Night fell on the Claremont Showgrounds. The Party Boys were on stage. Through the speakers came the first unmistakable clang of an AC/DC riff. The crowd went absolutely nuts. We’re talking stampede, fists pumping the air, with either a single index finger pointing to heaven, or else the index-and-little-finger “rock on!!” combo.

During the course of the day, all the bands I saw perform (Rose Tattoo, Noiseworks, The Angels, The Screaming Jets) had played original songs. Jackie, of the mother-daughter combo we had met earlier, had a theory about this.

“You know why?” she said. “Think about it. Everyone’s playing their own songs. Nobody is playing AC/DC tracks. Why do you reckon that is? Well, think about it! Who do you think might be coming on stage later as “special guests?!”

She gave me a significant look.

No. It couldn’t be. Surely not. Angus and Malcolm wouldn’t have come all this way. Would they?. Not after a performance drought of 7 years. For a start, how would they have gotten through Perth airport without being spotted and swamped by AC/DC starved maniacs? If the fans I’ve met so far are any indication, the intrepid Simmo and Glenn and their ilk would’ve gotten wind of this scoop months ago. It would have caused a riot.

Furthermore, word on the street is that Angus and Malcolm have shown no interest at all in attending or supporting the statue unveiling. And of course, according to Bon’s biographer Clinton Walker, they don’t wish to wallow in ancient history.

So with these rationalisations I dismissed the idea of a surprise AC/DC appearance.

But all the same, once Jackie had planted that glimmer of hope, I couldn’t sweep it from the back of my mind.

What if?

What if the band really did make show up to pay homage to their former mate? What if they actually did get up on stage to blow off our heads with their own guitars?

Mayhem. It would put Perth on the rock and roll map for sure. And in years to come we could tell our children (many of whom, no doubt, would have been conceived this very night) that we had been there. That would really be something.

And it was at this moment, with these ridiculous fantasies running through my mind, standing twenty metres back from the stage, reaching my right arm high into the air and screaming out the words (as best I remembered them) to “Let there be Rock” that I realised my transformation was complete.

I am an AC/DC fan.

4 thoughts on “Nightfall”

  1. a fan? wow, big call.
    that was actually a pretty quick transformation.
    what was it that did it to you Lucas?
    the crowd, the bourbon…. the music?… or the whole “package”

    and what kind of fan are you? will you fill your house with memorabilia? will you listen to the music non-stop? will you name your first born Bon?

    big question: you’re going on a 5 hour car journey and you can take one CD. What will it be Lucas? AC/DC or SMOG?

  2. Lizzie:

    when thinking about how to answer your questions, I dug through my older blog posts and found this one: Being a Fan.

    In that post, I described the process of rapid transformation to fandom that I went through, when I was dragged along to a soccer match in Italy back in 1991.

    Standing tall on the moulded plastic seats… stomping and shouting… learning the chants, which not only filled the air with sound but also penetrated my chest and churned my guts… letting my body go limp as the fans surged toward the cyclone mesh fence separating us from the elite athletes on the pitch… hollering with genuine pain and incredulity at the referee’s decisions and making that very Italian gesture of hands held together as if in prayer (meaning “how can this be happening??”)… screaming with unadulterated joy as Sampdoria scored its first goal… turning and hugging the man next to me… staggering jubilant and exhausted into the streets outside the stadium, discussing particular kicks and tackles, defensive strategies, umpiring decisions, what ifs… During those two hours I was conscripted into a community which took my loyalty for granted.

    That paragraph sounds pretty similar to some of the stuff I wrote about listening to AC/DC songs at the big concert, doesn’t it!

    I guess music, like soccer, can be very powerful and moving in a way which goes beyond rational thinking.

    As to what kind of fan I am… well, I think it’s too soon to say. If we were to use a metaphor… lets say “fandom” is “karate”. Then Glenn would be a black belt. I’ve only just signed my enrolment papers and come home exhausted and exhilarated from my first lesson…

    Smog, I have to say, is a musician I have been slowly building up respect for over many years. I think his music works quite differently from AC/DC. It takes many listens to get into the world of Smog.

    I think we need both.

  3. Even if you think it’s too soon to say what kind of fan you are, I’d be interested to know what made you say “I am a fan”. Perhaps that might shed some light on what being a fan means.

    Your great story about your rapid conversion to Sampdoria raises the same question – and you also have the benefit of hindsight with that one. It sounds like that conversion had a lot to do with mob euphoria. Now, many years later, are you still a fan? Using your karate metaphor – did you get beyond signing up?

    I think one of the interesting things about this blog is the way it is slowly transforming an anonymous and stereotyped “fanbase” into a series of fascinating conversations with real people. Each one with their own particular experience of Bon Scott fandom. It would be good to build on that by taking a closer look at what it means to be a fan – for you and for the people you talk to.

    I found this set of “common characteristics of fans” on wikipedia, in what I guess is an academic research paper on the topic. Currently you are definitely displaying all four of the major characteristics where Bon is concerned:

    “There are certain common characteristics to be found in fans interested in different topics…

    Those common characteristics include (Thorne&Bruner 2006):

    * Internal involvement. Fans focus more of their time and resources intently on a specific area of interest than a non-fan would, and are not significantly concerned if non-fans (including family or friends) don’t derive pleasure from the area of interest. Fans usually have a strong enough interest that small to major changes in their lifestyles are made to accommodate devotion to the focal object.
    * Desire for external involvement – are motivated to demonstrate their involvement with the area of interest through certain behaviors (attending conventions, posting online, etc.)
    * Wish to acquire – fans tend to express a strong desire to possess material objects related to the area of interest.
    * Desire for social interaction with other fans. This again may take many forms, from casual conversation, e-mail, chat rooms, and electronic mailing lists to regular face-to-face meetings such as fan club meetings and organized conventions.”

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