Performer: Toad the Wet Sprocket
Songwriters: Todd Nichols, Glen Phillips
Original Release: Dulcinea
Definitive Version: None
After Debbie and I decided we wanted to be more than friends, the first people we did anything with as a couple were Steve and his new girlfriend Katie. In between the time that I saw Steve at his 30th birthday and I moved home, his first marriage ended and he began to see Katie. The reason for the get-together? Toad.
The four of us met up for dinner at Damon’s downtown, which was the first location for the ribs chain, and in the grand tradition of Columbus chains that have gone regional or national, it no longer exists. (See also Wendy’s, BW-3; heck, even The Limited.)
I don’t remember much about the dinner itself other than Debbie saying it was a bit awkward, but that might have had something to do with the fact that none of us were really comfortable with each other yet. Of course, it also might have had to do with the fact that we really didn’t have a lot of time to hang out, because we were going to see Toad at Veterans’ Memorial afterward.
Let me tell you a little bit about Vets. It was—and is—a glorious barn. From the time that I was a kid until the year I moved back home when Polaris opened, it was pretty much the only place in town where big rock bands could play besides your basic bar. It seats about 4,000 people, which meant that after Ohio State stopped holding concerts at St. John Arena in about 1977 due to structural issues, no big bands came to Columbus for about two decades. If you wanted to see, say, The Who, you had to go to Cleveland. (The lone exception after 1988 was if the band was huge enough to play Ohio Stadium.)
Back in the day, Vets did get the big bands, because rock shows, of course, still were held mostly in small halls. Debbie showed me her scrapbook from when she was a teenager, and she had ads for shows at Vets by Cream, The Doors and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. But in my prime concert-going years, it was only groups in the middle, either on the way up the ladder or down.
Toad was on the way up. They went from playing the Newport on OSU’s campus to Vets in one year. Because of Dulcinea, which Debbie loved, when she heard they were coming, getting tickets became a requirement. And because I knew of Steve’s love of Toad—and that he saw them at the earlier show—I asked if he wanted to tag along, so that’s how the ball got rolling.
I was in charge of tickets, and when I called Ticketbastard, a miracle happened: I got right through right away when tickets went on sale. So I got third row on the floor, center section, just slightly to the right of dead center. I’d never gotten tickets that close before or since (although I have gotten better tickets, as I will recount later). I was just hoping that the show would match the awesomeness of the tickets.