Saturday, August 08, 2009

My Rock Concert History

My wife has been getting back into her blog lately, which inspires me to do the same, especially during this pleasantly mellow month of August, during which I'm actually feeling like I have some time to relax and write for pleasure before the next round of teaching and freelance writing hits me hard...

When I was young, I loved the excitement of rock concerts. I loved hearing that a favorite band thought Salt Lake was cool enough to pay us a visit, and I loved buying tickets and then anticipating the show. Growing up in white-bread Bountiful, I loved going to the big, bad Salt Palace and watching all the freaks and breathing their second-hand smoke of various kinds.

Nowadays, I find attending live-music events to be quite tedious, for the most part, with the parking and all the waiting around and the imperfect sound, etc. So I only go every year or two now, it seems. But I still have some fantastic memories of partaking in the past. Here are my concert memories:

Journey (x2): This was my first-ever concert in high school, probably 1983 or 84, and then for some reason I saw them again their next time around, even though I'm not a huge Journey fan. They had a handful of songs I liked, but they veered over into sappy ballad territory too often for my taste.

April Wine: I remember really enjoying this concert during my senior year in high school. Some other band shared top billing with them, but I don't remember who it was. After the concert I had to go to the KFC where I worked and help with some late-night cleaning for an inspection the next day, and I felt weird and pleasantly woozy, perhaps because of someone smoking something near me during the concert?

The Cars: My friend Dean gave me a free ticket at the last moment, so I didn't get to feel any real anticipation build for this concert. Maybe that's part of why I thought it was so boring. Live, the Cars were just detached and flat. But I still listen to a lot of The Cars and consider them in my top-10 bands.

Oingo Boingo: I really liked this group at one time but don't like to listen to them anymore. By the time of their concert at the Utah state fairground in about 1985, I was already a little tired of them, and I remember moping around by myself during most of the concert, probably due to girlfriend trouble.

Rush (x2): This is the band I've probably listened to the most in my life, and I loved seeing them for their Signals tour in about 1984 even though that album marked the point where I started not liking their new music, some of which got so sappy and synthesizer-heavy during the late eighties/early nineties that I've had to delete it off my iTunes. Then I saw them again in the early 2000s after they'd taken a five-year break, and they played the whole concept album part of 2112, which was so cool. I would go see them again if the right D&D nerd friends from the old days went along.

Sheryl Crow: This was the most recent concert I went to, I think, just last year with my wife. I love nearly all of Sheryl's music and have all her albums, and the concert was fine outdoors in the Usana Ampitheater, but it was kind of windy and I got a little tired of sitting there. The older I get, the less I like sitting through any kind of event, not only work meetings and church but also concerts and plays. It's kind of sad, really...

Stephen Malkmus & The Jicks/Radiohead: This one was relatively recent too, probably about 2006 or 2007. It was outdoors at the Usana Ampitheater, and I really, really enjoyed it, for some reason. I found Radiohead's music so emotional that night, and I sat there with tears running down my face, which isn't like me. I don't know how Radiohead tapped into that part of my brain. The lights and sound were really good. I already liked Stephen Malkmus before he warmed up for Radiohead and I still enjoy his albums with the Jicks, more so than his earlier work with Pavement.

B-52s: I saw them in about 1989 in an old Boston theater called the Orpheum, where they wouldn't let us dance up on the balcony because the floor was too unstable. I've enjoyed the B-52s a tremendous amount over the years and still listen to them regularly, but I don't remember too much about this concert.

Violent Femmes: This was at the Utah state fairground in about 1985. I think I liked it well enough. I remember seeing some of my Kimball cousins there and feeling pretty cool.

311: I saw them outdoors up at Park West or the Canyons or Wolf Mountain or whatever they were calling it in the late 1990s. I was with my sister Stacey and maybe some other siblings, and we were quite far up the slope, and guys locked together in wrestle-fights kept rolling down the mountainside around us, stirring up the dust.

The Eurythmics/Howard Jones: This was the summer of 1984, outdoors up at Park West, soon after I graduated from high school. One of my friends rented a condo up there that we stayed in. It was the occasion when I fatefully hooked up with a girl named Cindy, who would be in and out of my life for the next five years, bringing me some joy but even more grief. I don't listen to either of these bands, but that's just because I don't like the poppy, femmy type of eighties New Wave music.

Moby: I went to this one up at Kingsbury Hall at the University of Utah with my parents and siblings, and I remember it being a fun night and a surprisingly good concert. It was sometime in the late 1990s, I think.

Weezer: My dad likes Weezer, so several of my siblings and I got him tickets for Father's Day and we all attended the show together out at the E Center sometime in the early 2000s. Weezer was great, but we were quite far from the stage, and there were two emo warm-up bands that I really didn't like, and it took forever setting up between bands. My dad was joking with people that he was a "Weezer geezer."

Disturbed/Godsmack/Stone Temple Pilots: My sister Liz's then-husband invited me to this show out at the E Center in the early 2000s, and I enjoyed it a lot. I actually enjoyed the first two bands more than the headliners STP, but I like listening to STP on iTunes more than I do the other two.

Dan Fogleberg: My wife and I attended Dan's show at some ampitheater in Sandy. I remember it was pleasant enough and a nice night out with my sweetie. He's dead now, right?

Spoon: I quite like this indie band, and my brother Jeff and I saw them in Times Square, New York, in about 2005. I was a little bored with the concert for some reason, although I like their music and they played well.

