In this First Concert Ever segment, the electronic music duo, White Panda, shares first concert experiences. You can check out the story and stream their newest single, “Hands On Me”, after the break.
I actually relived this a few weeks ago with a deep dive back into the pop-punk era. This would have been around the year 2000 so I was twelve. Just hitting the local park every day after school desperately trying to land my first kickflip. My buddy was a sponsored skater and I wanted so badly to be good. Walkman playlist at the time would have included names like Sum 41, New Found Glory, Taking Back Sunday, Less Than Jake, etc etc. Not sure how (was this pre-internet?) but I saw that there was a Something Corporate concert in San Francisco with Finch opening. Two of my absolute favorites. My parents are not really “music people”, nor are they “crowded spaces” or “loud noises” people. So they were less than excited about the prospect of chaperoning me to this but I think they eventually decided it was one of those “gotta let the kid grow up” moments.
My dad drove me and my friend (the skater) to San Francisco to the show. We spent forever looking for parking – not important, but one of the odd details I remember. Inside the venue, the atmosphere was intense. I was twelve; probably about 4 feet 6 inches tall and MAYBE 110 lbs. Maybe. This is when “mosh pits” were a big thing. I wanted so badly to be able to “mosh” but there was no way that didn’t end badly for me. People jammed the venue until it was officially a claustrophobe’s nightmare and Finch took the stage. My dad had moved all the way to the back where he had some elbow room and had jammed several sets of earplugs into each ear. Finch destroyed the room. ‘Letters To You’, ‘What It Is To Burn’ — I’m not sure how Nate could scream as loudly and purely as he did throughout the entire concert but it was everything I had wanted from them. Something Corporate was up next.
I only just learned that Andrew McMahon was the lead singer of Something Corporate, which in 2018 kind of blew my mind, but that’s not part of the story. SC’s performance really set a bar for me as to what a show should be. They were so popular at the time, this was probably a small room for them. But Andrew got up on top of that piano of his and just crushed every song he played. He sounded just like the recordings, but with 120% of the passion and energy. He closed with Konstantine and I felt like my life was complete.
Driving home I distinctly remember what has now become a familiar sound — ringing in my ears. Whenever I am official diagnosed with tinitus, I’ll remember that night as the beginning of it all. I went to many pop punk shows in the years after but none held a candle to that night in San Francisco with Finch and Something Corporate. Whenever I’m on stage in a venue where I don’t feel the crowd’s energy as much as I’d like to, I think about Andrew’s performance back then and the difference it made in my life. I try to give it my all every time so that maybe somebody out there reaps a similar benefit.