Watching Dancing tonight, the results show, I saw Hall & Oates perform one of the songs from my glory days, Maneater.
Now the interesting thing, the thing is not just that I feel old because I watch the show with my kids, but because I’ve seen Hall & Oats perform live, in concerts. And I thought I’d already seen the duo’s life cycle.
But I was wrong.
The first time I’d seen the band I was 19 or 20. It was at the great party on the lake, Summerfest — back in the day when the old stage had true general seating. Not some general seating (like today on ‘the hill’, with partially obstructed views, vs. the ticket seats closer to the stage), but all the seats were general seats.
The only price you paid was your general admission to the fest (and the food and drink bill — which was no small thing, but still cheaper than it is today). The true fans, those dedicated to the principal of the fest and music, would arrive in a group at the festival park before the gates opened, and at 10 A.M., when the gates opened, rush the main stage.
There you’d scrounge for and stake-out the best seats you could get. You had to be a group because in order to keep you seats, at least a pair of you would need to sit, lounge and/or lay upon the old wooden plank seating from 10 in the morning until 7 P.M. or so when the opening act would begin their performance.
You’d guard in shifts, with other members checking back in either to take their shift at seat saving or to bring you wine coolers, beers & real brats (not the grey hotdogs many try to pass-off as bratwurst). I personally loved my seat saving duties. Despite the great number of other seat savers (and the scavengers who tried to poach seats) and music occasionally billowing by from one of the other stages, it was one of the more quiet places on the lake to actually have a conversation. Conversation, sunlight, wine coolers, music, lake breezes… What’s not to like? Oh yeah, and the inevitable run-in with old friends who spotted you on your concert seating stake-out. (Remaining in place, letting others come to you, has always been one of the best ways to be found.)
Anyway, the first time I saw Hall & Oats was at Milwaukee’s Summerfest — they were just approaching their biggest days and as a college student on the cutting edge of music at the time, it was freakin’ fantastic. Being slightly drunk on beverages, the feeling of cool night lake air caressing hot sunburned skin, the intoxicating mix of old and new friends (and lovers), and youth was topped-off by awesome music & dancing on the wooden plank benches as we scream-sung the lyrics. Hall & Oats was on fire and so was I.
But just a few short years later, or so it seemed to me, Hall & Oats was once again back at Summerfest — but this time, at one of the smaller music stages. I still went to see them & had a fantastic time. But it was a stage demotion, symbolic of their loss of cool status — and my own. No longer were any of us on fire… Smoldering, maybe; but not on fire.
I noted it, this temporary ‘hot’ status in pop culture, and how it mirrored my own fleeting popularity in our youth obsessed culture. I didn’t like it; but I accepted that this was how others would see us. They were wrong; but let them move along with their fads & fancies.
Flash forward to now. A few weeks ago, Hall & Oates appeared on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart (yes, I am old; but I’m also cool enough to have intelligence and good taste, thankyouverymuch). Their appearance may have seemed a slice of retro kitschy goodness to many — a big “Howdy” to gods from the 80’s, a decade now so “vintage” that it’s back “in” again — but to me, it was a fond remembrance. Not just of my glory days, but of my “they’re wrong, they don’t know what they’re doing” thoughts. Seeing them with Stewart wasn’t a nod from a current pop culture collegiate deity to gods that once were; it was, at least, mutual recognition of one another’s cool factor — with neither’s being over with.
Seeing the duo’s performance on Dancing tonight, with that hot Karina Smirnoff in a flaming red jumpsuit and black leg warmers, I realized that I may no longer look as hot as she did — but I once wore those leg warmers, those heels, and mesmerized audiences grooving to Maneater. My audience was smaller, my moves less professional; but by boobs were bigger and I was entertaining and cool to those who watched. Like Hall & Oates, I may not be the looker I once was, but I’m not dead. Or irrelevant.
I hope to keep seeing more of them; because, boys, every time you go away you take a piece of me with you.