Web Staff Picks: First Concert Experience

Written by on May 9, 2018

For better or for worse, everyone remembers their first concert. It’s a rite of passage for music lovers and one we can look back on for years to come. The BSR Web Staff have compiled their first concert experiences together and are ready to share them with you, our valued reader. Within, you’ll find tales of love, excitement, Joe Jonas and drunk old people. Read on.

Blossom Music Center
Cuyahoga Falls, OH
Evan Harms

I was fishing at the pond behind my house when I got a text from my friend on my proto-flip phone. His dad apparently had an extra ticket to KISS that night at Blossom. Now, being roughly 11, KISS was probably the heaviest band I’d ever listened to, so I went for my first big rock concert. I mainly remember drunken, overweight people slowly rolling down the lawn into the gaping maw of the Blossom pavilion and Gene Simmons flying down from the rafters, spitting blood. Good stuff. Also, some horrible, vaguely famous pop punk band opened but I really couldn’t tell you. Great show.

The World is a Beautiful Place & I Am No Longer Afraid to Die
Chicago, IL
Eric Jacoby

Unlike many people at BSR, I was painfully uncool as a kid. I didn’t know people, and I didn’t really go places. I didn’t even go to my first concert until I was a senior in high school. After about 2 years of my best friend Mitchell trying to get me to listen to music that at the time I thought of as “obscure indie music” (since I got to college I found out that literally everybody has listened to The Mountain Goats and Modern Baseball), he heard that The World is a Beautiful Place and I Am No Longer Afraid to Die (or TWIABP&IANLATD if you prefer) was playing in Chicago, so we got tickets and booked a hotel room, and took his beaten up Dodge Grand Caravan (RIP to the Party Van, a true legend gone too soon) up to The City for the first time. We call it The City because we’re hip.

It was a hell of a weekend. Before the show we took the L train and I got talked out of $10, and then we wandered around what turned out to be the lamest part of Chicago for a few hours, culminating a visit to The Gap. (But this one had a DJ!) The show was incredible. We were at Subterranean, a fairly small venue with a indoor balcony where you can watch the show from, and we had gotten there early enough to get a spot right at the stage. The opening act was Posture & The Grizzly. The only thing I remember about them is that Mitchell leaned over and told me “This is Posture & The Grizzly,” and then the guitarist looked me in the eyes and said “Yes.” They were followed by Rozwell Kid. Y’all. Rozwell Kid changed my life.

At that point seeing Rozwell Kid for the first time was the greatest musical experience I’d ever had. To this day it’s only been surpassed by seeing Rozwell Kid in Columbus a year later. In the interstitial banter Jordan, the lead singer, said “This is a great show with great energy, I’m doing high kicks up here and it’s great. I’d say we should all do high kicks but there’s not much room here so that might be a bad idea.” Since I was in the front, and there was a little bit of space, I went for a high kick and fell backwards into the rest of the crowd. Jordan pointed me out and said “hell yeah!” That is still a high point of my life. Rozwell Kid is now one of my all-time favorite bands and I own everything they’ve ever released.

They were followed by The Hotelier. I didn’t see them perform because I left to the merch table to talk to the guys from Rozwell Kid, who hugged me. After that, I muscled my way back to the front to see TWIABP&IANLATD, who gave an incredible show. They ended with “Getting Sodas,” and I had something near a religious experience. Please go listen to Getting Sodas, and then to the entire discography of Rozwell Kid. I’ll lend it to you if you want.

Journey (w. Peter Frampton, John Waite)
Post Gazette Pavilion – July 14, 2001
Burgettstown, PA
Brooke Forrest

It had to be Journey. It literally had to be. The band behind well known songs like “Don’t Stop Believin’” and “Separate Ways” is my mom’s all-time favorite band. Since my mom has always been rather serious about being around for most of the big ‘firsts’ in my brother and I’s life she pretty much spent our childhood telling us we must see Journey before anyone else.

So when we saw two of our favorite bands were touring (pre-emo Blink 182 and Green Day) we knew we had to make that first concert happen if we were ever going to be the concert crazy music fiends we knew we wanted to be. So we traveled out to the classic Western PA venue the Post Gazette Pavilion aka Star Lake (now the current KeyBank Pavilion).

I spent my first concert hanging out in a field with arguably still some of the drunkest people I’ve ever been around losing their minds for Peter Frampton and Journey. I am a kid of classic rock so I knew the music well and enjoyed the show but honestly the best part was seeing how excited my mom was. It took a few years to see some of my favorite bands live and few things compare to that wonderfully exhilarating feeling. Plus it’s always enjoyable to say my first show was not one but two classic rock legends.

Backstreet Boys/ New Kids on the Block
The Q Arena- July 2011
Cleveland, Ohio
Maria Serra

I was too young to feel nostalgic. I was in seventh grade with a feather in my hair juxtaposed with a side swept set of bangs that screamed “RAWR xD” unironically listening to 90s boybands with women twice to three times my age. I learned that these men in their forties still had it and so did all of the NKOTBSB fans. I still love the Backstreet Boys to this day and got the chance to see them again. They’re the boyband that didn’t break up and break my heart (@ *NSYNC).

Elvis Costello
Wang Theatre – May 20, 2011
Boston MA
Conor Battles

My parents surprised my brother and I with tickets to see Elvis Costello on his Spectacular Spinning Songbook tour. It was virtually unavoidable that Elvis would be my first concert — his music was a dominant force in my household for my entire life. My brother is named after his real name: Declan Patrick Aloysius MacManus. The fact that I knew his full name just now without having to look it up should tell you just how much of my formative years were spent listening to this affably geeky, bespectacled cynic.

