I left a concert early a couple of weeks ago and it made me feel old. I spent zero time in the parking lot pre-show because I had no afternoon coffee and I didn’t want to be too tired to enjoy the show. I was antsy about getting stuck in traffic because I had a 7:30 staff meeting the next morning and it was my turn to bring Krispy Kremes donuts. And it was Dave Matthews Band, and they were nothing like they used to be. The first time I saw the band, I danced the entire show because I had never heard music with such energy. The violin, the drums and guitar, and Dave doing his goofy stoner dance in the front of them all. But there is no dancing anymore, the songs are too slow. They sound like a pop band doing DMB covers. So I left early to avoid the traffic and that made me think I might be getting too old to go to these concerts. I mean, some bands don’t go onstage until 11:30! Bombing up I-95 a mere 20 minutes after leaving our spots on the lawn, I started putting together a list of memorable shows I’ve seen over the past 10 years…
Aerosmith at the Garden, New Years Eve. My buddy Lance actually came through on a promise to score us tickets to the show. It was the first time I ever cheated on a girlfriend. In the middle of Crazy I was convinced the girl sitting next to me looked like Alicia Silverstone (and the video) and we started making out. Once the lights came on and I saw her eyes almost touched, I made a personal rule to never cheat down on the looks scale.
Big Head Todd and the Monsters in Orono. The interesting thing for me was that a girl I was hanging out with at the time was a big Big Head Todd fan and one night on the phone she asked me if I had ever heard one of their songs. I hadn’t, and she played the song, in its entirety over the phone. She didn’t try to sing me a chorus from the song, or even hold it up to the phone because we happened to be on the phone when the song happened to be on the radio. She told me to hold on, rummaged through her cds, and played the song for six minutes (according to the game clock of Madden‘94).
Sheryl Crowe at Gillette Stadium. It was the first time I had ever sat in a luxury box. The food and booze were completely free and the televisions were tuned to not Sheryl Crowe. Watching her play made me wonder why they force musicians to play daylight sets. It is cruel.
Damien Rice at the Paradise. This show was a couple of days after the leave early DMB show, and it gave me hope that maybe it is not me that is causing my music apathy, but the music. The coolest thing about that show was the Irish lullaby song that is on the O cd. The girl that sings the song was not there, and he was going to sing it himself, until a girl in the crowd yelled out she would sing the song. He let her sing the whole thing and the crowd went crazy when she finished.
Evan Dando and the Lemonheads at Saint Anselm College. It was the fifth inning of a game were getting killed in when I saw Evan Dando standing on the hill. Our third baseman ran up to him between innings and asked him to comp us two tickets to the show that night, and he did.
Fiona Apple at the Orpheum. I brought three of my buddies and we piled into mid-row seats at the top of the hall to watch Fiona perform. We were pleasantly surprised to see Fiona do a quasi stripper-dance routine when she was not playing piano.
Garbage was a draw for me because I wanted to see what Shirley Manson looked like in person. I drove down to Lupos and was amazed at how tight the band was. From Garbage 2.0, I figured they would be loud, but the band was incredible, and Shirley was all that could be expected. I saw them three nights later at Elms College in Holyoke, Mass with 300 other kids. The place was empty. I walked by Butch Vig before the show, and suppressed the urge to say, “Can I have your autograph, Mr. Shaffer?”
Hole, at the Orpheum. Courtney Love flashed her boobs to the crowd and they were not that great a sight to see.
Indigo Girls at Foxboro Stadium for Earthday. Exactly.
Jazz Mandolin Project at the Bears’ Den in Orono. Seeing the guy play the mandolin up close was almost enough to get past the fact that there are no lyrics to any of their songs. That shows you how much there was to do in Orono.
Liz Phair at the Paradise. This was her first solo tour, and the effects of her stage fright were noticeable at the beginning of the show. But she warmed up to the crowd and got more comfortable and it was halfway through Fuck and Run that I realized I was the only guy in the audience who knew every word of each song and was willing to sing them.
Van Morrison bumped out Sarah McLaughlin for the M nod. He played at the Harbor Lights Pavilion in Boston and was in a black suit, sunglasses, and top hat. I could not understand a single word he sang that night, but somehow that worked with what he was doing. The band played an extended jam at the end of the night and we could see Van’s limo drive away.
No Doubt in Lowell. This show actually first drew my attention to the fact that I was old and no longer the concert goer I used to be when my girlfriend Heather and I decided to skip the concert to go to bed at 8:30.
