By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
|Photo by Ted Soqui|
IT'S SAFE TO SAY THAT, IN LOS ANGELES, IF YOU SEE A TEENAGE girl rockin' out while sitting in the passenger seat of her mom's minivan, she's probably listening to KIIS-FM 102.7. My daughter, Anabel, is 12. She knows the words to every song on the playlist by heart. Whenever she gets into my car, it doesn't matter what I'm listening to -- was listening to -- we crank up the Pink! I guess it was inevitable that she would talk me into taking her to Wango Tango, the annual concert event put on by this hopelessly commercial radio station.
I'm one of those guys who grew up in the Los Angeles suburbs, '70s style, glitter/glam with a less than smooth transition into punk rock later in the decade. A "Disco Sucks" kind of guy. I always prided myself on being on the outside, ahead of the trends and definitely never listening to Top 40 radio. That was for the millions of losers singing Styx and Foreigner songs at kegger parties. I was busy listening to Bowie bootlegs, trying to learn how to play the guitar parts to "John, I'm Only Dancing."
So I wasn't quite sure how I felt about going to this concert. It was easy enough to tolerate listening to KIIS in the car. After all, the windows were usually rolled up, and unless the Silver Lake hipsters waiting at the red lights could read lips, there was little chance they knew we had listened to at least two, maybe three, No Doubt songs on the short trip from Mount Washington.
On the morning of the concert, Anabel and her friend Luisa -- who spent the night in anticipation -- sprayed glitter on their jeans, which were split up the outside seams to above the knees and decorated with rhinestones or safety pins. They slipped on their halter tops (midriffs exposed, of course), some not so sensible shoes and a dab of glitter makeup around the eyes. The extent to which I had gone way out on a limb began to sink in, but it was too late now, and off we went to the Rose Bowl at high noon on what seemed to be the first truly hot day of the summer.
Gwen Stefani’s girls:
Anabel and Luisa
Photo by John Curry
The KIIS-FM DJs onstage kept saying there were 70,000 people in attendance, and it looked like 60,000 of them were females between the ages of 12 and 20. The rest were parents, many of whom seemed to be surprisingly knowledgeable participants with their own agendas. The mom behind me kept asking her miniskirt-clad daughters when Steven Tyler from Aerosmith was going to go on (he did a bluesy duet with Pink) or if Ozzy was gonna show up (to support his now-famous, reality/sitcom-star daughter, Kelly, who performed her cover of the Madonna "classic" "Papa Don't Preach"). Maybe her mom took her to aging rock stars' concerts back in the '70s.
Fifteen acts in 10 hours: Ouch! The first four hours were brutal. Sitting through sets by O-Town and the Calling was like trying to make 60,000 kids watch an LAUSD school board meeting on public television. Just as I was fantasizing about a way to get the girls to leave early, the sun went down and Pink took the stage. The previously unfocused throng came to life, singing in perfect unison, "Teachers dated me/My parents hated me . . ." I hadn't been in an audience of true believers like this since Bowie closed his shows with "Rock and Roll Suicide."
As Anabel and Luisa and every girl within sight loosened up and got down, self-confidently shaking their rapidly developing booties in hip-grinding Britney/ J-Lo imitations, I tried hard to keep my judgmental eyes on the stage for fear that I would chill my daughter's vibe by becoming the clichéd overprotective dad. Back in the '70s, strong role models for young girls were few and far between, and women in rock were mostly championed for being women in rock. Now they rule the industry. When No Doubt came on around 9 and Gwen Stefani screamed, "Hello, Los Angeles! Let me hear from my girls!," the response was truly deafening -- and, I have to admit, on some level gratifying.
Music changes, fashion changes, but what doesn't change is the need to be a part of something at a crucial time of our lives. The truth is, kids are smarter, bolder and more comfortable with who they are -- and what they want to listen to -- than most of us at their age. As giant cannons shot glitter into the air at the end of No Doubt's last song, Anabel turned to me and announced that she wanted to take guitar lessons. And as we trekked out to the parking lot with the rest of the spent masses, I could hear car radios blasting the same familiar songs on the ever shrinking playlist of "L.A.'s No. 1 hit-radio station." And I realized, God forbid, that I too knew all the words by heart.