It was the summer of 1980 and one of the greatest moments of my life was about to happen. Earlier in the day, I graduated from high school and I was headed to Grad Night at Disneyland. In addition to celebrating with my friends, the night would bring a moment in time that would always be with me thanks to the band Kool & the Gang.
It was a very cool time; the bicentennial and disco were finally in our rearview mirror, and music was exploding with new genres. Metal, punk, and new wave were the new faces and sound. Ozzy Osbourne, AC/DC, Van Halen, Iron Maiden, and Motley Crue were in one corner, while Depeche Mode, The Smiths, Joy Division, English Beat, Ramones, and Haircut 100 were in the other. What I remember most about this time is that despite me having more in common with the head bangers, my close friends and I listened to all of it. At the school dances, bands like Earth, Wind and Fire were still killing it, and Pet Shop Boys were the next big thing!
For that year’s Grad Night, my friends and I were excited to see the featured acts of KC & the Sunshine Band along with Kool & the Gang. I knew a few songs by both bands; the super hits of the ‘70s and early ‘80s. KC had “Keep It Coming Love,” “Boogie Shoes,” “I’m Your Boogie Man,” “Get Down Tonight,” while Kool & the Gang had “Get Down On It,” “Ladies Night,” “Fresh,” “Celebration,” “Hollywood Swinging” and of course, “Jungle Boogie!”
That night, my friends and I hung out for the very last time as carefree teenagers. I will never forget how we stood in front of the Haunted Mansion and took in the show, oblivious to the fact that we were now headed into the adult world of college and jobs. This was our night to celebrate and have a blast… and we did just that. To this day, if I hear either of these bands, my mind goes back to Grad Night and the amazing night of music and memories with my friends.
KOOL & THE GANG
July 15, 2022 | Pacific Amphitheatre
Costa Mesa, California
Fast forward to 2022, and it is as if Doctor Who lost the keys to the Tardis and landed in my old home in Hacienda Heights. I heard the news that Kool & the Gang will play a one-off show this summer at Pacific Amphitheatre.
This news immediately took me back to that Grad Night and I felt 17 again. The memories of that evening and the music will always be with me, so it brings me joy that I can experience it again in person. Don’t we all need to take a break from adult life and feel 17 again?
Kool & the Gang will be supported by Sister Sledge, the band behind “We Are Family,” “Thinking of You,” and “Lost in Music.” Get your tickets now to see these legendary artists, and perhaps feel like a teenager yourself.
I’ll see you at Pacific Amphitheatre on July 15th!