I’m gonna tell you something. Most of my life I’ve been a snob. A music snob. I know, people like me can suck the fun out of a five-year-old’s birthday party. But I wasn’t always such a twisted killjoy. For a couple years of my life, between the tender ages of 11 and 13, I was a wide-eyed naïf, grooving to whatever late eighties R&B power ballad rap hits happened to come on the radio, and it all sounded pretty good to me. Sure, I should’ve known better—I grew up folk and blues and golden age rock and roll. But that was my parents’ music. To paraphrase Morrissey, it had nothing to say about my life.
No, in that excruciatingly earnest yet also oh-so painfully awkward way, the first band I believed spoke to me was INXS. Yes, that’s right, those ridiculous Aussie arena rockers whose tumble from cheesy to morbidly tawdry to Reality TV we all know so well. At 13, I was convinced that Michael Hutchence was my generation’s Jim Morrison. And so one night in March, dressed in a sleeveless INXS t-shirt, ripped jeans and high-top sneakers, my hair teased into some kind of Prince-like pompadour, I told my parents I was going to a sleepover. Instead, I rode with a few neighborhood friends to the Patriot Center at George Mason University, the ticket I’d had a buddy’s older brother buy with the last of my paper route money tucked neatly into the fold of my black Velcro INXS wallet. I mounted the stairs to a section so high that our view of the stage looked like a Georges Seurat up close, all disorienting little colored dots.
But I was there, man, in the throng, in the thick of a rock and roll show, hearing the hits blare across acres of screaming heads. And it was magical. Not very long after, I would turn to harder stuff, become jaded and crusty and look back with disdain on the smooth sounds of INXS. But that feeling then… standing there amidst those crowds, almost everyone older than me, wobbling in the haze of surreptitious pot smoke and the slightly nauseating high of cheap beer drunk fast in an old muscle car… I had arrived. I told my parents about this years later, when the statute of limitations ran out. And they laughed. And so did I. Because, c’mon. It’s INXS. Then again, watching the footage above from 1988, the same year I saw them at 13, I have to admit that they don’t sound half bad. But goodness, those outfits. Probably for the best I couldn’t actually see them on the stage back then.
So there’s my story, readers, inspired by this Metafilter thread. Now that I’ve told you mine, please tell me yours. What was your very first concert? There’s no shame here, friends. Only nostalgia. Extra points to those who provide links to live concert footage.
Josh Jones is a writer and musician based in Durham, NC. Follow him at @jdmagness
Not counting a few local occasions in which home town favorites Bob Kuban and the In-Men (known for “The Cheater”) appeared, the first real concert I attended was Arlo Guthrie at the Mississippi River Festival in July 1969. The opening act was a young lady who had just released her second album – Joni Mitchell. The local PBS station taped it and used to run it quite often until they started broadcasting in color two years later…
Foghat @ the Indiana State Fairgrounds in 1974
Also INXS… 1988. I was newly 16 and had a fresh drivers license. I drove from the northern Chicago Suburbs to Alpine Valley in Wisconsin. Openers were Cheap Trick and Ziggy Marley. I can’t recall what I wore.
Ps I rocked out to ‘kiss the dirt’ last night when it popped up on Sirius. :)
Paul Revere and the Raiders at the Tulsa Assembly Center when I was 10 years old. I’ve been going to shows ever since! The latest was the Carnival of Madness in Oklahoma City which I reviewed and shots photos of for Jam Magazine: http://jammagazine.com/cr201309-carnival-of-madness-concert-review-zoo-amphitheater-oklahoma-city-ok-september-8-2013-writer-claire-zevnik.aspx
Scorpions with Whitesnake in 2006, in Athens, Greece. I was twelve. Obviously. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iGjDXnawMKs
1982 Summerfest, Milwaukee WI. Rick Springfield, went to pick up girls. Sparks opened. I was blown away.
The Who, The Clash, and David Johanson at Shea Stadium in Queens NY 1982. The Clash made a live album of the show, here’s the link. http://m.youtube.com/watch?v=h4oZUF31eac
AC/DC in 1979, Bon Scott singing. It was in Ravensburg, small town in the south of Germany. I was 12. It totally blew me away.
Uriah Heep, 1975, Hammond Civic Center, Hammond, IN no seats standing only. We stood in front of the right speaker stack and were left with ringing ears for about a week! Good times!
First show was Iron Maiden’s Powerslave tour. Twisted Sisters was opening. I won the ticket. I was twelve. their was a contest at my school. whoever sold the most chocolate bars for charity could go to the concert. Iron Maiden was my favorite band and i did everything i could to sell all those chocolate bars and more. only 2 people of my grade year were allowed. This was a big deal.
