I can't hate myself for loving her

I can't hate myself for loving her

Imagine my surprise when I opened the Jackson County Fair media kit — preparing myself for utter disappointment — and was greeted by the angry eyes of Joan Jett.

I had to sit down for a bit in order to allow time for my synapses to connect the ideas of Joan Jett and a county fair. It took a while, but I came away with a new appreciation of fairs, which I've hated since childhood.

As a rule, I've always avoided frequenting places built for the sole purpose of ripping me off. Not to mention they always occur at the hottest point of the year.

Spending a sweaty day rubbing shoulders with pigs on their way to the slaughter, carnie folk and children speed buzzing off deep-fried Mars bars will probably resemble the circle of hell where I'll spend eternity once this mortal coil is shed.

But dern it if Jackson County didn't do this tired old heart a favor by booking one of the top riot grrl warrior goddesses of my '80s childhood. She was riot grrl before "riot grrl" existed.

Joan Jett was one of those rare rockers that I admired and lusted after in equal measure in my early teens.

It was no different when she took the stage with the Blackhearts on a pleasant Saturday afternoon at the Expo's spiffy Lithia Motors Amphitheater. (By the way, what a prime spot for a rock show, with the hills and a pond framed in the back. I can't believe this place isn't used more often.)

Jett hasn't lost an ounce of feminist intensity after more than 30 years of almost non-stop touring.

She strode onto the stage briefly raising a hand to the crowd before tearing into "Bad Reputation."

Suddenly, I found myself cheering and jumping up and down alongside some early 40s looking moms and two 14-year-old girls with dyed-black mohawks. Killer.

The Joan Jett gig fulfilled a promise I made to myself years ago after deciding to attend a kegger at a buddy's house instead of going to catch the Ramones in Chicago.

Like Joan Jett, the Ramones toured relentlessly, and were in town for cheap nearly every year. Their reliability stupidly played a factor in my blowing them off each time.

"Eh, they'll be back next year," I'd say before taking another pull off a plastic cup slopping over with Keystone Light.

And then they were all dead and I was left with nothing but the bitter, bitter taste of cheap beer in my mouth.

I would not let Joan Jett slip from my life so weakly.

The nostalgia factor was undeniably there. I honestly haven't listened to Joan Jett in years, other than catching "I Love Rock 'n' Roll" on the radio occasionally.

To be sure, hearing that raspy screech definitely gave me the warm blankie feeling, but she managed to transcend '80s nostalgia by just being damn good at old-school rocking.

It begins and ends with that simple three-chord riff that never sounds dated.

My metalhead friends nodded in appreciation when during "I Hate Myself For Loving You," which is as good as punk-metal fusion gets.

Even the new songs that constituted the middle portion of the show kept everyone interested.

Why wouldn't they? Joan Jett seems to understand rock-n-roll's one rule: Loud, fast and cool never get old.

Reach reporter Chris Conrad at 776-4471, or e-mail cconrad@mailtribune.com.

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