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Aerosmith at KAABOO 2016, September 17th. Photo by Derrick K. Lee, Esq. (@Methodman13) for www.BlurredCulture.com.

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RECAP:  It’s a pretty awesome year for rockers of yesteryear. The first weekend of October will see the septuagenarian stew called Desert Days host Bob Dylan, Paul McCartney, The Rolling Stones, and The Who. And here at KAABOO the band honored with anchoring the Saturday night headliner on the main stage is none other than Aerosmith. Now, to be fair, it’s not really appropriate to lump Steven Tyler and Joe Perry in with the old fogies from Desert Days. They’re a full 5 years younger than most those geriatric turds and as 60-somethings, have every right to distinguish themselves as sexagenarians – a categorical stroke of linguistic and mathematical fortune that I’m sure the band cannot help but to embrace.

When they walk on stage, god bless their physical stamina but damn they sounded dodgy out of the gates. Now, if you knew the backstory to this show, that might not seem so shocking. Apparently this was the first time they’ve played together all year and is the only US show they’ll perform before heading for a long tour through South America. Moreover, rumor and legend have it that after a year apart they only had one rehearsal on Friday before stepping on stage Saturday. Two things to note about the rough start: 1. Nobody cared. You bring the heat since before half the crowd was born, you’ve earned yourself some leg room. 2. It only took one song to dust off the cobwebs.

Aerosmith at KAABOO 2016, September 17th. SetlistWhen the band dug into “Love in an Elevator” for their second song, everyone was freaking out. Especially the woman next to me who was shoving fistfuls of food truck mac’n’cheese into her pie hole while rocking her head to the beat. With all that violent multitasking, I thought some creamy noodle shrapnel might fly out at me, but high fives to her, she kept it all in the mouth. Waste not, want not.

When the band played “Cryin”, the audience received an education in what it means to be a decades tested stadium band. The whole crowd started singing, girls started climbing on shit to do the concert dance that girls do, and all cell phones were up and pointed at the stage. It was a bright moment but also bittersweet for the nostalgic at heart. In fact, I weep a bit for today’s youth. 20 or 30 years ago, those cell phones would’ve been lighters and at least a handful of women would be flashing the stage while their boyfriends pretended to enjoy holding them aloft on their shoulders. (It’s fun for like, the first 30 seconds. Then it’s like, yo, do you know how long “Dream On” is live? Best get down before I drop you. And back off on the mac’n’cheese if you want me holding you up like that….) Now dudes are just like… nah. Guess it’s another chapter of chivalry and selflessness upon which we have slammed shut the door.

But the winds of history and time are no match for the wind machine blowing Steven Tyler’s leonine tresses away from his face as he and the band move through a barrage of greatest hits: “Toys in the Attic”, “Living on the Edge”, “Same Old Song and Dance”, “Ragdoll”. They sound amazing and dammit, they look amazing. Joe Perry at 66 is still oddly skinny ripped and bronzed, showing no signs of mortality after collapsing on stage earlier in the summer with his side project Hollywood Vampires. Dude is the definition of chill. A cigarette hanging halfway out his mouth as he casually annihilates rock solos and blues riffs. And speaking of blues, that’s the cool thing about Aerosmith. Such an iconic rock band but they’ve always been not-so-closet blues heads. To the extent that rock owes its genetic inheritance to the blues, Aerosmith has been incredibly faithful in honoring that legacy.

As Steven Tyler breaks into “I Don’t Want to Miss a Thing” the whole fucking crowd starts singing along. How often you see that at US shows? It was sexy. And as KAABOO crossed the threshold from daytime festival to night time drunky-drunky time, I thought a few randy couples in my vicinity might start procreating on the spot. I’ll bet that there were probably more than a few kids in the crowd who were conceived to the song. Doesn’t even matter what you think of Ben Affleck and Bruce Willis, when you watch Armageddon and you hear this song…it’s a panty dropper. After this, the band did a sick cover of “Come Together” and then wrapped with an iconic rendition of “Walk This Way”.

At one point, Tyler leapt into the front row of the crowd and ripped a cell phone out of a girl’s hand. Before she knew how to respond, he held his arm out and started taking selfies with her while still singing the song. That is a fucking baller move for a man his age. And how weird is it that it’s been 30 years since they changed the game we call music by partnering with Run DMC to re-record a song that they’d originally released 13 years before that. ‘73 to ‘86 to ‘16 and that song still melts faces.

I guess it brings truth to one of my mantras: classics never go out of style. For the first encore, Tyler sat alone at a piano for a solo rendition of “Dream On”. Slowly, subtly, the rest of the band joins in until the song reached it’s necessary and complete crescendo. They followed this up with “Sweet Emotion”, completing what had been a clinic in their own greatest hits. Moral of the story: Don’t ever give on a legend. And I don’t give a shit if you like Aerosmith or not. They hold legend status. They’ve earned it. And tonight they showed why.

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