Van Halen during the tour for VH II. Probably 1979 time frame. Chicago Ampitheatre
1967 – WOR-FM First Anniversary Concert at the Village Theater (later to become Fillmore East) – The Doors (their first album just came out), Chambers Brothers (still in shark skin suits – not their psychedelic wardrobe), Blues Project (with Billy Preston replacing Al Kooper, who had just left to start Blood Sweat and Tears), Richie Havens (also first album time), Janis Ian (Societyu2019s Child a hit at that time).nnnnLike the bumper sticker says, “I may be old, but I got to see all the cool bands.”
The Plasmatics at the Strand Theater in Sunbury, PA in 1982…at 16 years old it was like going to your first concert AND your first strip club at the same time!
The Plasmatics – I saw Wendy chain saw a school bus at The Whiskey in L.A. the late 70’s. She was ahead of her times.
Ah…the Whiskey a Go Go…Good memories there! Dead Kennedys, Echo and the Bunnymen, the Plasmatics!, I even saw the Go Go’s there on Halloween! Nothin like Halloween in Hollywood!
Wendy was from my hometown
Alvin Lee and Ten Years After at the Stanley Theater in Pittsburgh. Ticket was $7.75, I was 16 years old, and it was unbelievable. I judge every concert I see by that show. Just magical.
Mine was the Backstreet Boys in Ottawa, ON, Canada. I’m pretty sure it was in 1995 or 1996. I wish it was something cooler and more hip, but nope I was a screaming little girl!
The Animals and Herman’s Hermits Boston Arena 1966. Good times.
The Rolling Stones 1966nBuffalo NY. nWith the Standells, nThe McCoys and The Tradewinds.
April 5, 1982–Rush in concert at the Civic Center in Lake Charles, LA. I had just turned 15. (Most recent concert attended: April 23, 2013, Rush in Austin, Texas!)
Van Halen at The Music Hall in Houston, 1979. :)
The Stones at the Sacramento Memorial Auditorium in 65/66. I was in 8th grade so 12/13. I wore a green voile dress, carried a handbag and clapped politely. Saw Van Morrison a year or so later at a roller rink (as Them with the hit G-L-O-R-I-A) but it was a dance, not a concert. I believe I did the jerk, the frug and the shing-a-ling.
I lied. I think I saw Simon and Garfunkel a year earlier (maybe 65/66) in a CLASSROOM at U.C. Davis. They sat at on the desk in front and we sat in the student’s seat. My friend’s mother was hip and took us to GREAT things. I’m still go to concerts. See Emmylou next week Bonnie Raitt on 10/3, John Fogarty 10/11; Elvin Bishop in February. Saw CSN last year and Taj Majal (who I once saw open for Janis) and am still beaming. Best concert(s) ever were Ike and TIna in the 70s when they played a lot of dances and I got to lean my elbows on the stage and watch that woman dance. Five feet away.
David Bowie, Liverpool Empire 1973.
Ernest Tubb, in 1963 or 64. At the time, he had one of the best bands in country music history, and he played the junior high school in Buckhannon, West Virginia. I’m still flabbergasted that I got to hear him.
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Michael Jackson 1988 in Lausanne. John Farnham was opeing act, but missed, because bus was late.nhttp://www.rts.ch/archives/tv/information/tj-midi/3439582-michael-jackson.html
Rolling Stones, 15 Nov 1963 Arie Crown Theater, Chicago. Short show. Mick seemed unhappy with crowd not dancing in the aisles or rushing the stage.
you mean 1964
Yes, I meant 1964. Thanks for the correction.
Allman Brothers with the Charlie Daniels Band warming up the crowd, University of Iowa fieldhouse, 1973. I made arrangements to buy an extra ticket from an acquaintance before the concert at the back of the building. I waited outside with a friend who had his ticket, and the friend got into a discussion with the security guy guarding the stage entrance. Security guy was ROTC. Friend was signed up to enter West Point. Friend got tired of waiting, so security guy let him in through the back door to the concert. About 15 minutes before the concert, it was obvious that my ticket wasn’t going to show. So I asked security guy if I could go in to get the car keys from my friend and he said sure. I walked in and thoroughly enjoyed the concert.
