"This Song Is From The Worst Movie Ever"
"This Song Is From The Worst Movie Ever" -- or, "This Phrase Is From The Worst Free Concert Ever".
Both statements are false. Who said which? Read on.
Tuesday night, I was in Lincoln at the Nebraska State Fair, where we attended the Pat Benatar concert -- once again putting on the line the notion that free entertainment is always a good time. Foreigner, Styx, REO Speedwagon, and Joan Jett did not disappoint at previous shows. Benatar nearly did before saving face with an epic three-song finale: Heartbreaker, Promises In The Dark, and Love is a Battlefield.
She'd very nearly lost me when she introduced "Invincable" as being a song from "the worst movie ever made". When she said that, Dick asked me what movie she was talking about. I drew a blank, assuming it was some obscure '80s flick. A Google search turned up just one movie that features that song. The Legend Of Billie Jean. Starring not one but two Slaters: Helen and Christian!
(Maybe she did lose me: initially I remembered the "worst movie" introduction as taking place before she played "We Belong". And which movie is that featured in? Talladega Nights. Not the worst movie ever, not by far. But that's what I wrote. When Donovan corrected me, I changed this post to reflect my mistake. I don't lie to my readers.)
The night had started in the parking lot, where we tailgated out of the trunk of the Mach V. Bud Light, outdoors in 70 degree weather, tailgating in a parking lot...how does it get any better than that? It doesn't.
Sam and his friend met us and enjoyed a beer, but when we went to board the shuttle into the fairgrounds, they didn't get on. "Oh, we're not going in. We just came by to say hi."
Me and Dick were dumbfounded. Drive all across Lincoln to have a beer in the parking lot, for ten minutes, and that's it?
On the shuttle, the first of a night of dirty looks were thrown my way. I'd chosen, on purpose, to wear my "Creighton Football: Undefeated Since 1942" shirt, which doesn't play well in Lincoln. I really love it when people get all hot and bothered over someone minding their own business wearing a shirt of their rival. The best part, of course, is that Creighton doesn't even have a football team, so they aren't even a rival, not in football anyway. Didn't matter. Husker eyes were piercing through me all night. Love it.
Once inside the fair, we got food. He, a double-decker corn dog. Me, Chicken Stix.
Here's the thing that eternally pisses me off about Chicken Stix at the fair. Now, its tasty, don't get me wrong. But its a stick, not many sticks (or stix). Stix infers plurality, more than one chicken stick. Yet order a Chicken Stix, you get one stick. Gets me all riled up every time.
It was with that mood that Dick and I thumb-wrestled. As we were standing outside the ampitheater, waiting for the opening band "Not Pat Benatar" to finish their set, three nice ladies from the Nebraska Lottery walked up to us with a thumb-wrestling ring and asked if we were willing to wrestle for lottery tickets. I had made eye contact with them and drawn them over to us, so I felt compelled. Or maybe I was looking at something else...I can't remember. Whatever. You bet. They walked right up to me and asked if I wanted to thumb wrestle. I assumed (hoped?) they meant me versus one of them. They meant me versus my buddy Dick. Not the same, but oh well.
And we squared off. My thumb was in the ring for barely one second and Dick pulled a Thunderlips on me and pinned me before the bell had even sounded. One of the girls said, "Wow, I think that's the fastest anybody's ever finished!" Under the category of "Things you never ever want to hear a girl say", file that one near the top.
She felt so bad she gave us both lottery tickets. Dick didn't win anything on his. I won $3. So there.
Problem was, beer was $4 a glass. I pointed out this sad fact, and Dick said, "There's smaller beers for $3 too". Yeah, but who drinks the small beer? Not me. I said, much to the amusement of the lottery girls, that I'd rather get a big glass filled up 3/4 of the way. Same amount, sure, but a $3 glass isn't a story. A $4 glass filled up 3/4 of the way for $3 is a story. And a damn fine story if I do say so my damn self.
Alas, I didn't go through with it.
Benatar took the stage soon thereafter, and we moved to various points around the perimeter of the ampitheater attempting to get a glimpse. No dice. About 45 minutes in, Dick yelled out "Workin' Overtime!", a salute to our buddy Continental who was not in attendance. (He started doing that last year at both Foreigner and Styx, a nod to the Simpsons episode where Homer yells that at a show, successfully goading the band into playing it, then yelling, "Skip to the workin' overtime part!")
During "Hit Me With Your Best Shot", a weird thing occurred to me. Every woman in the audience singing along, every guy standing around drinking beer and wishing the guitars were a little louder.
That's the thing about a rock band versus a vocalist with a backing band: in a rock band, the instruments are usually equally loud as the vocals. When a vocalist plays live, the instruments are turned down to make the vocals the focus point. So it sounds like a record. With thousands of females singing along. Nice.
For the encore, many of those women rushed the stage, so we rushed and took their seats. For the last couple of songs, we had great seats, perhaps ten rows back. As soon as the show ended, Pat was whisked off stage immediately by two security guys while the rest of the band remained to take bows and salute the crowd. The headliner was long gone.
After the show, we went to the Depot Beer Garden, where a hair-metal cover band complete with big hair and a keytar player were slashing through "Here I Go Again" by Whitesnake. We waited 20 minutes in line for a beer, and then had a seat in the shadow of the Bob Devaney Sports Center, the basketball arena named for a football coach, with me wearing a shirt of a non-existant football team. Seems about right.
Later, we ran into a friend of ours who had been in the VIP section for the concert. That means not only front row seats, but a meet-and-greet with the band. She told us that Neil Girardo, guitarist and Pat's husband, posed for as many photos as they wanted and couldn't have been nicer. Pat, on the other hand, would only pose for photos if they were taken with their camera -- you could then get the photos from the promoter (presumably for a price). Absurd.
Apparently, and this story was relayed to me from a rather drunk girl so take it with a grain of salt, Pat also made them pave the walkway from the bus/trailer to the backstage so she wouldn't have to walk in the grass. Crazy.
Here's the thing: I'm pretty sure when you haven't had a hit in two decades, you need to cease being a diva. Diva Licenses expire five years after your last hit. DIana Ross has been prancing around with an expired license for years too. Apparently Pat Benatar does as well. Never would have guessed that.
So was it the worst free concert ever? No, Styx and their phoned-in performance still takes that cake. Despite Benatar's best efforts to make me think otherwise, she put on a good show.
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