A Weekend In Little Rock With Bon Jovi
Growing up, Bon Jovi created the soundtrack of my youth with hits like "Livin' on a Prayer," "Bad Medicine" and "Wanted Dead or Alive." So when I found out that one of my favorite rock bands was returning to Little Rock for the first time in 20 years to play at Verizon Arena, I knew I had to be there for what would undoubtedly be the performance of a lifetime!
My wife and I drove up to Arkansas' capitol city on Friday afternoon, reminiscing about all the moments in our lives when Bon Jovi's Jersey sound seemed to sear the occasion like a branding iron. School pep rallies, drives down the Pacific Coast Highway, walking through New York City on a summer day. All those moments were linked to this band's music. There were even some difficult times that were more recent where one of his songs in particular, "Have A Nice Day," helped push us through. Now this was one more weekend where his rock and roll rhythm would punctuate our lives once again.
After we checked into the Hilton Garden Inn in North Little Rock, we headed toward the Verizon Arena so we wouldn't be late. In that same neighborhood, we found a fantastic restaurant called Zaza which offered up wood-fired pizzas that were simply delicious. Their salads are also the bomb, if you ever get to go there. We chowed down on the Greek Cafe salad as a precursor to the even more phenomenal Zaza Italian Sausage, which is on a very thin crust, but which is bursting with flavor.
Not wanting to miss one moment of the show, we returned to the arena which was jam-packed due to a sold out show. One thing about Bon Jovi is that he draws a very eclectic crowd. There were folks there in their 50s and 60s, but the young 'uns had also come out en force, and teens danced and sang right along with their parents. The music pummeled the walls, and Jon Bon Jovi danced on top of hydraulic platforms that moved up and down with the beat of the music. Everyone was screaming, shouting, caught on a euphoric tide that crashed over the crowd time and again. Jon poured his heart and soul into each song as he took us back to the beginning of his career and then brought us full circle to his current hits. By the end of the show, when the lights finally came up and the stage was dismantled by expert roadies, we were slightly deaf as we exited the building, but the music was still throbbing in our veins as we left the arena.
The next morning, after a delicious night's sleep, we decided to explore Little Rock a bit more before heading home. We made our way to the zoo, which was a bit of a disappointment, unfortunately. Having lived in larger cities, the zoo was lackluster and the animals seemed depressed. Perhaps they had heard that Jon was moving on to another town and they simply lost their will to live, which we could understand. But more than that, the Little Rock Zoo just seemed dirty and sad.
After leaving there, however, we grabbed lunch at a fantastic little burger place called Big Orange Burger. If you have never been, you simply must put it on your list of places to eat at when in the capitol. The burgers are amazing (albeit not orange), the wait staff superb, and most of all, the French fries in truffle oil are out of this world. You simply must go! And be sure to try their Big Orange signature drink. It is yumm-o!
On the heels of a great lunch, we headed back to T-Town, feeling satisfied and content having made another memory that wouldn't fade anytime soon. After all, how often is it that you get to spend a weekend with Bon Jovi and relive all the exciting, breathless, rock-till-you-drop moments of your youth?