AC/DC, 1982, Salt Palace, age 13 – could not believe a man could keep going like Angus for 2 1/2 hours. http://youtu.be/LAwUWig98A8
July 1969, the self-styled “1st Annual Rutgers Jazz Festival” (there was no 2nd). I was 14. A two-night affair at the University’s football stadium. I only made the second night.nnnActs I remember: Blood, Sweat and Tears (who killed); Miles (sadly, didn’t note and don’t remember which sidemen); one of the myriad “Newport All Star” big bands (meh); Buddy Rich Orchestra (also, oddly, meh).nnNina Simone was scheduled to close. She couldn’t make it (many boos upon that announcement). Subbing was a newcomer, an unknown, Roberta Flack. (There were no boos AFTER her set, let me tell you.)nnGreat, great experience. Made me a jazzbo for life.
a person has claimed that Michael Hutchence is alive, can u please let us know if this s a rumor or real? in this blog I read it jigdood.wordpress.com
My first concert was also in 1988 when I saw David Lee Roth with opening band Poison at the old Spectrum in Philadelphia, PA. It was for his “Skyscraper” Tour. I also saw INXS there too but not until 1991 for their “X” tour.
Not sure of the year, but my family took me to see The Carpenters when I was very young. I don’t remember a whole lot of the concert, but I remember laughing at the opening act. It was Steve Martin about 6 months before he became a household name.
Rolling Stones, 1972, Madison Square Garden
Chicago at Madison Square Garden in 1973. nnOpening act: Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band
Cream played at the Concord Armory around 1970. All I remember is that it was was very loud.
Aerosmith, April 16, 1976 Kiel Auditorium St. Louis. Beginning of Rocks tour, opened with Back in the Saddle–awesome! My Son’s 1st concert was also Aerosmith in 1998 during Nine Lives tour. Good stuff :-)
For me, it was The Clash and The Who, JFK Stadium 1982. The same tour as Martin saw. Found some good pictures online from that day. Looking back the stage design was not nearly as impressive as the way I remember it in my mind. nnhttp://www.dianewilsonsbrain.com/whojfk.htmlnnhttp://www.dianewilsonsbrain.com/images/shelly07.jpgnnnnDan
Bruce Springsteen at the Tower Theater in Upper Darby Pa. It was a rousing performance. We were on our dancing….
Steppenwolf at Merriweather Post Pavilion, 1970. So long ago I distinctly remember the guy behind us had a big cooler full of beer.
James Brown – El Paso County Coliseum – 1966
Styx 3.24.78 in Poughkeepsie, NY
Rock in Rio III, in 2001, to see Silverchair, when I was 16.nMy mom took me and two friends (one of them thought Daniel Jones was our generation’s Jim Morrison). nI really liked them, and I was involved in my friends cause. So much that we spent all of our Rio time in their hotel. nIt was great, the best they ever were. I hated what Silverchair sounded like after that time.
Soul Bowl 1970 New Orleans: James Brown, Isaac Hayes, Ike & Tina Turner, Jr. Walker
David Bowie “Glass Spider” tour in Toronto, 1987. Duran Duran opened, and I met a girl there who had defected from Czechoslovakia with her family. http://youtu.be/l9fQTQ6z324
elton john tuscaloosa alabama in 1972 on a tuesday evening. i was 15.
That sounds pretty cool.
Jonas Brothers, River Plate Stadium in 2010, i was 15, i went with my mom and my sister, we’re really close to the stage. It was their frist time in Argentina, so we were excited to watch them. It was really worth it.
Sha Na Na. 1973 at Pershing Auditorium in Lincoln, Nebraska, with a high school buddy.
As a junior in high school, I drove 50 miles with a couple of buddies to see Aerosmith in L.A. It was 1976 and The Cars opened for them. It was right after “Back in the Saddle” was released. I’ve been rockin’ ever since!
John Kay & Steppenwolf, mid 80s… middle slot Alvin Lee stole the show
Eric Clapton and Santana at Saratoga Springs 1974 or 1975.
My parents took the family to see Sha Na Na & Dr. Hook at the Mississippi River Festival in Edwardsville, IL on Aug, 18, 1978. I was just 6 so had to look up the date in MRF archives.
Pink Floyd, April(?), 1970. Or was it Allen Ginsberg playing the harmonium and singing Blake’s poems in the Fall of 1969?
No. It was Pink Floyd.
I have to admit I too was a fan of INXS during the mid late eighties (one of the two bands with a 4 letter acronym as its name UB40 was the other) but as a slow mover in life, i only got to see my first concert when i was 18 (many followed thereafter) and it was Prince in Lausanne, Switzerland – an extremely dissapointing performance, to the point that i am sure nobody ever filmed or posted it online – i believe it was the graffiti bridge tour in 91 – yes just checked for online vids and nothing available – anyway being quite a music snob myself, I should add that Prince never really made anything groundbreaking after Sign O The Times anyway… since then i have seen some of the most amazing artists live – the only one i shall share which is off topic of course, was seeing MC 900 Ft Jesus in Geneva around 92 – 93 playing to a very small crowd – what a privelege
The Everly Brothers and Buddy Holly at the West Melbourne Stadium in 1958.
