Saturday, November 10, 2007

Notes From Nights In A Crowd

I've kinda always wanted to do this, and seeing as how I'm required to do an overabundance of writing this month, I figured now is as good a time as any. It's time for a concert list. And I realize now that as I sit here and try to remember them off the top of my head, I'm going to forget like 30 percent of them, so this might be an entry that I come back to update. Often.

Concerts to me are as close to spiritual events as anything. Well...some of them are, anyway. Somewhere on the list I'm about to start making you'll find Billy Idol...and honestly, while it was a fun show, I didn't exactly carry the mood of the evening with me for weeks and weeks after. I pretty much said, "Damn, that's some spiky hair!" did the obligatory sing-a-long parts to "Mony, Mony," chuckled at the stage-sized blow-up doll that was inflated near the end of his show, and went home.

I've seen my share of concerts. Not nearly as many as some, but enough to be very familiar with the surge of adrenaline that pours through a crowd when a pretty cool band walks out on stage to start its show, or graces the screams and applause with a second or third encore.

I've run the gamut from 40,000-seat outdoor theaters to converted bars that held 200-ish people and were still half empty because people didn't have the good sense to realize that there was affordable, high-quality musical entertainment happening that night.

In no particular order, here are all (or most, because I have a really bad memory, so those of you with whom I've been to concerts, speak up if you don't see the one we attended on the list!) of the concerts I've gone to in my life, with the number of shows seen, and any relevant comments added to make your concert-reading experience just that much more exciting!

Obviously, I know where to start:

Counting Crows (10)
(I've seen them in an amphitheater, a coliseum, a ballroom, a center, a theatre, a fieldhouse, and who knows what else. From 10 feet away, and from an awkard right side angle way too far up and back. a god.)

Matt Nathanson (3)
(As soon as I got a hold of some of his music, he vaulted up near the top of my charts faster than Britney's career went down. (and no, you won't find Britney on this list.) Nathanson is a god, too, and a lot funnier than Duritz, because let's face it...Duritz likes to brood. These two have now become interchangeable at the top of my list, and I'm currently giving the slightest edge to Nathanson. I never thought anyone would topple Duritz.)

Roger Clyne and The Peacemakers (3)

(Formerly The Refreshments, who put out only two discs before disbanding. I've come as close to wearing out those two discs as is possible. I never thought I'd get to hear Refreshments stuff live, and then the lead singer and drummer started this group, and have made several more discs since. Roger Clyne is applying for god status. The first two shows were seen in that converted bar I mentioned earlier. The third was in another small venue that used to be an auto garage. Kick. Ass.)

Carbon Leaf (3)
(A buddy of mine introduced me to these guys one night while we were drinking beer on his deck. I think halfway into the first song I was hooked. Big-time hooked. They're musically perfect live.)

Matchbox 20
(The first group to appear on the list without a number after it. I wish I could add an (8) there, because it was a phenomenal show. Rob Thomas poured everything into his songs. And they also covered, "Don't You (Forget About Me)" by Simple Minds. Sweeeet. A story about that night, and a meme sorta thingie, can be found here. I'd love to hear your answers to those questions.)

Blue Man Group
(Go! Go! Runnnn to see Blue Man Group! I saw them in Chicago, and I've heard that their Vegas show is even better. I'm sure it's bigger, cuz the Chicago show was pretty cozy. I'll see them in Vegas within the next few years.)

BoDeans (4)
(Very few songs are more powerful in concert than "Naked" and "Good Things" by these guys.)

Barenaked Ladies (2)
(I wanna see them again and again and again. The energy level at their shows is incredibly high.)

Alanis Morissette
(I add her next because she co-headlined with the Naked Ladies the second time I saw them. (coupla Canadians, eh?) She's a great songwriter. But she looked a bit odd on stage because all she did almost ALL night was walk from the center of the stage, about mid-way back, out to the sides and up to the front edge of the stage. It looked as though she was tethered to a bungee cord or something that she slowly stretched to its limit...she'd start in the center, take 20 angled steps out to the front left corner, and then take those same steps backward to the center...then 20 angled steps out to the front right corner, then backward to the center. Lather, rinse, repeat. It got a little annoying. Would I go see her again? You betcha.)

Sister Hazel (3)
(I simply can't NOT have a good time at their shows.)

Def Leppard (2)
(First time was during the height of their "Hysteria" tour, and the show started with a low bass drum beat that got louder and faster, and when the huuuge curtain covering the outdoor stage dropped to the stage floor in front of 40,000 screaming fans.......unforgettable. Europe opened for them. I can't bring myself to give Europe its own line on this list.)

Will Hoge
(Up-and-coming artist who'll probably never hit it really big, and I don't know why. Outrageously talented. Great live show.)

Billy Joel/Elton John
(The only show I ever saw at Milwaukee's County Stadium. Wow, how good were they!!)

Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers
John Mellencamp
Goo Goo Dolls
John Mayer
Dave Matthews Band
(I felt so out of place because I wasn't wearing an A&F shirt.)

