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Sunday, September 4, 2011

Concert Review-The B52s and the Lake Mission Viejo Experience

Somewhere east of the 5 freeway lays the man made body of water known as Lake Mission Viejo. Nestled between a bevy of upper class condos and homes it offers most amenities that most lakes offer in swimming, fishing, boating etc etc. Only difference being that Lake Mission Viejo is a private lake that one must be a member or, or know someone who is a member, to enjoy the facilities. Being a private lake offers certain benefits you will never find at other lakes....mainly in that you can bring anything you want to the lake provided its not in a glass bottle. The other benefit being the summer concert series that in the past has seen acts like the Doors, Randy Newman, Dionne Warwick, Glenn Campbell and others playing for the members and there guests in what can be best described as a “cozy” environment with crowds probably not more then 5000 or so max. Tonight's act was the B-52s whose anthemic Rock Lobster gets played on JACK FM about every 15 minutes or so. Walking in front of the stage it looked a catalog for Trader Joes with older affluent couples drinking wine and full spreads of cheese, meat, lasagna, sushi and tons of other good looking food. Myself, dressed in an Old Navy Tshirt and a Hawaiian shirt over it withstood the urge to walk onto someones blanket and point at one of the food items and say “are you going to finish that?”

Concert days are spent with people showing at 6am where wristbands are issued and those whose numbers are called get first crack at laying their blankets on the lawn and from then on for the rest of the day having their claimed stake-can spend the rest of the day bbqing and doing familial things people do at the beach or the lake etc etc etc...the only difference being as it gets closer to concert time, particularly for larger acts, and in the case of the B52s for whatever reason saw the lake at maximum occupancy. And being we had no intention of getting early for good seats we were resigned to the fact that we would be sitting far beyond visual contact not only of the stage but the large monitor that showed the on stage goings on for those of us with angle seats.

The stars were aligned and it ended up that our party of 6 happened to all be good friends and good people, some of whom I hadn't seen in years. Well stocked cooler in tow we staked a claim on the sand of the lake smack dab in front of Life Guard Station #2 where a small berm of sand in front of the tower meant the possibility of better viewing though most of us could care less. We stood around and listened to the opening act....a trio of rockabilly musicians with a buxom blonde female stand up bass player sharing vocals. We goofed on them a little bit thinking how when it comes to being a rockabilly band you simply take 50s Rock and Roll staples and add your words and when all else fails throw is some numbers aka “2-4-6-8-10 lets get to the top and rock again” ad nauseum set to the tune of Blue Suede Shoes or 20 Flight Rock. After listening to the guitar player struggle with a solo that was basically the same solo to Folsom Prison Blues we all laughed with the notion that you have no business being on stage as a guitar player when the Folsom Prison Blues solo presents a challenge. Truth be told we were so far there was a delay in drums and bass which gave the entire set a certain amount of dissonance that was hard to get your head around in an aural sense so it may have just been us. Later my brother recognized the blonde bass player as the same woman who works the boat rental counter at the lake which made it understandable in a way.

We sat and enjoyed the nice weather over a couple of cold ones while we debated the merits of joining the MV Lake Club and talked a bit more about the B52s and in particular what song they would open with as well as whether or not we could cajole lead singer Fred Schneider to play one of his solo songs...a little ditty called “Monster” that written as an homage to his penis with a late 80s video that had Schneider and an animated Penis dancing in unison not all too different then one of Paula Abduls videos from back in the day, then again I show my age and why I have dedicated precious RAM in my brain to remember Paula Abdul videos escapes me. 

We also spoke of DEVO and how there were some teenagers wearing DEVO shirts; Eddie told us of his recent DEVO concert experience and how while it was a great show he was fearing the lead singer would go into cardiac arrest and countering the story with a side segment of how he sat next to the owner of the Harbour House Cafe. The real comedic value came when Ed compared his look to that of sporting a wardrobe and hairstyle from the "Phil Spector Collection" and how the owner later reneged on his offer to comp his next meal at the Harbour House.

A few from our group went with my brother who had seen enough shows here to know that the band actually takes the stage via boat from the lake and a small bit of sidewalk they could stand and talk to the acts before taking the stage. They left for a bit as from the distance I heard a small smattering of applause and could indeed see the female band members making their way to the stage. They opened with some song I was unfamiliar with and once again being so far away from the stage meant the drums and some other aspects of the show on a 1 second tape delay. We listened and shot the crap as they launched into Private Idaho...a song we now link to our older brother Sean who now resides in that aforementioned state. Back in the early 80s listening to this song Im pretty sure he never thought he'd actually be living there.

