The best concert I ever went to


Its impossible to pick the best concert I ever went to.  Because I’ve been to so many great concerts.  And they were great for so many different reasons.  So it’s impossible to compare them.  The Watkins Glenn Festival (Grateful Dead, the Band, Allman Bros.) in 1973.  Emerson, Lake and Palmer in 1974.  David Bowie “Diamond Dogs tour” in 1975.  Randy California and Spirit in 1975.  Fear at the Elite Club in 1982 . . . Just to name a few off the top of my head.

But the Sex Pistols show in San Francisco in 1978 really stands out, if only for the historical factor.  Not just because it was their final show before they broke up.  But because that tour ushered in the Punk Rock movement as a cultural force.  And also because, for the first time, it was somebody (Johnny Rotten) of my age (20) and my generation (high school class of 1974) that was up there on that stage.

Before that it had pretty much been an endless succession of ’60s retreads.  The Grateful Dead, the Jefferson Starship, the Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin, on and on.  The ’60s cast a long shadow on my generation.   Especially in the fields of the arts and media — writing, music, punditry, etc.  There was a log-jam clogged up by the sheer bulk that was the ’60s generation.  They had gotten in there first, hogged up all the good positions, and my generation was left scrambling for whatever crumbs were left over.  It would be like that all throughout the ’70s and ’80s.

A typical example is a ’70s phenomenon like the TV comedy show  “Saturday Night Live.” A ’70s show, yes, but mostly starring John Belushi and all those guys — ’60s generation retreads, all.  And just as typical, when the original cast finally burned out and were replaced by comedians from the next generation, they would be lambasted and compared unfavorably with the “innovative” and “cutting edge” humor of the ’60s comedians.

It would be like that through my entire twenties.  This failure to live up to the greatness that was “the ’60s.”  The ’60s generation had gotten the ball rolling,  launching the revolution, expanding our consciousness, burning their bras and saving the environment.  Why, they had practically eradicated racism and brought about social justice.  But it was because of all the losers of my generation that the whole grand thing had sputtered out and collapsed.

The acid was always purer in the ’60s.  The pot was always stronger.  The love was always groovier.  And  the political activism was always more righteous (why, they burned their draft cards and stopped that war, man!!). By 1980 my generation had even been slurred with the derogatory term “yuppies.” In contrast to the  righteous “hippies” who were selfless in their devotion to creating a beautiful new society, curing the world of racism and sexism, as well as greed and world hunger, in between loving mother earth.  As compared to those greedy and self-centered “yuppies” who not only couldn’t care less about creating a better world of love and perfect harmony.  They just wanted to plug into the corrupt capitalist system like parasites, and exploit it for their own grubby personal gain.  Man!  We were the narcissistic “me generation.”  As opposed to the ’60s generation that I suppose saw themselves as the “we generation.”  Their altruism and all-round goodness knew no bounds.  At least according to the endless press releases they kept issuing attesting to the greatness that was themselves.

Even today,  you could fill entire libraries with nothing but the memoirs from the members of the ’60s generation.  Reminiscing fondly on those incredible days. Their heroic struggles, their incredible innovations that were nothing short of stunning in their brilliance compared to the dirtclods of the generations that preceded them and followed them.  Followed by the final chapter that detailed their stints in various re-hab centers where they heroically fought to avoid the dismal fate of self-destruction that had destroyed so many others from their lame-ass generation.  Followed by the up-lifting epilogue where we’re giving the opportunity to learn the many great lessons that the ’60s generation has to offer us.  The end.

So yeah, when Johnny Rotten hit that stage with his mockery and vitriol and sneering  at the pompous excesses that defined the ’60s, I could only think: Yeah!  About time!