I remember the ’80s like it was yesterday. I was totally caught up in the G.I. Joe craze, and my older brother and I used to set up our vehicles and figures on the living room floor—he was always the good guy, while I was always Cobra, the terrorist organization plotting to take over the world (this was obviously a ploy to pick on me)—and by the time we were done battling it out, I would likely be in tears. Call it little brother syndrome.
In all seriousness, though, the ’80s were pretty much the most memorable era, especially in Saratoga Springs. I still dream about all the rows of toys that I could’ve bought at Toys For Joy on Broadway (basically, where the Gap parking lot is nowadays), or the epic World Wrestling Federation (WFF) bouts I caught on my rabbit-eared TV on Saturday mornings. Or the fact that the baseball cards of the Oakland Athletics’ José Canseco and New York Yankees’ Don Mattingly were too expensive to spend my allowance on at the Vault (still on Caroline Street!). But my favorite part of the ’80s was all the music that I listened to night and day on PIX 106.5 and was able to catch in delicious dribs and drabs on MTV at my grandparents’ house in Schenectady. I recently started building a Spotify playlist entitled “Will’s Childhood,” consisting of all the songs I can remember being on the radio when I was a kid. A short sampling: Richard Marx’s “Right Here Waiting,” Gloria Estefan’s “Don’t Wanna Lose You,” Aerosmith’s “What It Takes” and Warrant’s “Heaven.” Every time I crank one of these hits, I’m immediately transported back to my childhood.
If you’re jonesing for a sonic nostalgia trip, head over to Putnam Place this Saturday, September 8, at 8pm, where That 80’s Band—which consists of Michael Bruce (drums/vocals), Todd Minnick (bass/vocals), Derek Montanye (guitar/vocals), Kevin Hodge (keyboards) and Beth Zaje (vocals)—will be turning the Saratoga venue into an ’80s dance party. They’ll probably play more than a few songs that appear on my Spotify playlist, but just to give you a taste, they pull from the following artist’s catalogs: Madonna, Michael Jackson, Tears for Fears, Huey Lewis and the News (my brother and I wore our Sports and Fore! cassettes into the ground), Toto (“Africa,” anyone?) and one of my personal favorites, Phil Collins. (Watch the band perform another ’80s gem, Starship’s “We Built This City”—which features the greatest, most indecipherable lyric in the history of music, “Marconi plays the mamba”—above.)
Doors are at 7pm, with the show kicking off at 8pm sharp. Note that it’s a 21 and over show, but tickets are “pay what you want,” so if you still have one of those ’80s-era twenties jammed into those tight Springsteen blue jeans you haven’t been able to shimmy on since ’84, it’ll get you in. Hell, if you have G.I. Joe flag points, my guess is they’ll except those, too. I sure hope they do.