I’ve had some pretty magical moments in the City of Angels over the past few years, but traveling to see AC/DC take over Dodger Stadium alongside my 13-year-old brother may have just topped them all.
Up until this rockin’ family vacation, my relationship with Los Angeles has been strictly monogamous. My first time there, I flew solo to see the mighty Black Sabbath perform at the Hollywood Bowl, where I scored a third row seat platted directly in front of the riff god of heavy metal, Tony Iommi. My next trip there gave me a taste of the local music scene, when I saw Lynette Skynyrd, an all-female, L.A. based Lynyrd Skynyrd cover band, play at the world famous Whisky a Go Go. I lived the roadie life my third time out west, when my Italian friends’ band played their first ever live set in the United States at a cozy little bar in Santa Monica.
Each of these experiences was fulfilling in their own right, as I learned new things about myself and what I really love to do: travel and endure live music culture in new places. However, I felt a hint of emptiness; a sense of loneliness because I wasn’t sharing these moments with my family.
My greatest joy is traveling to a city I’ve never been before to see one of my favorite bands live in concert, and although I’ve enjoyed my independent adventures thus far, sharing this one with my little brother was one of the best experiences I could have ever asked for. We’ve been through hell and back together, and despite our 10 year age difference, we are closer than we ever could be. Growing up was difficult and confusing for both of us, but it made us all the more in tune with each other. We were lucky to have an amazingly strong-willed mother to help us make sense of it all.
When I was 14-years-old, my brother 4, our father’s severe substance abuse began to desecrate our family. Suddenly, he was out of the picture, and my mother and I were left to make a happy childhood for Luke. I was upset about so many things, but most of all I was upset about the secrecy. The fact that he had been using for the majority of my childhood tore me apart. It was behavior that was inexcusable, especially for a father of two. Every emotion I felt seemed impossible to deal with, but I knew I had to find some peace and be strong for the sake of my brother.
I won’t hide the fact that this was a very painful time that often made me sick to my stomach with confusion as to how someone could abandon their family for nothing short of a high, but I sure won’t let it define me. Through it all, I discovered two great passions that keep me moving today: writing and rock and roll music. During the storm that was my father’s destruction, I would often write while listening to music in order to help transcribe my emotions. Instead of breaking me down completely, my hardships began to fuel my work ethic and creative edge, and I’m forever grateful that I had such a cool little friend by my side to make everything worthwhile.
Luke and I love to have fun and goof off. We are always laughing and love excitement. Our trip to L.A. was our first vacation together, and I must say we out did ourselves. We spent a day at Universal Studios, soaking up everything Simpsons and every movie themed thrill ride you can imagine. We went on a silly hamburger tour that included all the fast food establishments we’ve never tried before: In-N-Out Burger, Carl’s Jr., Jack in the Box and our favorite, Krusty Burger, located in Universal’s very own miniature Springfield. Needless to say we didn’t feel all that great when we came home. Then the night we were waiting for finally arrived — AC/DC LIVE at Dodger Stadium! It was the perfect first concert for Luke, who is just starting to come to terms with his own rocker spirit, just as I was when I was his age. With the help of his super cool sister and his weekly drum lessons, he’s become infatuated with songs like “Back in Black” and “Thunderstruck,” and seeing them performed live may have just sold his soul to rock and roll for good. One thing is for sure, AC/DC is a much cooler first concert than mine: the tie-rocking, Sk8er Boi singer Avril Lavigne. It may embarrass me now, but as a snappy teenager, I adored her catchy songs and kiss-my-ass attitude.
I have always vowed that if I was ever granted the chance to see AC/DC live, I’d go crazy like some rocker-groupie chick from the 80s and end up throwing my bra up on stage. Out of all the rock bands in the world, I believe they deserve that the most. Unfortunately, I was standing next to Luke the whole time so I had to keep it PG-13. The baseball aroma and flawless weather that filled Dodger Stadium had me reminiscing about the Twins opener at Target Field, but with much more pot-filled smoke clouds floating about. There was an over-capacity of weirdos at this concert, many of them rude and self-righteous, especially the van of middle aged, juiced up douchebags who wouldn’t let us in the lane that led into the stadium’s horribly designed parking lot. However, once we were inside it didn’t take long for us to spot those hardcore fans just there to lose themselves completely in the music. The best rockers I saw were the 8-year-old twin brothers seated in front of us. They were head-banging their California blonde locks so hard, it was as if they just snorted a dozen pixie sticks. I often caught one mimicking Angus Young’s every move, down to his classic skip dance and what seemed like “this may be my last breath” facial expressions.
I definitely found myself missing Phil Rudd and Malcolm Young during this show. It would have been so cool to seem them all vibe together up on stage. Thankfully, the drummer rocked, and Malcolm’s nephew rocked the rhythm guitar with a powerful and eye-catching energy, most noticeably during Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap. Brian Johnson showed off his crazy eyes every time he hit the microphone, effortlessly playing out the AC/DC concert fantasy I’d been dreaming of. At one point my brother leaned over to me and asked if he was going to fall over and die, probably due to the straining look plastered on his face as he sang his famously high lyrics. I can’t believe he can still hit those notes. Angus was horrifying in best description possible of the word. He was running all around the stage, already dripping in sweat by the second song of the night, Shoot to Thrill. His signature step proved he has the strongest, most beautiful calves I’ve ever seen. He is nothing short of a beast, and it was so cool to see the legend live in the flesh. The whole band was impressive as hell.
When describing AC/DC’s ballsy performance, I’d use the Italian expression: “che violenza” — a phrase used frequently in the Motherland to praise badass behavior. I really loved not having to worry about a slow down during this concert, even though my brother thought they deserved a much longer break than the 15 seconds they took in-between songs. There were no downer moments, so the energy of the show remained upbeat and fun. They played every song you think of when you think AC/DC, but my favorite had to be the one they saved for last that was accompanied by an insanely wicked fire show: For Those About to Rock.
Hells Bells was the heaviest performance of the night, fully brought to life with the giant bell ringing and swinging over the crowd. Whole Lotta Rosie was the most fun song to dance to, and the big blow up “Rosie” they had floating over the stage made Luke laugh hysterically. I loved being able to be my crazy hair-shaking self in front of my brother — the one guy who already knows how weird I am and loves me for it.
Our trip to L.A. was an experience Luke and I will remember for the rest of our lives. Uncontrollably, on the plane ride home, I found myself trapped in a fog of hateful thinking; stumped as to how my own father traded special moments like these for a life of drugs and alcohol. How he could have done this to such a sweet boy just blows my mind. My anger and frustration comes out of my ears like a thick cloud at times like these, but at the same time, I feel a deep sense of strength in that I am the one that is here for him. Though I sometimes still get lost in my heartache, I know through everything, I’ve got my little man.