|legeros.com > Writing > ZZ '03|
By Michael J. Legeros
Friday night at Walnut Creek. ZZ Top, Ted Nugent, and Double Trouble with Kenny Wayne Shepherd. Show starts at 7:00 p.m., but we arrive at 8. We're there for the headliners, that Little ol' Band From Texas. I'm armed with the usual accoutrements: cash, 'plugs, notepad, a driver's license, and one disposable camera. Plus a digital camera for use upon arrival, should the "heavy-metal parking lot" experience prove colorful. Alas, there's but a trickle of arriving cars and trucks-with-gun racks. Everyone's already here. Plus there 'taint much natural light left. Secure car, hide camera, and commence walking. Sweetie memorizes where we're parked. A6 or abouts. And a good half-mile from the gate. The trek is uneventful: dad with kids, couple good old boys, and one long, tall, tanned, blonde-with-a-boob job. I ogle discretely.
8:05 p.m. First mullet sighted, seen entering Porta-Potty outside main entrance. Time to pad the package. Pull companion to side and commence stuffing crotch (mine) with disposable camera. She offers her fanny pack. "No, they'll search that." Readjust twice and proceed to entrance. Security is surprisingly light-- no pat-downs or waving wands. Sweetie's fanny (pack) gets a cursory check and we're sent ahead. No ticket ripping at the turnstiles, either. Instead, the chits are scanned with fingertip infrared readers. Cooooooool. Enter courtyard. Companion beelines for bathroom; I round a corner and reach inside my pants.
No concert noise yet. Just Guns 'n' Roses "Don't Cry" wafting from the other side of the hill. White Christmas lights twinkling on a tree as a thin-but-steady stream of people pass. Some arriving; others just ambling around. Over here, four guys in Harley duds. Over there, the first of several skintight sundresses. And beer everywhere Companion emerges from restroom and we pause at a picnic table. From the other side of the hill, an air raid siren starts. Then a rumbling with the muted wailing. Mr. Nugent, who just five hours earlier was in North Raleigh signing copies of his and his wife's "Kill It & Grill It: A Guide to Preparing and Cooking Wild Game and Fish," has arrived. "Free For All" is his first song.
"Wango Tango" as we reach the left food court. "Eight dollars for beer!" exclaims She Who Is Paying For Refreshments. Still some daylight as we turn toward the lawn seats. "Eight dollars for domestic beer!" She still can't believe it. Well, get drunk at a concert, a person has to make... concessions. Sorry. Hazy sky. Few clouds. The grassy knoll is nearly full. Crowd seems sedate, though. On stage, Ted is playing in front of a giant US flag (of course). His props are simple: a drum riser that resembles a bunker and a couple more flags. 8:15 p.m. First pudgy midriff sighted, quivering above a pair of blue jeans. Return to food court. Sweetie's considering consumption; I'm fine. "Any minor attempting to purchase an alcoholic beverage will be ejected and subject to prosecution." The temperature, we guess, is about 80 degrees. And what feels like 100 percent humidity. Oy.
8:20 p.m. First compliment on my Beavis and Butthead-as-AC/DC tee, from a woman right behind us. (We've wandered to our reserve seats by now.) My companion's all aglow-- she's always had "grass seats" and has never sat this close to the stage. I stay busy scribbling. Don't recognize Ted's next song, but it repeats the words "get ready." 8:23 p.m., first "devil sign" spotted, flashed by the same woman who liked my tee. Sweetie's also surprised by the chest-thumping volume that's reverberating through her. (We both brought earplugs, but she goes without for most of the concert.) Leave seats and resume wandering. So many people to watch, so little time before the headliners. We walk between the upper and lower sections. e.g., the high and not-so-priced seats. Plus VIP boxes and handicapped sections. In the latter, a quadriplegic attendee looks particularly happy, smiling and softly rocking his head.
Rounding the right side, I spy a familiar blonde face. Hey, it's my ex-wife! Haven't seen her in years. She's with her hub in a VIP box. In their own VIP box. Yowza! Chat for a minute, introduce Sweetie, and continue on merry way. (My companion has a million subsequent questions and comments, none of which will be recounted here, thank you very much.) Exit and encounter... strippers. Two "Dockside Dolls" are seated at a fundraising table for the Duke Miracle Children's Network. Judging by their, ah, endowments, said miracle appears to involve lactation. 8:30 p.m., first sighting of Someone From Work. [ For longtime readers, 'tis the same someone who made "ample use of her date's buttocks" at an AC/DC concert in 2001. ] Looking around the right-side food court, zee bill of faire includes "Festival Cafe," "Rosita's Cantina," "Wild Bill's Longhorn," "Stage Door Deli," "Rock 'n' Roll Pizza Factory," "Biggs International Sausage," "The Guitar Bar," and "The Snack Shack."
