First Show: Like most ten year olds, my exposure to music in elementary school was largely what I heard riding in the car to soccer practice or the store. That said, my parents are wonderful people but only really listen to lovesick light rock ballads from the early 70s. It’s awful. Nordic black metal is easier listening. Billy Joel and James Taylor were a welcome reprieve and I grew to love them. I still do.
Anyway, I was grounded for something or other when I was 10 and, rather than hire a babysitter, they brought me to see Billy Joel at the Patriot Center after a friend backed out. I remember the stage rotated 360 degrees and he played all the songs I wanted to hear (“Piano Man,” “Only the Good Die Young,” “We Didn’t Start the Fire,” and “River of Dreams”). I also remember Christie Brinkley was there and he acknowledged her in the crowd. This made me very nervous and excited. I don’t know why.
In retrospect, I’m glad my first concert experience was a big act and bigger spectacle than I had imagined it’d be. At least it felt that way then. I don’t go to arena shows or festivals anymore and get increasingly jaded. I’ll rarely leave a show being completely blown away anymore. Live music can still give me the butterflies, but has never been quite able to recapture that feeling of awe and wonder like it did in 1993. I wish I could’ve bottled it.
Worst Show: It pains me to say it, but it has got to be Brand New at The Showbox in Seattle. And I like Brand New. A lot. They’re pretentious but earn it by taking risks musically and then pulling them off (usually).
I was so let down by this show because I wanted it to be great. I had lived in Seattle for just 4 days, had no friends, a new job, and was living in an extended-stay hotel. I scalped a ticket for the sold-out show and was looking forward to a night in a room with a band I loved and a few hundred others who felt the same. But Brand New decided to show up and just collect a paycheck. They can be a great live band. I’ve seen it. Hearing/singing along to “Soco Amaretto Lime” live still gives me goosebumps. But on this night, Jesse Lacey pretended he was a statue, pulled his hoodie over his face, (intentionally?) played an incredibly boring set of only their least-liked or new songs, wouldn’t acknowledge the crowd, and didn’t play an encore. Not that anybody really wanted it. I didn’t care as much toward the end of the show because I had gotten drunk and met a girl at the venue’s bar. I wondered to her if maybe Jesse Lacey was depressed. She responded “No, he’s probably just an asshole.” I was smitten and, after bonding over our mutual disappointment of the show, ended up dating for a few months. She eventually dumped me over my alcoholism. Understandably. But thanks for nothing, Brand New.
Want to see your First Show/Worst Show on Charm City Jukebox? Click here.