When we got to Dolphin Stadium and realized it was silly foam hat day; I knew it would take an awful lot of domestic, stadium-sized beers to survive until Joan Jett played. Turns out, I was right. So we roamed through the mini-mall labyrinth in search of the perfect bladder busting lager to flatter our wallets, and started to understand a fecund and integral fact of the Marlins summer promotion, Super Saturdays: the great divide between baseball fans and rock fans.
The baseball fans (mostly boys), were dressed like they were going to the gym later, or had just gotten out of bed and were running out to the front lawn to grab the morning paper. Mesh, nylon sports shorts were plentiful as were ripped up t-shirts. One frat boy looked up - most likely to readjust his foam fish hat - and saw the stadium blimp patrolling the sky. Its light-up display was advertising tonight's complimentary, post-game concert, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts. He turned to his friend and said, "Hey, did you know Joan Jett is playing tonight?" His frat brother's face sank, and then he replied,
Why, indeed. During the baseball game the stadium couldn't have been at more than 25% capacity. The cameramen in charge of zooming in tightly on the crowd for big screen teasers had their work cut out for them; every shot of moderately excited, smiling ticket holders also revealed the deserted seats surrounding them. The Jett fans were easy to pick out: lots of tattoos, no clear aqua color scheme, many were lesbians, hanging in the Designated Smoking Area until the game ended. And when it did end, they had to be told - they also had to be told baseball didn't have "half-time."
Two of these girls wound up on the field with us for the show - a woman from the Joan Jett camp pulled them aside and gave the ladies VIP wristbands to watch the show on the field, right near the stage. "It's a nice story," said the one with bushy brown hair. "She's the only reason we came; we love her," she said and embraced her girlfriend. Whether it was luck or strategy that the limited field group was clearly the Joan crowd - we don't know. Some couples admitted calling in favors from relatives who worked for the Marlins. Others waited and begged for wristbands near the field entrance, but either way, when Joan climbed on stage she looked relieved to see the predominantly female, nearly-void-of-foam-hat-crowd directly in front of her.
After she slid her leather halter top's finicky shoulder strap back up into its desired location, she looked up, smiled, and ripped into "Bad Reputation." That's when the party started. The thing about Joan Jett is that after nearly three decades of performing, she still embodies why you had her picture hanging in your locker years ago: her hearty grunts and growls vibrate with a feminine vibrato while she shreds through stereotypically masculine guitar solos. She's a siren, a performer, a gender-bending loogie in the face to a male-dominated music industry. Despite the ongoing war between the band and the stadium's desperately flailing sound system, she smiled and coaxed the crowd in with hits like "Cherry Bomb" and, of course, "I Love Rock 'N' Roll." But glancing back on the ticket seats only revealed a peppering of remaining fans. There were so few in fact, that it was difficult not to wonder why the management didn't drop the pretenses and let everyone on the field to hear the show directly through the monitors -- rather than standing by their seats, being forced to listen to the choruses bounce haplessly off the corridors and rafters. (I could have been wrong, but I think there were still echoes from last week's Jo Dee Messina concert bounding around somewhere.) This stadium isn't designed for music; it's designed for fight anthems. But for those of us lucky enough to get the private show up front - it was easy to remember why we love Joan Jett's Rock 'N' Roll. -Jaime Laughlin