Still the loudest thing I've ever heard.

I’ve done this here once before, but after a fun Twitter discussion tonight, I thought we”d try again.

We’ve been talking about our first concerts. Some of us have some cringe-worthy choices (although many of us can blame those on parents) and some got to see some great stuff the first time they saw a show.

As I said in the post a couple years ago, my first concert was Kiss, in Cincinnati; I’ll defend that choice as a good one for a 12-year-old, but I’ll also admit that the next few (Molly Hatchet, Foghat, Blue Oyster Cult) I could have done without.

I have a couple questions for you: What was your first show? What is your favorite show? And what made that one the best?


    1. Prior to that ABB show, I remember still being a little bummed about seeing them without Dickie Betts; after hearing A) Derek Trucks and B) a bunch of the songs that would be included on Hittin’ the Note, I got over it pretty quickly. I think North Mississippi All-Stars opened, right?


  1. Lollapalooza, 1991. The first one. In Cleveland, not Pittsburgh. My parents were visiting friends who had older kids and they let me tag along. I seriously don’t remember much because I’m an asshole like that.
    Also went in 1992 and 1994 (thought 93 but checked the list before posting this).
    It was hot. And muddy. But ’92 was the only time I’ve seen Pearl Jam live, and the shirt design from ’94 is still one of my favorites. Note that we saw the Boredoms (wtf crazy screaming from Japan) rather than Green Day, who I didn’t discover until the following year.


  2. I don’t follow directions well.
    Favorites? They Might Be Giants at CMU in…1997? 1998? When the dancing in Rangos ballroom made the floor move in waves.
    Ben Folds Five 1998 at IC Light Amphitheater because we discovered Jude and heard the Mt. Washington origin story.
    All subsequent shows of both have been awesome.
    Watching my brother’s band open for The Toasters was pretty sweet also.

    I love live music.


    1. We saw 10,000 Maniacs in Mem Aud in Athens sometime in the early 90s. The university was concerned about the structure holding up to a concert, and with good reason — our balcony seats bounced all the way through the show.

      Mt. Washington origin story?


    2. The band tried to climb Mt. Washington. They ended up in some lady’s back yard about halfway up, all bloodied and scratched. She threatened to call the cops. He told the story at that show for the first time (it had just happened).

      Almost every time I’ve seen him in Pittsburgh since, he has recounted the story. At the BF/Guster/Rufus show in…uh, 2003? Definitely pre-Avi, that’s all I know…he sang an epic song about “Mt. Muthaf@%€#!” and told it again with some help from Guster. He did another version last night with the PSO. It’s always hilarious.


  3. First concert: Cyndi Lauper, 1984, Pittsburgh

    My girlfriend and I decided we wanted to “dress up” like Cyndi for the show, because you know, girls just wanna have fun. My wonderful mother did not mind taking us all glammed up. I believe the photo of us has been destroyed to avoid any potential blackmailing.

    Favorite concert: Styx, 2006, Vegas

    I’ve seen Styx shows all over the country, but these two shows were the icing on the cake to a trip of a lifetime. My friends and I drove from Kansas to Vegas and it was a great adventure:

    Being sidelined in Tucumcari, NM by a blizzard; riding through an Arizona canyon while belting out Renegade, chatting with bass player Chuck Panozzo for an hour at the Luxor’s Starbucks, front row seats, backstage passes, not sleeping for 48 hours….and well…it was Vegas!


    1. I always had a thing for Cyndi Lauper. I wish I had seen her.

      I also wish I had traveled to Vegas to see one of the Dead’s shows there. The whole hippies-in-Vegas thing would have been too much fun.


  4. First concert- I started out good with Bruce Springsteen and the East Street Band: Born in the USA tour, 1984 or 85 in Cleveland Oh.
    Most memorable- Grateful Dead: Buckeye Lake 1987. I remember very little about the music, it was all about the experience.
    Concert I fell asleep at- Elvis Costello, Sorry.
    Best concert- Rolling Stones, OSU Stadium 1997, I worked security in front row. It was like they were playing for me.


    1. I’m glad to see another Grateful Dead reference here (even if the show was in 1988 in the ungodly heat).


  5. First concert: Toledo Speedway Jam, 1979, featuring The Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, Blue Oyster Cult and Eddie Money. At the time, the only one I knew was Eddie Money. 60000 people crammed into a racetrack in August was a bloody miserable experience.

