Imagine your first concert experience being Brian Scott, Angus Young, the Young Bros, and AC/DC in Reunion Arena in 1981, in the 6th grade?? How could my expectations for live concerts be forever set-up for disappointment after that? Well it was followed not too long after that by Van Halen’s Mean Streets tour.
Okay since that one-two punch, there’s been a few concert experiences that live up to that early impression. But not many that were that good, at least that’s the way a 51 year old man remembers a 6th grade version of oneself’s mind completely blown. Like people say of another activity, even a lackluster mediocre concert is better than most things one could be doing that wasn’t witnessing a live concert.
So what is it about the concert experience that I absolutely need in my life? It’s a communal gathering. It’s a place to let loose. If you attend concerts with me these days, I tend to move all around. My good buddy Nate just described the experience in a very humorous way yesterday… “I don’t know what’s worse to be in public with someone who is high and acts like they are high…or someone completely sober who acts like they are high?” I’m the latter. The more fun I have is just loosing my shit, dancing around, sober as a gopher, but to all intents and purposes, I think people around me…think, what is that dude on?
I’ve seen both Spoon with the Great Salty One, Bro Ben, and the Old 97’s at Stubb’s BBQ Backyard Picnic in two of the better concerts I’ve witnessed. The Old 97’s it was my first time seeing them and it was raining and they put on a screamer bringing it despite the weather. There’s something about seeing bands on their home turf that makes crowds completely lose their minds.
Even the concerts I’ve been too that were a bit disappointing were better than any other thing I could have been doing (for the most part). Let me see… MC Hammer at Gulf Shores, Alabama, The Cars at Reunion on my 16th B-day, Neko Case at Grenada, the Pixies in an arena, and sadly Pearl Jam in Sacramento. Some of these shows is just the unluck of the draw when you catch them. PJ was later in their tour when they had back to back dates, cold in October or November in Northern Cali. The Pixies don’t work in an arena… they need some stage presence coaching I fear. The Cars were a studio band…not meant for the stage and they also came after I’d been to VH and AC/DC. Anything after that was bound to dissapoint.
Of all the folks I’ve seen live, Robert Earl Keen has probably been the one I’ve seen most. I’d go anytime he is near as that’s always a phenomenal show. The first time I saw him was a great setting for it, The San Angelo bandstand along the Concho River in West Texas. Perfect setting for seeing REK. Cowboy boots everywhere, ropers, real ropers, plenty of skoal, Shiner, and Copenhagen in the crowd. I didn’t know what I was getting into but became a fan for life right there. Other stand-outs I think is a combination of the show and who you experience it with. R.E.M & the Cranberries in Koln Germany with D, Tyler Swift in the big D with D, Bruce after his 2007 release of Magic with Ma Swinn, Pa Top Jimmy Swag, the Frau’s. One of my favorite concert moments is trying to take a pic of Bruce in action at the American Airline Center and getting Boss-Blocked by my Mom’s raised rock and roll concert fist in the seat below me. With the Swinney boys in Montana, Foo Fighters, Weezer.
Here’s really why I like the live concert experience. It’s the best tent church revival you could ever wish for. Just attend a Bruce Springsteen concert and when he whips the crowd into a frenzy, there’s something communal religious going on there, better than anything you’d run across in a church. That’s rock and roll. And the people around you that you lose your mind, body, and self while attending the church of rock and roll make all the difference. That’s what it’s all about. And the best for last, the best shows I’ve attended are those put on by the artist known as Connor Swinney. He’s got something, something I’ve never had.