In this First Concert Ever segment, the indie rock band, SWIMM, chats about the first concerts they ever went to. You can check out the story and stream their newest single, “Uh Huh”, after the break.
So I must admit something. I have answered this question many times and I always have four different answers. Not because I’m a pathological liar, but because I actually remember four different concerts being my first concert. And I truly cannot remember which came first. But all were around the time I was 16 and all were magical in very different ways.
One of these was going to see Ben Harper at the House of Blues in Orlando. In our naive excitement, my friend Chad and I drove over an hour to the show without checking to see if tickets were still available. When we arrived, we were told it was indeed sold out. Driving an hour out of town on a school night when you are sixteen is a big deal. We were crushed. We told the ticket lady our tragic story and begged her for admission mercy but to no avail. We were walking the courtyard for a little while, very defeated, when a security guard who had noticed us getting denied, called us over and sneaked us in through a side door. What a hero. I don’t remember much of the show to be honest but I do remember being surprised when Ben Harper got up from playing lap-steel and danced around while his band played “Always Have to Steal My Kisses From You”. I just didn’t know you could do that. Dance around the stage and enjoy your own music being played back to you… How cool.
Another first show for me was going to see Pedro the Lion at the Social. The Social was the coolest 250 cap room in Orlando and subsequently became the place where I would see most of the bands I loved growing up. I remember being taken aback by how much the crowd adored David Bazan and how they hung on every heartbreaking word of his. Other than being incredibly frightened by the driving of the girl who took us out to the show, the thing I always remember most about that show was a moment of ‘brutal musician honesty’. Towards the end of the set, he broke a string on his guitar. He announced to the crowd that they couldn’t afford new guitar strings on this tour so he would be playing the rest of the set without the D string. I clearly recall thinking, “But wait, this guy is playing to a packed crowd at the Social! He is a rockstar! He must be rich! How the hell could he not afford strings?”
Now I understand, Mr. Bazan. I understand so very well.
So I was all about some Dave Matthews when I was around that age. And I’ll stand proudly behind songs like “Two Step”, “Warehouse”, and “The Stone” to this very day. A big group of friends went to see him and I will say there was a point during his show that I remember feeling very sad because I thought, “Ah man, that looks like the coolest thing in the world. To be on a stage singing songs to people singing them back!? Holy shit. I’ll never get to do that.” But at the same time, I think I knew I was going to try to figure out a way to do that. Thanks, DMB!
In the summer around this time, I had a very tight-knit group of friends. There were like 8 of us and we hung out every day and we would listen to Weezer’s ‘Blue Album’ and ‘Pinkerton’ non-stop. At the end of that summer, we decided we would go see Weezer. The only problem was the closest they were coming to Florida was Atlanta. A solid 8-hour drive from my hometown. But we were set on it. My friend Branigan somehow illegally rented a minivan and we all piled in and charged up to Georgia. Again, I only remember bits and pieces of the show, but realizing music could define a time period or adventure like that was pretty impactful on me. It is why I revere ‘albums’ the way I do.