    First “regular” (meaning indoor) was Elton John in 1980. Was tremendous.

    Bests: Springsteen, Pontiac Silverdome 1985, Born in the USA tour.
    Rolling Stones, Cleveland Stadium, 1989 Steel Wheels tour
    ZZ Top, Toledo Sports Arena 1983, Eliminator Tour (also in Indianapolis in 1984 on Afterburner tour)
    Meat Loaf, Orpheum Theater, Boston 1993, Bat II tour.
    And every AC/DC concert:
    Fly on the Wall tour, Toledo Sports arena
    Who Made Who tour, Blossom Music Center, Cleveland
    Blow Up Your Video tour, Richfield Coliseum
    Razor’s Edge tour, Knickerbocker Arena, Albany
    Ball Breaker tour, Knick Arena


    1. Your first show comes pretty close to a mashup of my second and third concerts: .38 Special opening for Molly Hatchet and Foghat opening for Blue Oyster Cult, both, I think, in 1981.


    2. I eventually got to see Molly Hatchet later, with Blackfoot opening, and BOC playing with Dokken and Aldo Nova. Enjoyed all much better, once I knew who the hell they were.

      Back in the 80’s, I used to manage record stores in the Cleveland area. Cleveland was such a great music town… so many venues, and just about every act that toured came through. Because all the major labels had offices there, I could always get tickets and/or backstage passes. It was a great place to be…

      I used to love Peabody’s Down Under in The Flats… everyone from unknown acts on the way up to old blues guys that were still kicking. Barney Googles also booked a lot of blues acts. Richfield was easy to get to… there was Nautica downtown and Blossom in the sticks for outdoor shows, and of course the old hellhole, Cleveland Stadium for the really big acts.

      As odd as it may be for a Pittsburgh boy to say, I had a grand time living in Cleveland.


  6. My first concert was in 1970-something – Shaun Cassidy, baby! My awesome dad took me – I thought we were going to a hockey game and never thought it was weird that so many young girls loved hockey. I was over-the-moon when I found out it was my former future husband instead.

    Best concert is hard – I have lots of favorites for different reasons. Maybe The Dead – Civic Arena 1985 – it was my first show. Or Farm Aid in Pittsburgh. Or Buddy Guy for his audience-walking badass-ness. And Roger Water was pretty incredible. And there’s about 10 more I could call the best.


    1. I got to see Buddy Guy do his thing last summer, opening for George Thorogood. He still does the audience walk. So did Albert Collins, when I saw him, only he wasn’t wireless, so he’d have roadies feeding out all that orange cord.


  7. My dad was a disk jockey and was often passed concert tickets, so I think my very first concert was REO Speedwagon in Wheeling when I was 6 or so. Made quite an impression on me since I sat backstage on a spare stack and I got to see some girl get her boob signed. When I was 8 or 9 we went backstage to meet Lionel Richie at the height of the Hello tour. Somewhere there is a picture of that man kissing me on the cheek.

    My first concert I went to without my parents was U2 for the Joshua Tree tour. I think that was at 3 Rivers. I was 10 and I went with my 13 year old brother and a 19 yr old chaperone. The first one I went to with just my brother was Squeeze. I was 13 or 14, and I think that was at Soldiers and Sailors.

    Probably one of the best was the Red Hot Chili Peppers / Pearl Jam / Jane’s Addiction show in the mid 90’s. Peppers was touring with Blood Sugar Sex Magik, Peal Jam with 10 and Jane’s with Ritual – everyone was at the height of their talent. Only sucky part was that it was at Palumbo Center so the acoustics were poor. Another great / odd combo was Social Distortion, Sonic Youth and Neil Young at 3 Rivers, in 1990 or so. Sonic Youth got booed off the stage. Height of girlie giddiness was when I saw REM for the Monster Tour in, um, 1993? I went with 8 other girls and we got to go backstage to meet the band. Drunkest, craziest time is probably a tie between any Ween show and the one time I got to see GBV perform at the Blind Lemon in Cleveland – 2001ish. Loudest was definitely Skinny Puppy in 2004 at the Vic in Chicago.

