One of the glaring vacuums in my friendship with Brent Smith was, surprisingly, live music, especially when one realizes just how important music was to both of us. Our tastes were different, but they blended well together. I was heavily into Led Zeppelin, Deep Purple, and Rainbow, whereas he was more of a Parrot- and Dead-head. There was always music going, a rolling thunderous soundtrack to our lives, eclectic and magical, and we loved it live, but for whatever reason, we didn’t see very many shows together.
On September 5th, 1986, we saw AC/DC on their “Who Made Who” Tour. Fun concert as I recall. The opening act, Loudness, wasn’t too impressive, but Angus Young and the boys delivered some solid rock and roll. We probably drank a few too many beers before the show, too much Jack Daniels during the show, and too much of everything after.
March 17th, 1991 had us traveling to Chicago to see Concrete Blonde at the Vic. This was a brilliant show in an intimate and majestic setting. Dangerously close to the best concert I’ve ever been too, the Vic was an incredible venue, the band was ethereal, and we were right up front and standing within arm’s reach of Johnette Napolitano.
Just a month later, on May 15th, 1991, we were at Deer Creek for the Jane’s Addiction show with Henry Rollins opening up. Jane played a great show, but Rollins, to be honest, really soured the night for me. Suggesting someone suicidal should do something positive with their death, like suicide-bombing a sheriff station (or something to that effect) was uncool, but Dave Navarro shredding made up for it.
Another month passed and it was back to Deer Creek when Clash of the Titans rolled in on June 18th, 1991. Slayer, Anthrax, and Megadeth were the co-headliners, but we were there to see the opening act — Alice in Chains — and they didn’t disappoint. Chains was electrifying and really outshined the three acts that followed.
These were all great shows, but the one concert that stands out the most was one we didn’t go to.
It was late April, 1986. Brent and I were living on Martin Street in Muncie. The Firm was playing in West Lafayette, at Purdue University, on the 29th.
We didn’t have tickets, but Brent’s cousin Danny invited us down anyway, said we could stay with him at the Co-Op. We passed. The show was on a Tuesday. We had classes and it was a long drive. Danny agreed to come visit us the following weekend, and he did… and he brought with him pictures.
What pictures, you ask?
Pictures of him and his housemates playing frisbee in the sideyard… with Paul Rogers and Jimmy freaking Page.
Brent and I were gutted, I assure you. It was a subject that came up often over the years. Not how awesome it was seeing Dave Navarro light up the stage, or Angus Young headbanging through the audience, or Johnette Napolitano’s bass rattling our teeth…
No, it was us missing out hanging with The Firm, drinking a couple of cold ones, and tossing a disc around the yard.
Danny never let us forget it either. I imagine he and Brent are together now, kicked back on a cloud somewhere and having an ice cold beer, and Danny’s still ribbing him… If there’s any justice in the world, they’re being serenaded by a chorus of angels performing a muzak version of Radioactive.