By then the rest of the group came back with our friend Bill boasting about shaking Fred Schneider's hand and asking him to play “monster” followed by a few other barbs about his hand having to due with Purell and the overall bad idea of hand shaking due to hygiene concerns and some of Fred Scheiders rumored eh, hem.....lets just call them "not so well hidden proclivities."  After the good natured ribbing we all decided to simply go walk to the stage and employ the walk through area to get a better view even if it meant walking back and forth a few times. 

As we approached the main walk area there was a member of the club who choose poorly in the blanket wristband stake your claim game. Seems this fellow thought that placing his blanket directly behind the sidewalk walkway was the best area he could find for him and his family to see the show. Now keep in mind for those going from the entrance/snack bar to the overflow area with a majority of the concert goers were the sidewalk is the only way to get there-there is no other option. I could also see at the time at 6AM when the lake is completely devoid of people it probably seemed an ideal spot and this fellow also probably didnt think of the hundreds of people standing and walking in front of him completely blocking the stage view.  Seems this fellow as well thought that he could insist people not walk on the sidewalk and mind you given the overall maximum crowd tonight and given his overall George Costanza-ish look we actually found a substantial amount of humor value out of it....especially seeing his wife behind clearly unhappy with ensuing events. Soon he gave up the folly picking his blanket up clearly dejected but not before giving the stink eye to anyone in his general vicinity as one last act of defiance. 

There was a metal gate that was serving as a barrier between premium seats and us dopes standing around the perimeter. As the occupancy started becoming shoulder to shoulder we started a “tear down the wall” chant and oddly enough in a couple of minutes guards came and removed a few of the gates to let the people up close in the front/premium easier access to restrooms or whatever. As those people starting leaving the premium section, and a bevy of mainly heavy set older women with too much make up and bad boob jobs started pouring, we started chanting “Put the Wall Back, Put the Wall Back.”

We made the trek out for a better view of the stage and upon reaching center stage we went and stopped and watched the show as others did the same. A few security were asking people to keep moving a few yards down from us when I got the idea to simply start dancing anytime they came near. Think about it-is a guard more likely to stop a 40 something guy dancing or the 40 something guy simply standing? We spread the word to the rest of the group and we all snickered as anytime a guard came by the lot of us starting waving our arms in the arm or doing the standard white guy dance. After 10 minutes the guards simply gave up and other joined behind us. You may be able to see my spastic gyrations here if you look close enough...

Sure enough my suspicion was correct that in front of the stage the sound quality was very good and seeing the female members of the band harmonize was impressive-far more so then I would have imagined by listening to their records for the last 30 years. Looking around us it was literally a hodge podge of intoxicated 40 something woman all dancing about while their male companions had the worried “Should I dance? Should I do the head nod up and down? Should I simply Stand and show no emotion?” Not that I did a Neilsen study on it but it looked to me like most were choosing the latter which made the fact that our Motley Crew had no inhibitions whatsoever and were dancing, singing, pumping our fists, and doing bad Fred Schneiders impressions somewhat the life of the party as far as OC concert crowds go. The band belted out some of their best known songs and quite frankly I loved every minute of it considering I haven't owned any of their work since the mid 90s Cosmic Thing album. Even songs I hate like Love Shack had taken on some new life. They then busted into Planet Claire which was fantastic as not only have I always enjoyed that song but was dancing with 2 40something women who were enjoyed the concert as much as I was while there dates exchanged nervous glances while the crazy guy in the plaid hat and Hawaiian shirt did all of the quirky dance moves that the B52s were noted for back in the day. The song ended and me and the gang and our new found lady friends all high fived each other. Soon it was over...but not before the band feigned the end of the show and we went into the motions of clapping and chanting for more. Then after coming back to the stage and busting out Rock Lobster and maybe one other that was that; but not before a pretty good firework show ended the night in high flying fashion. The quality of the firework show is strangely magnificent given you have somewhat lowered expectations for the lake but they are very good. I speculate a member of the club probably owns a pyrotechnic/fireworks company. And once again, the company I was hanging with was fantastic....ThePatioMan, not only does fine patio work but knows how to have a great time at Lake Mission Vijo.

It was the best of was the worst of times. Our quick time warp to the early 80s(and mid90s for that matter) was over and going back to the wives and kids meant saying goodbye to our old friends and getting back to that pesky thing known as responsibility.