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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

The Greatest Triangle Concert


“There’s Nothing Louder Than Dead Air”

Bob "the Blade"
Book Signing Saturday with Dave Rose at School Kids Records

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Me and Stephen Judge, proprietor of School Kids Records.

June 2, 1979. Poco. The Outlaws. Van Halen. Boston.

This was the Woodstock of North Carolina, the show that decades later, everyone claimed they attended. Ask any person who lived in or around the state of North Carolina for any period, and they will tell you they went to the first show ever at Carter Finley Stadium in Raleigh, where NCSU played football.
I believe this show was more important than the Led Zeppelin show of 1970 at Dorton Arena in Raleigh and even more important than Jimi Hendrix at Dorton in August 1969. Those two bands played in Raleigh back then, but the shows were not well received because the architectural wonder known as Dorton Arena had, and still has, a very big feedback problem for its live concerts.

I have heard the bootlegs of the Zep show, and not to talk badly about the greatest rock band of all time, but the poor people at the time had to sit through a fifteen-minute drum solo.

John Bonham rattled through the solo in the middle of “Moby Dick.” Ouch, babe.
No question: the greatest show the Triangle has ever seen was the Carter Finley Stadium Show with those four bands. We all wish it had a name, but it didn’t. Poco had just released the Legend LP, The Outlaws had just released the Hurry Sundown LP, Van Halen had released Van Halen II, and Boston had finally released Don’t Look Back. We drove up in Sam’s Maverick, listening to WQDR the whole time. Tom Gongaware was the DJ that day, and the man kept us posted. He played songs from the bands that were playing the concert, told us the band lineup, where to park, and so on. It was awesome. Looking back, if he had warned us to avoid the brown acid, we would have totally flipped. That man had the coolest job a guy could have.

gongaware blade
Tom Gongaware 2009 Rock N Roll Hall of Fame Benefit-Koka Booth Amphitheatre

There were thirty thousand-plus people in attendance, and you couldn’t walk ten feet without finding someone carrying a film canister with acid to sell. Oddly enough, nobody was selling any pot because pot was at a premium. It was “dry” as we said back then. If people had pot, they kept it for themselves. Musically, I really don’t remember much because we were so far away; I do remember Boston leaving early because of the onslaught of red plastic soft drink cups the stadium dispersed to commemorate the event. The crowd was pummeling the band with them and the show ended after that.

The red cups scene was the culmination of a long, drunken, drug-influenced day for everyone. I had never done any acid, and I did not do any acid that day because I was smart enough not to take just anything from some random dude carrying a film canister at a concert.

Plus, I was broke.