The show itself was phenomenal. The titular “spinning songbook,” a massive circus-colored wheel emblazoned with song titles, was spun by audience members to craft that evening’s setlist. It’s a testament to Elvis’ tireless work ethic and showman nature that he managed to play one of the longest shows I’ve ever seen to this day, featuring everything from new-wave accented Attractions classics like “Radio Radio” and “(The Angels Wanna Wear My) Red Shoes” to the stripped-down pubrock of “Mystery Dance” and “Watching the Detectives.”

Boston rock fixture Peter Wolf of the J. Geils Band surprised the crowd and joined in for a couple of songs, much to the delight of my father. At some point in the evening, Elvis’ folksinger brother took the stage for a brief acoustic intermission. As far as first concerts go, it was a memorable experience, and I still have the overpriced t-shirt to prove it. Also: I got to hear Elvis Costello cover “Purple Rain,” and you can’t put a price on that.

Aly and AJ/Corbin Bleu/Drake Bell
Jacobs Pavilion at Nautica
Cleveland, Ohio
Maddie Camp

That’s right people, I had the Drake Bell Experience long before Black Squirrel Radio did. My family actually got free tickets to the show because a family friend’s niece, Bianca Ryan, had won America’s Got Talent and was touring with Aly and AJ, Corbin Bleu, and Drake Bell.

It was 2007 and eight-year-old me was living a dream by seeing her favorite Disney and Nickelodeon stars perform right in front of her eyes. Some memorable hits performed that night were Aly and AJ’s “Potential Breakup Song” and Corbin Bleu’s “Deal With It”. One of the most vivid memories I have of the show was that it was so terribly hot and humid but Drake Bell continued to wear a full suit throughout the whole show. We were worried that he might collapse out of heat exhaustion but it’s a good thing he didn’t or else BSR wouldn’t have gotten this awesome interview with him 11 years later!

Hannah Montana & The Jonas Brothers
Quicken Loans Arena – January 2008
Cleveland, Ohio
Kellie Nock

Imagine if you will, as a 12-year-old girl you get to go see Hannah Montana and the Jonas Brothers. This was me, about 11 years ago. Hannah Montana was still fresh on the Disney Channel scene, and the Jonas Brothers were just barely a blip yet. I still loved them, convinced that getting to see them in concert would jumpstart my relationship with Joe Jonas. In hindsight, that was problematic.

It was a beautiful show, full of that bubbly Disney pop that, at the time, was good music to me. My sister was there, obviously because she is a good sister, and my mother was there too. Miley played all of the hits from the show, and the Jonas Brothers didn’t disappoint, playing the few songs that they had written at that point. I remember the music was so loud, I was afraid I was going to go deaf. I didn’t go deaf, but vowed to never return to a concert unless it was an artist I really, really loved.

My Chemical Romance
The Cleveland Agora—April 2008
Cleveland, OH
Christina Godfrey

Although I never looked like I was part of “the scene,” I listened to that angsty emo music of the 2000s as a preteen in middle school. My gateway band was My Chemical Romance, and as my friends and I pored over copies of Alternative Press (full circle moment: the magazine that I actually interned at last summer), we realized we had to see them live; however, it was no easy feat. The show had been possibly sold out, and tickets were becoming harder to find—this was “The Black Parade Tour” after all, which was the pinnacle of MCR’s career as a band. Spoiler: we got tickets.

My dad took a friend and I to the Agora where we met up with another group, and when we finally got inside, it was everything we’d imagined. The crush of people, the thrumming bass syncing in time to our heartbeats (or had it been the other way around?), and the absolute madness of being in a room where everyone could at least agree on one thing. The Agora’s unassuming façade and crumbling, cracking plaster only added to the effect. I only realize now how lucky we were to see them live because after their fourth studio album, MCR disbanded. And because this happened on Earth Day, I’m reminded fondly of it every year.

Newport Music Hall – September, 2015
Columbus, OH
Reid Smith

While seeing Wavves in September 2015 wasn’t technically my first concert, (I had seen Toby Keith & Tim McGraw when I was seven, yeehaw!) it was the first time I had ever gone to a show that wasn’t in a huge arena where tickets were upwards of $40. One of my favorite bands, Wavves were about to release their fifth album, the appropriately titled, V and were on tour that whole Summer promoting it.

The closest venue they were playing to Kent was the Newport Music Hall in Columbus, so I skipped my 5:30 American History class that Tuesday, picked up a friend and made the two-hour drive down to C-Bus. By the time we got to the venue, the first opener had already finished, but we were able to catch the second opener (don’t know what else to call them) Twin Peaks before Wavves went on at 9.

After Twin Peaks finished playing, we were standing around for close to 30 minutes waiting for Wavves to come onstage. When the lights went out and the bells of “Sail to the Sun” starting chiming, the hundreds of people in the crowd immediately starting screaming and pushed towards the front of the stage.

I pushed and bobbed around with the rest of the white men for the first few songs, but after “Idiot” my quota of touching sweaty strangers had been filled for the night. I hung back for a few songs when I noticed a girl moving closer and closer to my side as the concert went along. She eventually got close enough to where we struck up a conversation by screaming into other’s ears. (we were at a concert after all) For the sake of the story, let’s call her Jodie.

Since my aforementioned friend was still up front pushing and bobbing, Jodie and I hung out and conversed for the rest of the show. Wavves finished their set with “Green Eyes”, which is probably the closest thing they have to a love song. Other couples took this as an opportunity to dance together and Jodie and I did the same. We ended our dance and the night with a peck on the lips and an exchange of numbers.

For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you what we talked about together but in that brief hour we shared, I was 100% positive we were going to get married and have big beautiful children together. As it turned out, I was 100% wrong and no big beautiful children were conceived. Jodie ghosted me after two weeks of texting and I’ve never heard from her since. But, such is life. I’ll always have my memories of that September night in Columbus, Ohio.

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