Sunday, August 26, 2012

My First Concert: A True Story

Wichita, Kansas, Kansas Coliseum, 1991.
I was, I think, 13 years old and I was given the opportunity to see Michael Bolton at the Kansas Coliseum with an older friend. And I got to go! I was thrilled.. This would be my first big concert. The fact that it was Michael Bolton, looking back, that is embarrassing enough. I could end the story there.
 But what I remember now that makes me feel even more stupid is how excited I remember being. Keep in mind that Michael Bolton was in his prime. But Michael Bolton was not Metallica or LL Cool J. He was "Adult Contemporary" and I was 13. My school friends were listening to Janet Jackson, Pearl Jam, and Red Hot Chili Peppers. So when I look back it seems lame. However, growing up we didn't watch much MTV or listen to much of the pop radio stations. So I was pumped to see Michael Bolton himself, In the flesh!
I even remember owning a Cassette Tape for the album, "Time, Love and, Tenderness". So I was as excited as a 13 year old could be. I knew a lot of his music.
We of course got a ride with a parent, and were to be dropped off and given instructions on when and where to meet back up afterwards. This was a big night for a 13 year old! Before this I had only seen Wichita Wings Indoor Soccer games in this Arena with my family.
I remember on the way to the concert in the car, for some reason I had this idea that it was going to be like a  "hard rock" show.. and I just kept asking out loud whether or not my friend's parent or my friend thought there might be a laser show that would accompany the concert. I was obsessed with that thought for some reason. Even days before the concert I had thought about it a lot. I must have seen a concert on TV at some point where they shot laser lights over the crowd. So In my head I pictured just an all out spectacular epic rock show. I have no idea what I was thinking.
We got into the Arena and the place was setup with lights and a small fog machine, some drums and an electronic keyboard. And I just kept turning to my friend and saying loudly.. "dude I think there is going to be lasers!!"

We were early and so I wanted to walk down close to the stage to see what a close seat would be like. And then I saw something... I saw a guy who I was sure I had seen setting up the keyboard on stage earlier. I saw him sitting in the seats a few rows up, and in my mind I thought... WOW! That is THE Michael Bolton's Keyboardist! My 13 year old brain felt the same feeling as if I had just run into Robert De Niro on the street.  I told my friend, "I'm going to talk to him." I remember him being like "Whatever I'm staying here."
I walked up slowly to this guy, I mean you just don't approach a serious rock star's band member without showing a little bit of star struck reverence, right? So I made my way over to the long haired guy and said the first thing that came to my nerve racked mind..I said "Does he sign autographs after the show?" I recall a short pause and then he gave me a weird look and a shrug. "No idea", he said. I then felt a boldness in my 13 year old brain. It was the build up of wondering just how big and spectacular I had envisioned this concert all week. I HAD to know. I said.. "Is there going to be a laser show?", This time there was only an unconcerned shrug and kind of the feeling I was bugging him. I backed away feeling a little embarrassed and shy now by his sort of stand-offishness.  It was then that I turned back as I was walking away and I realized that it wasn't the keyboard player for Michael Bolton. It was just some guy, who was there with his small son who had shown up early just like us to see the concert.
We went back to our seat and I felt truly embarrassed. The concert started, there was a little fog, and it ended up just being Michael Bolton singing his songs with a few lights on him, a keyboardist, and a couple other instruments. It fell short of all expectations that I had made in my brain, and I felt bored about 3 songs into his set.
I don't remember much about getting back home, telling my parents about it, the actual songs he sang, or the days that followed.. and soon I sort of put it all in the back of my mind.
But tonight all this just hit me and I sort of felt sad and embarrassed for my former 13 year old self.. I wanted to go back and tell him to cheer up, and that you just need to lower expectations.

I guess my last thought looking back is wondering... How lame and weird would a Michael Bolton concert have been if it had lasers, pyrotechnics, and theatrics while this dude is up on stage singing "When a Man Loves a Woman" next to some guy playing a keyboard.
Let's just say.. It would have helped.

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