Today is a very important anniversary in my concert-going life…25 years since the Living Colour show at the old Cleveland Municipal Stadium! I suppose a little band called The Rolling Stones were there, too. What follows is an excerpt from my ongoing book project about my concert experiences. I hope you enjoy it!
Rolling Stones/Living Colour
Cleveland Municipal Stadium
I knew absolutely nothing about the Rolling Stones. I didn’t listen to Classic Rock radio, so I knew 2 or 3 songs at the most. This show was 100% about Living Colour for me. However, I did not realize until well after the tickets went on sale that they were the opening band. When I went to get tickets for the show, I was told they were sold out. Now that I had discovered the ticket scalping angle, I would not be stopped. There was no way I was going to miss Living Colour after their incredible performance I witnessed just months earlier.
At this point, it was only a few days before the show, so my instinct was to check out the newspaper to see if maybe there were any classified ads that were selling tickets. There were a handful of ads, so I started making phone calls. I might add that at that time I was painfully shy. I found it extremely difficult to carry on conversations with most people. I tried to negotiate, but most of the prices were too steep. I just got my first job at a drug store 3 months earlier making $4.15 an hour, so I was not exactly independently wealthy. Finally, I was able to negotiate a fair price with someone, $50.00 per ticket. The seats were in the lower level of the stadium, but ridiculously far from the stage. We were behind home plate, the stage was in center field. But I was desperate at this point. The guy told me I could come pick the tickets up that night, but there was one slight problem. I was 15, with no license! I explained this to the potential seller, and he told me that for another $10.00 per ticket, he would deliver them to me that night. I begrudgingly agreed, and the deal was done.
I walked to the bank near my house to withdraw my money from the ATM. Ray had already given me his money in anticipation of me getting the tickets. The seller was supposed to meet me at 10:00 PM on the corner of my street. I was afraid to give him my address, because he sounded like he was hammered on the phone. I was imagining my Grandma’s horrified reaction to some drunk guy showing up at our door. I waited at the designated spot, and shortly after 10:00, a rusted out car slowly crept towards my street corner. Taking a chance that it was my seller, I frantically waved so he would see me. The car made one of the most heinous left turns I have ever seen. I was convinced the guy was going to run me over (and I was on the sidewalk!). I confirmed it was him, and we made the exchange. I was going to see Living Colour again in a few days (oh, and the Rolling Stones).
The night of the show arrived, and as usual, Ray’s mom dropped us off. When we got to our seats, we realized we were even farther away from the stage than we anticipated, but we didn’t care. When Living Colour came onstage, we stood up on our seats. For the next 45 minutes, we screamed every word to every song. We were blissfully unaware of anything going on around us. When the set was finished, we screamed, pumped our fists, high-fived, etc. At that point, we realized that our section, and most likely every other section, was staring at us. As we slumped down in our seats, it became painfully obvious that we were among only a few people there to STRICTLY see Living Colour. We now had the opportunity to take in the scene around us, and what a scene it was! Not exactly the ideal environment for a 13 and 15 year old. Even ‘Cheech and Chong’ would have been shocked. The amount of drugs and paraphernalia being passed around us was astonishing. Obviously these people were not part of the “Just Say No” movement.
The Stones eventually came on and did their thing, and while I respect them, they were just not my thing. We ended up leaving a bit early. The lesson here is, get out and loudly support your band, and don’t pay any attention to what anybody thinks about you. There’s a good chance they may be high anyway.