Jimmy Buffett (2)
(and I've also partied in the parking lot before, during and after a couple of his shows without actually going in to see him.)
The Wallflowers
Hootie & The Blowfish (2)
Edwin McCain
Toad The Wet Sprocket
Uncle Kracker
Howie Day
Fountains of Wayne
(Opened for Matchbox 20. Cool stuff.)
Billy Idol
The Smithereens
Violent Femmes
Three Dog Night
(Couldn't wait to hear "Joy To The World." And they were so old that it sucked.)
Poi Dog Pondering
Steve Miller Band
(They played guitar solos so long that if you were sober at the beginning of the song, you could be drunk by the end. I like Steve Miller, but not that much Steve Miller.)
Bottle Rockets
Susan Tedeschi
Bob Schneider
Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Indigo Girls
Allman Brothers
(They were the headliners of a Blues Fest we were at. Totally psychedelic backdrop images; longer guitar solo/blues jams than Steve Miller; I was bored and wasn't at all unhappy when it was time to go.)
John Eddie
(Opened for Roger Clyne. Great storyteller.)

I'm sure I'm missing a huge handful of them...maybe even some big names. But my brain has decided to stop functioning for now, so I think I'll post this, and add to it later.

I've left the local-ish acts off of the list, like Pat McCurdy (more of a show than a concert), Framing Amy, Road Trip (covers and original stuff mixed together).

If you're both a reader of my blog and one who regularly attends concerts with me, help me out a little.

And if you've read all the way down to the bottom of this...tell me about some groups you've seen, some you'd like to see, some you hated after seeing them.

"You are the music
while the music lasts."
—T.S. Eliot


  1. Good Lord man!

    That's a LOT of shows.

    I'm not much of a concert-goer. In fact, if you use both hands, you can count the amount I've been to. (Subtracting the Jayhawks, I imagine... to put them in perspective, they are to me what Duritz and the boys are to you)

    Brilliant post. Best of all, you've given me something for tomorrow! As we're getting towards the center of November, it's getting a little dry up at HQ.

    Basically, I did a cooking show tonight, that's how bad it's gotten. I fear I'll be doing Ronco infomercial posts by the 20th!

    Set it and forget it!

  2. Impressive list. Let's see what I can do.

    Fall, 1980 - Sha Na Na - Brown County Arena. They had a TV show at the time. And my parents decided to go, taking me with them. At the time, I just thought they were a TV show. But hell, they were real. Believe it or mot, these guys actually played Woodstock!

    Sometime in the 1980's, I was dragged to Stella Parton - sister of Dolly. Not exactly my cup of tea. But I was trapped with my parents at the Manitowoc County Fair.

    Atlanta - who the hell are they? I have no clue. But they were some country band at Two Rivers' Snowfest one year.

    1994 - Meff (Jeff Messerman) and I went to Woodstock '94. We saw parts of several acts - Peter Gabriel, Green Day, Salt & Pepa (I think) and many others. But the only acts we truly "saw" (as in their full sets - or close to it) were Crosby Stills & Nash, Bob Dylan, Metallica and Aerosmith. I must say, Bob Dylan was remarkably in full coherence - no slurred lyrics or nothing. When he sand "Rainy Day Women #12 & #35, the place went nuts with the lyric "Everybody Must Get Stoned." On Saturday night, we went down to see Aerosmith, who were scheduled to go on at midnight. But they were running behind. And Metallica had just started. Needless to say, Metallica kicked ass! I became a fan that night.

    1998 - Summerfest - I think they were called "The Blue Crunchy Things." I'm not sure though. What a weird night that was. The band was good though.

    A few years later, I caught part of Blondie at Summerfest - on one of those free stages.

    2001 (I think) - Paul McCartney. Bradley Center. For $250, I had a sweet ticket. I literally could have tossed a frisbee to one of the Beatles. And he waved at us. To this day, it stands as the best concert I've ever attended. The aging Paul hit every note that night.

    A few weeks later, in the same venue, I saw Bruce Springsteen. Again, we had killer seats. Springsteen put on an awesome show that night as well.

    2002 - Summerfest. It was a banner summer for us concert-wise. We saw John Mellencamp. Opening for him was Brian Setzer - who pulled out a few of the old Stray Cats' tunes. Then we saw Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. And our last concert that year was The Eagles. Wow, just wow.

    2003 - Alanis Morissette. The favorite artist of my wife. I took my eight-month pregnant wife to see her at Shank Hall. She damn near got trampled when the stage got rushed right before she came on. She's not exactly my type of music. But she put on a good show.

    2005 - Paul McCartney once again. Again, an awesome show. The seats were very good, just not as good as the first time. I may have been able to nail Paul with a tennis ball - but no frisbee. And he sang "Helter Skelter." Taking into consideration my high school days where I was warped by Charles Manson, to say the experience was surreal would be an understatement.

    2005 - Bruce Springsteen again. This time it was at Miller Park - a far cry from the coziness of the Bradley Center - where I could actually see the sweat on Springsteen's brow. Nonetheless, it was a good show.

    So my experiences have been few. But I've made up for that with seeing some really big names.

