Friday, February 12, 2010

V-66, O Positive, and Me

A couple of days ago, I wrote about my experience seeing the band Yes on Monday.  I hadn't seen then in twenty five years.  They were my first big rock concert.  Last night, I had a similar experience.  Last night, I saw O Positive play.  I hadn't seen them in about twenty four years.  They were my first small rock concert.

I grew up in Andover, MA.  While I was attending Andover Public High School, I had a number of friends who attended Phillips Academy in Andover.  Phillips is a swanky private school.  I would often go up there and visit my friends and enjoy the lush greens and ancient brick buildings.  It felt like a college campus.  A nice college campus.

That's where I saw O Positive play.  We knew it was strange at the time that this Boston band was playing in the gymnasium at a private high school in Andover but we all went.  By all, I mean, all of my big circle of friends attended this concert.  It was the first time I had seen a band in a small intimate setting.  I'd only seen giant classic rock bands in stadiums where there are lights and fog and you are sitting about a mile and a half away from the stage.

I don't remember too much about that O Positive show.  I remember running around in circles, because as I said, it was in a gymnasium, and I also remember sitting on the floor in a dark corner and watching the band through the silhouettes of dancing high-schoolers.  I remember they played "the cigarette song" which has a different name that I can't remember and I can't find in thirty seconds on the internet and therefore I will never find.  I also remember that they played "Twist and Shout" which even at the time, and even though I had never been to a rock show, I thought was an unusual  overplayed song for them to do.

Last night, School for the Dead had a strange, strange gig.  We drove to Boston and played one song, to a not-quite-there-yet crowd at House of Blues.  See, there was a V-66 reunion show last night.  V-66 was a non-cable music video channel on the east coast of Massachusetts that aired in the mid 1980's.  I wrote a song called V-66, about that station, in the mid 1990's.  I was contacted by two gentlemen who are making a documentary about that station in the late 2000's.  They had found out about my song online and had come to one of our shows in NYC.  They were interested in talking to me about that station.  Then a few months ago we were asked to play V-66 at this gig that happened last night.  We were to open the show with our V-66 "theme song" and then a series of bands who had videos on that station were to play half hour sets.  One of those bands was O Positive.

The House of Blues is a really beautiful venue.  It's large and airy. The sound and lights were excellent. The staff was professional.  The audience that came out to the show was obviously very excited in their nostalgia for V-66 and the music from the eighties.  I saw a few people who were in eighties looking outfits.  With some of them it was unclear whether or not they had ever changed out of those outfits.  With others, it was obvious that they came dressed in the spirit of the night.  Boston always feel a bit eighties to me anyway.

Due to various unavoidable band member issues, School for the Dead ended up being comprised of Brian and I with Scott Hall on keyboard and Jose Ayerve on bass.  Both of those guest artists did a perfect job playing our song.  Three cheers for Scott and Jose.

Back to O Positive.  They still got it, man.  They played their hits and they played them well, and it was obvious that they are a true band.  I was reminded how much I used to love their records (or the cassette copies that I had of them) and it makes me want to seek them out again.  Some of the other acts, not so great.  But the O pretty much put everyone in their place.

I was sitting on a black wooden box on the edge of the crowded floor in front of the stage when they played.  I was tired from standing all night and, from where I sat, I could just see the band's faces in the lights through the earnestly happy audience.  It was dark in the corner of the room and I sat and watched the band through the silhouettes of the dancing people, just like I did twenty four years ago at that Phillips Academy gymnasium. 

If you took those two moments of my life and placed each one on the end of a towel, then you wrung out all the twenty four years in between, and folded the towel so that those two moments were on top of each other, I bet I'd easily recognize myself.  O positive hasn't change that much over the years, and I guess I haven't either.  Or at least last night, I felt pretty much like the same me that I used to be.

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