Pinback: Without having heard their music beforehand, I saw them with my parents and siblings at the Depot in Salt Lake not that long ago. I remember liking them a lot, but when I bought some of their albums afterward, I didn't recognize them from their performance, although I still like listening to them.

Berlin/INXS: I saw this double billing at the Salt Palace in about 1985. I remember standing right at the front for Berlin but then just sitting outside during most of INXS. The evening has an uneasy, dissatisfied vibe in my memory, but I can't remember exactly why. Probably girlfriend troubles again. That Cindy made me quite miserable at times.

Styx: This show was about 1984, the year of their career-ending Kilroy Was Here album. I remember the audience actually booing during the first fifteen minutes while they were showing some video to try to set up some kind of storyline. But later in the concert, they got into the older good stuff, and people got happier.

The Police: This was about 1984 as well, before they got so huge. I think it was before Synchronicity, and several of the songs were in French. It was a pretty good show, but I've never been a gigantic Police fan, although I still enjoy some of their early songs quite a bit when they pop up in my shuffle.

Smashing Pumpkins: This was in the late 1990s out at Saltair. A long show but a good one. Billy Corgan was like a preacher with his flock.

Midnight Oil (x2): I love this Australian band and have practically all their albums. I saw them out at Saltair in the mid-1990s and again at a free concert at Utah Valley State College in the early 2000s. I remember the Saltair show was excellent, but somehow I didn't enjoy the UVSC one as much, because the sound wasn't as good and it was free. I always thought Midnight Oil was a much more interesting band than either U2 or REM and wondered why they didn't make it as big.

Crosby Stills and Nash: I remember hopping a fence into this show up at Park West. Can't remember the show itself, though. CSN have a couple of really sublime songs.

The Osmonds: Saw them when I was quite young down at BYU, very early eighties. I had been a big fan of the Donny & Marie TV show growing up and probably enjoyed this concert a lot. I think my grandparents were there with us.

The Doobie Brothers: My parents took me to this at BYU. I remember totally loving it. Maybe this counts as my first real rock concert, not Journey. But hey, I was with my parents...

Alanis Morissette: I was quite taken with her Jagged Little Pill album and enjoyed this show at the Delta Center, even though I felt out of place among all the young girls. I haven't really connected with anything she's done since then, though.

Alanis Morissette/Plant & Page: Saw this lineup at the E Center in the late 1990s. I really love a lot of Led Zep, and I find the whole Jimmy Page mystique interesting. I remember coming away from this show quite satisfied.

String Cheese Incident (x3): Between marriages in the late 1990s, I hung out a fair bit with my sister Stacey and went with her to hear this band no fewer than three times, twice in Salt Lake and once in Denver. I quite enjoyed them.

Modern English: Saw them up at the University of Utah. Don't remember much.

English Beat (x2 or x3): They come through Utah a lot with various line-ups but always the indomitable Dave Wakeling at the forefront. They put on a great show, and I still like listening to my What Is Beat? album.

Garbage: I was big into Garbage in the mid-to-late 1990s, and I remember really enjoying this show at some weird venue somewhere in Salt Lake.

Matthew Sweet: I didn't know him before I saw him at the Zephyr Club, but I remember it being a cool show. One of my coworkers at the Ensign named Paul invited me to go. Come to think of it, Paul and I saw several of the late-1990s concerts in this list together, but I've lost touch with him now.

Stretch Armstrong: Just a tiny bit of ska goes a very long ways with me, but after I left the Ensign I worked with the lead singer of this former band, and I attended their reunion show in the early 2000s. At one point in the mid-1980s, Stretch was big enough that No Doubt opened for them in Salt Lake rather than vice versa, and they sold over 25,000 copies of their CD, which is fantastic for a regional band. To my great surprise, a brainiac kid from my old Bountiful ward was their keyboardist, which I never would have predicted.

Billy Joel: During my senior year, I got great tickets for this show and actually asked a date, one of the half-dozen total dates I went on in all of high school. I remember it being a very satisfying show, all the more so because we were sitting so close. At one point my parents listened to a lot of Billy Joel and I liked him a lot too, but he has not survived in my musical interests.

Seems like there were some additional big Salt Palace shows I attended as a high schooler, but I can't remember who. And then I attended a fair few little punk shows in the Salt Lake scene circa 1984-85, but again, it's hard to remember any band names for certain. In my memory, the best out of all these concerts was probably Radiohead, followed by the more recent Rush show. However, I also sure remember loving that April Wine concert...

5 comments:

David J. West said...

Cool, I was at, at least 5 of the same shows at you-more of the smaller ones-Garbage, Midnight Oil, etc and I remember reading about that B-52's boston show because somebody was afraid Rock Lobster would break the balcony, I wanted to be there.

Rocks In The Wash said...

Have to agree with you on many of the bands!

FYI... you're dating yourself! ;D

mandi said...

I was at that Smashing Pumpkins concert! I was on a date with a Pakistani named Bilal. Ah, memories.

Scott said...

D&D nerd friend here. I would definitely see a Rush concert these days, although I wasn't totally enthralled with them at the time and only got into a few of their songs. My wife's cousin who lives up here is an awesome drummer and has done both live and studio work for various bands. He worships at the altar of Neil Peart.

Patrick said...

What is that brain maniac up to?