Price merchandise before returning. ZZ tees range from $30 to $70. Or $75, for double extra-large. Re-enter reserved area. Ted's interrupted his current solo-- guitarist interruptus?-- with some slow blues. Stage is bathed in blue light. I withdraw my camera (now in pocket) and snap a couple shots. Still plenty of people to watch. Lots of form-fitting outfits on the ladies, which is good for the titties but not so good for the bellies. (My companion's dressed considerably more conservatively.) Pass Section 3 (ours) and return to the left-side food court. Sweetie wants a sweetie, so we look around for ice cream. We come up cold. Just frozen lemonade, flavored ice, and some probably stale M&M's. Ted's playing a midtempo number as we plop onto a picnic bench. She mulls while I scribble. The young couple at the next table is fighting. She's facing our direction; his back is to us. Can't eavesdrop, but her consternation speaks volumes. That and the four cups of beer between them.
Elbow in side as Sweetie spots a woman wearing Western garb, all black with five-inch heels. I continue watching the couple. Ms. Annoyed lights a cigarette. She's outfitted with an ankle bracelet and military surplus-style belt. He's rail-thin and wearing a ball cap. Her halter-top is pleasantly thin. I'm wearing shorts. Sweetie's wearing shorts. Everyone's wearing shorts. And, I'm guessing, all similarly coated with a sticky layer of sweat. Have I already complained about the humidity? Now someone else is singing. One of Ted's band mates? "This is a pretty normal-looking crowd," my companion comments. Resume roaming, this time solo as Sweetie secures her sustenance. Snap a few flash photos of the lawn-dwellers. Ted's next song contains the chorus "kiss my ass," a verse of which is dedicated to the French. (I also hear a spoken reference to Iraq at one point.) Accidentally bump into two guys while walking back and hear a muttered "c***sucker." You're welcome! Sweetie finishes a salted pretzel upon my return. Wash down with 200-ounce diet pop. Slight pause as hero blots forehead. He's sweatin' somethin' fierce!
8:55 p.m. First sighting of Gratuitous Public Affection (GPA). Big guy with crew-cut is locking lips with his woman. "Get a room!" Writhe, twist, and the tight-topped maiden is suspended in midair. I sneak a couple photos. Ted is playing "Stranglehold." How fitting. He's caressing her hips now and she's staring into his eyes. The word priapism comes to mind. More deep kissing. Then the butt-kneading begins, hers of his. Got you in a stranglehold, indeed! And after parting, her blouse bears a large sweat spot at mid-bosom. Plus one giant handprint on her ass. 8:57 p.m. Sweetie is ready for Mr. Nugent to finish playing. He's in mid-solo and this one's a long song. Blot forehead again. Person passes wearing a cell phone on belt. Go ahead, talk all you want! Little boy with flashing sneakers walks by. Does Ted still talks about pu**y on stage?
9:02 p.m. First bikini top spotted. Quite a few bare-chested men, too. Alas none of the lasses have followed suit. Older woman determinedly dragging younger one. Mother with drunken daughter? Same-sex couple? Numerous vendors, too, toting insulated coolers of pizza, pretzels, Minute Maid, and bottled water. Another person pushes a handcart with ice. Observing the appendages and torsos of tonight's attendees, we decide that this is a very well-tattooed crowd (included Yours Truly!). Ted's playing the "Star Spangled Banner" now, heavy on the wah-wah. The crowd presumably goes nuts. (We're still sitting in the food court. And my ass is sore.) It's over. Air raid sirens fade, cigarette lighters appear, and ZZ Top's newest album begins playing on the PA. The reserved seats looks maybe 1/2 or 2/3 full. Not quite a sell-out. 9:15 p.m. Ted's giant American flag is being lowered. We're walkin' the aisles, not yet ready to resume sitting. "Wait a godd*mn minute!" I overhear. Impending fight!?!? 9:18 p.m. First fish-net stockings spotted. And then a trio of security dudes run past. Fight!?!? We hastily follow, but discover no crisis at the left-side food court. Rats.
