In this First Concert Ever segment, Richard Dotson, from the indie rock band, The Frights, talks about the story of his first experience with live music. You can check out the story, after the break.
As I remember it, the Backstreet Boys were almost a mythical entity around the year 2000. They were undeniably the biggest pop group in the world and nothing could stop them. Nobody could escape their grasp on pop culture, especially those of us younger than 18 at the time. I’m not sure where it went, but Backstreet was back, goddammit. And it was dominating all of us.
I turned six in 2000: the year Burger King launched a promotional campaign for the Backstreet Boys. Participating Burger King locations offered exclusive CDs, videos, and even kids meal figurines of the Boys, each modeled after their aliases in the corresponding Backstreet Boys comic book (co-written and published by Stan Lee, believe it or not). I had all of them, except for Nick Carter, which bothers the completist in me to this day. I was fully indoctrinated, dancing like a maniac to those Burger King CDs, only stopping when my dad walked through the room. I could somehow play them at full blast, but to be caught enjoying it would be too embarrassing to bear, even at that age. I knew it wasn’t cool, especially for young boys, but I couldn’t help myself. The cultural tornado that was the Backstreet Boys had swept me away.
So in Spring 2001, my mom graciously took me to see the Backstreet Boys on their Black and Blue tour at the San Diego Sports Arena, providing me with an answer to the question “what was your first concert?” My prevailing memory from the event was their magical ability to appear and disappear from beneath the stage on elevating platforms. I seem to remember them shooting silly string at the first few rows at one point too, but I can’t be sure… What mattered was that I was able to experience the zeitgeist of Backstreet-mania and that I now had a concert program to prove it.
The next morning I brought my program to “show and tell” to my first-grade class. This decision prompted a few of my classmates to create some choice nicknames for me, but for some reason, I didn’t care. For once, I felt vindicated in my fandom. I was part of something that they weren’t – something, well… larger than life, if you will.
As I got older, the toys and CDs disappeared and boy bands were uncool again. I had discovered Led Zeppelin and couldn’t look back. Teenage me would bury his face in shame at the thought of reading a Backstreet Boys comic book for Christ’s sake. But for some reason, when asked the question “What was your first concert?” I’m still proud to answer it. Maybe it’s the nostalgia factor, maybe they’ve actually transcended the barrier to coolness 20 years later, who knows… But when I look back on that time, one thing’s for sure: NSYNC had better songs.