This is a post about one of the most electric live music experiences of my life.
I literally was hanging onto the side of balcony by a combination of the tips of my booted toes and a finger (well maybe two or three fingers), watching one of the most amazing rock gods of all time, in a beer and sweat soaked tent. Somehow I manage to head bang to my fullest.
Let’s back up here. It was Stampede. For those of you who don’t what the heck Stampede is, it’s the ‘Greatest Outdoor Show on Earth.’ Ten days packed full of parties and fun, it’s a concoction of a massive rodeo, an outdoor amusement park, casinos, livestock shows, art galleries, beer gardens, and live concerts. To top it off, the people of Calgary, the fine city that hosts this ridiculous brouhaha, attend a plethora of pancake breakfasts suited up on western gear. Yeeee-haw!!!
I grew up in Calgary, thus, Stampede seethes through my blood. The lover of music that I am, one of the highlights is the line up of live shows that migrate our way during this festive time. When Steven Tyler announced he would be playing at the Cowboys Tent – an outdoor, massive tent erected for the ten days of partying – I snatched my tickets up immediately. Loud. Sweaty. Standing room only. My kind of show.
The tent hosts a constant barrage of musical acts. Getting there early wasn’t going to do much good in improving our position in the crowd. The tent is packed all day long. I opted for the whatever approach and enjoyed a few pre concert drinks with my posse in the air conditioned casino. When we arrived, the tent was still manageable. We secured a spot up on a raised section in hopes of catching a view of the glam man. I must mention – I am a mere 4 foot 10 inches. This tent situation wasn’t going to be on my side. By the time Steven pumped out the first few notes, the place was packed tighter than a can of sardines. I couldn’t see a thing. My heart sank. A lot of these people filed in last minute. I had been waiting for this since I bought my tickets six months ago. Hell – I’d been waiting for this since the last time I saw him perform – years ago! Oh well. I accepted my fate. I took a long swig from my drink, closed my eyes, and drank in Steven’s aura.
By this time, we had switched from the cheap water beer (unfortunately the great local craft beer isn’t served in many spots on the Stampede grounds) for the sweet mix of rye and coke. I don’t normally go the route of hard liquor, but the options left me no choice. I was feeling the buzz of the rye, the electricity of the crowd, and Steven’s croonings were seething through my veins.
Then, my opportunity came. A spot along the railing had opened up. My hubby nudged me to it. I took it. It was better, but I still couldn’t see. My hubby then told me I should stand up on the ledge. There was no-one behind us. I stepped a foot onto a board, then grabbed the ledge with my left hand. I hoisted myself up. My heart stopped. I could see everything. I tingled from head to boot. The muscular bouncer tucked into the corner behind politely tapped my shoulder and told me I couldn’t stand there. Something came over me and I half pleaded, half begged him. I told him to give me a chance and if I bothered him at all I would get down. He agreed.
Somehow I managed the perfect balance of hanging onto the side, leaving enough room between me and the bouncer, and executing the perfect head bang at the right times. Even through a fiasco of the man in front of me purposely backing up, causing me to cling by two fingers at most, I held my position. He eventually got tired of my yelling (and dear hubby helped out with that too!), and moved away.
At the height of the show, when Steven belted out the peak of Dream On, every cell in my body was on fire. The energy was like lightening. His voice was unreal. At the time, he was 69 years old. You wouldn’t know.
When the lights came on, I stepped down from the ledge, buzzing from the rye-hanging by a ledge-electric vibes-rock god concoction and relished in the after show high. We thanked the bouncer profusely, convincing him to take something for his generosity – and I told him how amazing he made my night.
The entire next day I felt alive with the energy of the show, despite the reasonable hangover and exhaustion.
This one will go down in my books as one of the best live shows ever.