June 26, 2013. That will be the date I remember when my daughter, a lover of all kinds of music (much like her dad), got to experience her first concert. Oh sure…I could have taken her to see Justin Beiber or Taylor Swift or One Direction or any number of modern pop artists who populate the Billboard charts these days. Instead…I chose to go a different direction. Ava and I share a love for 80’s music and it just so happened that 2 acts that helped pave the way for many of those new artists of today were going to be touring together so…I chose them.
In the early 80’s, the all-girl band, The Go-Go’s, were new to the alt-pop scene. They released the groundbreaking pop album “Beauty And The Beat” in 1981 and saw it chart at #1 for 6 weeks in 1982. They were nominated for Best New Artist by Billboard that year and saw 2 of their singles, “We Got The Beat” and “Our Lips Are Sealed,” peak in the Top 10. They were one of the first all-girl rock bands to break into the alternative rock scene and make it big and were a major influence on many young women who sought to break into the music industry.
The B-52’s saw their rise in the late 70’s when they first started in Athens, Georgia. They (along with a little known band called R.E.M.) redefined the alternative scene with their quirky style and throwback blend of humor and music. Their biggest hit, “Love Shack,” was a staple at clubs during my senior year in college in 1991 and my college radio station, ACRN in Athens, OH, used their single “Rock Lobster” as our mantra. So the B-52’s, despite not being one of my favorite acts, have been a part of my life for as long as I can remember also.
On a rainy night in Cincinnati, both bands rocked like it was the 80’s all over again! The B-52’s roamed the stage with Kate Pierson dressed in a retro-60’s black, one-piece polka dot ensemble, Fred Schneider barking in his trademark style and Cindy Wilson’s beehive hairdo stacked several layers above her head. They rocked all their big alternative hits including “Love Shack,” “Rock Lobster,” Private Idaho” and “Roam.” My personal favorite was “Whammy Kiss” from their 1983 album “Whammy!” They rocked it! Ava, on the other hand, didn’t appreciate their sound as much I did. She did like “Love Shack” and the crowd participation but it wasn’t enough to keep her interested as she peered through her binoculars and asked me, “When are the Go-Go’s coming out?”
After a 30 minute set change, The Go-Go’s finally DID come out and didn’t disappoint. They played many songs from their “Beauty” album, including “We Got The Beat,” “Our Lips Are Sealed,” “Automatic,” “How Much More,” “Skidmarks On My Heart” and “Fading Fast.” They also mixed in some covers (“Paint It Black” by the Rolling Stones and “Cool Jerk,” which they remade in the early ’90’s) and a couple of their solo songs (Carlise’s “Mad About You” and Weidlin’s “Cool Places,” a song she originally did with Sparks in the early 80’s).
Ava was a little disappointed that they didn’t do “Heaven Is A Place On Earth,” Belinda Carlisle’s huge hit from the late 80’s. That is her favorite song on the CD that I mixed up for her for this concert and she was looking forward to hearing it live. I personally was hoping guitarist Jane Weidlin’s “Rush Hour” would be included but it wasn’t either. And drummer Gina Schock, despite having many moments where she came out from behind the drums to rap with the rest of the band, didn’t get a chance to do any of her solo songs from her album, “House Of Schock.” It would have been totally cool to hear “Middle Of Nowhere.” Either way, Ava definitely enjoyed the Go-Go’s more than the B-52’s but she grew tired towards the end of the show and so we left during the sweet mashup of “We Got The Beat” & “Rock N Roll All Night.” I imagine there wasn’t much left to be heard anyway…with maybe “Head Over Heels” being the biggest hit that we didn’t hear before we left. Needless to say, Ava and I had a great time and I think she will be an avid concertgoer for many years to come…which couldn’t make me happier!