Seeing music live is one of the best experiences there is. Listening to recorded music cannot compare…not even close. I’ve been to more rock shows than I can easily count. I have seen a lot of bands (around 70), some big names, some small, and some I’ve seen more than once. This was a conscious decision I made—go see my favorite bands live. As a young woman in my late teens, early twenties, it meant sacrificing things so I could afford tickets. On my list of priorities, concert tickets was close to the top. It might have been higher than food! Or, at least, food past the required level to survive.
Although I went to shows at least once a week for a while, there are some that were more memorable than others. My top Five:
5. Front row at Motley Crue. 1984. I had just turned 16 and they played at the UCSB sports arena. My best friend’s mom worked at the University and got us front row seats. We were so excited we bragged about it to everyone at school who cared. Most of the boys didn’t believe us, but they had their mouths open in shock the night of the show when they saw us standing Right.Up.Front. Oh, the smug smiles we gave them. Hehe. The best part—Mick Mars handed me a guitar pick and I caught one of Tommy Lee’s drum sticks. My friends overheard a girl say that she was going to ‘jump me’ for the drum stick, so they formed a phalanx around me as we left the arena. Good friends!
4. Seeing Spinal Tap live. Spinal Tap! They played at a RIP Magazine anniversary party with a bunch of other bands at the Hollywood Palladium in 1991. They actually played songs like Big Bottom, Hell Hole, and Stonehenge. So surreal to actually see Spinal Tap as a real band and not just a parody of a band in a movie. This is Spinal Tap is one of my favorite movies, so seeing them play live was a real treat.
3. Alice in Chains at The Whiskey, 1991. One of the things I remember about the actual show was that a stage diver landed on my head and knocked me unconscious. That wasn’t exactly a high point, BUT, it was an incredible show! It was one of those special events where only the first 100 people to show up for a record signing got in. There may have been only 100 people in the crowd, but the band played with such ferocity, it felt like 100,000. What made it even more special was that I had met the band earlier and they were really nice (not being famous yet). I had a wonderful, relaxed conversation with Layne Staley, the lead singer…RIP Layne.
2. Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Mesa Amphitheatre, June, 1990 (Mother’s Milk tour). This show was an EXPERIENCE from start to finish. I had just graduated from college. My friend and I took a road trip to Phoenix to see the Chili Peppers even though we both lived near L.A. and had seen them several times. Since we were in a strange town, we decided to check out where the show was being held, so we drove over and…serendipity! The band was doing its soundcheck! We stood at the fence and watched the whole thing. Afterwards, hot and thirsty (we were in Phoenix in June, after all) we went over to the hotel across the street and…yes…met Anthony Keidis and John Frusciante. They were hot and thirsty too, but really nice to us.
On top of all that, the actual show was CRAZY. General admission and my friend and I were right up in front. As soon as the band came out, the crowd went nuts and the fence barrier collapsed, along with everyone standing up front. Which, of course, included us! We had been prepared and were able to push back and avoid being trampled, but me being me, I fought my way back to the front as soon as things settled. Up at the stage again, I got a handful of Anthony Keidis as he knelt down in front of us to sing.
I don’t know if I’ve ever been to a show that was so filled with out of the ordinary excitement.
1. Seeing David Gilmour play and sing Wish You Were Here. May, 1994 at Texas Stadium in Dallas. This was back when Texas Stadium was mostly covered except for a square opening at the top. It was POURING rain that night. We were up high enough to be covered. The stage was covered. But in between us and David Gilmour…sheets of rain shining in the lights.
David Gilmour sat on a simple stool in the middle of the stage, just him and his acoustic guitar, a spotlight illuminating him. When he played the first five notes of Wish You Were Here, the crowd lost its mind. We all sang along. It was the most magical concert event of my life, like a dream come true, hearing one of my favorite songs played by my favorite guitar player…live.
I would LOVE to hear about your favorite or most memorable concert or live music experiences. It doesn’t have to be rock, either.