First Show/ Worst Show: Daniel Allen

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.

More First Show/Worst Shows:

First Show/Worst Show: Marc Shapiro

First Show: It was the summer between 5th and 6th grade for me (1996) and Alanis Morrisette had just come out with Jagged Little Pill and was blowing up. So my mom and I went to the concert, and a band called Radiohead was opening! I knew very little about Radiohead at the time, they were touring on The Bends and I knew the songs “High and Dry” and “Creep.” I don’t recall a large part of the crowd being into them other than those songs. I remember Thom Yorke saying “this is a song about politicians” before “Creep,” so I thought that was cool.

Alanis and her band rocked it, played all the hits off that album, which at the time I remember sounded very different live since her album was very much given the studio treatment. If my musical knowledge timeline is correct, the drummer I saw that night with her was Taylor Hawkins, who went on to join the Foo Fighters, who he still plays with. Not bad for a first show, I’d say. Seeing Radiohead headline Bonnaroo this past summer was quite a trip, considering I’d once seen them play a very different, stripped down show to a crowd that barely gave them the time of day.

Worst Show:  Last summer (2011) my funk band, Joe Keyes & The Late Bloomer Band, did a brief run with Angelo Moore from Fishbone up the East Coast. Joe has a longtime friendship with Fishbone, so we’ve done a few collaborations with Angelo and some of the other guys over the years. We did several shows, including a few festivals along the way. I don’t remember their name, but one band really stuck out at one of the outdoor festivals we played. The music was pure noise, just beating the shit out of instruments in unison, but leaving enough time between the “notes” so that every member of the band can make a mean face and give the crowd the middle finger. It was a terrible, negative outpouring and the singer was constantly screaming “fuck you.” I think we stuck around because of how astounded we were at the sight of these guys, and the fact that people were watching. He ended the show by saying something like “Come say hi to me, I’ll spit on you!” No thanks, dude.

Want to see your First Show/Worst Show on Charm City Jukebox? Click here.

More First Show/Worst Shows:

First Show/Worst Show: Andrew Luttrell

(Claire: Andrew Luttrell—friend, co-worker from my music memorabilia days, and most importantly, Baltimore born and based musician with a new album, “Paint By Numbers.” Click here to check out the short film on the making of “Paint by Numbers,” and pick up your copy of the album here.)

First Show: In April of 1986, my older brother took me to see Rush at the Baltimore Civic Center. I hadn’t quite turned 13 yet, so my parents thought I was a little young to be going to an arena rock concert downtown without adult supervision, but I begged. I think Blue Oyster Cult opened. I don’t remember if we even caught any of the opening band because we were late.

I heard a lot of Rush music through the early & mid 80’s because my brother Bill was a huge fan – one of the only things we had in common – but it was a major thing. Years of hearing “2112”, “All The World’s A Stage”, “Permanent Waves”, and “Exit Stage Left” pouring out of Bill’s little Sanyo boom-box in my family’s very small two bedroom apartment had prepared me for this show. Having not yet been bitten by the Zeppelin bug till the following year, the jury was still out for me on Geddy’s voice – but I was so mesmerized by the tight, intricate, complex compositions those three guys were playing & writing, I quickly dismissed any uncertainties I had about the singing.

I also loved the narrative quality to Neil’s lyrics, especially in their late 70’s albums. Musically, I found their diverse and inventive time-signature changes to be extremely creative. I’d never heard anything like it. They had just released the “Power Windows” album, and the petite Civic Center seemed like a 70,000 seat stadium to me. The Three Stooges theme song into “The Spirit of Radio,” ” The Big Money,” a theatrical drum solo, a “2112” encore in the company of 8,000 other nerds, and I was hooked. I saw them again every tour for the next 4 years, including once with my friend and bandmate Flynn – the other guitar player from my first rock band in high school. That 1986 concert opened my eyes to a whole new world of composed music. At the time, it made Rush my favorite band. However, they opened the door to so much other music for me – by 1987 they were no longer my favorite band, and for that, I owe them a great deal of gratitude. I still have a warm place in my heart for Rush and their music to this day.

Worst Show: The Spin Doctors. How I sat through that set without throwing up remains a mystery to me. This thing came to Merriweather summer of 1992 called the HORDE tour. It was a bunch of jam bands lumped together into a show. The Spin Doctors were in the lineup.

Here’s the deal: I had seen the Grateful Dead many times already since 1989, and I had just seen Phish for the first time in ’91 and again twice in ’92, so I guess I figured a concert at Merriweather called the HORDE featuring a bunch of jam bands I’d never heard of would be a good thing to do. I was wrong.

Here was the problem: Phish was really, really, really good back then. They wrote imaginative lyrics and very interesting musical compositions which intrigued me. So, naturally, I thought the whole wave of these new jam bands would be good too. Nope. That’s what happens when you assume. When the Spin Doctors hit the stage, I quickly learned the difference between a good show and a bad show. Sure, we could all say: “Ok, yeah, maybe the Spin Doctors had an off night”, but you know damn well we’d be lying to one another. Every now and then, I’ll be in a supermarket or somewhere and that awful pocket fulla kryptonite tune will play through the speakers. Ugh. It makes me itch.

