If I had been any closer to the stage at that Van Halen show the other night, I’d be carrying Eddie’s baby

I knew going into last Thursday night’s Van Halen concert that, based solely on the size of the venue, I’d be fairly close to the stage … but I didn’t know I’d be THIS close:

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

No, seriously:

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

(I also didn't know that the band was picking up everyone's bar tab ... which is a shame, because, had I found that out prior to the end of the show, I'm certain I could have done a hell of a lot more damage than three bottles of Sam Adams. Just sayin'.)

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

One of the most awesome things about sitting this close to the stage while seeing Van Halen perform in a tiny little basement club in New York City … is being able to say that you were sitting this close to the stage while seeing Van Halen perform in a tiny little basement club in New York City.

In truth, the show was awesome, but the sound was pretty muddy — partly because the room was the size of a breath mint, and partly because I was sitting directly in front of Wolfgang Van Halen’s bass rig, the thunder emanating from which largely drowned out Eddie’s guitar and David Lee Roth’s vocals, and the concussive force of which I’m pretty sure damaged my internal organs.

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

All this shit right here was aimed at my head and torso.

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

That's Wolfgang playing his bass. I tried to strum a few chords, but he
smacked my hand away. Killjoy.

Now, I was going to just show you some more pictures and be done with it, but then Type-A Jon said, “Hey, slacker: There’s a father-son angle here that you could write about — you know, seeing as how you are, after all, a so-called ‘Daddy Blogger’ — so howzabout, instead of just phoning it in, you actually put some fucking effort into it?” Type-A Jon is a real pain in my ass sometimes.

But, OK: Wolfgang Van Halen is guitarist Eddie Van Halen’s 20-year-old son. Eddie and his brother, drummer Alex Van Halen, unceremoniously dumped original bassist Michael Anthony a few years back, and replaced him with Wolfgang. (I’ve already talked about what a great guy Michael is here and here, so I won’t go thru that again, but suffice to say: I wish he was still in Van Halen.)

As I saw up-close (very, very close) last Thursday, Wolfgang has definitely inherited the musical gene that his father and uncle both carry. He is an outstanding musician who is totally capable of playing the bass lines for Van Halen. He also, however, is a 20-year-old kid who has taken the place of a dynamic, veteran rock star whose overall persona and inimitable background vocals were a huge part of Van Halen’s identity. Seeing a comparatively shy, inexperienced, extremely young-looking kid less than half my age standing in Michael’s place and sharing the stage with three rock-and-roll legends feels … odd. No two ways about it.

Having said all of that, here’s the thing: In my estimation, if not for Wolfgang Van Halen, the band Van Halen most likely no longer would exist, and Eddie Van Halen — who, by all accounts, has been clean and sober since just before going on tour with Wolfgang, Alex and David Lee Roth a few years ago — would be either a hermit or dead.

Instead, he’s making music and sharing the stage with his son … which, as you can see in these pictures (despite their shiterrific quality), is bringing him a great deal of joy and happiness.

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

What I failed to capture in that batch of crimes against the art of photography was Eddie planting a kiss on his son’s cheek while both played their guitars … which was a moment that made me think about how I, as a father, would feel in that situation.

As a lifelong Van Halen fan, I obviously would prefer to see the group’s original bassist instead of Eddie’s kid … but if I’m Eddie Van Halen, and I don’t actually need to work for a living, and I, for whatever reason, don’t care to have Michael Anthony in my band anymore, and I have a son who has both the interest and the talent to make music with me, and adding him to my band means I can experience the thrill of looking to my right every night and seeing my boy kicking ass on his bass guitar while we both play a bunch of songs that I wrote … well, then that’s what I’m gonna do. And, at this point in my life and my career, the lifelong Van Halen fans who might prefer otherwise can fucking deal with it.

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

So, with that in mind, I’m dealing with it.

The good news is: Wolf totally nailed it on the bass the other night. He’s come a long way since I first saw him perform with Van Halen four years ago, and I hope he’s having a ball. I’d want nothing less for my own son.

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

But enough with all the sappy-daddy bullshit. The important thing is: Van Halen kicked major ass in New York City the other night … and I was there.