    Sooooo many good, defining concerts. I’d say most of my major memories growing up are tied to music and live shows.


    1. I have to laugh, remembering the Neil Young/Sonic Youth/Social Distortion debacle. I love Neil Young, but he gets in these…moods…or something, and this was one of them. At the risk of sounding like the old Fuddy Duddy I am, Sonic Youth gave me a splitting headache, and I was SO glad to see them get off the stage.


    2. D: My greatest concert regret: Not making the 90-minute drive from Athens to Columbus to see Social Distortion open for the Ramones at the Newport, probably in 1992 or 1993. I picked that night to be all concerned about homework…


    3. Neil Young whispered to Conan when he performed “Long May You Run” on his last show, “Thanks for all you’ve done for new music,” so I’m not too surprised by his choice of openers.

      SY’s live performances definitely run hot and cold – I remember hating them when I saw them a few years later at PSU. Of course it was outside and pouring down rain. One of the best shows I saw was a few years ago at Pitchfork when they played “Daydream Nation” from start to finish, and then topped it off with some of their newer stuff from “Rater Ripped”.

      @unclecrappy never saw the Ramones. I regret that, too!


  8. I’ve already admitted this: my first live concert was Air Supply in Erie with the ‘rents.

    Favorites: Green Day last year in Pittsburgh.
    Beck and Ben Folds Five at Starlake in 1997 (?).
    Pearl Jam (with Smashing Pumpkins and Red Hot Chili Peppers) at AJ Palumbo Center, 1991. Had met and hung out with Jeff Ament and Mike McCready before the show (interview for Duquesne’s student newspapaer) and met the band again afterward. I have the signed jeans to prove it.

    I love going to see music. When Dan and I lived on the South Side, we were always popping into venues to check out who was playing. It was one of the best times of my life.

    Next up: Wilco. Very excited!

    Of course, things are more logistically challenging now, being out in the ‘burbs, having to find sitters, the budget is tighter. But it’s still the best time of my life, just in a different way. And my kids are learning a lot about music. I can’t wait to take them to their first rock show.


    1. The newspaper gig has served me pretty well in terms of getting to meet/talk with musicians. Keller Williams, Warren Haynes (Allmans, Dead, Gov’t Mule), Chuck Garvey (moe.), Jorma Kaukonen (Jefferson Airplane/Hot Tuna). Plus getting backstage at one of the Further Festival tours, meeting all the members of the Dead AND watching soundcheck at Star Lake. Woooo!


  9. I remember 10,000 maniacs being on the bouncing balcony @Mem Aud – their cover of Every Day is Like Sunday still sticks in my mind. And I remember the fall out from the show not realizing my friend thought we were on a date when I had no earthly clue that she was gay, much less interested.
    plenty easier to recover from than a collapsed balcony, thank goodness.

    First concert – ‘Til Tuesday @ the Phantasy in Lakewood OH, 1984. I was 11, switten w the band and in no way would either parent take me. so I asked my principal to take me. she introduced me to her 16 yr old daughter, who took me. Bless her heart.

    best concert: Morphine, about 1996, Agora Theater, Cleveland. Late, great Mark Sandman may not have been traditionally handsome but was possibly the sexiest musician I’ve ever seen.
    Clearly hormones ruled much of my early life…


    1. Mrs. Crappy and I had tix for the 10K Maniacs in the balcony; I remember joking with Bethany and Derrick that they should wear something bright so we could find their bodies when the balcony collapsed.

      And then, I remember that during the pause in “These Are Days” everyone in the balcony jumped — and when we landed, in unison, the floor dropped at least eight inches…


  10. The things we do for girls: James Taylor, Blossom, 1982, or so. I scored with my attendance, but I gave it right back by falling asleep on the lawn. Oh, what might have been…

    Best show: Green Day, CSU’s Wolstein Arena, 2005. They pulled kids out of the crowd and handed over their instruments for one song. And, it worked. I’ve never seen, or heard, anything like it before or since.


    1. @large, Green Day did that on their most recent tour, too; they had people playing instruments, and they picked three different people to sing Longview. It was hilarious. And just downright cooler than shite.


