Viva Carlos Santana

I just heard that The Alabama Shakes are going to be playing at the Forest Hills Stadium. It made me sad to think that they are playing such a potentially great venue that ‘sucks and blows at the same time’ as Homer Simpson might say. The stadium is conveniently located and I would love to go see them there. Unfortunately, my last concert there has cured of any such ideas.

I had previously been to this venue about 33 years ago. Elvis Costello had put on a mediocre show, mainly because his sound system sucked. In the 90’s I actually lived within walking distance for a little bit. I did not however want to be exposed to the lousy sound again, so that was the only show I had previously attended. And then they ran out of money or something and the concerts stopped.

Twenty years have passed and the powers that be decided to restart the concerts. My wife loves Santana (as do I) so she convinced me (rather easily) to give them another chance – and so, a couple of weeks ago, on the 14th of August we made our way to the place. Not sure why they are closing 71st Ave between the Station Plaza and Austin Street, but luckily we managed to work it out so that my daughter drove the car back home. There are barricades and signs all over the place so you cannot miss the gate even though it is on a different street than their registered address. We were early, so we managed to have a couple of nice local artisan beers and some risotto balls. Eventually, we found our seats just in time for a mostly excellent concert. Carlos and the band did not disappoint and the sound was excellent even though once in a while it seemed like his guitar was dropping volume during his leads. The only sour note was his son Salvador Santana. His keyboard work was OK but his rap was pathetic – I wish he’d know his limitations like his daddy. On a funny note, Santana’s keyboard player is named Dave Matthews so I was confused for a bit. The previous time that I had seen Santana was at the Meadowlands about 16 years ago. This was before the Supernatural album and I had not realized that he was actually the opening act for the other, more famous, Dave Matthews. To my misfortune, I missed the whole Santana set as well as the Roots, when we spent more than an hour and a half crossing the GW Bridge. To Dave Matthews’ credit, he invited the whole Santana band to play a few tunes with him, so the event was not a total bust.

Anyway, back in Forest Hills, the concert was over and between 8 and 10 thousand people started exiting through the one narrow open gate. I could only imagine how I could get trampled there together with a thousand others if anything got the crowds to panic and start a stampede. Getting through the gate eventually, it turns out that the streets leading to the left were closed and there was only one way that we were allowed to walk. Together with another hundred or so people, I tried to petition the Policemen and Security people to let us through but to no avail. I guess it must be some kind of agreement that the Stadium made with the stuck up shits who live in Forest Hills. Their streets are private and apparently they can do whatever they like with them. I had to walk some ¾ of a mile to get to where I wanted to go. So, without further ado: Santana (without Salvador) 9+ Forest Hills Stadium with or without Santana 1-. I’ll have to find another venue to watch The Alabama Shakes.

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