September 8, 2014 | 2 Comments »
Today’s blog is by Playlist Fiction author, Laura L. Smith, who admits it, she’s a concert junkie.
I am, and for as long as I can remember, have been a concert junkie.
It all started when I was three years old and my parents bought my older brother ninth row tickets to see the Jackson Five (yup, little Michael Jackson and his older brothers) play at St. John Arena in Columbus. We bopped in the tree tops to “Rockin’ Robin” and spelled out the lyrics to “ABC” and I tasted the thrill of music in the air, felt the pulse of bass drumming inside me thanks to mega amplifiers, and experienced the kind of energy that only occurs when crowds unite to cheer, clap, dance and sing to music they love.
That was my first concert. There have been countless more; when my dad took my squealing junior high friends and I to see Hall and Oates. Adam Ant, sporting my high-heeled boots, braids and ant makeup. Crying as Richard Butler poured out his heart singing “Ghost in You” as the front man for the Psychadelic Furs. My brother taught me to not just listen to music, but to feel it, and so I tagged along with him to countless dark, soulful alternative stars of the 90’s at dark, seedy clubs in Atlanta ranging from Jonathan Richman to Peter Murphy. There were the legends too, like Iggy Pop and David Bowie. When I became a “grown-up” there was the time I saw Frank Sinatra at a little outdoor amphitheater and the summer my husband and I saw the Bare Naked Ladies and The Wallflowers five times each because they popped up at every music festival we attended. I’ve done the big shows too; Rod Stewart, Garth Brooks, Paul McCartney, Peter Gabriel.
There are the comparison shows like how I saw REM at a little concert hall freshman year of college where my roommate and I shoved our way up front and then a decade later saw them third row of the Georgia Dome so close I could see Michael Stipes’ eyeliner. My hubby and I saw Bruce Springsteen in a three and a half hour marathon with the E-Street band and again playing an acoustic set with his release of The Ghost of Tom Joad. The Counting Crows are different every time I see them depending on Adam Durritz state of mind. I’ve seen U2 three times, two of which were nosebleed seats, all of them awe inspiring powered by Bono’s vocals and instrospective spiritual lyrics. And speaking of spiritual, I’ve been to those shows too, ones that increase my faith: Mercy Me and Chris Tomlin, The Afters, Phil Wickham and my favorite, Holly Starr.
Last week my husband took me to see the Gin Blossoms. He loves me, and therefore knows about my thing for concerts. It was a small crowd of diehard Gin Blossom fans in a ballroom in downtown Cincinnati. This is how close we were to the stage. The Gin Blossoms played like they were playing Madison Square Garden, singing in perfect key, giving high fives to fans, tossing out guitar picks, even taking pictures of the crowd on their smart phones. I still got the same thrill I experienced as a toddler as I danced and sang and clapped. Same buzz in my ears from the amps and same solid thump in my chest from the beat all the way home.
I’ve left out dozens of shows here, not because they didn’t rock my socks, but because I want to give the other Playlist authors a chance to chime in.
So now to them. I asked my fellow Playlist authors to share some of their concert experiences, because as you know by now, our Playlists, our music, inspires our writing. Here’s what they had to say:
What is the most recent show you’re been to?
Rajdeep Paulus: Need to Breathe
Laura Kurk: My daughter and I saw Panic! at the Disco last week on their This is Gospel tour. A couple of weeks before that, we saw Fall Out Boy with Paramour. We’ve seen them both before but really loved what they did on their tours this summer. Both of them were channeling Queen. Panic! sang Bohemian Rhapsody and that moment — with the entire, enormous crowd singing every word with them — made me cry. What a crazy, wonderful thing to share with your daughter and thousands of strangers.
Stephanie Morrill: Mumford & Sons
What is your favorite concert you’ve ever seen – and why?
Stephanie Morrill: Well, Mumford & Sons were amazing. I think it’s just the raw talent that makes them so good. Even the crazy drunk people couldn’t hold me back from enjoying it! Florence + The Machine was another fabulous concert. I was stunned by the power of her voice.
Rajdeep Paulus: Sting, because it was my first show ever!
Laura Kurk: Elton John – The One Tour – October 23, 1992. Because Sir Elton. Frankly, you haven’t lived until you’ve heard him sing Benny and the Jets live. He opened with Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me.” The whole concert was highly distilled magic. It was white lightning.
What is your most memorable concert moment?
Rajdeep Paulus: I think when we first saw Family Force Five and the lead singer rolled over the audience in a Hamster cage ball and kept singing!
Stephanie Morrill: My first concert was a New Kids on the Block concert in L.A. when I was in second grade. We left school early for it and everything. I was die hard – NKOTB lunch box, bed sheets. The whole experience was so thrilling.
Laura Kurk: My most memorable is probably my first big concert. I was eleven or twelve (this was in the early 1980s) and my friend invited me to a George Strait concert in a rodeo arena of a small town in Oklahoma. I think Tanya Tucker opened for him. Amarillo by Morning was a big song then. I remember all the women in the crowd kept screaming for George to turn around so they could see his backside in his Wranglers. I wasn’t sure what all that was about, but I did laugh and sing a lot that night. We waited for him by his tour bus, and got to scream some more as he walked through the crowd. This was so early in his career but it was obvious, even to me as a child, that he was special.
Another memorable concert was 10,000 Maniacs in Austin in 1993, right before Natalie Merchant left the band. I remember it so well because it was my first concert with Alan, the man I would marry, and we sat in the balcony of an older concert hall. The crowd in the balcony was a little raucous and all the dancing caused the balcony to shift and bounce so violently that the fire marshal had Natalie stop singing and plead with us to stop dancing or she’d have to leave. The crowd under the balcony started moving into the aisles looking for safety. As dangerous as it was, though, no one stopped dancing and I remember being nervous through the entire set. I love Natalie, but I was glad when that concert ended.
Jennifer Murgia is in the middle of launching her latest YA novel, Forest of Whispers, so didn’t have time to chat with us here today, but I know she’s a huge fan of Duran Duran, Depeche Mode, Erasure and the Smiths.
How about you? What’s your all time favorite concert or concert moment?