Sunday night at Starlight Theater in Kansas City, the city’s premier outdoor venue: 2 great bands, Chicago and the Doobie Brothers, playing in the most sweltering heat imaginable to adoring fans, most of whom appeared to be age-mates of the now sixty-something musicians.
Some rambling thoughts from the evening, the very kind that float stream-of-consciousness-like through your brain when you think you might be melting and you find yourself intermittently transported by live music to other places and times:
I am so ungodly hot, I think I’m about to slide out of my seat; we might as well be sitting in misting rain. Oh yeah, we are. It’s called 100% humidity.
I am better than this heat; it shan’t beat me—I shall triumph!
These are pretty good seats. My husband bought them when there was still snow on the ground.
I tell my friend Betty that a lot of these people look really old. Old enough to be my father. Wait, I’m older in real life than the image I hold of my father in my head. Yikes!
Thank God there is only one person going shirtless. Thank God it’s a man. But, still, buddy, you are well beyond your formative years.
6 bottles of Aquafina and 1 giant lemonade later, I think my skin has dry patches now!
Doobie Brothers strike up and the audience is slow to warm up because of, ironically, the heat.
Doobie Brothers patiently play to the blues-lovers in this the home of the blues. (Check it out—watch the movie Last of the Blue Devils.)
Doobie Brothers hit their stride with “Black Water.”
Now everyone is singing—ushers, concession stand workers, entire audience, security.
Everyone is smiling as they sing. I find myself wanting to buy the world a Coke.
People-watching becomes distracting as interesting human specimens parade across the aisle before us: lots of middle-aged women spilling out of backless sundresses, lots of men in white knee high socks, at least one man spotted sporting white anklets with sandals (gasp!).
I wonder how old most of these people were when they first heard this band.
I remember my friend Erin driving Kate and me around on a Friday night in her family’s wood-panel wagon after a post-football game stop at the McDonalds near the Jesuit high school. I have no memory of where we were heading, but “Black Water” is blaring from the radio as we pull out of the parking lot and Erin is belting this song out at the top of her alto voice. I’m guessing we were sophomores.
At intermission we get up and move because the air refuses to.
My husband is sweaty but smiling as Chicago takes the stage.
He is the only one singing along with the trumpet.
I know the words to every song and I never purchased a single album from their vast collection. Why would I? It was on the radio 24/7 during my high school years and it was FREE. Plus, a Chicago ballad was the theme of every single dance all 4 years at the all-girls school I attended. In case you wondered if girls at that age are at all sentimental when they aren’t raising cane and/or cultivating feminist mindsets.
I make the tactical error of consuming one beer which immediately starts leaking out of all my pores.
I run-do-not-walk to the concession stand for more water after visiting the largest, most spacious, and—mercifully—well air-conditioned women’s restroom on the planet. Betty threatens to stay there for the rest of the concert.
Betty and I bump into another good friend from high school, Linda, who is on her fourth Doobie Brothers concert in as many years. We chit chat and then move to seats on the side where we area) closer to beverages and restrooms and b) we can pretend to feel the imperceptible breeze generated by people walking by.
Chicago sings “Old Days” and I flash back to their concert at Arrowhead Stadium which I attended with Kate when they appeared there with the Beach Boys in the summer of 1975. When I heard them sing “Old Days” back then, I thought it a quaint nod to the 1950s when these guys would have been kids. I tear up as I realize that 1975 was the old days for me, though I had no inkling of it at the time.
Now I wonder if Chicago ever plays at an indoor venue. Or are these guys just gluttons for punishment? Growing up in Chicago apparently has imbued them with a weather mettle that even other Midwesterners can admire. I bet they winter in Ann Arbor as a way of recovering from their summer tours.
By the encore with both groups on stage and the stars now visible in the night sky, I know that these guys have still got it. These are seasoned and talented musicians, even the new additions standing in for those no longer with the bands, and they cut loose on their final numbers—their signature songs—now that the audience has sunk into cheerful reverie and nightfall offers the illusion of coolness of all kinds.
Theirs are anthems of another time and of our youth, some of the songs having been set in our bones. My older brother, true Baby Boomer that he was, had little tolerance for the rock and rollers of the 70s. He was all Leon Russell and Laura Nyro and Leonard Cohen.
Good music, for sure, but a little too pensive and esoteric for me when I was in high school. I’m so glad I disregarded his musical counsel and indulged the popular culture of my own time. It makes getting older feel a little less daunting somehow.
FYI: I read an article this week in The Atlantic which disclosed that most people could care less about discussions of weather in another region. That revelation had no impact whatsoever on me or this post. In fact, I’d like to say a little more about the weather here.
For the record, it was literally 110 degrees in the shade on the day (and night) of the concert. That is, the temp was 96 but the humidity was so high the heat index was 110, so excessive heat warnings were duly issued by the National Weather Service and screamed from all local newscasts.
Plus, the man sitting in front of me at the concert had sweat dripping from his earlobes. I believe that should be added to the arsenal of meteorological tools as another formal measurement of relative humidity.
Got anything you’d like to add about the weather in your neck of the woods?