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

Van Halen @ NYC's Cafe Wha?, 01.05.12

If you’re a glutton for punishment or a lover of really bad photography — or both — you can suffer the rest of the shots I took by clicking here, and/or by watching the slideshow below. (And if you’re a big Van Halen fan, you’ll probably enjoy reading about the time I got to hang out with the band at Eddie Van Halen’s home studio.)

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35 Comments

  1. Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:13 pm | Permalink

    Dude. That is sweeeeeet. How many people were there?
    The Domestic Goddess´s most recent blog post: What Goes in Must Come Out. Right?My Profile

  2. Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:29 pm | Permalink

    Jealous, I am. What a neat experience for Wolfgang, though, as you said. If I didn’t *have* to work and could spend time doing what I love with my kids – who also shared those same interests – then heck yeah! That would rock!
    Ang´s most recent blog post: Unmasking the work/life conundrumMy Profile

  3. Posted January 11, 2012 at 1:45 pm | Permalink

    DLR’s wardrobe choices never fail to amaze me. He is rockin the shit out of some Carhartt overalls. So jealous. Thanks for sharing.
    Heidi H´s most recent blog post: An Ode to my Brother…by the way, you smell.My Profile

  4. Posted January 11, 2012 at 2:03 pm | Permalink

    Wow. I did NOT recognize David Lee Roth AT ALL until further down in the pics. Something something lack of hair something something. Anywhoo, what a great time you must of had. I would have been in physical pain, probably vomiting on the floor being that close to the sound equipment. These things are better for me in pictures.

  5. ptotheb
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:30 pm | Permalink

    um. so when did DLR return to VH?

  6. Tess
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 3:38 pm | Permalink

    DS…I just found your blog about a week ago, and have now read it ‘cover to cover’. I just had to leave a comment and say how much I love your writing and your honesty about the ups and downs of not only being a Father, but also about the challenges and joys of trying to live your life on your own terms. Even when it means making the not-so-desirable decision of returning to cubicle-land to make the necessary contribution to your kid’s well-being. I mean, you work full time, you’re an outstanding Dad *and* you maintain a connection to the humor needed to do so without going bug-fucking-crazy.

    So, I had to chime in with a ‘Hell Yeah!’ and say thank you for sharing your life. I’ve got you plugged into my RSS feed, I’ll read whenever you can write. 🙂

  7. Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:21 pm | Permalink

    That is super close. Sorry, but my mind is totally in the gutter after that last post. It’s all I can think about now. *trying to shake it*

    It is pretty awesome to see the daddy joy on Eddie’s face. I enjoyed the “Daddy Blogger” take on the concert. Thanks for sharing this super cool experience with us.
    XLMIC´s most recent blog post: That Christmas Tree was pretty spectacular…but what now?My Profile

  8. Michelle
    Posted January 11, 2012 at 5:30 pm | Permalink

    We saw them last tour.. and it.was.amazing… I swear I sat with a goofy grin on my face the WHOLE TIME. Eddie and Wolfy? AMAZING!.. I felt the same as a mom.. even grabbed video of a hug 🙂 Would have LOVED to be there with you! As it is now, I’m waiting for tickets to go onsale for Orlando.. and I’m gonna take my boys this time!

  9. Posted January 11, 2012 at 6:33 pm | Permalink

    Totally did not recognize David Lee Roth AT ALL! I might be a *teensy* bit jealous….but I probably would not have done so well sitting that close to the amp. I’m so glad you had a great time.
    Gigi´s most recent blog post: The Help (oh my, is this was a hard one to read/see/review)My Profile

  10. Nicole
    Posted January 12, 2012 at 1:17 am | Permalink

    Awesome. Simply, freakin’ awesome.

  11. Zach
    Posted January 12, 2012 at 8:19 am | Permalink

    Wait…my brain shorted out after you said “Van Halen concert” and “really close to the stage”…what were you saying again?

    DUDE!!!!! Van Halen!!! Van Fucking Halen!!!!! From 3 feet away. Jesus. Jesus VanFuckingHalen Christ, I hate you. No, wait, I love you. No, wait, I don’t even know you. But Holy Fucking SHIT! Dude, you were 3 feet away from VAN HALEN!!!!

