Monday Music: Blue Öyster Cult

A series of unexpected life events have me feeling nostalgic, so here is a story about the first rock concert I attended, and associated memories.

I had been aware of Blue Öyster Cult for some years before I attended the concert, but had never really paid attention to them, other than to appreciate whatever of their music made it onto the radio in my nowhere farm town in rural nowhere in southern Michigan — “Don’t Fear the Reaper“, “Burnin’ For You“, and so on.

At the beginning of my sophomore year at Grand Valley State University (September 1988) I was in a mythology class, sitting next to a due with long hair, and out of nowhere he said “You like Blue Öyster Cult?” We got to talking, and suddenly I had a ticket to see BÖC in concert at Club Eastbrook (now The Orbit Room). December 4, 1988.

This was the “Bedtime Story for the Children of the Damned” tour in support of their album Imaginos. We stood in front of a bank of speakers, just left of center stage and behind a wall of big dudes in biker gear. The venue absolutely reeked of pot smoke, which was the first time I had smelled that smell and known what it was. In my defense, I was a sheltered (and isolated, socially, emotionally and geographically) child.

I don’t remember the opening band. I think they were regional, and in the dusty halls of my memory they seem to have been quite good.

After the concert I bought a tour t-shirt. Three years later, when the t-shirt was past its prime, I wore it to my job at the GVSU student cafeteria, and some of the more conservative students complained to the management that one of the employees was promoting Satanism. I had to round out my shift with the shirt turned inside-out. This incident says a lot more about the conservative teenagers of the early 1990s than it does about BÖC.

I saw BOC again at Club Eastbrook on October 1, 1989, and they were just as good. Again, I don’t remember the name of the opening band. Thirty years is a lot of time gone by. I still have the ticket for this one, safely tucked into a scrapbook.

Somewhere in here I discovered the Michael Moorcock / BÖC connection in their songs “Black Blade” and “Veteran of the Psychic Wars“, based on Moorcock’s Elric of Melniboné novels. This inspired me to get the vanity plate “Stormbringer” for my car at the time, a gray 1977 Cutlass Supreme 2-door, with a 350 4-barrel and T-tops. I once beat a Porche out of a stoplight, which was amazing, because most of the time when I stomped hard on the gas, Stormbringer would sputter and stall.

And of course Blue Öyster Cult (“Black Blade and “Godzilla“, usually) often accompanied the many Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay sessions in my sophomore, junior and senior years.

All of which is to say, Blue Öyster Cult was a signifiant thread through my (still-ongoing) formative years, and my life is most definitely improved by their presence and influence.

And they still rock.