The Austin Chronicle

First Concert: Matt Muñoz

Cactus Cafe manager Matt Muñoz revisits his first concert in El Paso: Van Halen

June 29, 2018, Music

Matt Muñoz

Manager, Cactus Cafe

Who: Van Halen

When: Oct. 7, 1981

Where: El Paso County Coliseum

How old were you, how did you manage such a supreme first show, and how was it, anyway? Ten years old and it was my real first show. I paid for it with my paper route money! I was so in love with Van Halen. The show was big and loud, and Roth was a mess, but it is forever burned on my brain.

Why do you suppose Latinos are often ascribed with a love of hard rock and heavy metal, and does that conform to your own experience? Yes, indeed. As a young Latino growing up in El Paso in the late Seventies and Eighties, hard rock was it! Plus, El Paso and Juárez are almost one as everyone has family just across the border. The Q [KLAQ, 95.5FM] was the local rock station and MTV was about to make rock really big. We were the market that got the routing between Dallas, Albuquerque, and Phoenix dates!

What were your next few shows once that first domino fell and how did they fare in comparison? Halen was always my first rock & roll love, but I was lucky to catch Metallica at a small club called the Big Apple during the Ride the Lighting tour. It was a fantastic time to be a kid. I got to see all the fun stuff at the time, from Krokus, Dio, and Ozzy to the return of Van Halen and Metallica as they grew. It all culminated with a crazy opening band for the Cult by the name of Guns N' Roses in '87.

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