  11. First concert: Feb 5, 1990, Civic Arena, Paul McCartney. I was 10 years old and it was the closest I can ever come to seeing the Beatles. It would rank as the best concert until,

    Best Concert: Winter 2000, Bryce Jordan Center (Penn State), Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band. The Boss did so many encores we lost count. Some 4+ hours. He did an acoustic rendition of Born in the USA that was absolutely chilling.

    Honorable Mention: Summer 2001, Starlake (was it Starlake or had it been renamed by then? who knows…) Aerosmith. We sat right next to the second stage in the middle of the lawn. They put on quite a show.


  12. First show – The Monkees with Hermans Hermits and The Grass Roots at Chautauqua Amphitheater when I was 10.

    Favorite show – Pearl Jam, Cleveland 2006

    What made that one the best – 3rd row from the stage with Mike McCready playing a solo to us.

    Honorable Mention – Pink Floyd at Three Rivers Stadium 1994, Ted Nugent/Bad Company 1997 at Starlake in the middle of a monsoon. KISS – 2009 Mellon Arena.


  13. First concert: Billy Joel at the Civic Arena, 1982, “Nylon Curtain” tour. I was in boarding school at the time, and my friends and I had to get special permissions from parents and nuns to attend. I think there was some controversy wherein we got back to the dorm later than we should have and had to be let in by the head nun. Excellent show, seats way to house right so we could watch Billy Joel’s amazing piano playing.

    Best concert: Pixies at the Rat in Boston, 1987 or maybe 1988. Loud, sweaty, smokey, every song I adored from Come On Pilgrim and Surfer Rosa. A whole basement club of people singing along with “Caribou” and “Gigantic” and “I’ve Been Tired.” Kim Deal’s smile throughout.

    Very close second for best concert: PJ Harvey at the Orpheum Theater in Boston, 1996, with Warren Zevon opening. What made it stand out among so many other great shows (including a great PJ Harvey show at the 9:30 Club in DC in 1998) was that night’s performance of “50 Foot Queenie.” It was a bolt of lightning in aural form.

    Loudest show: Gang Green, a Boston band, playing in the MIT cafeteria in 1986 or so. Only show I ever saw in the cafeteria, which was a large box space with all hard surfaces, but even in a regular space it would have been hard on the ears. I have never since heard four people make that much noise.


  14. First: REO Speedwagon at Conneaut Lake Park. A tornado hit and we lot power. Loverboy opened. I has beer poured on my by the drunk ladies. I was maybe 13?

    Best: ICP at the Nautica in Cleveland. My first time seeing them in 1999. Biohazard and Twiztid opened. First time seeing a huge circle pit, getting sprayed with pop, and loved every minute of it. Been to maybe 10 shows and 5 Gatherings since. Hit an owl on the way home on 322…


    1. It seems like there are a bunch of early REO Speedwagon experiences among this group. I sort of saw them in Cincinnati, although my buddy and I skipped most of their set after watching the Georgia Satellites. We thought going to White Castle was more important than seeing REO Speedwagon play “Keep On Loving You.”


  15. First and best was Tony Orlando and Dawn at the Civic Arena. Best because my Dad took me and the big full color program from it is one of my most treasured possessions. Also because I absolutely adored Tony.


    1. My sisters & I were huge Tony Orlando and Dawn fans. We had a little song and dance routine to “Tie a Yellow Ribbon” that we did for visiting relatives. Color me envious of your seeing them in person.


    2. Cindy, I thought Dawn was one person until last year. I saw them on TV and asked Ryan “Who are those chicks?” “That’s Dawn.” “No, I mean THOSE TWO CHICKS” “That’s Dawn.” “Ryan, you are NOT LISTENING…”

      Yeah, this is what life in our house is like. ;)


  16. First concert was Bon Jovi/Poison at the Civic Arena in 1986. My best friend & I rode the bus down from Clarion and we had some mechanical problems so we missed Poison but we did NOT care. We were going to see BON JOVI!!!! Spectacular concert – we saw them again the next year and again, just a great show all around.

    The best concert at the Civic Arena, to me, was GARTH BROOKS. He was here back in 1997 or something for an entire week. My best friend & I traveled down from Clarion again and had the absolute best time.


  17. My first concert was the Monkees on their That Was Then, This is Now tour in 1986. I still have the t-shirt. The openers were The Turtles and Gary Puckett and the Union Gap. I loved it, and am still a Monkees fan.