Mine was Grobschnitt in Wesel/Germany, famous german Krautrock band in the year 1979. I took photographs and sent them to a fan site later: http://www.stephan-schelle.de/grobschnitt/images/fotos/konzerte/wesel_1979/wesel_1979.htmnnAlso – exactly this concert was released in 2006; http://www.amazon.com/Zugabe-Live-Wesel-1978/dp/B00E0ZF0OCnnSo I am lucky that my first concert is something that I can still hear! :-)
KISS, at the Fabulous Forum in Los Angeles on August 26 or 27 or the 28th,1977 (not sure which day it was exactly) during the LOVE GUN TOUR, full makeup. They recorded ALIVE II. I was 9 years old and went with my uncle. CHEAP TRICK opened up.
Jethro Tull, Robin Trower and Rory Gallaghertttttn Friday, July 23, 1976.nShea Stadium Flushing NYCnIt was HOT as hell we got there super early.nTull was amazing and we had great seats.nNext up that year The Who at the garden
Yes at Madison Square Garden, Feb 18 1974. The “Tales From Topographic Oceans” tour. Blew me away. I was in the nosebleed seats, but it didn’t matter. I knew the double album intimately and that enhanced the experience. They played that album in its entirety and before that played “Close to the Edge” in its entirety. “Roundabout” was the encore.
Craig Mack, Redman, Mobb Deep, Ill & Al Skratch – Beacon Theater. NY, NY 1994
Metallica, with Queensryche opening. March 9th, 1989. Landover, MD – Capital Centre.
Thank you SO much for asking! I just googled mine, Hawkwind at the Manchester Apollo September 1977, age 15, and found a bootleg on Youtube that I never knew existed! What an emotional moment – like unexpectedly time travelling back 36 years to a massive moment in my life. Rough audio, but who cares!? I was up in ‘The Gods’, upper circle, but completely blown away.nnhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G9vNrXr1XXE
My first concert would have been an INXS show in 1988 (at age 13) in Columbia, South Carolina. However, they canceled the concert for some reason. But I did have tickets. Instead, my first concert was a birthday present to a new girlfriend I had a year later: The New Kids on the Block.
My first concert was Jimi Hendrix and The Experience opening for The Monkees, 12 July 1967 in Greensboro, NC. I was 11 years old but knew who Jimi was since I was already a music freak and listened to all kinds. I went in a Monkees fan (like many little girls!) and came out a life-long Jimi fan. It was an incredible night and made a huge impression on me which I’ll never forget.
Frank Zappa, Melbourne Australia, Festival Hall June 1973nnStill one of my all-time favs
For me it was Led Zeppelin in April of 1977 at the Met Center in Bloomington, Minnesota. There was a severe thunder storm that night and the band arrived very late and reportedly were a bit shaken up by the bumpy flight from Chicago. By most accounts it was not one of their better shows. But of course I thought it was incredible.
Linda Ronstadt. “Mad Love” tour. Birmingham, AL, 1980.
The Beatles – first US concert at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium, NY in1964. I screamed, I cried. I swore John saw only me when the helicopter carrying the fab four flew overhead. Arriving home I immediately collapsed on the floor sobbing, holding my perfect copy of a hand drawn picture of John Lennon. And so my entry into the British Invasion and the world of rock ‘n’ roll began…
Journey, 1979 Las Vegas Covention Center. I was 17 and was there with my first girl friend….wonderful. Ahhhhh the innocence of it….besides the pot and rum and coke.
No video results for John Denver, Market Square Arena 04/19/78 Indianapolis, Indiana nn:)nnI went with my best friend Marjie Wood. I wore my brand new rainbow striped, Hang Ten gym shorts. nnI may be the least cool person here!
Herman’s Hermits, about 1965 at Will Rogers Colosseum in Fort Worth
I think one of the first performances I went to was the Family Values Tour, the second or third edition with Staind, Stone Temple Pilots and some other well known band I can’t remember off the top of my head. That was with my brother. The very first performance I went to by myself I think was Porcupine Tree in 2007 with the band 3 opening.
