For my 10th birthday, my sister got me tickets to see my favorite band, Smash Mouth, at the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium in San Francisco. So my dad drove me and my two best friends, John and David, two hours to the city to see them play "Allstar" live.
My dad and David, neither of whom gave a crap about Smash Mouth, stayed up in the balcony the whole time while John and I went crazy in the FRONT ROW. After a great set of lesser hits, the band left the stage ... without playing "Allstar." John and I were devastated. We trudged back up to the balcony to find David sleeping in his chair. I almost started crying to my dad, completely flabbergasted at how they didn't play their biggest hit. Then, looking down from the balcony, I watched as they walked back out and the crowd went nuts as homeboy picked up the mic and sang "Somebody once told me ..." This is how I discovered what an encore was.
I was pretty upset they duped us into losing our front row spot, so I quickly forgot about them and adopted Blink-182 as my new favorite band.
My first show came relatively late in life compared with a lot of my colleagues. I was 17 when, along with three friends from high school, I saw Peter Gabriel on his first solo tour after leaving Genesis. It was at the Winterland venue in San Francisco. Opening acts were Television, whom I now wish I'd paid more attention to, and a local metal band called Yesterday and Today, which later shortened its name to Y&T. I was so overwhelmed by the energy, the crowd, the sheer volume of the music, and the various sights (and, ahem, smells), that I knew I wanted to experience it all again. Which I have. A lot.
My first concert was seeing They Might Be Giants in 1992 at The Warfield in San Francisco when their newest album was "Apollo 18." I was a fairly new fan at the time, and it was a great show. I still have a sticker with the album logo on it. I remember I was in the merch line to get a T-shirt while they were performing "Whistling in the Dark."
Enrique Bunbury has been my favorite artist since 1993, and when he released his second album as a solo artist, I had to be there to see him in person. When he announced the 2000 tour in Mexico, I couldn't miss it, and I was old enough for my parents to let me attend in Mexico City.
He completely captured my heart with his performance, but the best part was that he recorded an album at that specific show, so I can actually relive those moments by putting the record on and closing my eyes.
I was way under age at the time of my first show, but no one really cared since we were "with the band," which was the ongoing joke for years. The show was at CBGB's in New York, which at the time was home to Patti Smith, Richard Hell and the Voidoids, The Misfits, Blondie, Television, The Talking Heads, The Ramones and many others. On any given night you could see any of them, sometimes several on the same bill or sitting in and jamming together. There were so many great shows, but The Ramones had to be up at the top for me. Those really were the days -- a place and time that, in my mind, can never be matched.
My first concert was NSYNC at Cox Arena in San Diego when I was 10 years old and wearing a puff-painted T-shirt that expressed my eternal love for Lance Bass. When I gave the "I Love You" sign to Lance as he came down the center aisle and he returned the gesture, I burst into tears of joy and was CONVINCED that we would get married. Spoiler alert: We didn't. He and his husband now look very happy together though!
Puff Daddy & the Bad Boy Family was the first concert I went to, and it was in the Boston area. I was 10 years old thinking I was a future DJ and so I got my mom to begrudgingly bring me to the concert. The lineup was incredible: Puff Daddy, Ma$e, Lil' Kim, Busta Rhymes, 112 and Foxy Brown.
For me it was Jane's Addiction in Albuquerque, New Mexico, right after high school graduation in 1991. It was during their "Ritual de lo Habitual" tour, the one that both made them famous and ultimately made them break up. I was 18, and knew just about every word to just about every song -- as did the rest of the audience. It was my first mosh pit and also my first Long Island iced tea; a glorious combination. The show was amazing, but I got home looking like I'd been in a fight -- and lost. The headline in the paper the next morning was that the band announced their intention to disband. Lots of highs and lows over those same 12 hours. No regrets.
My first was Lollapalooza, when I was 16. Five buddies and I piled into my friend's 84 Corolla station wagon and drove down to the old Spartan Stadium in San Jose, California. Just to name a few bands, there was Soundgarden (RIP Chris Cornell; he was amazing), The Ramones and Rancid, but the big draw for me was Metallica. I fought my way to the front and spent two hours crammed in with a bunch of other big, sweaty meatheads rocking out to every one of my favorite songs. It got so hot, one guy passed out and security started handing out water. By the time the show was over, my T-shirt was drenched and ripped in half. It was the best night of my life up to that point.