    Best concerts? Garth Brooks, Brian May, Alice Cooper and Old Crow Medicine Show. All put on fantastic shows.


    1. I was at that Monkees show as well. Didn’t they open up the Civic Arena’s roof for that or am I thinking of another show?


    2. I saw them at the illustrious Wings Stadium in Kalamazoo. “Yes, there really is a Kalamazoo” and yes it really does have a second-rate stadium. ;) :D


  18. There have been many great concerts and concert moments, but being this close to Valentine’s Day, I have to say going with UncleCrappy to see the Grateful Dead’s two night stand at the Dean Dome in Chapel Hill, N.C., are some of my favorites, as it was our first real trip together. And other than finding out all my years in the north had given me southern allergies, and that we developed “car trouble (spit)” on the way home, we found out we travel really well together. The first of many nights and days dancing and singing together (mushy)! Love ya!


  19. Nice query UC.

    No favorite, though several I’ve seen with you would be in the top 10. JJ Cale Columbus show in the early ’90s would be right up there. Dylan/Van Mo in Boston, same time period, deserves mention as well. Maybe the ’89 SF Earthquake Relief show. What fine memories…

    Best recent show was Gillian Welch and the Dave Rawlings Machine in Louisville. Would (will) drive all night to see them play again.


  20. Here goes :

    Technically my first “rock” concert was probably would have been Arlo Guthrie (who based on a quick bit or research was actually playing that night with Pete Seeger) at Hartwood Acres which apparently led to a huge uproar from the neighborhood due to traffic/impact/etc. Way back in ’85 (probably during the small window we lived in the burgh back then. Don’t remember much, the lay of the land… and 2 things 1) Alice’s Restaurant (the 18 min song) and 2) His dad wrote this land is your land (a fact I repayed my dad turning me onto with turning him onto Mermaid Ave. (1 & 2) wherein Billy Bragg and Wilco do a jaw dropping channeling of his father while producing two albums using lyrics from Woodies notebooks that were never used before his death.)

    My first concert (of my choosing) (albeit a questionable one…) DC Talk (the tour right after they decided to switch to an alternative/grunge format rather than Rap) and Audio Adrenaline at AJ Polumbo. Yes, due to the fact that while my listening tastes were free ranging, my show tastes at this point were limited by parental discretion.

    Since then I’ve seen more shows than most will see in a lifetime…reaching my peak in the early ’00s hitting up 2-3 a week (oh, the days of metropol/m/… and laga, and the ampitheatre @ station square et al…) and traveling the country to take in almost very memorable venue and most of the memorable artists.

    Way to many favorites, with almost a dead heat for best show ever, but I’d have to say Trey Anastasio at the first ever Bonnaroo Festival in Tennessee … way too many great bands, and having already seen him a bunch that summer (including another one of my top five (if not top 3 shows, same band, playing that summer at Amp. @ Station Square, jamming right along with the train coming by, et al (which subsequently made it on a live album)). If you thought seeing Ben Folds conduct and audience of hundreds was amazing, Trey, up on stage leading his horns and rhythm sections through extended 30 min + renditions of energetic rock, funk and groove, then turning around and turning his at this point histrionic directorial skills and gestures on the 70-80k+ audience. It was probably the most incredible night of music overall I’ve experienced.

    Other Favs :
    Phish’s triumphant return to Red Rocks (Morrison, CO ’09) as well as first show in 97, and my fav. all time, CSU Convocation Center (kills me that it was in cleveland, but the Harry Hood glowstick war was simply mind altering…the whole room around you was lost in these planes of arcing glows ticks and all sense of direction and peripheral vision was destroyed…I “got it” before then but definitely wasn’t turning back after that.)
    Chevy Chase and Keller Williams at the Jammy’s in ’07
    Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings – Diesel ’10 (Seriously if you haven’t seen her, see her anywhere…I’ve seen both her and James Brown, and I’d take her any day!)
    Medeski Martin & Wood @ Laga
    The Roots @ the ‘Roo in ’03 (and later getting my American Flag rugby jersey signed by them in the ‘burgh).
    GRAB (Benevento Russo Duo with Anastasio and Gordon) in Cleveland ’06
    The X-ecutioners @ Nicks Fat City

    Will fulfill one of my few remaining “missing artists” in my collection later this month when I take Pops to see Clapton.