O-Town in Seattle. They headlined the MLB All Star luncheon I was attending. Two words stick with me from their show, free beer.
Phish actually holds various footnotes on my concert list. Longest show I ever attended (six hours, not included a two hour intermission between sets 1 and 2) most expensive tickets I ever scalped ($95 for two lawn spots at Great Woods to impress a girl) and longest wait to get out of the parking lot (nine hours on an airbase in Plattsburg, NY). I’ve seen the band with almost each girl I’ve dated.
REM. Micheal Stipe is a fucking ROCK STAR. He came on stage with his bic’d head wearing sunglasses, a knit hat, and a hoody, and a million lights went off as they ripped into Whats the Frequency, Kenneth? He changed his t-shirt nine or ten times and if anyone else had done that, it would have been annoying, but with him, it seemed like the audience wanted to see what the next message would be.
String Cheese Incident at the Stone Coast Brewery in Portland, Me. This was when they were a bar band before taking on Ticketmaster, and the most memorable thing from that show was the 2-2 pitched that Sterling Hitchcock threw to Tino Martinez that was called a ball in the World Series. Of course he goes deep on the next pitch, that’s what hitters do when umpires get gun shy about ringing up batters.
Tori Amos at UNH. I never thought I would like Tori Amos in concert because I did not like any of her songs on any of her CDs. But I was impressed by the amount of lesbians who are big Tori Amos fans and packed the place and screamed all night. Tori played to them by opening her legs to them as she played her two keyboards and quite frankly, I’ve seen worse things.
Violent Femmes at the Providence Performing Arts Center was the first concert I ever attended. Gordon Gano led the band down the isle to the stage singing and playing cymbals. I maintain they were one of the best bands to see live until they started playing ‘best of’ sets five years ago. He broke a guitar string and worked it into the lyrics of 36-34-36 which impressed me until I found out he did the same thing two nights later.
Ziggy Marley in the HOARDE festival at the Ballpark at Old Orchard Beach. Jerry Garcia had died a few days before and I tried to talk Lance into buying t-shirts and markers and writing “The Dead Sucked Anyways” on them. He chickened out and so did I.
9.22.03 @ 8:56p
Clearly, my friend, you have never been to a Martin Sexton show played in a lounge or a bar... then you'd know how great a concert can get. One guy on stage can sound like three. Hard to believe he's only like 5'5".
9.22.03 @ 9:22p
Norah Jones at Bimbos in SF. I never knew someone's voice could sound better live than on a CD. It was a blind date and the only reason I went was because she had the tickets. Before the show she admitted she was a huge Trekkie and loved going to conventions. I never saw her again.
St. Germain, also at Bimbos. Amazing music. Great dancing. And we had awesome seats.
May of 1998 - RATT at Maritime Hall. Amazing for the pure hilarity of it all. Man, those guys didn't age well.
Sade at Shoreline Ampitheater. The only other time someone has sounded better live than on CD.
Depeche Mode with OMD opening for them. The first time I liked the opening band better than the headliner. Spent the entire show cuddling with a cute girl from my high school. Then when the show was over, we stood out front as she announced "Oh, here comes my boyfriend to pick me up."
9.25.03 @ 9:40a
James Taylor at the ESA in Raleigh New Year's Eve 1999. For a variety of reasons this will be my favorite of all time. It was my 30th birthday and the turning of a century at the same time. Oh, and I love JT. :)
9.25.03 @ 12:32p
Billy Joel playing "Captain Jack" at the old Philadelphia Spectrum. Might have been the last time he did that song live.
9.25.03 @ 6:07p
Garbage is a consistently phenomenal band. Seeen 'em 3 times, blew me away each time. And I may have been at that Love show, if it was the BCN Xmas rave - she showed her tits there too, come to think of it, where hasn't she? - and the band was pretty weak. I only went because they co-headlined that show with Garbage, who, as I said, were amazing.
I'd love to see Fiona Apple and Phair live, but I opted out on Liz's latest tour, since her latest album is not my, or hers (but who am I to say that? and who are the critics to?) style.
Pearl Jam live are a sight to see as well. EVERY TIME.
And Jimmy Page and the Black Crowes was an incredible show. Ten years Gone, In the Light...I'm a pretty substantial Crowes fan, but I was glad they only played one of their songs and stuck to some hardcore, non-radio Zep.
The White Stripes and the Strokes at Radio City was incredible, and both those bands deliver every time. So far. I'll update you in a month and a half, after I've seen them both again.