It was early March 1987, when I heard on the best local rock radio station that the infamous Iron Maiden would be doing a show at the War Memorial as part of their ‘86/’87 Somewhere On Tour, tour. Redundant, I know, know.
As a junior in high school, next to seeing Van Halen, Boston, Judas Priest or Rush – Iron Maiden would be a hot show. One you wouldn’t want to miss. One I know I did not want to miss. At the time I was a bass guitar player, and thought next to Geddy Lee, Steve Harris had the fastest fingers ever. I’d seen Rush. Several times. This would be an awesome opportunity to see Harris, the rest of the band, and listen to some fantastic heavy metal.
A group of bought tickets for the April 13th show. I’m going to be honest. Right now I remember that I went. My buddy Mike. And some tall skinny kid, possibly named Steve. Could have been Mark. But more than likely it was Steve. Definitely not Mark, though. Definitely not. There were more. Maybe three other guys. Possibly four. But definitely at least three. I’m thinking four, though.
We met at Mike’s house. Or I did. When I got there, everyone was already there. It had to be around 1:00 PM. They were drinking. Smoking. And doing whippets. I drank. Smoked some. But stayed away from the whippets. That was where they sucked nitrous oxide out of a whipped cream canister. The effects, or affects, were powerful, but short lived – and could seriously destroy brain cells. (And by the way this blog reads so far, you might think I did whippets-a-plenty. I did not. Ever. That I can recall).
The show was to start at like seven, or eight. More than likely seven. The opening band, Waysted, came on at seven, I think. Iron Maiden, the main bill for the night –the name in the big marque—wouldn’t start rocking until eight, maybe nine. Something like that. I’ll be honest. The time from is not important. It means nothing, and add little to the story. In fact. If anything, it takes away from the whole thing. Destroys my flow. Ruins my pace. My timing. My delivery.
Point is, I got to Mike’s early. We started partying early. And by the time we left for the concert, not a single one of us was in any condition to be headed to a concert. My best guess—yes, yes—I recall this, Steve was driving. Steve/Mark, that is. You know what? For fuck’s sake, let’s just call him, Steve. Steve works for me. How about you? You good? We good? Ok …
Steve drove. How, I have no clue. Why I ever got into a car with a guy I just watched pass out moments ago from doing whippet after whippet with full cans of beer as a chaser, I have no clue. Or actual recollection. I remember hooting and hollering in Mike’s house. Something like, “Yeah! Yeah, let’s go! Maiden! Iron Maiden! Ironnnnnnn Miadennnnnnn, Babbbbbbbby!”
Then the next thing I remember is pulling into an outdoor parking lot somewhere close to the War Memorial downtown. It was close to some vacant buildings. There were other cars. Lots of people. And a whole lot of pot smoking going on. We partook. Passed a joint. Downed several more beers.
I was very excited. Iron Maiden. Loved them. Loved them, man. I couldn’t believe I was hours from seeing a band I practically worshiped for their musical talent.
It was mid-fifties. Clear. There was a full fucking moon in a cloudless sky. I shit you not. That’s exactly how I remember it. But I thought my mind might be messed up some. So I researched it. And guess what? April 13, 1987 – mid-fifties, and a full moon on a cloudless night.
People swarmed the entrances. We all looked alike. Dark T-shirts, tight blue jeans, and Converse sneakers. Cigarette and pot smoke mingled and lingered and stoned anyone not stoned to begin with. We made it through the doors. The ice rink floor was not only covered in wood, it was covered in bodies. The seats around the rink were filling fast. I mean fast. Despite being early, my friends and I found a row together toward the back of the arena. It was the closest we could get, I kid you not.
We stood side by side. Rows of people behind and in front of us. Aside from the car ride to the stadium, this was the most standing still I’d done since we started partying. And it was hot. Very hot inside the War Memorial. Heat came off of everyone and everything. Had to be close to 12,000 people around me. All around me.
I thought I might be melting. Sweat dripped from my brow. Rolled over my face. Burned my eyes.
Some guy stood on stage. He held a microphone. He announced some upcoming concert dates. Roars erupted. I thought I might have been locked in a cage. Felt like I was. Arms shot up all around me. Arms with fists on the end. Looked like bars. Prison bars. Zoo bars.
I swallowed. Hard. My throat cracked. I was so dry.
Then, without warning, the lights in the place dimmed. The man on stage with the microphone—this I recall—asked, “Rochester, are you wasted?”
It was a play on words. Even I knew that. The opening band. They were named Waysted.
Concert lights sprayed the stage, played back and forth over the drum set, amplifiers, then rolled over the mass of people in the arena. Lit lighters. More pot smoke. Fisted raised arms. It all felt alive, like it was moving. Slithering. Quivering. The audience … shivered …
And I felt it.