  12. Posted January 12, 2012 at 8:24 am | Permalink

    woot! woot! thanks for sharing; you’re the best!!
    Sunday´s most recent blog post: Green Eggs, Hold the HamMy Profile

  13. Posted January 12, 2012 at 10:13 am | Permalink

    Super cool, dude. Glad you got to be part of such a great experience and relive old times a bit!

    Also, some of these pics are really good–especially if they’re from your phone!

    • Posted January 12, 2012 at 10:32 am | Permalink

      Yeah, I wish I could say I took them with my phone. Then I’d actually have an excuse for how shitty so many of them turned out. But I used the good camera. So my only excuse is that I don’t know what I’m doing.

      • Dana
        Posted January 12, 2012 at 2:49 pm | Permalink

        Low-light pictures are tricky without a tripod. Which would have been tough to handle in that small of a place. I bet the tables were all crammed together too. You did great. Definitely captured some of the energy.

  14. Stephanie Z
    Posted January 12, 2012 at 10:27 am | Permalink

    I am a life long VH fan as well. My boss even got me tickets to go see them the last time they were on tour. They were playing 4 hours away. Halfway to the venue my cell phone rings and we are told that rumors are circulating that they cancelled for that night. So I call the venue and yes they did.. Eddie was not well. That was the same day Valerie Bertinelli’s autobiography came out…. I was so bummed!

  15. Posted January 12, 2012 at 1:52 pm | Permalink

    I love that what’s his face (my bad, not a giant Van Halen fan (don’t hate me)) is wearing Carrhart overalls. The husband and I recently went to a concert on the other end of the country (in Santa Cruz, California) to see this band called Devil Makes Three (kind of Americana/country/folk/punk band) and there was this dude there rocking the same overalls. We laughed because this dude (and apparently the Van Halen dude) are wearing them as fashion pieces, and my husband, whose family runs a Halal slaughterhouse (FANCY), wears them for actual work, meaning they are pretty much always covered in goat blood and shit and hay.

    I like that. Don’t know why.

  16. Anna
    Posted January 12, 2012 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    These are great shots–I’m glad you had a great time. I’m happy to hear that Eddie VH is sober–I read an article in Rolling Stone a few months ago about his drug use and it made me sad for him and his family. I truly wish him well.

    And thanks for letting us in on your fun time. 🙂

  17. Gayle
    Posted January 12, 2012 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    What a blast to see such a big name in such a tiny venue! I think you got some great shots and really captured the energy. Thanks for sharing.

  18. joyful
    Posted January 13, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    I don’t know how I could possibly enjoy more or look forward to reading your blogs with more excitement (working my way through the archives). Is there a way to send the teeeeeeeensiest of comments privately?
    Thank you for the daily joy! Well, daily since I’m reading the old ones. When I reach present day I will have to sigh through the zero entry days…

  19. Posted January 13, 2012 at 3:27 pm | Permalink

    I could not love David Lee Roth channeling a character out of Sweeney Todd more!
    Meg at the Members Lounge´s most recent blog post: New Math With A Twist!My Profile

  20. john
    Posted January 13, 2012 at 8:39 pm | Permalink

    truly great article and something i have often cited on other sites; that being Wolfie being the saving grace behind not only the band, most importantly, his dad…. what a great time they are all having, what a story, a dream so many 20 year olds have dreamt of for years, to be a part of Van Halen, what a fairytale of sorts… this ‘kid’ is going to have one of the most fantastic futures one could hope for. surely the envy of many, and a story to tell his own family and children one day…. maybe, even a book that i will surely buy. Thanks Wolf. But being married to a 15 year sober person i would die for, it is NOT the other person alone who makes a difference; it has to be the one with the disease/illness/addiction, who WANTS to be sober. its a delicate, very delicate balance and a very long road…. i lived it and lived through it. i could have walked many times.. but i knew the person beneath and i wanted to be a part of her life forever; i was not going to give up…. i am always thankful i did, i am proud i did, i am proud of her. To that, i am sure that Wolf is proud of his dad, but you can bet that Ed, and Valerie and Al and Dave, are more proud of him….

