Thirty years ago, I went to see U2 in Honolulu at the place I still call the HIC but is called the Neal S. Blaisdell Center, a/k/a the NBC Arena. Or at least the plan was to see U2 but it didn’t turn out that way.
I had bought a ticket in November, I was riding my blue Schwinn bike a lot and thought “I have the money, I’m going to go check it out.” I was 13 years ago, and I’m not supposed to have money just like that, but I didn’t. My dad had died four months before and being a curious kid, I had my dad’s bank card and I made it a regular habit to use it on my bike travels, which meant making withdrawals and buying records, cassettes, comic books, playing video games, and going to Kapi’olani Bakery and taking advantage of their “3 hot dogs for a dollar” offer. Because I had the card, I decided it would be a good time to go see U2, because I had been a fan of theirs through their heavy rotation on MTV. What convinced me to go was the fact that Oingo Boingo were the opening band. I couldn’t miss it.
Now here comes the lie. I told my mom that I was going to go to the concert with a girl named Allison Matsuda. There was another girl whom I liked, and had liked since the 3rd grade, named Jennifer Chow, but every time I wanted to talk with her, she preferred not to. I didn’t ask Jennifer or Allison to the show but since Allison was on the mind, she became “the person I bought a ticket for”. The whole plan was for me to go to the show on my own, which may seem insane today: a 13 year old kid going alone to a concert. Maybe not, but I believe this was the first concert I went to by myself. I had seen Loggins & Messina with my parents, The Brothers Johnson and Rose Royce with my auntie, and The Scorpions with my uncle, and I didn’t think of it was a big ordeal, it was just “my first concert by myself.” I bought a T-shirt and wore it proudly. I don’t think it fit me well, I was already a big kid and concert shirts rarely fit it, it always seemed they made them for people who were size L or less.
Anyway, I was a huge fan of Oingo Boingo and was ready to see what they were about. They were incredible but was disappointed they didn’t play “Little Girls”, as that was the video that received heavy rotation on MTV. I also had their GOOD FOR YOUR SOUL album and with airplay on 98 Rock (KDUK 97.5 FM), I was very familiar with songs like “Who Do You Want To Be”. They did play that, in fact it may have been the first song they did, and I just remember everyone in Oingo Boingo acting like maniacs. One of the best moments was when they closed their set with “Goodbye, Goodbye”, which back then was known as the song that ended Fast Times At Ridgemont High. At this point, vocalist Danny Elfman had a spotlight shining on him which cast a shadow to the side wall, so you could either walk him directly acting schizoid or watch the shadow, it made for a good effect. The crowd was going nuts, and they’re doing all of the vocal parts during the part that goes:
You treat me like a dirty clown
You’re always kickin’ my dog around
I never get nothin’ but constant abuse from you
You couldn’t care less what I think, or my point of view”
The greatest part of “Goodbye, Goodbye” was when Elfman goes into the speedy tirade:
“You’re always puttin’ the make on my friends
always giving them eyes and the dirty lies ‘bout me and you
well I’m through, it’s the end of the line
for you babe, here’s a ticket one way Cincinnati,
I’m sendin’ you home to your ma and your dad
so don’t try to call me, you’ll only be wastin’ your time!”
All of a sudden, the entire crowd is in unison and are freaking the fuck out because not only is this a great moment for a great song, but we all know this will be the last song. Incredible show.
Now here’s the sad part of the story. I decide to not watch U2 perform. I walk out of the arena and decide to sit outside on a chair. I “liked” U2 but I didn’t like them as I liked Oingo Boingo. Yes, forget the fact they had just released the War album and had hits like “New Year’s Day” and “Sunday Bloody Sunday”, “Surrender”, “40” and “Two Hearts Beat As One”, these were not just the “I Will Follow” and “Gloria” guys anymore. U2 were huge, even it was a 1983 huge, and like a dumb ass, I sat outside as they played inside. I know they played “I Will Follow” close to the end, and that was that. I called my mom, told her the show was over and she picked me up.
A few months before my mom, sister and I were to eventually move away from Honolulu and to the Pacific Northwest, my mom discovered that someone had stolen my dad’s bank card, or at least became aware tha money was being taken out. I lied and said I didn’t know anything about it. She then told me that the ATM had taken security photos during every transaction, and that I was in all of them. I was busted, but she ended the conversation and left it at that. I think she couldn’t grounded or punished me in some fashion, but I honestly feel that my mom’s state of mind was different after the passing of my dad, that she either didn’t care or said “fuck it, what can I do now?” Nothing was ever said about what I had bought or used the money for, it was the end of the story and that was that. If I was a different kid, I probably could have found a way to get some beer or find some pakalolo to smoke, yet it’s as if my mom knew I wasn’t doing to do that. I then became the 13 year old without a bank card, or basically “a normal 13 year old”. I kept on riding my bike around Honolulu every weekend, it didn’t stop me, but eventually those rides would end when we moved in June 1984. Despite the theft of the bank card, she would buy me a ticket to see The Police, Bryan Adams, and Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble at the Aloha Stadium in February 1984. That show was attended by my best friends Chris and Ryan, I lost my slippers but had an incredible time there. That would be the last show I would see in Honolulu, at least until I returned in 1986 to see Robert Palmer in 1986, Pantera in 1991, and A’lea and Ho’okena in 2000.
I always said I’d pay my mom back by buying her a house or car, which I haven’t done yet. It would be too easy to say “maybe my mom forgot about the whole thing” but as she herself would say, “I never forget”. I’m sure if I brought it up, she would say, “oh yeah. You OWE me” but I have not forgotten. I still hope to repay her in some fashion.