I’m guessing the first week of school after the Easter break in New Zealand was a quiet one, what with all the puberty-challenged girls having screamed themselves voiceless during the recent holiday break.

In what can only be described as teen idol overload, the nation’s tweeny population had barely packed away its homemade “I (heart) Reese” posters after the exit of Young Master Mastin when the lads from One Direction dropped by to be worshipped at the altar of estrogen. It was like being invaded by the Huns and Gauls in the same week. Where’s a good Hadrian’s Wall when you need it?

I saw them on the news, those hordes with their eyes blazing from adrenalin overload, their gaping mouths all a-silver with the best braces Daddy’s money can buy, their androgynous bodies quivering with what can only be described as mass hysteria.

What, I wondered, would they do if one of their plastic boys had actually stepped past the beefy security and waded into the crowd? What would their buzzy brains have thought to say? “OMG! LOL! Which Barbie shall we play with today? Oh, and can you help me with my homework? Starting with the correct spelling of ‘zealot’.”

Young females practically wetting themselves in the worship of music godlets is nothing new of course. They did it for Elvis. They did it for The Beatles. They will do it for someone else tomorrow.

I was 10 when A Hard Day’s Night came to the venerable Clova Theatre in Cloverdale, a dusty town known more for hosting one of North America’s largest rodeos than its appreciation of the arts. But the Clova was the closest cinema to my hometown and so one night my father bundled the family off to see the shaggy-haired Fab Four in their first flirtation with the silver screen.

The place was a madhouse, so full that the only empty seats available were in the “crying room,” a closed-in area off to the side where, behind layers of thick glass, mothers could deal to their cranky babies without disturbing the general audience. But even in an area designed to swallow the sounds of squalling bubs, we could hear the hysterical screams issuing from inside the theatre proper.

It was sheer pandemonium, absolute chaos, drowning out the film’s soundtrack and leaving my parents _ more accustomed to the soothing tones of crooners like Frank Sinatra and Perry Como and Nat King Cole _ shaking their heads in bewilderment.

While I will admit to singing along (very badly) at concerts, I have never _ ever _ felt the urge to scream like my hair was on fire.

Maybe it’s a man thing but I tend to save my lungs for events with the potential to forge history. Sporting events, for instance. And by sports I mean, of course, hockey.

 But even then, it’s not simple bellowing, but rather clever witticisms along the lines of “Hit him with your purse, ya wimp!” and “Hey ref, I found your guide dog!”. Loud, yes, but also supremely intelligent, as befits the male of the species.
I have no idea why young girls yelp at young men in mindless, gullible adoration, simply because said lads possess clear complexions, straight teeth and jeans so tight they threaten to cut off the circulation to their boy bits. Because we all know it’s less about pure talent and more about ‘there but for Simon Cowell go I’.

So here I sit, dazed and confused, curious as to why people who neither write their own songs nor play their own instruments manage to whip sweet young misses into whirling dervishes.

 I also can’t help but chuckle at the constant claims of how The Next Cute Thing is en route to becoming “bigger than The Beatles”. Justin Bieber was going to do that. So were the Bay City Rollers. Remember them? Yeah, neither do I.

Reprinted courtesy of the Napier (New Zealand) Courier.


The excitement around the office was palpable.

Another Mission concert! The crowds! The venue! The non-stop drinking! The music! The drinking!

Yes, sadly, it was the actual entertainment that was rated far down the list whenever war stories of past Mission mayhem were rehashed. One fellow employee recalled a pair of inebriated punters who passed out early and missed the entire concert.

My record of having never attended a Mission concert remains intact. Sliding around a grassy slope surrounded by 25,000 drunken louts spewing pre-digested alcohol on each other? Not gonna happen. It would take John and George returning from heaven’s rock’n’roll hall of fame for a Beatles reunion for me to even consider such an outing and even then I may just stay home and wait for the DVD.

 I don’t do live concerts anymore. I grew tired of scrambling for a parking spot, of elbowing my way into the venue, of being surrounded by mouth-breathing cretins, of coming home smelling like a grow op, of lying awake all night with my ears ringing, of doing the zombie shuffle at work after a hard day’s night.

Maybe I just grew old.

Maybe I’ve seen all I need to see. Springsteen: twice. (Best. Concerts. Ever.) Petty learning to fly. The Grateful Dead jamming for five hours straight. The Beach Boys when all three Wilson brothers were still alive.

The Beach Boys, in fact, broke my concert cherry. It was October 1973, the night before I flew to Europe for a six-month jaunt that lasted three weeks (some people say there was a woman to blame). We were crammed into some kind of performance hall at the University of British Columbia. The opening act was an obscure musician touring North America on the back of his first single, a little ditty called Piano Man.

