I’ve had a two-concert weekend, and lord, how it has soothed my soul. Friday night I saw blues legend B.B. King play out at Chronicle Pavillion. What a fantastic treat. I was never much into the blues until this past year, and now I just can’t get enough. I’ve discovered there’s nothing better to listen to when you’re down: The blues doesn’t hold you down in your depths; they make you realize that we all hit rough spots, that overall things aren’t so bad, and that even in the midst of adversity, you can still let your light shine, and you can still create something breathtakingly beautiful. I feel blessed to have seen B.B. play. He’s getting on up there in years, and we may not have him around for too much longer, although he looked and sounded awfully good to me. I’d bet my last dollar he keeps performing till the day he leaves us.
Guitar pyrotechnician Jeff Beck was also on the bill. Sort of an odd act to precede a blues legend, but what can you do. Listening to far-out, hard-core guitar work for forty-five minutes is not my usual cup of tea, but it was fun to see an aging boomer rock the house, and his fans provided some of the most interesting people-watching I’ve had in a while. I’ve never seen so many shot-out boomers in one place before. We’re talking about hundreds of folks who looked like they never got off the hippie train. Their prematurely worn faces and tired eyes told a myriad of tales. If I’d been able to do an instantaneous brain-dump as I looked around, I would have had enough material for several short stories.
That crowd was the polar opposite of the crowd I found myself in last night when I saw the Aquabats
play in the City. Not too many people have heard of this band; nor had I until a coworker introduced me to them. (It turns out my brother is also a huge fan.) The Aquabats have a quirky ska-punk sound, and ham it up as mock superheroes as they sing about doing battle against evil floating eyes, midget pirates, and such. Other subjects include pool parties, elementary school cafeteria food, and the tyranny of the television. There is also a ton of eighties nostalgia in the lyrics, including some references that simply must be flying right over the heads of many of their younger fans.
There were several young children in the crowd, and I’m told that this is normal for an Aquabats show. At one point, child volunteers were brought onstage, where they mounted inflatable pool equipment and were sent out on a crowd-surfing race around the room. “If one of these kids gets hurt,” the Commander shouted at us, “their parents will sue the Aquabats and we will be no more! So everyone pull together!” We did. You haven’t lived till you’ve seen a little boy atop a large inflatable seahorse, being passed around atop a dancing standing-room-only crowd. I’ll bet he never forgets that.
I attended the show with the dude who turned me on to the band, as well as my boss. I thought I’d done a pretty decent job costume-wise (it’s that kind of show), mimicking the Aquabats’ basic evil-fighting uniform
relatively faithfully and inexpensively. My boss went off in a completely different and totally fantastic direction (he’s that kind of guy), and had the best getup in the house.