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Moondance is great father-son bonding time

Motley Crue bassist Nikki Sixx performs with his band during Moondance Jam last week. PHOTO COURTESY OF JERRY EKLUND PHOTOGRAPHY

On a cold, blustery day on March 8, 1990, rock band Motley Crue took to the old Met Center stage in Bloomington.

It was a big moment in my life, since it was the first time I was going to see my favorite band live, since there isn’t anything better than live music.

Admittedly, my passion for the Los Angeles based rock band went over the line to obsession when I was growing up, starting when I was a fourth grader down in my cousin’s bedroom and opened my first-ever Columbia House tape order.

That was the day I pulled out Motley Crue’s cassette tape (yes, I am dating myself with that reference) “Shout at the Devil.”

Ever since, the Motley foursome of leadman Vince Neil, bassist and songwriter Nikki Sixx, lead guitarist Mick Mars and drummer Tommy Lee was always the top of the list, as I lived through the days of grunge rock of the 1990s and the medley of other genres which were pumped over the airwaves.

But a new defining moment came over 23 years later last Thursday, when Motley Crue was the headliner for the night at the 22nd Annual Moondance Jam in Walker.

In essence, it became my favorite father-son moment to date with my 11-year-old son Brody.

Throughout the years, Brody and I have done the normal father-son activities, such as fishing, play golf, traveling to Minneapolis for a Viking or Twins weekend and camping.

All were fun and each and every one created memories.

Obviously, the father’s influence of listening to Motley Crue was no doubt a factor in Brody’s fondness of the band. He even had a Crue Christmas last December when my wife, Chrisy, and I stuffed Brody’s sock with a “Shout at the Devil” T-shirt, a live DVD, poster and a couple of the band’s CDs.

A second-generation Crue Fiend was born.

When it was announced Motley Crue was going to play Moondance, it was an easy choice to go.

Last year, I was lucky enough to win Moondance tickets from KDLM and with Chrisy having the unfortunate task of having to work, I decided on the second best option and bring my son.

Kid Rock was headlining, as well as such acts as Skid Row, Three Days Grace and Hinder – all bands Brody was familiar with, especially the former, who was his favorite at the time.

Since camping was not a choice at Moondance with Brody, we drove the extra 25 miles each night to the Federal Dam Campground last year.

This time, though, we drove back to DL each night (I was fortunate enough to dodge several large pieces of venison on each journey) making for some very late evenings.

I am glad not to do the festival campground experience nowadays at my age, since it would feel like my body has reenacted a Slayer song if I were to stay three or four days in a tent or camper at a rock festival.

So it was road trip time for the Wierima boys. 

The big reason I decided to return to MoonDance with my son, was because of the experience last year.

Another big reason I was able to get in this year, though, was due to Detroit Lakes Newspapers Ad Representative Kristie Fritz and Lakes Liquor, which had an extra set of tickets.

Without them, this weekend would have just been another ho-hum July scorcher.

Again, we didn’t have any problems and continually kept seeing kindness from the Moondance crowd and staff.

That was even the case at 1:15 a.m. Sunday morning, when I was pulled over for speeding (just 12 miles per hour over the limit, but speeding nonetheless) outside of Walker after the Offspring concert, but thankfully was let off with a warning by the nice Walker policeman.

Some blessings come through the light, in this case, the flashing red and blue lights that were perched behind my car.

So it was 55 m.p.h. after that, so yes Mr. Sammy Hagar, I can drive 55.

The crowd and people at the festival ended up being the nicest and most respectable people toward Brody, who looked like he was probably one of the youngest concert-goers last year and this year.

He was getting high fives and fist bumps through all the concerts, even in the “mosh pit” area where Moondancers were well aware of him and were considerate of his size.

This time around, we decided to stand front and center of the Crue stage, about 30-40 yards out.

I warned Brody, though, if things started to get out of hand, we would make a quick exit and return to our lawn chairs in the back.

The first sound check about 25 minutes before showtime, attracted the throng of Motley Crue festers, as they stumbled in the front-stage area like a gaggle of meandering zombies looking for the last scrap of living food, which came in the form of empty spaces in front of the stage.

A lady who had a bum leg and in a wheelchair pulled up next to us, along with her rather large boyfriend, and we started talking about the concerts, as people started crushing their way to the front and staking their claim for the next two hours.

When the lights fell and the first notes of “Saints of Los Angeles” were pelted off of Mars’ guitar, the show of Brody’s and my lifetime was on.

Nikki Sixx appeared out of the fog like a shadow out of the depths of darkness, and instantly Brody grabs my shirt and yells “That’s friggin’ Nikki Sixx! I don’t believe it, he’s right in front of me!”

Still no problems were had as the crowd started getting pumped up, which didn’t take much after an entire day of ingesting enough libations as a whole to kill a drove of Orca killer whales.

By the second song, the lady next to me yelled out if my son wanted to stand on her wheelchair for a song.

Her boyfriend secured her upright as Brody had a front-center view of “Wildside,” one of his favorite songs.

Admittedly, it was much easier than the 2012 Kid Rock concert, when Brody was roosted atop my shoulders, causing my cervical discs to cram together like a peanut butter sandwich in someone’s back pocket, but still well worth it.

For the second year in a row, though, I thought it was another act of unbelievable kindness and consideration once again by the Moondance crowd.

In the end, we were able to stand our ground through the entire Motley Crue set, which lasted about one hour and 45 minutes of mind-blowing tunes.

It was pure bliss watching Brody and his enjoyment of such a unique experience — rocking out to your favorite band, as an 11-year-old, with thousands of devil-horn-handed wielding fans.

The Motley quad didn’t disappoint, and despite being rockers for over 30 years, their high-energy show produced plenty of reminiscing from my childhood.

I laugh at the people who crack those lame jokes about how old the members of Crue are, and I wonder if those same people could even come close to what these rock and roll stars endure during a tour.

Being 50-plus years old as Neil, Sixx, Lee and Mars are and doing over 80-plus concerts this past year, all over the world, including three out of the last four days last weekend in Minnesota, Iowa and Wisconsin. It’s a great feat not everyone their age would be able to pull off and pull off very well.

But I digress on that front, and soaked in the live show which featured songs I’ve been listening to and singing in the shower for over 20 years.

I am appreciative to Motley Crue and all the bands at Moondance, who didn’t just go through the motions of singing their hit songs, but instead put the passion into each and every show to give the people their money’s worth.  

By the time Motley Crue’s finale hit “Kickstart My Heart” was belted out, both of the Wierimas were exhausted, but more than satisfied.

“I still wished they played ‘Smoking in the Boys Room,’ but this was the best concert ever,” Brody summed up as we walked back to our car.

I couldn’t have argued with that statement, just nodding my head in agreement.

Certainly, I am not naive enough to think with how much partying there is over the course of three days, there are not any problems at Moondance.

This is just our account the last two years at the rock festival, it truly has been problem-free for my son and I.

This year’s lineup was spectacular, as well, with bands including Buck Cherry, Cheap Trick, Slash, Theory of a Deadman, Halestorm and Offspring, as I get to make plenty of checks off my bucket list.

One’s taste in music is all subjective, and personally, I don’t judge people who like genres of music I don’t care for and hope others don’t judge me.

I have decided to use my taste in music as a link to my son, not just something to fill in the white noise of the monotony of life.

When the other equation works hard to strengthen that link by putting on a great live show, it only becomes a more positive life moment, in times in which those are far and few between.

So I will end this tribute by quoting lyrics from one of Brody’s “other” favorite bands – The Rolling Stones.

“It’s only rock n’ roll … but I like it!”

Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN.