Trop renamed “Love Shack” for 24 hours
I was a lot younger guy in the early 1980′s,when Southern regional bands like the B-52s,Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers and REM would come into local joints and arenas and set my future musical tone while I was attending the University of Florida. These bands always seemed to be encircling the Gainesville area and would play long and extended sets of great music that we all danced and sang to late into the night. It was that same vibe that hit me Saturday night during the Tampa Bay Rays Saturday Night Concert Series when one of my all time favorite bands,the B-52s came to send us home with songs in our heads and more memories of the group.
But what amazed me most was the fact that throughout all those years and all those countless albums they have put out, the same great sound and energy still came flowing off that stage. Sure Cindy and Ricky Wilson, and the ever present Kate Pierson and Fred Schneider have aged,but their voices are still the sounds of my generation. Sure all of them might have changed a bit, but so have I. But in reality, when the voices began ringing in the Trop., I was transformed back to one of those local beer points in G-ville that proclaimed a huge sign out side telling us they had a ” LIVE BAND“.
One of the greatest moments of the concert was hearing the high feminine harmonies of Wilson and my favorite redhead belting out vocals like they were still in her 20′s. They say that music can make you feel young, and that night I was again a feisty 19-year old kid wanting to hear some great music spending some quality time with other people dancing. I took another huge collection of pictures and spent most of Saturday night in a friend’s bar editing and deleting multiple shots and out of focus shots because of my dancing with a few fans in the stands and on the field. Or maybe it was the energy of everyone on the stage that put some of them out of focus.
Another highlight of the evening to me was the fact Fred became a member of the Rays Republic that night when he took a black Latin Percussion cowbell with a Rays logo and a pink bat on stage and used it during two songs. The cowbell might have been drowned out a bit by the great electric guitar riffs by Ricky Wilson and and the drums, but the sight itself was amazing to see from the crowd. Gone were the old mile-high beehive hairdos that might have sparked the creation of Marge Simpson’s hair, but the girls still had that late 70′s-80′s vibe going on with their stylish gowns to Pierson’s great mini skirt.
It was a chance for me to get back into that early 80′s groove that I miss so much unless I hit Itunes or pop a CD in the car on the way to a game. I know most of the people who read these blogs were either not born,or very young when the B-52s first came out with their first album,but hearing my favorites “Own Private Idaho” and “Roam” played again live was instant ear candy to me. And to see the 29,000+ fans turn Tropiciana Field into a dance club was beyond words. There was dancing all over the outfield stage area and even in the stands as their songs rang throughout the stadium. I even heard people chanting and signing on the way into the parking lot to the songs that still echoed in their ears and minds.
I do have one complaint, but it is not a big one,or one that will ruin the night. I was really hoping to hear “Channel Z”,but it was left off the set list. I know it did not get onto the set list because a woman sitting near the 146 section of the stadium after the concert had it taped to her chest. She had gotten one of the guys on the B-52s sound board to give it to her as a memento of the evening. He son even got a current copy of their CD up to them and Pierson and Schneider signed it for him. How awesome is that for that young fan!
I am going to let you in a little bit of B-52s trivia right now. the correct name of the band for most of their careers was “The B-52′s”,but in 2008 they dropped the apostrophe with their website and their new album “Funplex” showing the new name of the group. I have also put their name throughout this blog in their new name to also promote the fact for the public. Some people consider them a soft rock and roll band, but I think of them as just a Southern New Wave band that came out of the Athens, Georgia area and changed a generation.
I do not think every stadium does this type of musical event, but they should. Not only does it get fans who usually do not attend baseball games a taste of the sport, but it gets fans more excited to come to Saturday night games. I know in the past I have seen or heard of concerts after games at Safeco Field and Royals Stadium in Kansas City,but for some reason it just feels better and sounds amazing when I am at my home field.
The sound coming off the stage did not seem as crisp and as fresh as the “Daughtry” show, but I found out it was a smaller set of speakers and the sound was directed more towards the vast parts of the stadium. Even if some in the stadium did only get muffled sounds,but the B-52s lived up to their hype and turned this old dome into a true “Love Shack” for everyone to enjoy and celebrate the Rays winning, and the essence of great 80′s music. When you have groups of people still singing your songs on the way out of a baseball stadium……….You know you still got it as musicians.