candlebox (an old friend from back in the L.A. days) for inviting us to the aftershow. It was cool to meet original Candlebox guitar player Peter Klett – who lives locally and made a special guest appearance – and who produces one of the most beautiful guitar sounds ever ;o).
REO Speedwagon on 3-9-2020 (it was rescheduled from the 1st) at Ruth Eckerd Hall in Clearwater, Florida. Cost $80.50. A lovely Christmas gift from my bestie…if REO was in fact my last old school concert ever, I can live with that. I LOVED the set list and and was in nostalgic heaven! One of my three favorite high school bands.
So very much looking forward to hanging with pals and overloading my kitchen cupboard with band koozies…the concert t-shirt drawer needed a break from its overflowing load.
Shout out to a new locally-based music magazine who had been seen hanging at most of these shows…check them out at Rockstar Lifestyle Magazine.
And the concerts that would have been but were cancelled or rescheduled:
Rival Sons was supposed to be on 4-25-2020 at the Culture Room in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Cost $145.85 for a VIP ticket that included sound check and a meet-n-greet. Sighhhhhhhh, squee, sob. No cancellation or rescheduled date yet. I will hold on to these as long as possible….MY FAVORITE BAND THESE DAYS!
The Black Crowes were supposed to be on July 1, 2020 at the Midflorida Amphitheatre in Tampa, Florida. Cost $118.60 for pretty good seats. Rescheduled for 6-25-2020 and I sincerely hope things get better by then!
Sammy Hagar and the Circle, Whitesnake, and Night Ranger was supposed to be on 7-11-2020 at the Midflorida Amphitheatre. Groupon Cost $20. I also had really good seats to this show in Boston (my cousin is holding on to those tickets!) in August. Groupon Cost $20.00. The tour was cancelled.
Guns N’ Roses was supposed to be on 8-15-2020 at Raymond James Stadium in Tampa, Florida. Cost $196.15. The show was cancelled. I saw them in 2016 out in the third tier boonies (check out my review of that show here) and decided to get better seats this time. Considering I was lucky enough to see them at the Cathouse and other L.A. clubs back in the ’80s, I can’t whine too much.
Foreigner was supposed to be on 9-5-2020 at the Midflorida Amphitheatre. Groupon cost $20. The show was cancelled.
Steel Panther with Blackberry Smoke at Jannus Live on 12-18-2020. Cost $45.79. This show actually happened but I gave the tickets to a friend. I bought the tickets in a moment of desperate weakness in September, when things were looking a bit brighter pandemic-wise, as it was an outdoor show with limited capacity. Being it was so close to the holidays, we decided that we did not want to risk our families’ lives at Christmastime for Steel Panther (lol…we probably might have for Rival Sons). Fun comedic band to see though!
All in all, I cannot complain too much about all the concerts I missed this year considering all the ones I did see ;o). Here’s to all of us having a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2021 with tons of live music somewhere in there!
And one final meme….