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'Take the Day Off' Quip Touches a Fan's Nerve : Advice From Rocker Rick Danko Is Called Out of Order by an Apparent Early-Riser

June 25, 1989|Randy Lewis

It was just a passing comment. The guy who made it, rock veteran Rick Danko, probably didn't think twice about it. But it got Irvine stockbroker Scott Flanagan plenty steamed.

The remark came about two-thirds of the way through a recent Sunday night show at the Coach House in San Juan Capistrano. It was kinda late (close to 11), but Danko wanted to keep the fans pumped up, so he looked out at the crowd and suggested:

"Why don't you just take the day off tomorrow? . "

Sure, it's one of those cliched exhortations designed to lull crowds into thinking they're going to party all night long when in 95% of the cases they're going to party precisely until the performers' contracted time is up and not a time-and-a-half-minute more.

But it was more than Danko's lack of originality that stuck in Flanagan's craw. Staying up late is "great for Danko," Flanagan said, "but I've got to get up and work in the morning."

Actually, for Flanagan, who had called after reading a review of the show in The Times, the beef wasn't even that the show ran past his bedtime; it was his perception that the average rock show is "run the same way concerts were run when we were 18 years old."

Flanagan is 36, and he thinks it's time that tenured rock fans such as himself started getting a little better treatment, in keeping with their upwardly mobile positions in life.

"What with the graying of America and all," he said, "it seems to me it would make sense for these aging rockers to revamp their shows and quit acting like we're all still a bunch of teen-agers."

Actually, I wouldn't care--if the result was like the first rock concert I attended as a teen-ager in 1969: a triple bill with Creedence Clearwater Revival, Booker T. & the MGs and Wilbert Harrison at the Forum, where the best seat cost $6.50.

Nevertheless, Flanagan's point has its merits. When you're 17, there's a certain adrenaline rush from standing in a hot, sweaty, dark club in the wee hours until your eardrums start to resemble creamed corn.

But for some folks, the novelty of that particular rite of youth wears thin after 10 or 15 years.

"We're told to get there early to get good seats, but then we have to listen to some screaming punk band before the headliner comes on," Flanagan said. (In fact, Darling Cruel, which opened for Danko, wasn't a screaming punk band but a bleating angst band. Give me the screaming punks any day--I'd rather be sonically pummeled than emotionally anesthetized.)

The trouble began even before he got inside. "The sound check ran late, and I looked around and saw everybody standing in line outside the place; some of the ladies were getting pretty cold," Flanagan said.

Some of these jabs are about problems beyond the club's control. Coach House booking agent Ken Phebus said nightclub operators don't like to keep customers waiting outside because they lose kitchen and bar revenue, not to mention much good will. It is the bands, Phebus said, who insist that fans wait outside while they noodle with the reverb.

Anyway, once inside, having weathered that drastically mismatched opening act, Flanagan noted that the show had been billed to start at 9 p.m. but that Danko didn't get on stage until close to 9:45. Another 45 minutes went by before co-headliner Gary Busey joined the fray. I wasn't long after that when Danko told the fans to "take tomorrow off."

"Did you notice the parking lot?" Flanagan asked. "I did--there were a lot of nice cars out there. I'd make a guess that the people who came to that show didn't get where they are by taking the day off because Rick Danko told them to . . . .

"I don't know, maybe if you work at Builders Emporium or Handyman you might be able to just call up and take the day off. But what if you have to be in court the next day?" (That, I'd say, depends a lot on how you feel about your client.)

Flanagan's point is that earlier show times for weeknight concerts would be a nice concession to the rock 'n' roll fans who are the young professionals of their generation--most of whom hope to get old before they die. Not a bad suggestion. But, for one thing, the Coach House already makes that concession. Often as not I'm out of early shows at the Coach House by 10:30 on weeknights--Danko's show did run long, but that was an aberration.

It's worth noting, by the way, that while most club owners start shows as late as possible so that customers will keep buying drinks as long as possible, Coach House owner Gary Folgner not only starts his shows early but actually insists on closing his bar immediately when they end, rather than keeping it going for extra business. He doesn't want people staying late and drinking and then driving off when they couldn't hit a highway sideways.

Besides, in my book the spirit of rock 'n' roll is not about ultimate comfort and convenience. If that's what you're looking for, grab a martini, sink into the overstuffed massage-o-lounger and tune the stereo to The Wave.

It was the tone of Flanagan's swipe at people who work at Builder's Emporium or Handyman that turned me off the most, though. I used to work in a grocery store, and I had a tougher time getting days off than most lawyers and doctors I know.

Rock 'n' roll isn't about career one-upsmanship. It's about shaking off the bonds of cultural snobbery; it's about celebrating the joy in being part of the human community.

And sometimes--just sometimes--that celebration calls for a day off.

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