    And anxiously awaiting my intimate evening with Tweedy and Friends in Oakland in a few months.


    1. Best Phish show for me: Star Lake, 2003. Breakouts, and a sicksicksick early second set: Crosseyed > Thunderhead > Pgh Jam > Brother > Harpua > etc…


  21. First concert was Def Leppard on their High ‘n’ Dry tour. Awesome! We had 5th or 6th row seats right in the middle.

    Favorites? The Rolling Stones Steel Wheels tour in Cleveland Stadium.

    My first Dead show was Tom Petty, Dylan and the Dead in 1986 at the Akron Rubber Bowl. UC and Juan were there? or was it UC and Carolina Boy? It’s memorable for being my first Dead show and because UC had my shoes for 6 months after.

    Mike Doughty (with the Panderers opening) at the Beachland Ballroom in Cleveland. Why had I never listened to him before? Mind blowing.

    Oh yeah, and every early 80’s metal show in Columbus during my childhood. The Scorpions, Iron Maiden, Judas Priest!


    1. HP
      Carolina Boy was there. So was Kewyson. And UC. Can’t believe Juan would have missed it. I had never seen Dylan and Petty before so that was a bonus. Petty came out during the Dead Set and starting playing with Jerry. Long, long day but the rewards of the show outweighed all of the sweaty, stinky people in the Bowl.

      Best recent show: 2007 – Tom Petty at the Verizon in Charlotte, NC. Played for straight 2 hours and kept saying….Ehhhh, thank ya very much! It was awesome!


    2. Re Akron, Juan was in attendance. Mostly. ‘Bout thirty yards from the stage, center section, w/ sponge hog and a head full of silly. Highlight for me was Jerry / Bob on ‘Baby Blue’.


    3. Highlights for me were “Straight into Darkness” by Petty. Holy crap, I think my head exploded. Then the Dead come on and played some jewels and then cranked into “Little Red Rooster”. I’ve never been the same since.


    4. HP/Juan
      I don’t remember much about the show except for how intense “Space” was. Jerry and the band played in and out of it for at least 30 minutes. I am sure that UC has the bootleg to back it up. With all of the “happy” pollution in the air, I kind of felt I was flying in “Space”!


  22. Some thoughts on the shows I can remember…

    First show: Billy Joel circa 1980/81 at the much-maligned, but dearly missed Capital Centre in Landover, Md. Note the French spelling of “Centre” to classy it up a bit for us lowly Prince George’s County folk.

    A couple more memorable Cap Centre shows: U2, Yes, The Firm w/Jimmy Page, Rush, Journey, Eric Clapton with Mark Knopfler, Duran Duran, Beastie Boys w/Public Enemy, and the Police.

    Shows at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia, Md.: B-52s & the Pretenders, Madonna (Like a Virgin Tour), Ziggy Marley, Def Leppard, Violent Femmes, Depeche Mode.

    Shows at DAR Constitution Hall in D.C.: John Mellencamp, Adam Ant w/the Romantics, and Billy Idol w/the Cult. Also saw Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam there. Don’t ask, but I had the best seats I ever got for a show for that one; center stage, third row. What a waste.

    9:30 Club in D.C.: Julianna Hatfield, Harvey Danger, Tragically Hip (twice).

    Ritchie Coliseum at Univ of Md.: Radiohead w/Belly. This was in the early 1990s before Radiohead blew up. I was doing a story for an alternative campus paper and had never heard of them. I actually hung out with the band outside in the loading area behind Ritchie before the show, interviewing them while they all smoked cigarettes. Everyone was very nice except for the lead singer, who was a tool.

    Smith Center on GWU campus in D.C.: 10,000 Maniacs.

    Tie for Second Best Show Ever: Grant Lee Phillips at Ram’s Head Inn, Annapolis, (Talked to him after the show for a while. Very cool guy.) and GLP at Club Cafe, Pgh.

    Hands Down Best Show Ever: Joe Strummer at the 9:30 Club, which was an awesome place to see a show. Good size with great acoustics. And, well, Strummer was the greatest.


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