"Mescalero" is the new album. Wonder if the crowd likes it? The songs have been available on the Internet for over a month, but the album's been delayed. 'Twas supposed to be released in April and the rumors are flying: the band is recording more songs, RCA isn't sure how to market the thing, etc. Back to our seats we go. Our aisle seats. Mom and kid in front of us; guy with ZZ Top beard six seats to the right. At least nobody smells-- the prevailing stench of beer has taken care of that. Stand and snap a covert shot of Sweetie. No flash. Film is 800 ASA. Resume wandering, this time alone. See an empty popcorn bucket. That's a strange sight. Pass the right-side handicapped section, where one grandmother (with cane) is having a happy Mother's Day. "Me So Stupid," the grammatically challenged fifth song on the new album, is playing when the lights drop. Silence for a second and then the cheering begins.
"So now, ladies and gentlemen, it is star time! Are you ready for star time!" The booming voice belongs to Ross Mitchell, played on tape (as on their last album "XXX") but lip-synched by an announcer on stage. "It's a stunning and persuasive pleasure to present to you, national and international knorn [sic], that lil' ol' band from Texas, the ZZ Tops." Plural. People are cheering; others are rushing to their seats. Drummer Frank Beard fires up the opening to "Gimme All Your Lovin'" and out stroll guitarists Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill. White hats, grey beards, and black sunglasses. With gold-laced ponchos above jewel-encrusted boots. No stage set. Just two guitars and drums. Rejoin Sweetie right before "Pincushion" starts. Another percussive intro from Mr. Beard. Adjust 'plugs so the right amount of treble's brewing. Spotlights draw Rorschach patterns on a black curtain behind the band. Wonder what's back there? Sweetie's smiling wide, head bobbing to the beat. Kid in front of us looks bored (though he's bobbing too). Stage patter after "'cushion," Gibbons saying something I can't understand. And making hand signals to the others. O-tay!
"Waiting For The Bus" begins, the curtain now bathed in psychedelic colors. Have mercy. I think of Hank Jr., whose superb cover of the Tres Hombres track appears on the country-artist tribute album "Sharp Dressed Men." Resume wandering. Main aisle is lightly traveled, which probably explains the staring as I stop to jot thoughts. Maybe they think I'm "press?" Near the sound booth are several people with backstage passes. Ask one if they know when the album's coming out. Nope. "Jesus Just Left Chicago," also from Hombres. And the curtain has risen, but I can't quite see what's revealed behind it. 9:45 p.m. Catch self playing air guitar. Wander to lower lawn, for better view and more photos. Still seeing familiar faces, work person here, Longbranch person there. Crowd enthusiastically singing and / or swaying with music. Spot stunning pair of cut-offs, shorts with the tops trimmed instead of the bottoms. And she's bending over. [ Insert own cheeky comment ]
By the right-side food court, the air reeks of pot. Not surprised. Take closer look at stage set. The backdrop resembles a Spanish mission in cartoon colors. Or maybe a mausoleum. Poised on each side is a sombrero-clad skeleton. Or, rather, figures in "skeleton suits." (You know, black fabric with white skull 'n' bones...) By the next song, which I don't recognize, Billy and Dusty have discarded their ponchos. Changed hats, too. Dusty's wearing a beret and Billy's mop's topped with a "ZZ Hat de Afrique." For "Manic Mechanic," a spoken-word number from 1979's Deguello, I'm seated again. I'll be back for you, Jack, and I'll let the machine speak. Segue to "Rough Boy," the slow burner from Afterburner. Crowd is unimpressed and begins sitting down. Spy a pair of security guys by the stage, laughing at a miniature liquor bottle they found. Or confiscated. Behind us, the woman who liked my tee-shirt is wearing one herself-- British flag in center with the slogan "wanna shag?" Did she just wink at me? To our right, another person with a phone pressed to their ear. Incredible. (Though no stranger a sight than someone with their nose buried in a notepad...)