  21. Posted January 13, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    I TOTALLY agree on every single thing you say here. I mean, I am almost Wolf’s age and I might not have been a Van Halen fan as long as a lot of people have been (because I wasn’t born in the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s or so). But I’ve always been a DLR era VH lover (not Van Hagar and obviously not GC era). So, I know it’s hard not to see Mike here and instead we are watching a kid who’s my age playing in a legendary band. I totally agree that he saved VH but I also think that (and I’m sorry for saying it this way) maybe Eddie wants to live this with Wolf because he knows that he’s not that young, he has been through cancer, drugs, alcohol… Rock and roll lifestyle. And he wants to share this important part of his life (music) with him before anything bad happens. So, I know it sucks not to see Mike here; but, like you say, if Wolf wouldn’t be here, Van Halen neither. Just my opinion.

  22. Posted January 13, 2012 at 10:26 pm | Permalink

    I just hope that, maybe, one day I’ll get to witness a show with the original Van Halen members.

  23. Pam
    Posted January 16, 2012 at 10:45 am | Permalink

    Funny… when I first looked at the pictures, I thought “Steve Martin was there?!” Then I realized who it was! Great pictures, even greater story.

  24. Posted January 16, 2012 at 11:06 am | Permalink

    The mom in me smiled a little a lot when I saw Eddy and his boy. And while I’m not a father, I would say you’re spot-on as far as what Eddy must be feeling by bringing his boy on stage with him. At this point in his life, does he really care what people think? I would like to think not.
    Iva´s most recent blog post: Okay, real quick…My Profile

  25. Posted January 16, 2012 at 1:20 pm | Permalink

    Looks like an awesome night. My wife and I were once that close to Harry Connick Jr but she was far more thrilled than I was. I prefer to be close to the concession stand.
    Greg – Telling Dad´s most recent blog post: Are We Done Now?My Profile

  26. Posted January 20, 2012 at 2:54 pm | Permalink

    Love the first picture of David Lee Roth singing. Great capture. Great seats. You lucky bastard 🙂

  27. Posted January 20, 2012 at 10:21 pm | Permalink

    WOW! can’t believe how close you were, as a lifelong VH fan that would have been LIFE CHANGING! amazing, great pictures too! !st time to your blog, wont be the last.
    Sean S´s most recent blog post: Twitter Tuesday # 3My Profile

  28. Mark
    Posted January 25, 2012 at 12:23 am | Permalink

    Jon,

    That was very cool! You are very blessed in many ways. A great wife, two great kids, and front row to Van F***in’ Halen in NYC. Life is good!!!!!!!!

    … and it sure beats sleeping in a MP car in the middle of nowhere.

    Re-enlist??? Nah!!!!!

    • Posted January 26, 2012 at 9:58 am | Permalink

      Thanks, Mark. Yeah, I don’t miss that old gig. Glad we did it, fun (sorta) while it lasted … but this is better. 🙂

  29. Christophe
    Posted January 27, 2012 at 3:13 pm | Permalink

    I was a roadie waaay back in the stone age. Worked with Dave opening night of his Eat’em and Smile tour in a small venue in Carbondale, Ill doing rigging. He was a gentleman, passionate and kind, enthusiastic, and grateful for every second he has with his fans and colleagues. This was totally opposed to the image painted by the media of him. I feel blessed to of had the opportunity to share that experience and came away wiser and I hope smarter for it, I suggest you read his book (holy shit he wrote a book?) Crazy From The Heat it will give you a much better insight about what made him who he is. Now as for your blog. My girlfriend sent me here and I think you are extremely talented and hilarious (just read Yes we can get a dog and by yes i mean…) please continue to write I think you have potential to have a great novel in you. And btw I am so jealous of you being at the VH show. Once in a lifetime for sure.

  30. Posted January 27, 2012 at 8:41 pm | Permalink

    Thanks, Christophe. I really appreciate the compliments
    I read Dave’s book back when it came out. Saw him twice on “Eat ’em and Smile” tour. 😉

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