The night Van Halen came to town

You know me here as mostly a music blogger.

More formally, at least when writing for our regional history magazine, I am described as “a Green Bay writer and researcher who specializes in history projects on social media” and one who “curates and contributes content for … history groups on Facebook and has done long-term Twitter (history) projects.”

Yep, that’s me, too. Earlier this month, I tweeted:

You will find nothing about this Van Halen show in the next day’s Green Bay Press-Gazette.

Nothing about how loud it was. Nothing about how hot it was. Nothing about how tightly packed it was. Nothing about David Lee Roth’s “leather pants with the ass cheeks cut out.”

For that and more, future music historians will have to mine Facebook for it. There, the story of Van Halen’s show in Green Bay on Wednesday night, Aug. 18, 1982, is told in some of the 80 comments left on my posts in two local history groups, posts that were much the same as the tweet above.

Here’s a sampling …

My friend Mark: “7,044 crazy and screaming fans. Not only was the band extremely loud, but the crowd was also one of the loudest I’ve ever been a part of considering the venue. Saw them in Milwaukee the night before (it’s a long story), so my ears were shredded. It was a great score to get Van Halen in Green Bay.”

My friend Kim, a professional drummer: “My buddy and I stood outside for almost 6 hours so we could get as close to the front as possible. That was the LAST time I EVER did that ! It was absolute bedlam. One of those crowds that was so tightly packed, you could lift your feet off of the floor. And when that crowd began to sway in any given direction, you went with it or you went down. Now I know how those poor souls felt at the infamous Who show in Cincinnati a couple of years earlier. I lasted about 45 minutes and begged a security guy to get me the fuck out of there. Threw away my shirt, got a Pepsi and stood by the sound board. Regardless, I loved the show. They even played ‘I’m So Glad’ by Skip James/Cream. The soundtrack to the summer of ’82.”

Some others from the Facebook crowd:

“I was there and I’m thinking holy shit I’m seeing the biggest band on the planet. VH forever.”

“That’s what I thought, too. #1 band in the world when they were here.”

“In the top 3 concerts I have been (to). Blew the roof off the BCVMA!”

“I was front row, best concert I ever saw.”

“It was hot, I was down front. A lot of sweat.

“I was there! I don’t remember After the Fire at all. It was LOUD. My ears rang for three days.”

“I was there. I never noticed at the time, but was later told DLR was wearing leather pants with the ass cheeks cut out.”

“That was the most memorable part! And he jumped up and down on the speakers in them.”

“I was there. Ran all the way through the field from the Midway (a hotel next to the Arena) to back of arena to catch up with Dave Lee Roth.”

“I was backstage. They catered in (fried) chicken for them, and they ran it through the exhaust fans in the dressing room. LOL. But (what) really surprised me was David Lee Roth was riding a bike around the floor of the Arena with another guy, then they went out the garage door riding past everybody tailgating and playing Frisbee to go watch the Packers practice. It was funny cause nobody even gave him a second look. I’m laughing cause I’m like, that’s David Lee Roth and no one recognized him. He did have sunglasses on, but his hair, he had the hair.”

Vicky Van Matre, who heard and saw it all while working behind the scenes at Brown County Arena shows for 31 years, from 1970 to 2001, has the last word:

“It was a fantastic night!”

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Filed under August 2022, Sounds

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