"Cheap Sunglasses" roars next. It's a favorite that sends the crowd cheering. Janice The Section 3 Ticket Checker also dances along. On stage, Dusty has pressed his nose to one of the voodoo figures. Maybe he's talking to it. I'm wandering again, criss-crossing the reserved sections. Even the sound guys are moving with the music. Swirls of light and fog on stage. Notice that their guitar straps are glittering. As the song slows to its customary crawl, Billy scratches a few notes with either his belt buckle or, ah, lower regions. Turn attention to Box #67, where another young couple has become amorous. Now they're waving. I smile and keep writing. On stage, Billy's saying something about the new album. Resume walking. In opposite direction, a hip-swinging woman in black raises her one free hand to whistle (the other one's holding a beer). After a couple minutes of talking, the band launches into a song from the new album: "Buck Nekkid." Twenty-six chicks all tied in a knot, ain't very good but it's what we got. Pass a security guard telling a box-holder that they can't smoke. Good for him
Check in with companion. She's smiling and still amazed at the raw volume of the bass end. Turn around to see who else is with us. Big, scary, bare-chested man with biker tattoos stands two rows back. His eyes are glassy. "Get nekkid!" shouts Billy. Agreed, but lemme grab my camera! Don't recognize the next song, throbbing slow-blues number that Dusty sings. The lyrics say something about catfish. "I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide" follows, with the crowd providing the chorus on cue. Then "Piece," sung by Dusty. It's also from the new album. During the song, a pink undergarment lands onstage. Billy take 'em, twirls 'em, and sets them on the riser. Methinks he'll making some "piece" after the show. Still suffering antsy pants, I'm up again. Sweetie comes along this time. Pass pair of bare feet resting on railing. Resist urge to tickle. On stage, the "Mescalero Brothers" have come alive and are pouring Billy and Dusty drinks.
"Beer Drinkers and Hell Raisers" as we begin climbing the lawn. I want a couple more crowd shots. Down below, four security guys rush past. Fight!?!? We pursue, as do several other (and, oddly, bare-chested) individuals. Don't catch 'em. Billy does a little guitar noodling and then it's "Just Got Paid." Is the bass is even louder than it was at the beginning? More security guys, this time entering a handicapped section. Looks like they're looking for someone. And, like Hugh Hefner, are they paid by... the bust? Sorry. Dusty doing his own noodling now. Look up and discover giant video screens directly overheard. How did I miss those? Billy changes guitars, Frank starts a familiar beat, and we're doin' the "Tube Snake Boogie" begins. Back at Box #67, Mr. and Mrs. Affectionate have calmed down. Watch as a woman in the adjoining "Southern Aggregate" box negotiates the railing and successfully transfers her ass to a different chair.
Everybody's singing now. I know a girl who lives on the hill, she won't do it but her sister will! And when "Sharp Dressed Man" begins to stroll, the crowd gets even louder. Notice then that the number of ticket-checkers has dropped. Resist urge to sneak into a center section. On stage, Billy and Dusty are bowed-legged dancing. Ah, memories of the Eighties and Eliminator videos... Back in my seat as the shag guitars arrive. Sweetie asks if they'll do "Legs." And, as if on command... Meanwhile, I make one more pass around the place. Quick tally of concert tees: Willie Nelson, Eric Clapton, Kiss ("Love Gun"), and Kenny Wayne Shepard. And quite a few bearing the WRDU logo. Are they sponsors? In the left handicapped section, a middle-aged man with dark glasses (blind?) is smiling widely. Who wouldn't?
Song ends, band exits, and people begin leaving. Crowd is making good noise, though. Within a minute or two, the three are back. "La Grange," the old staple. Return to seat and sneak down front. The bass beats are phenomenal. Thank God for earplugs. Billy's fondling the underwear again as I wonder about their ages. (Billy: 53, Dusty: 54, Frank: 54.) Segue straight to "Tush," with Mr. Hill now smoking a stogie. We ain't askin' for much. Fog fills the stage as the short song draws to a close. And so does the concert. To hoots and hollers and assorted cheers, that lil' ol' band from Texas exits stage-right. "Drumboogaloo" begins on tape. House lights slowly rise. Reclaim Sweetie and begin slow shuffle to car. Criss-cross reserved sections (the long way out) and climb the lawn. The stairs on the other side are soaked. Beer? Urine?? Both??? There's still cheering from the stage. Why? Companion babbles, all giddy enthusiasm. I tune out and turn my ears to those we're walking with. Over here, a commentary on Nugent's performance; over there, someone singing (badly) "Just Got Paid." And, as we reach the car, a shout out to Sweetie: "Let's hear it for jeans shorts!" Yup, it's all about tush.
Excludes compilations, the six-album Six Pack, and the pending Mescalero...
