22 August 1986
Convention Center Arena, San Antonio, TX
Let's say you're in Texas, and ZZ Top is performing on a Friday night. What would you do?
Okay, it wasn't Del Rio, but it was not too far away--San Antonio, TX, at what used to be called the Hemisfair Arena, home of the Spurs, originally from the American Basketball Association.
I found out, only weeks earlier, that I would be traveling to the area on business, and, lucky for me, my big brother happens to live not too far from where I stayed. The two of us, and a friend of his headed from the parking lot to the arena, dodging monster-size cockroaches in a big city that reached 108 degrees F only a couple days earlier.
In the 300-level on the left side, we perhaps didn't have the most optimal acoustics for the show, but we had all the volume you could handle. My ears rang into the evening, despite my use of protective plugs.
Currently amidst their Afterburner Tour, ZZ Top begin with the same opener they used for their 1983 Eliminator tour, "Got Me Under Pressure". And, likewise in similarity, they followed with their most current hit, "Sleeping Bag" (Their 1983 tour featured "Gimme All Your Lovin'" in slot #2--on this tour, it occupied slot #5).
Also from their latest album, they performed "Rough Boy". However, I was disappointed to not hear my favorite track from Afterburner, "Stages". The highlight of the show was the green laser show during the bridge of "Cheap Sunglasses".
The Top made sure they introduced "Arrested For Driving While Blind" by politely asking the audience to not be so. Then, came a barrage of their hits: "Legs", "Sharp Dressed Man", "Can't Stop Rockin'", "Velcro Fly", and "Tube Snake Boogie".
"Tush" appeared during their encore.
Impressive is how this sparsely-arranged trio can make so much pure, heavy sound. Though the video age has undeniably marketed their persona of beards (counting drummer Frank Beard) and fuzzy instruments, true fans go to see and hear Billy Gibbons on guitar, and, for that matter, the overall tight-knit sound that comes from a trio playing together, show after show, city after city, year after year.
But, they sound as impressive as if they would in a dumpy bar in Del Rio. Image hype surely brought much of the audience here, but their sound will keep their following larger than life.
[***] - Steven T.
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