Friday evening was wild.
Actually, the whole day felt heavy with anticipation. Like things were going to happen. Sure enough…
It began when I stepped onto the front porch at 5:30 for my morning walk. The air was pungent with the earthy aroma of rain. Which was odd, given that there wasn’t a cloud in the sky and nary a puddle to be found anywhere. It was honest-to-goodness humidity—something we haven’t had in a while because it’s been so dry.
This is Minnesota muggy! somebody wrote in a Facebook weather group I follow.
The forecast was calling for thunderstorms later in the day, with the possibility of severe weather. That was exciting, but I was most looking forward to our Chicago concert in the evening. When they announced a show in Rapid City back in November, we snatched up tickets. How could we not? I’ve been a fan for many years, as evidenced by my license plate.
We headed downtown immediately after work. Decided to park in the Main Street Square garage and walk the half-mile to the civic center because there was a playoff hockey game taking place at the same time as the concert, and we didn’t want to deal with the traffic (admittedly a relative thing in Rapid City). This did mean we were playing a game of Russian Roulette with the weather, given the ominous clouds that were gathering, but we had an umbrella just in case.
After grabbing dinner and a pre-show cocktail at Firehouse Brewing Company, we headed over to The Monument. Got there just as the doors were opening. The ticket-scanning process went smoothly right up to the moment Tara whipped out her phone.
“These tickets aren’t coming up as valid?” the attendant asked/said. Cue sinking feeling.
We were directed to customer service and asked a bunch of questions. Were the tickets purchased from a third party? Had somebody else transferred them to us? How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood? The answers were no, no, and 700 pounds. After much digging around, the agent realized the seats we’d bought tickets for were roped off because the lighting crew was setting up directly in front of them, so we’d been upgraded to floor seats. Row 18. Score!
The concert did not disappoint: Chicago put on an amazing show! These guys have been around since 1967 and they weren’t afraid to promote the fact that this is their 55th year as a band. Well, some of them, anyway. There are three original members and seven others who have joined the group between 2012 and 2022. Once they started playing, it was obvious they were just as horn-y as ever. The trombones, trumpets, saxophones, flutes, and flugelhorns were on point. That’s the Chicago I like best, not the treacly ’80s pop fluff. I get that “You’re the Inspiration” and “Hard Habit to Break” were massive hits, but give me “Saturday in the Park” or “Beginnings” any day. Parting ways with Peter Cetera and going back to their roots was the best move these guys ever made IMHO.
So, yeah — great show! They played all the hits, and even though the original members are well into their 70s now, they were full of energy and enthusiasm. Even their voices showed little sign of age. “We’re not going away anytime soon!” they announced at one point, and to prove it, played a new song from an album coming out this summer. Their first new music in eight years. It was good!
I’d been checking my phone periodically throughout the show for weather alerts. Severe Thunderstorm Warnings popped up. There were reports of hail and dangerous lightning. Nerve-wracking for sure. The concert ended at 10:00 and we emerged from the arena to a sky filled with flashing lightning and gale-force winds but, luckily, no rain. Made it to our car without getting wet or struck by lightning with mere minutes to spare as another storm was rolling in. We headed up to Skyline Drive to watch the lightning, then came home to find our neighborhood pitch black.
Our local meteorologist found the source of the power outage:
Some 680 customers were affected. We just went about the business of lighting candles and hoping the lights would come back on soon. They eventually did, around 12:30 a.m.
As if things weren’t wacky enough, Saturday we awoke to snow.
Not a lot in town, but the Black Hills and surrounding communities got buried. The bigger issue was the winds, which gusted as high as 75 mph all day long and overnight.
So, this morning we’re holed up in the basement with coffee, records, and a fire in the hearth.
It’s never once felt like winter has truly ended yet, even though the first thunderstorms of the year are one sure sign of spring.
How’s the weather in your neck of the woods? What do you think of Chicago? The band, the city, or the musical?