In this First Concert Ever segment, the funk band, Blue Light Bandits, talks about the story of their first experiences with live music. You can check out the story, after the break.
ETHAN (bass, vocals):
My first concert ever was Billy Joel at the Mohegan Sun Arena in 2008, attending with none other than my own best friend and BLB co-founder Dan! Billy Joel’s catalog was the first I ever dove into with the appetite of a collector. I wanted to know every song on every album — eventually, I had filled an entire iPod Shuffle with only his discography. His concert was my realization of love for performing artists who specialize in playing different setlists night tonight, tour to tour, and we got a great one that night — all the hits plus some deep cuts like “Zanzibar” and “Root Beer Rag,” and even a bonus “Highway To Hell” cover that he brought his veteran roadie out to sing lead on while he wandered the stage on rhythm guitar. At 16 (and at a casino) I may have been the youngest in attendance, but it was a perfect first concert. Beyond the show, Dan and I had arrived early enough for several laps of people watching around the arena concourse before the show began. The pre-show walkabout has become a large-concert tradition I still look forward to arriving early for to this day, not to mention a great way to scope out the tour merch before the crowd gets to it.
DAN (keys, vocals):
One of my earliest concert memories was going to see Michel Camilo at the Regattabar in Boston with my family. My father loved jazz, Latin, and big band music, so I spent a lot of time with him in the car listening to jazz pianists. I remember having to dress up nice and walk through a long hotel corridor. We entered a lounge space and took our table next to a small stage and we were about five feet behind the drums. At that time I didn’t know who Horacio “El Negro” Hernández was, but he sat right in front of us and absolutely blew me away. I had an incredible view of the blocks and cowbells and spent most of the time smiling, watching him incorporate them into the groove. To this day, Latin percussion is still so impressive and foreign to me. It was quite a classy first concert experience and a meaningful one to me as an aspiring jazz pianist.
My first live concert experience brings us back to April 24th, 1987, and the “Scandinavium” arena in Gothenburg, Sweden, where I got to see Gary Moore’s “Wild Frontier” tour.
Sure, I was a fan of Gary’s exceptional guitar work for “Thin Lizzy”, but I was such a music-nerd that I mostly went to see Eric Singer, the drummer, who at the time had recently left “Black Sabbath”, and who shortly thereafter joined “Kiss”. Going to a concert just to check out a drummer that I love regardless of whom they’re playing with is something I still do to this day, but I digress…
I have to say that I thoroughly enjoyed every single second of the whole experience, from the 45-minute train ride into the city; the chaos of drunks, scalpers, and vendors congregating outside the arena to the pure exhilaration I felt sitting in my seat in anticipation of the concert itself.
Of course, Gary, Eric, and the rest of the band did not disappoint, as they put on a great show, and the entire experience left a huge enough impression on this 13-year-old Swedish lad to make me pursue a life in music myself…
Trying to find my Dad, who was picking me up after the concert in a time before cellphones is a completely different story…
My first concert was AC/DC at Columbus, Ohio when I was 12 years old in 2008. The concert was amazing, obviously, especially for a 12-year-old, but my favorite part was how serendipitously the tickets fell into my hands. My parents weren’t AC/DC fans by any means, but when we lived in New York, our neighbors’ dad was a huge fan. He and I made a pact, mostly hypothetically, that if “AC/DC were to ever go on tour, we’ll go together.” Since the band hadn’t toured in 7 years at that point, I never really believed it would happen. Our neighbors moved to Ohio around the same time my family moved back to Tennessee. Months after having moved, we came back home from a family vacation to a voicemail on our home answering machine. It was our former neighbor, who said: “Hey guys, so AC/DC announced their Black Ice tour, and I couldn’t get ahold of you all, so I went ahead and got Jay a ticket.” We drove to Columbus, Ohio, to stay with our friends and I went to see AC/DC dressed in my best Angus Young schoolboy uniform attire. It was a formidable experience that locked in my love for loud, guitar-driven rock and roll (consumed responsibly with earplugs, of course). When Angus came out for the Let There Be Rock encore and spun around on his elevated platform, the flame was ignited and I’ve forever since been trying to figure out how I, too, can rock that hard one day. I’m grateful for our friend, Craig, who took the chance of buying tickets to a show he didn’t even know if I could attend. That act of kindness ended up becoming one of my most special and cherished memories of childhood.