In memory of years of unruly rock

The music we played in car radios and home stereos as teenagers accompanies us. Attending concerts by musicians and bands who write and perform this music makes the connection even stronger.

Each music period is quite specific – you may have some overlap with a sister a few years older (or younger) than you, but each will prefer a different repertoire. Much depends on which radio stations are playing on our way from junior high to high school and beyond.

Friends’ preferences (and record collections) need to be taken into account, as well as television shows based on each decade’s music from the 1950s. “ -of-unruly-rock /” American Bandstand “until the mid-1960s” / 2021 / jun / 27 / recalling-years-of-unruly-rock / “Hullabaloo” and “Shindig” in the early 1970s “ years-of-unruly-rock / “Soul Train” and the MTV of the 1980s loaded with music videos.

If you grew up in the second half of the 20th century and exposed your parents to the kind of music that made them yell at you to disapprove, review your rebellious years by listening to Play it Loud: Concerts at Barton Coliseum “A look back at some of the 1,700+ concerts that have taken place in Little Rock’s premier concert hall from the 1950s to the present day.

The exhibit, on display at the Old State House Museum in Little Rock, is too quiet for my taste (I prefer Cleveland’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the museum’s many layers of music echoing from all over the place), but it’s fun, inspect the museum walls with concert posters, musical instruments (from signed guitars to picks), programs, souvenirs, tickets, album covers, photos, clothing and more.

“It took about a year to put this thing together because of the Covid virus,” says Bill Gatewood, director of the Old State House Museum.

What significance do concerts or music or performances at the Barton have for the museum?

“Our mission is to interpret Arkansas history from statehood to the present, and that’s an important part of it; not so much about the musicians who played here, but about the concert experience with Barton, ”he says.

Some of you may not immediately remember who you saw performing there or elsewhere or when. I’ve seen countless concerts at Barton, as well as the Public Hall and other venues in my hometown of Cleveland (there’s a reason this is the home of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame). If only I had kept a list of the bands I’d seen there. But one thing I remember more than the particular band is, as Bill Gatewood says, the concert experience.

A lot of memories relate to what I wore to different shows. The first big concert I went to when I was in elementary school was the Beach Boys at Euclid Beach Park. It was outside in August. You’d think we kids would wear shorts. You would be wrong. The correct clothing was bell-bottoms and high-heeled boots.

Then the fashion fanaticism really set in.

As one of the lucky 12,000 who saw the Beatles in the Public Hall in 1964, I wore exactly the same outfit that so many girls my age wore to see our idols: red blazer, white blouse, black skirt, black leather hat, black ankle-high Beatle boots. We screamed through the whole show.

I was so much more mature in 1969 when I attended Grand Funk Railroad and Led Zeppelin in the Public Hall. We had decent seats, but no one sat in them; probably also because my skin-tight, embroidered jeans made sitting a pain, as did the easy breathing made difficult by the clouds of smoke.

But we looked good; I worked in a hippie clothing store called Adam’s Row, where the staff would take these fringed suede jackets off the shelves and wear them wherever the crowd gathered. It was good advertising.

In July 1972, practically everyone (the audience around 40,000) attended the Rolling Stones at Akron’s Rubber Bowl. I can’t remember this outdoor show other than that Stevie Wonder was the opening act and a big fight broke out during his wonderful set. We sat too far away to find out why.

Two years later, when Genesis took their phenomenal tour to the Cleveland Music Hall, I trudged around in knee-high platform boots and black leather hot pants, hoping the marijuana scent that was everywhere wasn’t absorbed by my delicate macrame-cropped sweater -Top. At that point, my parents knew how his smell was different from cigarette smoke.

And one of the last shows I saw in the Public Hall before I moved to Little Rock was Joni Mitchell in 1976. It was one of only two times I’d go on a date with a guy I didn’t care because he led me there.

I still remember the heartless conversation: He – do you want to go out (whatever the date)? I – (lame excuse). He: I have Joni Mitchell tickets. I … well … OK.

(The other time that sparked a similar conversation was on a Cleveland performance by the Metropolitan Opera on their national tour; I found it interesting because I had studied the libretto given to me by the professors I attended at Cleveland State University, although my rock and roll mind was always going to turn it up! I even went out with the guy a few more times, probably because he had a Saluki greyhound, which I thought was exotic).

Some of the shows I’ve seen at Barton, Alltel / Verizon / Simmons Arena, and other mega-stages in Little Rock include Def Leppard (multiple appearances), Bruce Springsteen, AC / DC, Morris Day and the Time, Smashing Pumpkins, Garbage, The Cult, and Prince.

Modern concerts are not the same as these shows, which were often loud and unpredictable. Now every performance is just like the previous one, with computerized admissions, mandated setlists, and huge video frames bouncing off the huge venues in which they are staged.

It’s more fun to relive past shows that were really live, complete with missed hints, distorted lyrics, botched guitar riffs, unexpected guest stars, and forgotten lyrics – I remember concerts like this even if I have some wrong dates.

Karen Martin is the editor-in-chief of Perspective.

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