My first ever gig was seeing Longpigs at the Royal Court Theatre in Liverpool. Songkick informs me the show took place on Saturday 8th February 1997 (yes, I have meticulously copied all my old concert tickets into an online tracker). I was 16, and I was instantly hooked on sweat-and-beer-soaked nights, crowdsurfing and singing along and falling over with my mates. The support bands that night were the then unknown Embrace and Travis, who went on to be substantially bigger than the criminally underrated Longpigs (Travis were basically Coldplay before Coldplay). I still love Longpigs to this day -- their hit single "She Said" and album "The Sun is Often Out" were among the more scabrous entries of Britpop, the joyous fever that ruled '90s Britain. And that night was the first of many gigs and festivals (227, according to Songkick).
I grew up in a tiny town in rural England and didn't see a band until I went to college. My first gig: October 1999, Skunk Anansie in all their late '90s punk-lite pomp in the Great Hall at Exeter University. There was a quiet song where the singer was bathed in red light. Everyone was wearing plaid. It couldn't have been more '90s. But it was my first mosh pit, my first time getting drenched in other people's sweat and beer (I hope it was beer), and I loved every minute.
Two weird things I remember: Downstairs at the bar, Sega had set up pods with its sexy new console, the Dreamcast. Man, I wanted one. I played Power Stone, it was great. And the support act was a local Exeter band called Muse. Yeah, that Muse.
I was 15 when I saw Simple Minds. Although my mind wants me to remember it being at Palau Sant Jordi -- one of the nicest venues in Barcelona -- apparently it was at the not so fancy Pavelló de la Vall d'Hebron. I might have allowed my memories to be confused over the years, but I am sure of one thing: I loved the experience of listening and meticulously observing a band live and I danced nonstop. Also, I can still remember the smell of beer everywhere. It wasn't until later I learned that concerts and beer go hand in hand.
The only reason I went is because I was with a friend at an internet cafe playing Counter-Strike (in my defense, it was 2002 and I was 16) and he asked me if I wanted to go to the show that night for free. I hadn't heard of them, but I figured hey, it's free, why not go see my first concert? Whoops.
I'd like to pretend my second concert was actually my first, but that was Bush, so ...
The first concert I went to that I paid for myself was Willie Nelson at the (then) Nokia Theatre in Los Angeles. My roommate and I bummed a ride to the show with her TA's boyfriend and his buddy. They picked us up in the TA's car, which was a manual transmission, and the boyfriend could barely drive it. Willie was incredible, but after the concert the guys got superlost driving us back to UCLA and then ended up stalling the car on a hill outside the dorms. After half a dozen tries to get the car to go anywhere, my roommate told the guy to get out and she drove up the hill herself. I think Willie would have been proud.
The year was 1999 and the venue was Continental Airlines Arena in East Rutherford, New Jersey. I was 12 years old and had saved all my babysitting money to go to the Backstreet Boys concert with my best friend Kayla and her mom. I'll never forget the moment the concert started and the Backstreet Boys came out on flying surfboards ... swoon. We were in the 5th-from-last row, but I remember feeling like it was the best day of my life because I was breathing the same air as my future husband Nick Carter (sorry, real husband!). I lost my voice screaming along to every song. Worst part was we got home at 12:30 a.m. and my mom made me go to school the next day. Needless to say, I was a very tired seventh grader.
The first concert I wanted to go to was Smashing Pumpkins' tour for "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness" in 1996. I pleaded with my parents to take me and negotiated that it'd be great for them too since they were also fans. A real win-win!
The concert was at the Cow Palace in San Francisco, so we spent an exhilarating weekend in the city shopping for "cool" clothes and Bad Boy Blue Manic Panic hair dye. I was so proud walking into the Cow Palace in my ZERO T-shirt and "blue" hair convinced I'd look like I was with the band. I wasn't aware of things like opening acts, so I was thrilled when rock goddess Shirley Manson (Garbage) came out. Both Garbage and The Smashing Pumpkins were incredible and this show remains one of my favorite memories.
Mine was in New York City, where I was working for the summer when I was 16. I was working for my mom and we were scouting out event spaces in Chelsea Market for our project release party. The event coordinator giving us a tour of the event space wanted us to see what it looked like filled up, and mentioned that they were having a CBGB show with some new bands that night, and we should come by.
We walked in a few hours later to reserved VIP seating, and I was served alcohol because it seems the event coordinator thought I was 21+. I got two vodka crans, I know: #basic. But my mother was with me, so I had to be cool. Then we met one of the bands backstage: JR JR (formerly Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.), which made me feel like a celebrity. I also felt like a New Yorker the whole night, very "Sex in the City," but with my mom. My dad said he was hella proud of me though, so I feel like it was a win.