“Billy Joel sucks!” some leather-lunged buffoon hollered from the cheap seats.

Years later, I saw Billy Joel in concert again. This time he was headlining and the crowd cheered his every song, his days of suckage obviously well and truly over.

The novelty of live performance came to an end for me in the ’80s. It was my daughter’s birthday. She was 10, or 11, or 12 or something. One of those ages when she still considered her old man cool. Especially when I bought tickets for her and a couple friends to see the New Kids on the Block at B.C. Place.

This is a venue custom-built for football and, as such, it works very well, what with its huge seating capacity. What the place doesn’t have is decent acoustics. Sound simply disappears into the far reaches of this covered dome, never to be heard again.

Not that it mattered to the thousands of pre-pubescent females in attendance. Their incessant screaming served to drown out whatever noise might have been issuing from the speakers.

I didn’t care about the music or the screams. Neither did the hundreds of other dads I met that afternoon. While Donnie Wahlberg and four nobodies shook their asses and yelped out songs they were four shades of Caucasian too white to own, I wandered through the covered concourse, looking at my watch, watching the other fathers — all of us reduced on that day to little more than chauffeur/chaperone status — and shaking our heads in sympathetic disgust whenever our eyes happened to meet.

It was painful at the time and the memory still haunts me. To paraphrase Rod the Mod himself, that last cut was the deepest.

The good news is that, some 25 years later, my eardrums hardly ever bleed anymore.

My parents’ generation was horrified.

Accustomed to the low-key, silky-smooth crooning of the likes of Sinatra, Como, Bennett and King Cole, rock’n’roll’s jarring birth surely sounded like a bulldozer running over every cat in the world. While on fire. And exploding.

The Beatles. The Rolling Stones. The Who. The Animals. Elvis. Jimi. Janis. The Lizard King. It must have seemed like an alien invasion, come to destroy a civilization based on post-war conformity.

It was a sea change and one in which I was an active participant, if only because that’s what was blaring out of my tinny transistor radio. I picked strawberries for spending money through seven summers and, even today, when I hear a song from that era, I’m  instantly transported back to a time when I crawled on my knees through the dirt, disturbing slumbering snakes and nesting birds in pursuit of the rich, red sweetness of a full-breasted berry.

I stopped listening to the radio when disco arrived. Hated that shit then. Still do. I bought The Mother of My Children a Disco Sucks T-shirt as a Christmas present one year, so I like to think I helped kill that particular evil.

Even after disco did finally skulk away — the final coffin nail, apparently, being that oldies suddenly wanted to learn all those Saturday Night Fever moves, thus destroying disco’s exclusivity — my radio remained silent. I grew my hair to music circa 1964-71. Aural wizardry, all of it. Music released since then? Meh.

Other than some Springsteen or Petty, you’d be hard-pressed to find any post-’70s songs on my iPod. I’m a baby boomer and, for us, it may only be rock’n’roll but we like it.

Except, during those years when I wasn’t paying attention, rock mutated. Punk rock. Sex rock. Grunge. Metal. Heavy metal. Modern rock. And now I see references to something called noise rock.

What is noise rock, you ask? I have no flippin’ idea. But, personally, that’s the label I’d apply to all those goth freaks who, quite literally, scream — about death and destruction and dismemberment.

We once had a neighbor whose son fronted just such a travesty of a band. It was actually frightening to hear him practising because I was never quite sure if he was singing or gargling battery acid. Or had caught his pink bits in a wood chipper. I was pleased to finally move away.

I started thinking about music after reading a story on a wonderful new website called Review 2 A Kill (review2akill.com). The site is the brainchild of a group of talented and enthusiastic people, including my daughter, Brooke (missteenussr.com), and her husband, Nuv. (My son, Koleman, also contributes — yes, as a matter of fact we are a talented family).

While reading Nuv’s music column about rap — yet another music genre that has me contemplating ripping out my eardrums and beating them with a burning stick — it occurred to me that I knew absolutely nothing about any of the artists he mentioned, nor had I heard a single one of their recorded offerings.

This is partly a result of losing touch with today’s music but also because, if I hated disco, I despise rap, what with the never-ending whine of its woe-is-me-the-white-man-done-done-me-wrong lyrics and grade-school rhyming.

But perhaps the main reason I have such an intense dislike for rap is because it doesn’t speak to my generation.

And then it hit me, like a Stratocaster between the eyes: at some point while having children, assuming a mortgage, losing our hair and desperately attempting to squirrel away a retirement fund, we baby boomers ceased to be a Wild Thing. A Street Fighting Man. The Walrus. We no longer were born to be wild nor Born To Run.

We had, for all intents and purposes, become our parents.

The Who may have sung about being able to see for miles and miles, but I did not see that one coming. Bummer.