I grew up going to the Hollywood Bowl with my family but my first real “by myself” concert was Elton John-October 25, 1975-Dodger Stadium. I still have the program with all the songs written on the back and my ticket stub. It was also my birthday. 55,000 people, Emmy Lou Harris and Joe Walsh opened the show, Elton played for 3 hours and timed “Don’t Let The Sun Go Down on Me” for sunset. It was epic.nnhttp://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eX6y47On938
Queen…San Diego Sports Aroma March 5 1977…16 yrs old with a few buddies…floor seats with a bag of home rolled…San Diego Chicken stole a J from my buddy and asked us if our moms gave us a note for this…what an intro to live music
Queen…San Diego Sports Aroma March 5 1977…16 yrs old with a few buddies…floor seats with a bag of home rolled…San Diego Chicken stole a J from my buddy and asked us if our moms gave us a note for this…what an intro to live music
Probably R.E.M. (with Radiohead opening!) in 1995ish is the first one I went to because I wanted to go. After that, I think Rush was the second one I went to and Pantera/White Zombie was the third.
September, 1979 – El Paso, TX – Eric Clapton+ Clapton played about 1 1/4 hours, then left the stage. He came back for an encore, then left again. After about 10 minutes, the house lights came up and everyone started leaving. After about 10 more minutes, maybe 2/3rds of the crowd had gone and Clapton comes back out. He said something like, “Where did everyone go? We aren’t done yet. I would like to introduce a special friend… Mr Muddy Waters.” Waters comes out, they bring him a stool, and he plugs in and jams with Clapton for another 90 minutes. I knew even then that I was seeing rock history in the making. Words fail me… just wow!
Joe Cocker with the Grease Band in 1970 (same as at Woodstock) with The Byrds opening. All i knew about Cocker was a couple of Beatles covers from the radio, so couldn’t believe how loud his band was. I was 15, my friend’s Dad drove us to Upsala College in E. Orange, NJ. We were the youngest in a crowd of hippy college students – first time I ever saw (or smelled) the funny cigarettes they were passing. Byrds were good, but even then I could tell McGuin was a bit of a poser on-stage. Cocker, with his passionate air-bass, spastic performance blew them away.
PS, I was at the same Yes show fredfx notes above; also knew TFTO backwards and forwards – absolutely mind-blowing show.
The first big time show i saw was at the Civic Arena in Pittsburgh- The Dave Clark 5- 1965 or thereabouts. It was great: they were way better than they had to be.
The first live Show I saw was Soul Bowl 70 in New Orleans. I have been searching for years of photos or artifacts from the Concert. Its really a shame no one took interest in such a great Musical Event. To this day I still think it one of the Greatest I have ever seen.
My first concert was KISS on their 1977 “Rock and Roll Over” tour. My ears are still ringing. I still have the concert booklet with iron-on t-shirt decal. haven’t thought of that for a few years.
My first concert was a 1967 triple bill featuring Blues Magoos, The Who and Herman’s Hermits @ DAR Constitution Hall (Washington D.C.)…I described the whole thing in a blog post awhile back: http://www.johnnypierre.com/blog/blog/my-first-rock-concert
My 1st concert was The Beatles, Sept. 16, 1964, in New Orleans City Park Stadium. I was 14, in Junior High School, and paid $5.00 for the ticket. I couldn’t hear A THING! From a recent review of this concert (by some of the people who were organizers & ‘special’ attendees) I heard that the only thing the Beatles wanted was to meet FATS DOMINO, and they arranged for THAT.
There were several rows of chairs for the ‘elite’ right in front of the stage, AND room for several handicapped girls. At one point after the Beatles came on (at about 9:30 p.m.), the crowd poured out of the stands, and had to be ‘restrained’ by the New Orleans Police, some on horseback, others tackling girls. I think there were a few injuries…but not to the POLICE! At the end of the concert, I believe John Lennon commented on the great ‘football game’.
I didn’t realize, but there were actually some other groups that came on BEFORE the Beatles, that I didn’t even realize. Clarence ‘Frogman’ Henry (a New Orleans favorite), Jackie de Shannon & The Bill Black Combo.
They stayed in this ‘mangy’ hotel called The Congress Inn on Chef Menteur Highway. The hotel actually SOLD PIECES of their sheets after the concert. The next year, I was on a school French Club trip, and we happened to stay at this same hotel. Poor Beatles!
Do you remember the date and venue of this concert. I think it was my first concert too.
Earth Wind and Fire. Civic center Birmingham AL,Jan.1977. 8th grade, 13yrs old. My all time favs. I think the tickets were $8.00.We grooved that night!Love’em.
I was at that concert!!!
May 7, 1973 double bill of Rod Stewart + Faces with The Doobie Brothers at the Springfield Civic Center in Massachusetts.
Mine too. I was 16 but turned 17 the next day.