Since Thursday, I've been away from The Big Apple of Irene's eye, New York City, and holed up in 110-degree Dallas; my brilliant idea had been to hit up one of the last few Go-Go's VIP meet-and-greets in a city where my "in-laws" (nothing legal about it as José and I are no more than best friends in the eyes of the law) live. Of course, everything is 40 minutes away in Dallas, so the trip itself has consisted of many car rides, lots of eating out and definitely some fun times, even if being apart from José and our dog-children during what was potentially going to be a damaging hurricane stressed us both out far more than a spirited rendition of "We Got the Beat" could make up for.
Now that things have settled—and FUCK YOU to New Yorkers tripping over themselves to make sarcastic remarks about how Irene was overhyped when people died and damage happened even if not to them—I can summarize my trip in a nutshell.
I was dropped off at the House of Blues in Dallas Friday for The Go-Go's, where I was immersed in a lively crowd of 40something marrieds who arrived pre-loaded to the gills. Not as gay a crowd as their gig outside Chicago. I had instructions to meet at the Park Avenue Room (as if it wasn't already hard enough to forget about NYC for a few hours), so we all gathered around a long table that was set up there. I met several nice fans, including a sports writer who'd forgotten to bring anything for them to sign and a guy and girl (one of whom has a granddaughter, but didn't look it) who'd left their camera in the car. So, since the girls were only signing ONE item PERIOD, I gave my extra CD cover to the first guy and then told the pair I'd let them use my camera and e-mail them the photos. The fan-karma paid off with a pretty flawless night.
One bump in the road was that several drunkards were hovering nearby with no passes, riling the fans who'd shelled out good money. Finally, someone shooed them away, and a (hilariously, IMHO) snotty fanboy shouted, "Yeah, get the fuck outta here!" The girls' tour manager took this very seriously and announced he expected us to behave with more class because The Go-Go's like to believe they have nice fans. (Not very punk-rock, but okay, maybe punk rock IS dead after all!)
The women entered to giddy cheers and very few flashes (we'd been scolded about taking any candids...I, of course, snagged at least a bit of video). There must have been about 45 to 50 meet-and-greeters, which wowed me. We'd been stressing about the photo op because the length of the table seemed to mean we'd have to opt for awkward shots standing in front of them, but the TM wisely had the entire line go through once to get thigns signed, then the second time cleared the table and had the band in and around chairs with one empty chair up front for the fans.
I'd already met Jane (at Chiller) and Belinda (at her book and album signings), but it was great meeting all of them together. This was the band who motivated me to buy my first-ever album, Beauty and the Beat, whose 30th anniversary the tour was celebrating. I told Jane, Charlotte and Kathy about having seen them at Ravinia ("That was a fun show!") and made sure Belinda knew I was posting Trailblazer Campaign videos for her son. She asked my name, so I gave her that plus "Boy Culture," thinking it was more memorable than "Rettenmund." They were all extemely game, embracing and kissing a fan whose birthday it was (Belinda didn't kiss him—it takes more than a birthday, dude!) and delightedly accepting custom-made Go-Go's dolls from a fanboy friend of mine.
The pictures came out fantastic! I'd told them I was stranded in TX thanks to my decision to attend their show, but that it was already worth it. They "awww!"ed me and I was in awe of them.
After, we hit the GA floor, where I promptly lost everyone. I was surrounded by the aforementioned couples, but was pleasantly surprised that the number of women holding drinks and rudely asking to cut in front of me to get closer to the front, I mean, their friends, was quite low.
The show rocked! I had told the women, "How do you keep getting better, because you know you are. I saw you 20 years ago and you were 20 times better at Ravinia." Jane made a joke about practice, but it remains a mystery to me.
Belinda was in top form with her vocals and her charisma, plus I got to see "Cool Jerk," which they'd left out at Ravinia. They brought several fans up on stage to Belinda-twist with them, including my friend, who more than deserved the honoring considering he follows them around to shows. I would say that this show's "Cool Places" was lacking in energy, but most of the songs were delivered as enthusiastically as last time. A straight guy in front of me knew and sang every word to every song, including the non-singles. Sadly, this was The Go-Go's third-to-last show; they wrapped their tour in Austin. I can only hope they will tour again.
Afterward, I spent some time at a midnight soundcheck for a new band that's on a mall tour for exposure, very pop-rocky, and they were only semi-sure of who The Go-Go's were/are. Funnily enough, their music has a definite '60s rock vibe that would make them an excellent companion to the five broads who fucking well should be in the R&R Hall of Fame by now. We hung out, they played, we broke into the mall's ice rink so they could slide around the ice and then we played Frisbee by the Zales and Children's Place storefronts. I was wondering if the boys would be reminiscing about times like this on a tour celebrating the 30th anniversary of their as-yet-unreleased debut album. Maybe.
Went back to my family's home and slept like a baby, with no Irene texts buzzing me awake meaning that things were okay back home. The hurricane had diminished into a tropical storm, thankfully, even if The Go-Go's had only gained strength over time.