WIHAN

With the first few entries in this WIHAN series, I’ve managed to wallow in my glory days of the late 1970s. Time for something a little more current, I say.

This birthday present of a show came courtesy of my son, Ben. He decided he wanted to take me to a club show where he could legally buy me a beer for the first time, having turned 21 a few months earlier. Truth be told, The Polyphonic Spree wasn’t his first choice, but a conflict forced him to pick this one, so it would have to do.

And do it did.

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or The night I thought I’d end up with a hunting knife in my belly

OK, before I tell the story behind that subtitle, check out the ticket price! Ten bucks to see the Stones. Tax included. No TicketMaster or venue fees. What a freakin’ deal!!!

Former Wailer Peter Tosh opened, supporting his Legalize It album. Most likely a decent set, but the only thing I remember all these years later is the size of the joint the band fired up toward the end. Looking like a medium-sized cigar, I imagine it took them a couple hours to smoke down to a roach.

It was a general admission show, a year and a half before the tragedy at The Who’s Cincinnati concert put an end to such things. So, after the Tosh set my friends and I made our way toward the stage. Getting to the front was never the hardest part of this maneuver; jump into the sea of humanity and the undertow would carry you in the desired direction. Holding your own up front, surviving the combination of mid-summer temps and body heat when personal space extended no further than your own layer of sweat, that was the tricky part.

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I had forgotten this was a Halloween show. There must’ve been people there in costumes, but I don’t remember it.

I do remember a certain electricity about this show. As a colleague of mine from the East Coast delights in pointing out, Minnesotans are pathologically possessive about famous natives, so Dylan’s ambivalence to the state he grew up in had long felt like an insult. But all was forgiven when he put St. Paul on the Street Legal tour schedule. ‘Will he acknowledge us from the stage?’ we wondered, ‘Maybe even apologize for ignoring us for so long?’

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I have saved almost every ticket stub from concerts I’ve been attending since 1974. I’m not sure why, except that behind every one of them is a memory. Most of them are good, none are profound, a few make for good stories after a couple of beers. Some of the memories have gone missing – I honestly can’t remember seeing The Boomtown Rats, but there’s a ticket stub in my dresser that says I did. So I’ve decided to write down what I do recall, before any more go AWOL. Consider this the beginning of an occasional series; I don’t expect any rhyme or reason to the order. I’m starting with this Kinks show, well, just because.

On April 9, 1977 I was a 16-year-old kid with a drivers license, a few bucks in the bank from a fast-food job and a whole lotta Saturday night staring me in the face.

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