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Oh, the grunting and panting, the gnashing of teeth: The cattle call for a backstage meet-and-greet with Dokken was rowdier than a sale barn — and sweatier, too. In the queue quivered coquettes who had claimed this coveted plum from their fav-o-rite radio station, Q95, and others who, like a dream, had been plucked from Row One as the flavor de noir.

My friend Diana and I had driven 50 miles through blowing snow to see Dokken open for Ronnie James Dio in Indianapolis. Yet we loathed Dokken: This was 1985, and as fans of Elvis Costello and the Jam, we dressed for this hard rockathon not in big hair and flammable synthetics, but in mohair and pointy purple shoes. Aw, what the hell, we had scored a couple of backstage passes, and thought it would be kooky to goof on the groupies who wanted to woo Don Dokken and crew.

Alas, we dillydallyed and missed Dokken, but caught the aftershow: In a concrete den of iniquity, metal mamas preened, wearing second skins of Spandex pants and obsessively teasing their bangs that were dyed as brassy as a crash cymbal.

Sadly, we saw not the tender side of Dokken — the one since portrayed in their power ballad "Alone Again" — but only surliness: A grouchy roadie threatened to expel Diana from the inner sanctum when she tried to swipe a beer from a passing tub.

"Give it back!" he growled, looking rode hard and put up wet.

"That's OK, I almost was thrown out of Tammy Wynette's dressing room, too," Diana replied, returning the Rolling Rock.

The band ignored Diana and me, as we clearly had no business there, but we overheard passing conversations like:

"Where's (insert forgotten band member's name here)?"

"Oh, he's in the bus spawning."

One guy, I think he was the drummer, felt sorry for us New Wave outcasts and handed us a couple of M-80s as souvenirs. At the end of the 15-minute group grope, Don D. sashayed through the dressing room, wearing requisite soaked headband and white towel draped over the back of his neck. His face glistened like dew on a tractor seat, his brow furrowed like a freshly planted cornfield. "Goddammit, it's my career," he lamented, sighing impatiently as if he'd spotted an errant red M&M in the band's candy tray. The roadie-hard-and-put-up-wetness who had spent the evening lugging the beer tub scrambled after him into a secret room where Don could contemplate his future.

Well, his future has arrived — at Far West Rodeo next week.

with LA Guns, Firehouse, Ratt, Warrant
8pm, Sunday, September 8
$20 advance, $23 at the door,
$28-$33 reserved seating
Far West Rodeo, 3030 NE Loop 410

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