Growing up rock & roll on the West Side of Columbus, Ohio, in the 1960’s & 70’s carries with it certain responsibilities: I have to hate Mumford & Sons, The National and Atoms For Peace because they are pussies, and are therefore NOT rock & roll; I have to keep Q-FM 96 as one of the pre-sets on my car radio – even though I’m utterly appalled by the complete lack of imagination and sheer mindlessness of the stations’ playlist – because they might play “Never Been Any Reason” by Head East; and because I watch NFL football on Sundays I am required to bemoan the fact that Bruno Mars is the halftime entertainment at this season’s Super Bowl because, well, he’s fucking Bruno Mars, for Chrissakes.
But I digress………
Growing up rock & roll on the West Side of Columbus, Ohio, in the 1960’s & 70’s means that I’m not supposed to be smart enough or that I’m supposed to be too drugged-out to remember that The Hollywood Casino is built on the site of the old General Motors plant, once the largest employer of non-college-educated folks on the West Side. The fact that Columbus city leaders have chosen that as the site of the our little gambling palace is genuinely ironic, given that the casino almost certainly sucks a certain percentage of the unemployment compensation and retirement funds of the workers whose jobs were shipped overseas back during the “Republican Revolution” of the Ronald Reagan administration, jobs never to be had again on the West Side of Columbus, Ohio. Talk about adding insult to injury.
But I digress………
My friend Rob and I met up on the North Side for our little Rolling Stones casino jaunt. Rob and I go way back. We met in 1976 when Rob became my boss at the West Side Service Merchandise location where I worked. We bonded over the fact that Rob knew who The MC5 were and liked them. That carried weight on the West Side in 1976. Rob and I saw a lot of great rock & roll together over the years – Bob Seger & the Silver Bullet Band, Blue Oyster Cult in their heyday, Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band – and also a lot of truly questionable rock shows - Steppenwolf in 1978, at least eight years past their prime and the debacle that was Kiss in 1976. More than that, though, we saw a lot of great local Columbus bands: The Godz, Black Leather Touch, The Muff Brothers (later The Muffs) in the brief period when they were truly great before they became Money, and most of all Romantic Noise, Willie Phoenix’s best band EVER. Rob is one of the few people on the planet to whom I don’t have to explain to how great Willie once was.
But I digress………
Satisfaction – the Stones tribute band in question – I thought was actually pretty good. The lead singer bore more than a passing resemblance to Mick Jagger, was rail-thin, stayed in character the entire time, doing all of the between-song patter in an English accent (that was certainly better than Dick Van Dyke’s in Mary Poppins) and the Keith Richards character didn’t embarrass himself. (He shoulda kept his mirrored shades on the whole show, though, the eyes always give away your age.) I think the bass player was sporting a wig, but pulled off a credible Bill Wyman. (I miss Bill Wyman, there are FIVE Rolling Stones.) The drummer had Charlie Watts’ signature lick of pulling off the high-hat on the fourth beat of every measure down to a science, and the Ron Wood character was serviceable.
Unfortunately, I had just seen The Rolling Stones documentary Gimme Shelter on the big screen the week before at Colin and Brian Phillips’ Reelin’ & Rockin’ Movie series at the Gateway Film Center and the disparities in music and culture between 1969 and 2013 were glaringly, painfully obvious. The audience (“crowd” might be too strong a word for the hundred or so souls gathered at the casino) was really the main problem. The people who were once bright-eyed, stoned-fabulous fans of the Stones were now 60-year olds in embarrassing denim shorts and old, too-small Stones tour t-shirts, sporting either long, stringy grey hair under baseball caps, or no hair at all. And there were definitely more walkers and canes in evidence than there were Harleys.
No naked fat chicks tried to clamber onstage like at Altamont but there was a requisite number of drunken, frowzy, bleached-blonde divorcees dancing down front in front of fake Mick. But I am not making fun of my West Side sistren & brethren here, you must believe me. To paraphrase: “What can a poor Stones fan do / ‘Cept to go to the casino on a Thursday night?” Where else are 50 and 60 year olds supposed to go for a rock & roll good time, a twerking Miley Cyrus show? Please.
So all in all it was a pretty depressing night. Driving home I caught “Cecilia” by Simon & Garfunkel on the Newark oldies station, and was instantly transported back to January 1970, making out with Linda Finneran in her parents’ warm West Side living room, listening to her Bridge Over Troubled Waters album. Growing up in the 1960's & 70's, I don’t want rock & roll to be all about memories, but unfortunately right now it is. – Ricki C. / September 27th, 2013
Ricki C has forgotten more about Rock n Roll than you ever knew. Learn more about him and our other Pencilstorm contributors by clicking here.