32 years ago today, Van Halen’s “The Monsters of Rock” summer stadium tour came to Rich Stadium in Buffalo, New York. This year, a good-quality audience-filmed bootleg surfaced on YouTube. Watch Van Halen’s full set, embedded above.
A.F.U. (Naturally Wired)
There’s Only One Way to Rock
Runnin’ With the Devil
Why Can’t This Be Love
Mine All Mine
You Really Got Me
Sucker in a 3 Piece
When It’s Love
I Can’t Drive 55
Best of Both Worlds
Black and Blue
Ain’t Talkin’ ‘Bout Love
Rock and Roll
Van Halen’s ‘Monsters of Rock’ Tour, which visited 23 cities in May, June, and July of 1988, featured the nine-hour roar of Van Halen, the Scorpions, Dokken, Metallica and Kingdom Come, five top heavy-metal bands, performed from midday into the night.
From the guy who snuck in his video camera to film this:
” The way I got the gear in (for this and a few other shows) is a funny story. I needed a longer rod for mounting the camera than I used initially (40″ rather than 14″) but found the best way to get it in was to spray paint it white, put on dark glasses, and use it to tap my way in. It usually precluded being searched when I did this anyway. I called it ‘blind mans bluff.’ I shot more minutes that day than I had batteries for – twice as many – so I put a charger in a garbage can in the concession area and dragged it in front of a power receptacle; had to keep going back and forth, sometimes during the actual shows, to switch out packs.”
Here’s an article from the Washington Post on what it took to put the massive stadium tour together:
Last Sunday afternoon, 1,928 fans attended a soccer game at RFK Stadium. Early Monday morning, what seemed like just as large a crew moved in.
Their job: setting up for the Monsters of Rock.
Billed officially as Van Halen’s Monsters of Rock, today’s concert will present nine hours of loud, proud rock ‘n’ roll featuring five bands, four of which — Van Halen, Scorpions, Metallica and Dokken — could probably sell out Capital Centre on their own.
More than 40,000 tickets have been sold in advance and a sellout of 55,000 is expected — which will be much appreciated by the promoters, since this headbangers ball not only is the summer season’s biggest rock tour, but also maybe the most costly ever mounted. Still, at $25 a ticket — and given the general expectation that the 2 million ticket holders expected at the total of 29 shows will spend an average of $20 each on merchandise from the tour (T-shirts are $18 to $23, hats $13, bandannas $8 and buttons $3) — there’s little danger they’ll lose money on the event.
Between the time newcomers, Kingdom Come step on the 350,000-pound, seven-story stage (around 1:30 p.m.) and the time Van Halen steps off (around 10:30 p.m.), RFK will rock to 100 decibels delivered by a 220,000-pound, 250,000-watt sound system. Talk about a wall of sound! Talk about megahurts!
By show’s end, the 50,000-pound, 850,000-watt lighting system will have kicked in. The sound and light systems are powered by a pair of portable generators (40,000 pounds each, with another 12,000-pound generator for the gear trucks).
Maybe this is why it’s called heavy metal.
It’s also why Monsters of Rock had to be outdoors: Put all this in Cap Centre and you’d barely have room for 1,928 fans.
In fact, the RFK load-in represents less than a third of the Monster gear: In the four days the RFK show was being set up, Monster stages were being torn down in Miami and Tampa and trucked up to Philadelphia (where the tour stops tomorrow) and Foxboro, Mass. (where the tour show will go on Sunday after Van Halen threatened a lawsuit against the city government, which had tried to shut it down).
“They offered a date and then pulled back,” says drummer Alex Van Halen, riding a limo to a midafternoon soundcheck at RFK yesterday. “They’re worried about so many young people being concentrated in one area. They think ‘heavy metal’ and they picture 80,000 people who are going to come fertilize their lawn. A few years back, we got a key to the city; now we come back and they’ve changed the lock.”
Guitarist Eddie Van Halen and bassist Michael Anthony get a good laugh out of that one. Singer Sammy Hagar (or Hagar the Horrible, as he’s known in some circles) wasn’t coming in until today. He’s still nursing a minor fracture of the tailbone from when he slipped onstage during the very first song on the tour’s opening night last Saturday.
“We’re not promoting anarchy or anything,” says Anthony. “It’s not ‘Tear the stadium up and trash the city.’ It’s nothing different than a football game — people come out for nine hours and have fun.”
For the past four days, though, the people working at RFK have put the fun on hold.
“We have three stages and two roofs leapfrogging around the country,” says production supervisor Jim Amen early Monday morning as tons of steel scaffolding bays are being expanded from a base stage leftover from the Pink Floyd concert a week earlier. (Not that anyone will notice, but the RFK stage will be a little smaller than the custom-built tour standard of 168 feet wide by 60 feet high. “Basically we built a seven-story arena inside a football stadium,” Amen points out).
By midday, shirtless crews are scrambling around in the maze of towers as more and more steel is delivered by forklift crews. “I call it an erection set for adults,” Amen says. A moment later, he realizes that doesn’t sound right. “Erector — that’s what I meant.”
(Continue reading at the Washington Post).
NBC News segment & interview:
MTV News segment:
Watch the Van Halen segment of MTV’s ‘Monsters of Rock’ Special:
Celebrate the summer months with these iconic Eddie Van Halen Board Shorts! Inspired by Eddie’s legendary striped guitars, they’re available in four color schemes. Wear ’em at the beach, in the backyard, or just lounging around. Available in sizes XS to 3XL.