Last night at 8 PM, after a deeply satisfying dinner at Tacoma’s Southern Kitchen and a rum and coke apiece, Kelly and I pull into a back parking lot at the Emerald Queen Casino. First order of business: claim our will-call tickets. There are tons of people streaming through the parking lot and into the casino complex, which at this hour of the evening is overwhelming to me. We are missing the beginning of the concert, which is no big deal really. Kelly strides ahead, purposeful and in charge. In her black fringed frock coat, knee high high-heeled boots and see-through top she is as tall and fabulous as a drag queen (without the shitty attitude or crazy makeup). I scuttle behind her and we vault over a gate and we grab our tickets and almost before I know it we are entering double-doors and there is rock.
The actual venue itself is almost clinical in its setup. It resembles a small indoor sporting stadium, with a rubberized / outdoor-carpeted floor, good seats, and gigantic digital displays framing the stage. We are only 100 feet or so away from the musicians and everyone is standing, leaving my 5′ 5″ at a slight disadvantage. Thirty feel behind us at the back of the building two bars frame the opposing corners. Each bar hosts four bartenders with their own accoutrement, pumps, and cash registers. They move through drink orders succinctly, the line hustles along, and the bartenders don’t break a sweat. We get a scant pint each of microbrew for a total of $5. Good booze, cheap: Casinos. Back to the concert.
The show is excellent (Mr. B. and any other possible doubters, go here to see all the reasons it is, in fact, very fun to see Joan Jett and the Blackhearts). The performers on stage have been playing rock for thirty years. They know what they’re doing. There are no surprises, no one kicks a monitor in manufactured punk rage or says anything stupid. The sound as good as on your home stereo, only turned up to “11”. Joan has acquired some jailbait mohawked lead guitarist and he holds his own and they do that sexy cock-off guitar thing only once, and it is excellent. She covers “Light of Day”, the Mary Tyler Moore theme song, and in the encore, “Everyday People”. The new stuff from her anticipated album “Naked” is fine. Good hooks, steady rock, and you are singing along to the chorus by the second run-through. Of course the favorites are there and I discover it’s rather gleeful to sing “I Love Rock and Roll” and “I Hate Myself (For Loving You)” in a stadium crowd.
The people watching is also excellent (this guy had the ferocious Hessian hair, all-black clothes and leather jacket, and big gleaming puffy white shoes – of course). The problem with taking pictures of people you don’t know (especially people who may or may not have been drinking) is the chance that you will, in fact, get your ass kicked. Back at our seats, I tried and failed to take a picture of That Guy Who Was Having Way Too Much Fun, flinging beer-sweat and flying the horned hand like this was the last minutes of rock before The Judgment. Everyone at the concert is excited, jumping around, singing, but also oddly courteous. We’re done at 9:30 so I’m wondering if for many there it is only a warmup to a casino night. Sure enough, a good portion of the crowd funnels into the main building when the house lights come up.
Kelly and I head to hilltop and hit her favorite bar, Tempest, where her friend bartends. It’s a lesbian bar but in a good way (they all seem like polite young boys). A couple of the ladies there remember us from the concert and we compare notes. Kelly and I settle into thrift-store luxury chairs, drink an old fashioned and a manhatten (in tribute to my mother) each and enjoy some good conversation. At 11:30 it’s time to hit the homestead and dig into our leftovers.
The rock was good, the food was bombastic. Here we have, clockwise from far right: 2-piece fried chicken entree (my choice for the three sides were collard greens, candied yams, and butter corn), small plate with cornbread, fried green tomatoes in the middle (my personal fave!), two mango lemonades w/whip cream, Kelly’s excellent boobs, Kelly’s seafood gumbo (loaded with prawns and okra and goo), her sides (collards and yams). Jesus Christ himself couldn’t have made a dent in this dinner, but we tried our best.