Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Def Leppard "picks" are winners

Not everyone believes me, but growing up in Indiana can have its slow days. Sometimes, those slow days would fall back to back. We called this summer. However, one particular summer was interrupted by an activity that wasn't CB tag. I went to this fairly awesome Def Leppard concert..in 1988! I went with a fellow life guard named Steve. (I will post some pictures from this historical night later.) It was the Hysteria Tour and that album had just started to blow up. Indiana State Fairgrounds. Outdoors. In the summer. In the rain. Lots and lots of rain. It rained so hard they had a power outage. I remember this concert vividly. General Admission meant no assigned seating, so when they opened the gate the crowd just poured in. I was literally carried through the crush of people and dumped on the inside without even seeing a ticket taker or turnstile anywhere.

This led to an idea. I got on the closest pay phone (cel phones in 1988?) and called Yojay (yes, same name) and had him get off his ass and bring his girlfriend down to the show ASAP. I handed him our tickets through the fence and Presto!...free concert (for him anyway).

Waiting for Yojay left me at the back of the pack, as far from the stage as possible without being in the seats. We all started working our way to the front of the crushing crowd while Europe opened. I remember it got to be too much for Yojay and his girl, so they retreated to the safety of the grandstands (and the shelter from the crappy weather) but I knew if I could make it just a little bit further, I would have the front row in my grasp. Everything was going as planned. As I squirmed my way through the crowd, trying to keep up with Steve, my path was suddenly and inexplicably blocked on all sides. Like a chessmaster, I paused, planning my next move. That's when I heard a voice above all the music. "Where do you think you're going little man?" My 135lb, 17 year old suburban, white boy, Boston Red Sox cap wearing head looked up and my front row dreams went way way down. I was looking at the biggest black guy I'd ever seen outside of the NFL. Elf was about to die.

How was I going to get past this guy? Just then, through the rain, in the middle of the night, a beacon of light shone down on 2 people just over this giant's shoulder, near the front row. My friend Steve had met a girl in the parking lot and she had just passed out in his arms from the heat. He was hoisting her onto his shoulder and was trying to get her to the safety of the Security Guard up at the stage. I pointed over my new gatekeeper's shoulder and yelled "See that girl?! She's my sister. She just passed out from the heat. I'm trying to get to her." He turned and saw her lifeless body slumped over Steve's shoulder. He turned back to me and he took a deep breath. Half expecting him to start laughing, instead he opened his mouth and said:

"Yo! Make some room. This guy needs to get through. Get out of the way!" and he cleared about 8 people ahead, pushing me toward the front and within a few feet of Steve and his mystery girl. I looked over my shoulder and said "Thanks" and left it at that. I just prayed I'd be far enough up ahead that he wouldn't be able to see me rockin' out in the front row after my little white (boy) lie. I felt like I betrayed some sort of unspoken , passed out sister rock concert bond. Yea. I felt really bad about that...for about 3 seconds. Besides, karma was totally on my side. It was nothing sunshine, pie, puppies and clowns from here on out.

As Steve handed her over the railing he had the sudden and unfortunate realization that he would have to go with her, since she was unconscious. As he climbed the railing I waved goodbye and said I'd find him later. I was in the FRONT ROW BABY! getting crushed against the railing, watching bouncers scoop rainwater out of the plastic tarps covering Def Leppard's amps and handing it to the desperate fans. I even handed an ice cold Coke back to someone behind me as they handed a wad of cash up front to the bouncer, with a twenty on the outside. Nice exploitation, bouncer guy.

At one point I took off my Red Sox cap and wringed it out to drink it. Girls were in line to get some, it was THAT hot. It was pouring. And then it happened. As Def Leppard cranked through hit after hit, guitarist Phil Collen chucked guitar picks into the crowd. He flicked one right at me. I reached for it in the rain and it bounced off my wrist. I watched it fall into the mud and water at my feet. There was no way to bend over to get it and I couldn't see it anyway. It was gone. I was so close, and then, nothin'.

Karma, you fickle bitch!

Fast forward 19 years. I am at Disney with my girlfriend and 10-month old daughter talking to a girl who works in the shop in an Irish Pub. The conversation turns to Def Leppard (as it probably does with her no matter where she is) and I tell a short version of my story. She says, "I know Phil. he's a friend of mine. Do you want me to get you a pick?"


"No, seriously. I'll see them in Tampa in July. Give me your address."

This arrived in the mail yesterday:

This is where I sing my "Karma can suck it!" song. It took 19 years, but I'm back on top baby!

1 comment:

zxkuqyb said...

Nice story Karma Boy...however, Yojay is a close friend of mine and he said that he never retreated from the rain to shelter...he stayed where he was to rock out w/ the topless girls in the middle of the pack. The view was just a bit better there. BTW, Yojay says..."Thanks for the Tix"! That concert was the best one he's ever seen! L8r...