Listening to your favorite band on your iPod (or record player for you old schoolers out there) is one thing. Seeing your favorite band live can be a life altering event and a few certainly have been for me. From the moment you buy the new album, you already know a tour is imminent. The anticipation builds up days before the show only to explode once you reach the venue. The concert experience is like no other. To be able to see your icons in the flesh and blood and breathe the same air as them (no matter how far up in the nose bleed section you are) is exciting. Watching them in action performing your favorite tunes create memories that you will tell your grandkids about.
Concerts are a production for me. Perhaps it's because I'm a girl, but a lot goes into preparing for my concert experience. Do I need to take time off? Who I will go with? What will I wear? How much am I willing to shell out for good seats? Will I get there in time for the opener? These are all things that need to be figured out weeks in advance before I can even consider buying a ticket.
Once I'm in the venue, I soak every little thing in from the people to the band to the music playing in the background in between sets. When I was in high school, I would come home from a concert and immediately write down everything that happened and everything that was said. I'd also cut out my horoscope for that day too. And yes, I still have all that crap in a scrap book somewhere. I'm not nearly as insane about it now, but I like to be able to recall these special moments of my life, so I try my best to remember it all.
I have so many great concert memories...
The first concert I remember missing is Motley Crue's Theater of Pain tour and Autograph opened. The tickets were $13.50 and my older brother still has his ticket stub. I was too young to go and cried ALL the way to the venue where my parents dropped my brother and his best friend off.
My first rock concert was Scorpions and Trixter. I was obsessed with Trixter. My two BFF's and I got dropped off at the venue. We had terrible seats but I screamed and did some head banging anyway. After the show, we walked around back to try to meet the band to no avail. But the Scorpions tour bus did drive by and Rudolph Schenker waved to us.
I can't even begin to tell you how many times I've seen Pantera live. I went to see them at least twice a year for three or four years in a row. I even saw them open for Skid Row. Pantera popped my mosh pit cherry. Being part of the thousands of fans on the general admission floor was insane. We were all so squished together that I wasn't even standing on the ground anymore. Luckily, some guy saw the frantic look in my eyes and was somehow able to usher me off to safety.
Off all the concerts that we've witnessed in our lives, there has to be one that rises above all the rest, one that is supreme, one that tops all others. What is the best concert you've ever been to?
My answer may come as a bit of a shock to you: Marty Stuart and His Fabulous Superlatives. Yup, that's right. It's not a rock show that tops my list; it's a country show. My fiance and I decided to take a little vacation to Nashville a couple of years ago. He's a huge Marty Stuart fan and has known him for quite a few years, so we made sure our visit coincided with one of Marty's show. It was Bluegrass Nights at the Ryman Auditorium, the Mother Church of Country Music. For those of you who don't know, the Ryman is historical and legendary in country music land. It was the original Opry where Hank Williams played and Johnny Cash kicked out the stage lights.
Marty has been a part of country music since he was a kid and is probably the most underrated country star of our time. His story telling abilities are unparalleled and his genuine passion and love for all things country is unrivaled.
We arrived at the Ryman just in time for sound check. Marty's guitar player, Kenny Vaughn, led us across the stage and into the dressing room. I'll be honest. As Kenny was walking across the stage at the Ryman, I didn't even know if I was allowed to step on this sacred stage. It was a bit intimidating. Eventually, we were led out to sit in the church like pews and listen to Marty fine tune his mandolin to sound just perfect.
When it was time for the show, we took our seats among the Nashville natives. The simplicity of the production is one of the things that blew me away. There was very little on the stage. There were no fancy lights or pyro, not even a drum set. The band came out all acoustic with "Handsome" Harry Stinson carrying a single snare around his neck.
The sound was so raw and clean and untouched. This was country music at its finest. The audience was so quiet you could have heard a pin drop. Marty would take time to tell stories and chat with audience members. He had a few special guests perform along with them. There is nothing better than country harmonies,and Marty Stuart and His Superlatives have some of the best harmonies I've ever heard. Believe that. And in honor of one of the Bee Gees buying Johnny Cash's house and becoming Marty's new neighbor, he and his Superlatives performed a kick ass bluegrass version of Stayin' Alive.
Aside from hearing some of the most amazing musicians and some of the most amazing music, it was the unembellished, pure feel of the entire show that really did it for me. The key was breaking the music down to its most simple elements. There were no fancy intrusions to shift our focus away from the music; all the focus was on the music.
1. Motley Crue - Carnival of Sins Tour: By far Motley Crue's best show that I've ever seen. My fiance surprised me with tickets the day before the show and the Crue sounded absolutely amazing.
2. Guns 'N Roses/Skid Row - Use Your Illusion Tour: Use Your Illusion wasn't even out yet. My best friend's parents drove us three hours to Louisville, KY for the show. GNR played a three hour set of songs that no one knew and everyone loved it. Skid Row opened and that was the same week Slave to the Grind was released and became the first metal album to enter the Billboard charts at number one.
1. Motley Crue/Aerosmith: With the good comes the bad. Columbus was the first stop on this tour, and I hope that the rest of the shows weren't as horrible. Motley Crue was AWFUL. They sounded like total and complete shit. Vince was so terrible that I couldn't even watch the show anymore. I almost cried. Thank god Aerosmith saved the evening.
2. No Doubt/311: Gwen Stefani sounded like a sick parrot and 311 was so unimpressive that I don't even remember the show.
What are your best/worst concerts?