  3. I want to read this but I haven't been able to carve out the 8 HOURS NEEDED TO DO SO.

    I think I have some free time when I'm supposed to be sleeping, tho, so I'll be back.

  4. I haven't heard of half the bands on your list. Which is awesome, because I'm always looking for new stuff. (My newest discovery *only new to me, I realize* is Modest Mouse. I love them.)

    Let's see...I've seen just a few of the same shows. The Allman Brothers I enjoyed only because of all the old farts there trying to hold on to their youth. They were doing an excellent job of it.

    Billy Joel/Elton John was awesome.

    Steve Miller Band was okay. Enjoyable but mediocre. I didn't know much about them at the time.

    The Eagles *Hell Freezes Over* was mind-blowing, because it was my first show ever. I cried most of the way through. (I also cried through Transformers.)

    Aerosmith was probably the best show I've seen. Not because they're the best songwriters or musicians, but because you'd never guess that they're...mature. (In age, not in attitude.) You'd never guess that they've done it a million times before- the energy was primitive. It was pouring rain and everyone was soaking wet. Unreal. Even the guy I went with at the time, who hated them, was impressed. Also, Aerosmith was the first tape I ever bought (along with Bon Jovi) back in 86 or something. I still have it.

    Grateful Dead was meh. Glad I went, but a bunch of girls ganged up on me because I wasn't wearing a dress.

    I saw some show where a girl puked right in front of us and passed out and her friends ditched her. Can't remember which one.

    Saw Kenny G. when Celine Dion opened for him. I have nothing to say about that, except that it's funny to think about when Kenny G. was more popular than Celine Dion. (People I babysat for gave me free tickets. That's why I went.)

    Prince was surprisingly entertaining. I'm not Princanatic, but the guy's a genius and I love the stuff and he is a f*cking riot.

    They Might be Giants...... awesome.

    I went to Tom Petty expecting to be bored off my ass, but ended up having a great time. Laid back, good music, tunes you just can't help but hum along to....that's what I'm talking about.

    Shows I'd like to see? Madonna. Josh Groban. Springsteen (grrrr).
    And more indie type bands at smaller venues- more my speed now.

  5. I'll get back to you on your concert comments, but for now I've gotta go to work.

    Sorry to disrupt your day by writing too many words. I'll try to keep my posts for the rest of the month to 200 words or fewer.

    (if you think my blog entries are long, you should see some of my e-mails.)

  6. I'm jealous that you've seen Matt Nathanson live. I got his live album that came out last year and I love it. How one man can write so many pretty song and be so very funny at the same time is truly a gift.

    Also, I'm terrifically jealous that you've seen Def Leppard in concert. (Not that I'd admit my jealously to some of my hipster friends, of course :)

  7. Ggg - You must see Pat Green live!! Great songwriter, singer from Texas. Also, Cross Canadian Ragweed!! My two suggestions to see before you die.

  8. Mrs. White...I could make you even more jealous, I suppose, by telling you that the last two times I saw Nathanson, it was from about 20-ish feet away. But that might be the norm, cuz I think he plays a lot of smaller venues.

    All I can say is if you have a chance to see him, take that chance, and your opinion of him will increase tenfold.

    And while Def Leppard may have lost some of the luster they had in the '80s and early '90s, they're still a cool show to go and see. The second time I saw them was maybe five years ago. And they rawked.

    But yeah...Nathanson?

    Becky...Now I wanna go see Cross Canadian Ragweed just because of the name!! They sound interesting. And I love me some good songwriters, so I'll have to do a little digging on Pat Green.

    JJ...You've got some cooool stuff on your list. We talked about going to see Prince when we were in Vegas in April, but it never happened. I was...interested...but not interested enough to push real hard for it. Maybe I should have.

    The Eagles, the Dead, and Aerosmith. Nice. I think a Dead show would have been fun to experience, even if I'm not their hugest fan. Just the atmosphere would have been cool.

    I loved listening to Tom Petty songs with 20,000 of my closest friends. He played a LOT of sing-along hits that day...outrageous.

    And I would loooove to experience a They Might Be Giants concert. I own "Flood" and "John Henry." (and why am I not at all surprised that you're a fan? they seem right up your alley.)

  9. I'm not exactly sure how to take that comment about TMBG.....

  10. Let me clarify, JJ...

    TMBG is a smart, funny, original kinda group.

    (get where I'm headed here?)

  11. Hmm - I was right there with ya until you got to the Allman Brothers. I'm going to blame it on the venue, get them in a theater and you'll be floored - I always have been.

    I started to make a list here but it got insane, both in length and in my frustration at knowing I was forgetting a bunch.

    I have most every ticket stub, you're going to make me dig them out and make a proper list it seems, something I have been threatening to do for a while now.

    Great Post


  12. I hope you do make a concert list, Scott. I'd be anxious to see what's on there.

    And that's pretty impressive that you've got nearly all your stubs. I've only got the stubs from the Crows shows, and a few others from recent years. I wish I would have started a collection from the beginning...that'd be fun.

    Thanks for dropping by!