Showgazing: Jack's Fourth Show at Verizon Wireless Amphitheater

It's easy to forget how big the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater in Irvine actually is. Most people probably don't spend that much time thinking about it. Probably about as much time as you spend thinking about its water park neighbor, Wild Rivers, in the middle of October. But after a hilly, five minute trek from the entrance to the stage, it hits you that this place was built like a rock concert monolith. On Saturday they got their biggest one of the month, courtesy of “Jack's Fourth Show,” hosted by 93.1 Jack FM (the rock station for people who refuse to get an iPod).

Jam packed with support for rock 'n roll sounds of yesteryear (which definitely included tons of, ahem, “original fans”) the line up included some serious '80s all stars: Missing Persons, Ratt, George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts, the B-52s and Foreigner. The concert also raised money in support of the TACA (Talk About a Cure for Autism) organization.    

The show kicked off around 4 p.m. and stretched until about 11p.m., though some of us (uh, me) already had plenty going on that night and couldn't quite catch the whole show, hence the “showgazing” post. But a couple hours of sonic pleasure from Parliament and Joan Jett and the Blackhearts was enough to get your blood pumping as the brisk temps in the outside theater reminded us that winter is just around the corner.

As long lines of concert goers trailed up an asphalt hill to the main stage the sights and sound of the crowd were in full bloom, perfect timing for George Clinton and Parliament Funkadelic to emerge with rainbow dreads, diapers, costumes and unshakable attitude.

The sweeping roar of the crowd felt like some sort of classic sound bite as Clinton and his classic rainbow-clusterfuck hairdo bobbed up and down as he barked into the microphone while his band warmed up with a hard-hitting introductory jam. It was a little confusing to see them slotted for little more than a 30-minute set, considering the band could jam on “Flashlight” for hours on end. But they managed to keep the intensity short and sweet playing a handful of favorites which included “Atomic Dog”, “Bop Gun” and, of course, “Flash Light.” Back on stage with his regular touring band, Clinton, draped in a brown trench coat (think intergalactic, homeless Troll doll) drove the crowd into a freak nasty frenzy as he jumped around crowing “Shit! Goddamn! Get off yo' ass and jam!”. And no one was willing to argue with that. Especially not the middle aged couple freak dancing/air humping in Loge 7…you know who you are.

In between acts, there was time to stroll around and take in some sights, some greasy concert cuisine and of course plenty of rock tunes that swirled around non-stop as you stumbled through the crowded vendor village to find a piece of over priced memorabilia.

But fans of the leather clad legend Joan Jett wasted no time getting back to the arena to see her and the Blackhearts crank through their stable of old hits and new songs that nobody seemed to care about. As Jett appeared before the crowd, the whole place seemed to levitate as people jumped to their feet for 30+ minutes of headbanging starting with “Bad Reputation;” 1981's quintessential bad girl anthem. It didn't end there: other hits included “Cherry Bomb,” “Crimson and Clover,” “Do You Wanna Touch Me,” and, of course, “I Love Rock 'n Roll.” You'd be hard-pressed to find one person sitting in their chair during Jett's set, even during her newer material, which now at age 51, seems to have been looked over by her aging fan base. But hey, performing in front of thousands of fans ain't half bad for one of rock's original dark haired vixens.

Though not everyone got to see the entire show (ahem, me), it was clear that the one thing Jack has going for it, besides the ability to tap into society's waning need for programmed rock radio, is a sturdy fan base of people willing to go out to their shows. An interesting bunch, those Jack FM fans. See what I mean?:

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