The Picks Of Destiny

I have shared many of my Fuzzy Memories from concerts in discussions and in the comments section. Recently Villain asked what was the best concert you’ve ever seen. There is a definite two way tie for me. Of the hundreds of shows I’ve went to, these two both played out like rock and roll movies. The stories are true, the names have not been changed to protect the guilty.

July 21 2005- Darien Lake Amusement Park

I grew up a Black Sabbath fanatic. Ever since I was four years old, they have been my favorite band. My older brother (12 years older) got me started as a metal head young. The Ozzfest In 2005 featured the original 4 members of Black Sabbath as the headliners. And Iron Maiden opening up. There was no way I was missing this. One of my good buddies and I got tickets, pit passes, for the general admission standing area at the front of the stage.

The temperature that day was close to 90. It was held in an open area with little shade. I had no interest in seeing the rest of the bands playing that day, so I stayed in the parking lot and drank beer under a tree. We parked near the fence, we could see and hear the bands from there. I really wanted to smoke a joint but the place was crawling with cops. They were walking in a line 15 cops wide. Patrolling the parking lot like gestapo. There were cops in trees with binoculars who would radio to the walking Pigs if they spotted anyone doing anything illegal. Seemed a bit drastic to me.

We drank for several hours before Iron Maiden hit the stage.

We made our way in and found a spot up close. Bruce comes out and is chatting up the crowd. He has a very thick accent so it was hard to understand everything he was saying. He announced that they would only be playing songs from their first 4 albums, as directed by Sharon Osbourne. This got a big cheer from the crowd. Bruce seemed agitated. He said it was bullshit that they couldn’t play any new stuff. People kept cheering. He kept getting angrier. At one point I’m 99% positive he called everyone Stupid fucking drunk Americans. Everyone cheered louder. Not knowing what he was saying. He went off. Cursing everyone. Apparently this happened at every show. Later in the tour Zack Wylde would go on stage and physically remove Bruce for being an asshole.

Anyhow, Maiden played a killer set. No more outbursts by Mr. Dickinson. Eddie showed up, and all was good.

A short break, then it’s Sabbath time.

The place is set up in an amphitheater on a hill side. Standing only up front, chairs in the middle. Then standing room on the hill in back. I went to the back and burned a big ass joint. I was finishing up when the bass notes for NIB start ringing out. I take off on a mad dash towards the stage.

Sabbath sounded amazing. Bill Ward was healthy and strong on the drums, Geezer and Tony were rock solid, and Ozzy was in top form. His voice sounded spot on. I was standing near Tony Iommi . He would look and smile at everyone while he played. After the song Into The Void, Tony threw his guitar pick into the crowd. It landed near me. I dove for it at the same time as another guy. We rolled around wrestling for the pick. We both turn our heads and see the pick laying right next to us. He reached for the pick, I grabbed his hand and grabbed the pick with my free hand. Boy was he pissed. Too bad. That was meant to be mine. The band played a mind melting set. It was better than I even hoped for. I left with great memories and a Tony Iommi pick. Couldn’t ask for more.

How could a show get better than that…

Three years later I found our how it gets better than that.

August 12 2008

Erie County Fair Grounds

For those unfamiliar with Black Sabbath’s history, after Ozzy was kicked out of the band, they brought in legendary singer Ronnie James Dio to replace him. They would record a string of amazing albums in the 80’s. Original drummer Bill Ward was replaced by Vinnie Appice. This lineup reunited under the name Heaven and Hell. They brought Motörhead to open. Another Can’t Miss Show.

My wife and I met our friend Jim and his friend Scott in the parking lot. I never met Scott before, but he and Jim were huge Dio fans. We drank beer and told concert stories, when a rusty four-door car pulls up. The driver asks “you guys drinking beer?” Uh yeah, heavy metal show…pregame…of course we are.

Then that guy pulls out a walkie talkie and calls someone. He was an undercover cop. We all got open container tickets. Fucking stupid. This was just the beginning.

We go in. Jim and Scott have closer seats than us. Third row. They go up and watch the opening band. It’s Bay Area thrash kings Testament opening up the show

Near the stage, off to one side, were a bunch of folding chairs set up that nobody was sitting in. A group of older metal heads wearing denim battle vests went over to that section and started a circle pit

These guys started tearing the place up. Chairs are flying, hair and denim everywhere. They got kicked out before Testament finished their set. Waste of $55 if you ask me.

There’s a brief intermission then Motörhead takes the stage. I finally had a cellphone by 2008, so I have pictures! From my flip phone.

As the band is setting up, I noticed there were about 10 empty seats in the row where Jim and Scott were seated. The circle pit guys! We make our way up there and get in the middle of the row. I see ushers checking tickets as the band starts playing. I tell my wife to turn our backs to the usher and ignore them. It worked. They yelled twice to see my ticket and finally just moved on. We were 3 rows from the stage.

Motörhead played an awesome set. The sound was a tad muddy because it’s outdoors, but still a great show.

Now it’s headliner time. We stayed in our seats in between so we didn’t lose them. The band takes the stage and the ushers start letting people stand up front who were in the first few rows. SWEET! From the back of the place to center stage all for free! Thanks circle pit gang!

Dio is standing 10 feet in front of me. This is a dream come true. The four of us are in a line. My wife to my right, then Jim, then Scott. A quick side bar- Scott was around 40 years old. He had early onset of Multiple Sclerosis. He was pale, gaunt, and skinny. Weighed about 100 pounds. You could tell this guy was sick with one look.

So the band is killing it. Dio sounds phenomenal. I’m totally oblivious to anything around me. Then my wife grabs and pulls my arm. I look to my right and I see Scott on his knees and there is a guy on his knees behind him choking him. Behind that guy is Jim who has that guy in a choke hold. Scott is turning purple. So I run over and start unloading on this guys face. I must have punched him 20 times. Security rushes in and separated everyone. In a split second I’m thinking of how to explain the whole situation without getting kicked out. We were justified in assaulting this guy. So in a moment of genius I yell “He punched my wife! I’m gunna kill that mother fucker!” The security turned, tells the other security what I said and they picked the guy up and drag him away. It was a lie, but the simplest way I could think of to get my point across during a high volume rock concert. It worked. Apparently the choke artist tried pushing Scott out of the way so he could stand there. Scott told him to fuck off. Then the Royal Rumble happened. I forget how fun it is to bloody up some tool bags face. Aaah the good ol’ days.

The concert continues. The whole band is on fire. It’s an epic set. Near the end of the show, Tony Iommi throws a guitar pick into the crowd. It lands at my feet. Nobody else sees it. I’m 2 for 2 in getting Iommi signature picks. The show finished without any more incidents.

Recalling the whole day now, it feels like a movie in my head. It was all surreal. The ticket for open container, upgrading our seats, Motörhead!, punching out some guy, then getting another pick. It doesn’t get anymore rock and roll than that in my book.

What’s your fondest keepsake from a concert? Anyone else ever get into a fight or have any shenanigans they want to share?

Don’t Go Messin’ With A Country Boy!