My summer concert plans are a disaster so far. I entered the summer with grandiose plans to see about 10 performers, some old & some new. Those plans were quickly derailed, crashed and burned not unlike any weekend “to do” list I have ever made or any financial plans for retirement I have ever structured. The culprit? As always … an evil-doer using the alias of “family obligations” has been identified, arrested, tried & convicted for viciously murdering my summer concert plans.
I had wanted to kick-off my summer concert plans by seeing Lord Huron headline at a festival. They are an up & coming indie band that I really enjoy.
My oldest daughter gave me one of their CD’s. She would certainly want to see them. Nope, despite being a big fan, she had no interest. My friends had no interest since they typically cannot be enticed to a concert unless it is a Beatles reunion with an original line-up featuring both Pete Best and Stu Sutcliffe. But of course I can count on being able to drag my wife to a concert that she has absolutely no interest in attending, right? Nope, those family obligations rise up in the form of a daughter’s dance recital rehearsal. I refused to be a total loser and attend a festival by myself (Yay, I am alone and festive!), so I succumbed to having my butt caressed by the couch monster at home.
Despite the lackluster start, I figured I could recover and get my concert plans back on track when I saw tickets still available to see Steely Dan, a old fave of mine that I have never seen. Once again, news of this concert opportunity spread among family and friends generated about as much interest as a Bay City Rollers reunion tour. Wait, what? Never mind, the Bay City Rollers are already reunited and touring.
Sigh! But I had an ace up my sleeve, a more casual friend who is a known Steely Dan fan, bordering on stalker. Once again the heinous family obligations rose up, this time from his side, requiring his attendance at an out-of-town family reunion.
Then doubt crept in. These dudes (major dudes for any Steely Dan fans) are old. Their vocals were never the best in their prime. What will they sound like now? I saw 2/3 of the formerly golden-throated warblers called America in concert a couple years ago, and if I could have found a pencil to puncture my eardrums, I would have. If America sounds so bad, how bad will Becker and Fagen sound? So I grabbed caution from the wind and passed, preferring to remember their original vinyl sound complete with scratches rather than their potentially scratchy voices of today.
At that point, I needed a new concert plan. What I came up with was a plan to see 5 concerts for ZERO dollars. That’s right, 5 FREE concerts. I’m not talking about money for gas, train fare, a Mott the Hoople Reunion Tour 2016 commemorative t-shirt, or overpriced hot dogs and beer. I’m just talking about admission … $0.00. I successfully launched that plan over the Independence Day holiday weekend.
First stop on my summer concert tour was Festival Park, just outside the Grand Victoria Casino in Elgin, IL for a triple-header concert featuring Rick Springfield and Loverboy. I could not name one Loverboy song if someone put a gun to my head, so please don’t. No, I didn’t come to see them, but the opening act for the opening act, a band from Detroit called The Romantics, crafters of one of the great fun power pop songs of all time, “What I Like About You.” I first saw The Romantics in 1984, then opening for Adam Ant at the Aragon B(r)a(w)llroom in Chicago. Now they are opening for Loverboy who is opening for Rick Springfield. I don’t think that is progress, but they appear to at least be treading career water.
Now this was actually a fairly expensive concert. The casino people cordon off a large area in the park for their concerts and erect a privacy fence around it to keep out prying eyes. At last year’s Boston concert, I learned that as long as I didn’t mind standing outside the fence with the homeless and some rough bikers, I could hear just fine. As it turns out, I could also see fine, after I held a beer for a guy who tore down the privacy screen from the fencing with his bare hands (I was very careful not to spill any of his beer). In fact, I was closer to the stage than most people with seats. Although I went alone, I don’t consider having seen the concert alone. Don’t forget, I held a new friend’s beer.
For The Romantics, my wife was nice enough to keep me company and drag our youngest daughter along. There was no tearing down of privacy screens, although through the gaps in the fence, we could see just fine and they were loud enough for us to sit back further, content to see the stage whenever I felt the need to by standing up. I didn’t.
They played a brisk 40 minute set reprising some of their hits from the 80’s along with a couple covers. Thankfully, they didn’t have a new album to promote by playing some lame songs from that. My only complaint is that if you are an oldies band with minimal “hits,” play them all. The Romantics neglected to play “One In A Million.”
Best 80’s guy band hair ever. Perhaps they lost the rights to play the song in a poker game in the casino before the show. Regardless, The Romantics provided a nostalgic trip down memory lane and provided nice background music for an old woman knitting and an old man staring into space just a stone’s throw away.
He paid more attention once I started throwing those stones.
Concert #2 on my 2016 Free Summer Concert Tour will feature Weezer. Wait, they are a current headliner. How can they be a free concert you ask? You’ll have to wait for my next review to find out.