The show was already underway when I arrived at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood. Having left Miami later than planned, I missed my opportunity to meet Stu Cook and Doug Clifford at the pre-show meet-and-greet. Luckily, I wasn’t too late for the jams.
Inside the arena style concert hall in the casino, Creedence Clearwater Revisited was already in high gear. Clifford, Cook and the gang banged out classics like “Proud Mary” and “Up Around the Bend,” as the crowd goes absolutely ape-shit.
Well, not exactly.
Creedence delivered, but the venue was… “stuffy.” The ushers made certain that everyone was in their assigned seats for the duration of the show. Some people danced in place and shouted and sang along, but I just couldn’t get over how stuck I felt. I don’t want to be shackled to a crumby folding chair at a concert, and at a CCR concert no less!
Still, the band delivered the goods. The expanded instrumentation allowed for excellent, full interpretations of classic Creedence. Singer/guitarist John Tristao brought the "Fogerty" vocals to the forefront and Steve Gunner's versatility put those final touches on what was a set of finely polished classic tunes.
I stepped out of my row at one point to buy a drink and accidentally stepped on a woman’s foot. I quickly apologized and went on my way. Outside the row of seats, I paused for a moment to take in the show before me, to finally see all those songs I’ve heard and loved over the years, but the old, crabby usher made sure I immediately went on my way. In or out.What the hell is this? I thought this was a damn rock concert. Not a broadway play or a fancy opera.
I bought a pair of drinks as the bar area was closing down. Closing down? It was barely 9:30 p.m.
“Exactly,” said the lady behind the counter. “Shows almost over.”
What? But it’s so early!
Shortly afterwards I returned with a pair of drinks for my friend and myself as the band got into a great rendition of “Fortunate Son.” I made my way back into my row, ignoring the usher’s old eyes on my back, when the lady I accidentally stepped on spoke up again.
“You stepped on my foot,” she said.
Are you ****ing serious? I gave her a dumbfounded look and ignored her, shuffling deeper into the row.
I couldn’t believe it. This lady was making a federal case out of something that happens all the time at any concert I’ve ever been to. What were these people’s problems? CCR is performing right in front of them and they want to pick fights over someone accidentally stepping on their feet?
A short while after finding my seat and shaking off the senseless negativity brought on by the venue and it’s patrons, the band said their goodbyes and tied off the night with a rocking “Good Golly, Miss Molly.”
But it was just shy of 10 p.m.
As the rows emptied, I noticed something. Something very simple that explained very much. There were tons of old people there. Not the cool, Deadhead kind of folks that you might expect to find at concerts, but the frail kind that look like their faces are dripping off their bones.
I found out later from one of the ushers that the audience was mostly made up of folks there for free, courtesy of the casino.
That made so much sense of the strange, subtly hostile atmosphere. It also made me a little sick.
CCR was great. They’re a great band. Classic tunes. In another setting, that concert would have been amazing. Instead I left the venue wondering what went wrong.
Don’t expect to find me at the Seminole Hard Rock for music again. And if you’re considering a show there, think twice. You will be better off seeing your favorite band another time, somewhere else. Somewhere less… “stuffy.”
Stu Cook of CCR