ZZ Top's First Album (1970) - 1. (Somebody Else Been) Shaking Your..., 2. Brown Sugar, 3. Squank, 4. Goin' Down To Mexico, 5. Old Man, 6. Neighbor, Neighbor, 7. Certified Blues, 8. Bedroom Thang, 9. Just Got Back From Baby's, 10. Backdoor Love Affair
Rio Grande Mud (1972) 1. Francine, 2. Just Got Paid, 3. Mushmouth Shoutin', 4. Ko Ko Blue, 5. Chevrolet, 6. Apologies To Pearly, 7. Bar-B-Q, 8. Sure Got Cold After The Rain Fell, 9. Whiskey'n Mama, 10. Down Brownie
Tres Hombres (1973) 1. Waitin' For The Bus, 2. Jesus Just Left Chicago, 3. Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers, 4. Master Of Sparks, 5. Hot, Blue And Righteous, 6. Move Me On Down The Line, 7. Precious And Grace, 8. La Grange, 9. Shiek, 10. Have You Heard?
Fandango! (1975) 1. Thunderbird, 2. Jailhouse Rock, 3. Backdoor Medley:, Backdoor Love Affair, Mellow Down Easy, Backdoor Love Affair No. 2, Long Distance Boogie, 4. Nasty Dogs And Funky Kings, 5. Blue Jean Blues, 6. Balinese, 7. Mexican Blackbird, 8. Heard It On The X, 9. Tush
Tejas (1976) 1. It's Only Love, 2. Arrested For Driving While Blind, 3. El Diablo, 4. Snappy Kakkie, 5. Enjoy And Get It On, 6. Ten Dollar Man, 7. Pan Am Highway Blues, 8. Avalon Hideaway, 9. She's A Heartbreaker, 10. Asleep In The Desert
DegŁello (1979) 1. I Thank You, 2. She Loves My Automobile, 3. I'm Bad, I'm Nationwide, 4. A Fool For Your Stockings, 5. Manic Mechanic, 6. Dust My Broom, 7. Lowdown In The Street, 8. Hi Fi Mama, 9. Cheap Sunglasses, 10. Esther Be The One
El Loco (1981) 1. Tube Snake Boogie, 2. I Wanna Drive You Home, 3. Ten Foot Pole, 4. Leila, 5. Don't Tease Me, 6. It's So Hard, 7. Pearl Necklace, 8. Groovy Little Hippie Pad, 9. Heaven, Hell Or Houston, 10. Party On The Patio
Eliminator (1983) 1. Gimme All Your Lovin', 2. Got Me Under Pressure, 3. Sharp Dressed Man, 4. I Need You Tonight, 5. I Got The Six, 6. Legs, 7. Thug, 8. TV Dinners, 9. Dirty Dog, 10. If I Could Only Flag Her Down, 11. Bad Girl
Afterburner (1985) 1. Sleeping Bag, 2. Stages, 3. Woke Up With Wood, 4. Rough Boy, 5. Can't Stop Rockin', 6. Planet Of Women, 7. I Got The Message, 8. Velcro Fly, 9. Dipping Low In The Lap Of Luxury, 10. Delirious
Recycler (1990) 1. Concrete And Steel, 2. Lovething, 3. Penthouse Eyes, 4. Tell It, 5. My Head's In Mississippi, 6. Decision Or Collision, 7. Give It Up, 8. 2000 Blues, 9. Burger Man, 10. Doubleback
Antenna (1994) 1. Pincusion, 2. Breakaway, 3. World Of Swirl, 4. Fuzzbox Voodoo, 5. Girl In A T-Shirt, 6. Antenna Head, 7. PCH, 8. Cherry Red, 9. Cover Your Rig, 10. Lizard Life, 11. Deal Goin' Down
Rhythmeen (1996) 1. Rhythmeen, 2. Bang Bang, 3. Black Fly, 4. What's Up With That, 5. Vincent Price Blues, 6. Zipper Job, 7. Hairdresser, 8. She's Just Killing Me, 9. My Mind Is Gone, 10. Loaded, 11. Pretty Head, 12. Hummbucking, Part 2
XXX (1999) 1. Poke Chop Sandwich, 2. Crucifixx A Flatt, 3. Fearless Boogie, 36-22-36, 4. Made Into A Movie, 5. Beatbox, 6. Trippin', 7. Dreadmonboogaloo, 8. Live Introduction By Ross Mitchell, 9. Sinpusher, 10. (Let Me Be Your) Teddy Bear, 11. Hey Mr. Millionaire, 12. Belt Buckle
Includes "Viva Las Vegas" and "Gun Lover" from Greatest Hits...
Copyright 2003 by Michael J. Legeros
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