It was September 15, 2001 and everyone was still reeling from 9/11. We were standing in line outside the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, Ohio to see David Byrne. It was his Look Into the Eyeball Tour. As we waited, a loud religious nut, perched on a milk crate across the street, was prophesying the end of the world. Many people in line wanted to make his prophesy come true. I think everyone just wanted to escape for a little while. Jesus dude was not helping.
We got inside as the opening band was finishing up. I bought a 32oz beer, which is a great buy because you don’t have to get in line as often. Problem is that the beer gets piss warm, so you have to chug it. Then you have to go stand in line for beer. And for the bathroom. We made our way to the front of the room and found a spot, stage right, back about 20 feet.
David Byrne and his band sauntered out in gas station outfits, embroidered names and all. They played.
It was the best show I had ever seen. Still is.
It could have been the mental state that we were in or it quite possible was the best show ever. Either way, we were all floating a few inches above the sticky floor. I get goosebumps thinking about it.
Then at the midway point of the concert, the music stopped and Joe Show came out on the stage. Joe Show is a DJ at a local Classic Rock station that was sponsoring the show. For some reason, Joe Show was holding his bowling league’s season wrap up party at the concert. He grabbed a mic and talked up David and the band. He then started in about his bowling league and how special it was to him.
The audience plunked back down on the sticky floor and began to mumble. He then asked David Byrne to help him hand out bowling trophies to the “winners” in the bowling league. He handed David a card with names on it. David seemed slightly amused and a bit nonplussed at the whole bit. Well, it was the Midwest. The crowd was pissed. Yells at Joe Show started. “Get off the stage!” “You suck Joe Show!” “No mo’ Joe Show!” Add a smattering of boos and profanity and Joe got the idea. Joe took back the list from David and sped through the last bit of the trophy handing out. He cleared the stage, but not before handing out other bowling trophies to David, the band and the string section. You rock, Joe Show. Really.
Regaining composure, David jumped back into the show. In about thirty seconds we all forgot about Joe’s self-indulgence. Again, the show rocked.
A few days later, I was reliving the story about the concert to my co-worker, Kindra. On a side note, I mentioned the whole bit about bowling and trophies. She suggested I write a letter to the editor of the local alternative paper. So I did. The letter to The Other Paper went like this:
An open letter to Mr. David Byrne:
Please accept these apologies from myself and the hundreds of others who attended your concert Sept. 15 at the Newport Music Hall. It seems that a local radio station thought it would be appropriate to distribute their bowling league trophies in the middle of your concert, bringing the momentum of a tremendous show to a screeching halt.
I can only congratulate you for recovering that momentum with grace and style, making the second half of your show even better than the first. Please do not hold the actions of a few against the rest of us. We definitely want to see you back in Columbus.
P.S. Idiots! Screw you Q-FM 96. And you suck, Joe Show.
I sent the letter in on a Monday. The weekly paper comes out on Thursday and my letter was not in the editorial section. I was disappointed, but not surprised. I had expected to get a phone call from the paper asking me if I actually existed and if they could print my letter. And I mean really, who cares about David Byrne anyways… Time passes.
The phone rang at 6:10 a.m. It was the next Thursday. The letter had been printed.
(Who knew?) The call was from the morning jocks on the radio station in question. They wanted to get me on the air with Joe Show and poke fun at him for his antics. I said it was too early and I had to get ready for work. “How about 9:00 a.m.?” Yeah, I can do 9:00 a.m.
Yeah! I was going to be on the radio and we were all going to make fun of Joe Show. Hurrah! I called all my friends to tell them to listen in to the verbal beating.
Little did I know.
Around 8:45 a.m. they called me. They quickly reviewed what they wanted to go down. Waggs and Elliot would introduce the bit, ask me for my side of the story and then bring Joe Show on to mock him. Easy. I waited on hold, listening to the DJs banter as DJs do. Then I was up. They spoke about the letter in the paper and read some excerpts. I was introduced and gave my side of the story. We all laughed. They then said that there was someone on the phone who wanted to talk to me.
“Doug, you are a dick.” Joe Show has a way with words.
Joe told his side of the story. He claimed several things:
1. I was a dick. (I can see that.)
2. He, out his own pocket, paid for the 60 or so bowling leaguers at the concert. (I had accused him of using free passes that could have gone to real fans.)
3. He claimed that there was no booing and that everyone in the audience LOVED the trophy ceremony. (No comment.)
4. He said that the trophy handing out to David, the band and the strings was done by him running home before the concert and gathering up 10 of his personal trophies. (I can’t dispute this, but who the f*ck would want a trophy with Joe Show’s name on it?)
5. He claimed that David Byrne had come up with the idea about handing out the trophies. (Oddly enough, I can believe this. Byrne is an odd cat. My issue is that Show should have said thanks, but no thanks. Of course, egotistical assholes could never say no to an opportunity like that.)
And then the verbal beatings ensued. As Joe Show described his lame ass side of the story, I tried to interject with my interpretations of his recollections. The entire morning crew and Joe Show attacked and ripped me sideways. I didn’t have a chance. They didn’t want to poke fun of Joe Show, they wanted to make me look like an ass. Sadly, it worked. The volume on my phone was turned down and no one heard my witty comebacks. I ended up looking like someone who punched a quadriplegic in a wheel chair on her birthday.
At the end, I hung up and called my wife. She was very supportive. “Honey, they made you look like an ass.”
Two years later during a reunion at Ohio University, my buddy Larry said he had heard me on the radio six hours earlier. I said that was impossible. He was positive. When his alarm clock radio went off in the morning, there I was, talking about the David Byrne concert and how Joe Show had screwed it up. Turns out it was a “Best of QFM-96.” Yeah, the best of. Larry said, “They made you look like an ass.”
Sigh. David Byrne has not been back to Columbus since.
YOU SUCK, JOE SHOW!
(Author’s note: Joe Show unexpectedly died in 2016. As soon as I heard the news, I felt bad for the resentment I held for him all those years. Whenever I got to tell this story, I remember explaining what an asshole Joe Show was and in my mind, what an asshole he still was. After he died, there was an outpouring of positive remembrances of Joe and of all his work for charity and local music. This is my opportunity to tell everyone that I was not happy with Joe Show that night and for many years after, but that I forgive him. It was all for entertainment, both on his side and mine. And while this story is not a glowing memory of Joe Show, it is a memory and it is the only thing I can give him now.)