Monday, May 14, 2012

Monday Morning Stories With Mookie - Episode 16

The Time Mookie Saw Van Halen In Concert, And Threw Up

The day was Friday April 10th, 1992 and I was easily the most excited I had ever been in my life up to that point.  I was going to see Van Halen live in concert.  I LOVE VAN HALEN.  This was back when they were at their peak during the Sammy Hagar days, and I was a big fan.  I never got sucked into the whole "Who is better: David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?" argument.  I appreciated both eras of music (both had high and low points), and thought Eddie Van Halen was a badass guitar player.
The cover of Van Halen's 1991 album - "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge"
They were coming to Cedar Rapids on what I believe was the 4th leg of their U.S. tour in support of their "For Unlawful Carnal Knowledge" album.  So me and the boys scooped us up some tickets for the show months in advance, and then had to wait what seemed like forever.

Finally, the day of the show arrived and we came up with our plan of attack.  The plan was for "Russ" (*) and "Junior" (*) to meet "Rick" (*) and I at the the show as they had a golf meet that day after school.  It was an "away" meet, but they usually don't take too long, and the show didn't start till like 7:30-8.  Easily enough time to get back and make the show.  I too was on the golf team, but I sucked and did not get to travel to the meet. (Yay.)
The back of my Van Halen shirt.  My Mom was proud.
Since Rick and I were "good boys" during our high school days, we arrived at the show clean and sober.  Once we get there, there is no question - I want to be on the floor.  It was a "general admission" show, which meant no reserved seats and an open floor in the arena. Rick was not a fan of crowds, and said "fine," but he would stay back where people weren't touching him.  Russ and Junior showed up about that time, and we decided we "need" to get concert t-shirts.  Russ, Junior, and I all picked out the same shirt - I think mainly due to the profane way the Van Halen album title was displayed.  We were cool.  In hindsight, there were much cooler shirts, but having the "F-word" on your back trumped everything.

Finally, the lights go down for the opening act:  "Baby Animals."  They were some new Austrailian group, and they weren't very good.  They had one minor hit song in the U.S, but that was it.  The only other claim to fame they ended up having was the lead singer chick ended up marrying Nuno Bettencourt from the group Extreme.

After the Baby Animals set, the crowd started to get a bit rowdy.  The closer you tried to get to the stage, the tighter it got.  It was just a trash compactor of dirty, sweaty, drunk and high people. The house music over the PA got louder and louder as we wall stood around anticipating the arrival of Van Halen.

By now, the four of us had largely separated due to the crowd and the chaos it created.  I had somehow wedged myself within maybe 3 or 4 feet of the gate in front of the stage.  This equated to having 2 or 3 people in front of me, but I was unable to judge this because it was just crushed bodies.  "Wedged" is the only way to describe it because it was just using the pushing motion of the audience to your advantage and creating a wedge between people until you could square yourself as much as possible.  The pressure on everyone was so great you could pick your feet up briefly - and still be upright.  How more people don't die at these things I'll never know.

FINALLY - The lights went down.  "HEEELLLOOOO BAAABY!" went Sammy Hagar's voice and the distinct sound of Eddie Van Halen holding a drill to his guitar blasted over the sound system.  The stage lights flooded the place and there they were:  Van Halen.  The song "Poundcake" opened the show (hence the drill) and they were rocking.  The crowd was crazy, and somehow pushed against everything even harder.  It was intense.  After about 3 songs, I had to back out.  I didn't feel good, I was overheating, and I was soaked.  Getting out of a crowd like that is almost as difficult as going in, but most people were happy to wedge into the hole you were making backing out.  Once I  was out of the press of bodies, and into the just "closely standing" people I was able to move more freely - which was good because I felt sick.  I wandered up to the balcony level, and decided I needed a bathroom now. I fell into the stall and "BAAARRFFFF."  This went on for a few minutes.  I was so weak from everything I found myself sitting on the floor of the bathroom stall.  As I am sitting there on the floor of bathroom barfing (I will never forget this), I can hear Van Halen singing the song "Right Now."  I remember thinking "Oh man, they are playing Right Now." Then I remember thinking, "Yeah, Right Now I'm throwing up."  I thought nothing of it at that moment, but after the fact I couldn't believe I sat on the floor of a public bathroom stall and how gross that was.  Then again, it probably wasn't any grosser than everyone and everything I was pressed against on the arena floor.

To this day, I'm not sure exactly what happened and caused me to have the vomit episode but I think I just got overheated.  By the end of the song I had composed and cleaned myself up, and made my way back into the arena.  While walking the concourse, I ran into Junior who had also had enough of the floor.  Somehow we found a pair of seats and we watched the rest of the show from there.  Yeah, it rocked.

After the show, I found Rick and I said we had to stop at McDonald's for something to drink before we set off for home.  We each got large chocolate shakes, and a large Diet Coke.  I drank my soda even before we left the city, and had finished Rick's soda and my shake before we got home.  Between sweating my ass off and vomiting, I must have been a dehydrated fellow.  But that was OK.  We saw Van Halen.

On Monday, we all wore our "F-Word" Van Halen shirts to school, but put tape over the "U" and the "C" in the "F Word."  I can't believe they let us wear them.  But then again, we were cool.  We saw Van Halen.

(*) - Names changed to protect the guilty/innocent.

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