By EMILIE BEGIN
Let me start out by saying that I’m a cardigan-wearing, a cappella group-singing, headband-collecting kind of gal. I really don’t look like your typical hard rock fan and certainly not someone you’d expect to see at an Alice Cooper concert. Last week, that changed.
As an intern at a local radio station, I was able to get my hands on a pair of tickets to see Alice Cooper at the National Theatre in Richmond. I’m a casual Alice fan—I know his hits like “No More Mr. Nice Guy” and “I’m Eighteen,” but have never bought an album or anything like that. The most elaborate show I had been to at that point was a Spice Girls’ concert two years ago, and that looked like a Kenny G concert after what I witnessed last week.
After a performance by opening band, Fifth Avenue Vampires, whose members include the original bassist for Alice Cooper, a large curtain with “Theatre of the Dead” written on it covered the stage, so no one could see what the set would look like.
About 20 minutes later, the curtain fell, and Alice, wearing a top hat with a skull and holding a cane, opened with the classic summer anthem “School’s Out.” A few songs in, Alice guillotined himself.
In fact, he died three other times that night: he was killed through lethal injection after the song “Poison,” hanged, and finally, put in a torture chamber.
While this is normal for a guy who used to decapitate baby dolls onstage in the ‘70s, it was unlike anything I had ever seen on stage. I had expected the unexpected at this show, but some of the unexpected was endearing.
Among the crowd were parents, who were fans as teenagers, with their own teenagers who also listened to Alice. I had never pegged this as a concert that families would attend, but upon talking to a few parents and teens, it was clear I was wrong.
I was also surprised by the number of gray-haired individuals I saw in the crowd, dressed in the same clothes my dad wears, rocking out harder than anyone half their age.
They were inspiring, sending a message that hard rock, or any music for that matter, doesn’t have an age or type.
That night, while wearing both a headband and a cardigan, I raised the sign of the horns with my right hand and rocked out.