Oh, it was there.
It wasn’t excitement. It wasn’t me thrilled to be here. Me getting to see Iron Maiden.
It was puke.
And there was no way, no way in hell, I was going to make it out of my row, down the hall and into a bathroom before ….
Oh yeah. I puked. All over the seats in front of me. Thank GOD the people in the row in front were on their feet. Because had they of been sitting – let’s just say shampoo might not have helped. And I would have been dead. Beaten to a bloody pulp for sure.
The threat of death was far from gone. At some point these guys in front of me would sit.
I wasn’t worried about it. I mean, I was. But not really. Because I was floating at that point.
My friends had me by the arms. They were pull/dragging me out of the row, into the hall.
“You were about to pass out,” one of them said. I have no idea who. They had my arms draped over their shoulders. Pretty sure the toes of my shoes dragged. I don’t recall my legs working at all.
There were no doors to enter a bathroom. Just a rounded corner. One of them, we’ll say Mike, kicked open a stall door. Timing was impeccable. They dropped me onto my knees just as the next wave of everything I’d drunk, and ate flew forth out of my throat and projected into the bowl. Chunks splashed back at me. Public toilet bowl water and my own vomit mixed with sweat coating my face.
“You gonna be all right, man? We don’t want to miss the show.”
That’s what I heard. Maybe I waved them away. Maybe I didn’t. Maybe I begged them to stay. Regardless, the next time I was aware of anything was when I opened my eyes.
I was no longer hunkered over a puke filled toilet. I was on my back, half in, half out of the stall. Some guy—a big guy in a black t-shirt hovered over me.
I thought, “Ah, shit. I’m gonna get raped in the bathroom at the War Memorial, and I’m too fucking sick to even scream for help.”
Everything about the situation pointed to that. Me getting ass-rammed by some muscle-meathead at an Iron Maiden concert. I mean, he bent down, slid arms under me, and hoisted me into the air.
I’m sure I tried to fight him. Let’s say I threw limp punches and moaned out a few “No’s” if only in my defense against being a willing participant. Fair? Good. That’s what I did then. I fought him.
“Whoa. Whoa,” he said. “You’re okay. I’m with Heads On Straight. I’m going to take you somewhere to sleep this off.”
Sounded awesome. I wanted to sleep. I didn’t want to wake up.
But it also sounded like a kidnapping tactic. Like he stalked potheads, waited for them to pass out and then snuck them out some side Fire Exit and into the sliding side door of an unmarked, non-descript, windowless white cargo van. A perfect place for rape. Wonderful.
However. To some van in a back alley we did not go. Muscle man brought me into a room. I had to look like some damsel in distress, draped in his arms – my long hair cascading toward the floor …
I tried to look around the room. I saw a sea of cots. Occupied cots. People sprawled out all over the place. If I was right, this guy had been hauling bodies out of bathrooms all night!
“We don’t have any more cots,” he said. “I’m going to put you on this table.”
I don’t remember lying down – or being laid down. (No pun intended).
I do remember being woken up. Shaken. And me saying something like, “Leave me the fuck alone, I’m sleeping.” I remember sitting up then. Feeling much better. Legs off the table, I was ready to go. “I’m gonna go back into the show.”
“Show’s over, son.” It wasn’t Muscle man. It was a guy who looked like someone’s gray-haired grandfather. “It’s time to go home. Did you drive? We would prefer to call you a cab.”
“I didn’t drive. This other guy did. Tall, skinny guy. Steve, I think his name was,” I said. (See, even then I didn’t really know his name.
The old man pointed at a cot. “Him?”
There he was. “Yeah. Him.”
Some woman was in the process of shaking Steve awake.
The old man let me use a phone.
“Mom,” I said. “Would you be able to pick me up from the concert? The guy who drove, he had a couple of beers. I don’t feel safe riding home with him.”
Oh yeah. Threw Steve’s ass under the bus. I didn’t know Steve. Never met him before tonight. What did I care if my mother never wanted me hanging around with “Steve” again?
She came and picked me up outside the War Memorial. I have no clue what happened to the other guys I went to the concert with. I know they found a way home. At least, I know they found their way to school on Tuesday. Well, I am not sure any of us made it to school on Tuesday, I just know I saw Mike again. Maybe later that week. Maybe it was the following week. I really have no recollection other than the fact that, on the way home from the show, my mother stopped off at McDonald’s. Got myself a Big Mac meal. Nothing like two-all-beef-patties-specail-sauce-lettuce-cheese-pickles-onions-on a sesame seed bun, large fries and a Coke after puking my brains out … however, was only a mild consolation for missing both Waysted and Iron Maiden live!
You know what?
That’s it for today …