Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Time to shave ties with big-hair bands

I have to admit, there are times that I do something simply so I can write a column about it. Trust me; it makes for an interesting existence.

Last year, I agreed to ride the Ferris wheel at the fairgrounds with my daughter – something I hadn’t done before because of my fear of carnivals/clowns/rides and everything else that can be found in Stephen King’s horror novel “It.” But I did it, and I loved it, and we built a memory together that we’ll share forever.

This year some co-workers invited me to the Whitesnake concert at the fair. I immediately said no, seeing that my proclivity toward ‘80s music is more towards Thompson Twins and The Bangles rather than hard rock. But then I thought about it and said, “Wait … As long as I can write about it I’ll go.”

My 11-year-old daughter asked, “What kind of band is Whitesnake?”

“It’s an ‘80s hair band,” I explained.

“What does that mean,” she asked, understandably.

“It means they all had big hair and played really loud music.” Then I Googled a picture of the band from the ‘80s and showed her.

“Oh,” was all she said. She was underwhelmed to say the least, a foreshadowing of things to come.

My group of friends parked at the courthouse and took the bus over to the fairgrounds. One fella sitting next to me was clearly excited about Whitesnake, as opposed to me, who was going as a lark. He also seemed to have attended every single concert the fair offered over the last decade, offering a running commentary on every show he had attended to anyone who would listen. “Eddie Money was great! He jammed some Hendrix, dude, like sickly.”

It took everything in me not to correct his grammar, but I miraculously kept my mouth shut.

Saturday at the fair was rainy, which totally dampened my attempt at big hair for the event, dude. Apparently the boys in Whitesnake had sprayed their hair within an inch of its life. Their big hair remained amazingly buoyant throughout the set.

The crowd, made up of mostly 40-somethings like myself, who listened to these bands in high school, had varying degrees of hair. And the guys wearing mullet wigs got points for creativity. (At least I hope they were wigs.)

When the band came out, I couldn’t see them very well because we were way back near the bleachers, but I could hear them. My ears were ringing for hours afterwards. I couldn’t make out a single word they were saying, and all of the songs sounded the same. In that instant I recalled my mother saying the same thing to me when I listened to this music in 1985.

I leaned over to a friend and said, “I’m too old for this. And I’m really okay with that.”

Finally at the end they played the one song I remembered from my youth and I stood with the others to dance and do some head banging.

As a result of that head banging, I’m writing this in between applications of heat and ice to my back and neck. That’s right, the following morning my back and neck muscles went into spasms, relegating me to the couch for the next 48 hours.

I’m sooooo glad I went.

That’s what I get for going to see a band I don’t care for in the first place. I call it “Whitesnake Karma,” which sounds like a Stephen King novel. I’ll bet there are clowns with big hair in it too. Shudder.

Eileen Burmeister is a freelance writer. She can be reached at or you can follow her on Twitter at EBurmeister.

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