This slogan is emblazoned on a t-shirt that you can find on the Down With Detroit website. The outdoor concert venue is now called DTE Energy Music Theater, but anyone that has attended a concert there since it opened in 1972 has called it the Knob. There is theater seating. I’ve never sat there though. I’ve always chosen the lawn. There’s nothing like standing at the gates waiting for them to open, ticket and blanket in hand.
The first time I attended a concert there, it was with my daddy. He got free tickets from one of his state trooper buddies, I’m sure. We saw Eddie Rabbit and Juice Newton. Don’t you dare judge me, I was a kid and had no idea what good music was yet. The night was warm and the crowd, huge. We left before the encore though, as Daddy always had to beat the traffic.
I saw Bob Seger there in 1985. I danced on the hill with my boyfriend at the time and my BFFs from high school. When Bob sang the song Main Street, I screamed, ‘hey, I know where that’s at.’ I was such a dork.
In 1988 I saw Guns and Roses, and Aerosmith. Holy shit that was a great night! All I remember was lots of beer and great music. Gina and I danced like maniacs and ran around chasing boys. Aerosmith put on a spectacular show, and Steven Tyler while nothing to look at, had an incredible voice. Yes, Axl Rose was crazy, but his voice was meant to be that of an 80’s rock god.
I took my kids to see the Barenaked Ladies in 1998. They were seven and eight years old. I warned them that there may be people drinking and smoking pot. That there would probably be a few people making out and otherwise acting stupid. I explained that I wasn’t going to shield them from real life.
I stood on the hill with the kids and my nephew, the lights went up and the band took the stage. Of course, people starting sparking joints all around us. Meggie yelled, ‘Mommy, someone is smoking pot!’ All I could do was laugh and move her closer to me. We danced and sang every tune. I was spending time with my kids at Pine Knob. Fuck the fact that the proverbial they were now calling it the DTE Energy Music Theater.
On July 6th, 2013 Roger Darling, Meggie, Kylie and I sat on the hill. We were surrounded by at least 25,000 other souls. We took in the sights and sounds of the Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox 20. The tickets were 25.00. A steal in this economy.
As the sun set, the air became redolent with the sweet smell of weed. I don’t smoke it anymore, but I did take a quick intake of breath as the scent wafted in the wind around me. Roger laughed when I turned around and waved my hands at the kids behind us and signaled to them to blow their second hand smoke my way. They looked up at me sheepishly, but I just smiled and told them to have fun.
Matchbox 20 started playing the song 3 A.M. I swayed to the beat and sang the words at the top of my lungs. I looked to my right and one of the cute young men behind me passed me his joint. I was so damn tempted to take the hit, but I declined. I smiled my best smile, whirled around and continued to sway to the passionate voice of Rob Thomas.
After the encore, we made the slow jaunt over the hill and back to the car. The reverb jostling our eardrums and the fresh memories of our night falling from our lips. Yes, it will always be Pine Knob. The name alone holds a certain nostalgia for so many of us Michiganders.