It seemed like a ton of new, young, jam bands were coming out of the woodwork around that time, and many of them were just pop-bubble gum trash with no substance or depth to their music or songwriting, but people were “supposed” to like them because they thought they sounded like the Dead or something. That Spin Doctors Merriweather set actually made me question if ALL jam bands were that bad. A month after that show, I went back and saw Phish again just to make sure they were still good. And they were. They were still good.

Want to see your First Show/Worst Show on the Charm City Jukebox? Click here.

More First Show/Worst Shows:

First Show/ Worst Show: Amy Berkowitz

First show: Are we talking about the first show I was at, or the first show I was at of my own volition? I’ll tell you about both. My summer camp put all of us on a bus in 1993 and drove us to an Aerosmith concert. Now, I can’t figure out where the concert was. My camp was on the Pennsylvania-New York border, so maybe it was the Binghamton show on July 2? (I’m looking at the Wikipedia page for the Get a Grip tour).

I remember the first thing I did was buy a T-shirt. This was a big deal. It was huge on me, and I didn’t really like Aerosmith, but it was important to have the T-shirt. Our seats were horrible. It was a big outdoor amphitheater, and we were sitting on the grass, on blankets, about half a mile from the stage. Now that I’m recalling this, I’m wondering if we even had tickets to the show, or if we were just sort of sitting near the concert. I remember smelling pot for the first time, and feeling very cool for knowing what it was and being around it. I remember being really bored and not liking Aerosmith at all. I remember thinking Steven Tyler was full of himself. I remember these lyrics: “There’s a hole in my soul / That’s been killing me forever / There’s a place where a garden never grows.” I remember thinking I could do better, and I was right.

The first concert I went to on purpose was Beck, Ben Folds Five, and Elliott Smith at Jones Beach in 1998. I loved Beck, but I didn’t know either of the opening bands, so we got there late and missed Elliott Smith, and only saw the last few Ben Folds songs. I don’t remember a lot about the performance, but I do remember that Beck danced a lot and really put on a show. I thought he was really dreamy. Jones Beach was kind of far from Manhattan, so we slept at my friend’s house in Queens. We got to bed late, and got up early for school the next day. I got out of the subway at 96th Street and bought a coffee from the bodega, the first coffee I ever bought. I felt really cool. I have drank coffee every day since then.

Worst show: You know what kind of shows I liked in 2008? Noise shows. Scummy basement noise shows. Noise shows at venues with bedbugs. Noise shows in weird parts of Brooklyn. Noise shows in weird parts of Queens. I once described a No Fun Fest (noise festival) venue as “perfect, because it felt like someone could actually die there.” It was a converted warehouse on the outskirts of Red Hook. Hey, that’s what I was into then. So when my friend told me he’d bought me a ticket to see the Magnetic Fields at Town Hall, I wasn’t exactly thrilled. But I paid him the $45 and went anyway. Town Hall is a far cry from The Hook. It’s an elegantly appointed theater in Midtown Manhattan, the kind of place that hosts events like “The International Championship of Collegiate A Capella Finals” and “Vocal Jazz Festival with Phil Mattson.” The night of the show, I hadn’t showered in a couple days, which I felt fine about until I walked into Town Hall. The bright lights and theater seating felt overly formal, and things only got worse when somebody came on stage and announced that the evening would begin with a live performance of a radio play.
Just… no. That’s not how concerts start. Also, a live performance of a radio play? Why? Some fools came on dressed in period costumes and acted out a corny play. Then the Magnetic Fields played. I don’t remember much about their performance, except that they were sort of subdued and Stephin Merritt seemed cranky. Then, an intermission was announced. Again, no. It’s a show. There’s not supposed to be an intermission. I walked out and got on the train home to Brooklyn and as the Q crossed the bridge I probably called my cool noise boyfriend to tell him how much the show sucked.

First Show/Worst Show: Teresa Slobuski

First Show: This may not have been my first first show, but its the first I remember. It was summer in Northern Jersey and I was 7 or 8. Near my home was an open air historic museum/historic reenactment locations called Waterloo Village. Wikipedia has just recently informed me that it has been shut down for the past few years. Anyway, it was a local field trip common for elementary grades in the area, there was a section that was historic 1800s canal town and a section dedicated to the lives of the Lenape Indians. On this particular summer night, however, my parents showed me a Waterloo Village completely different than being forced to take turns grinding corn with stones. I don’t remember the name of the group, but they were a Beatles cover band. As my parents graduated college in 72, I had grown up with the Beatles, so even though this wasn’t them it was the first time I remember realizing how different music was live versus on a record. The main part that has stuck with me was the overwhelming heat of the summer night in a jammed crowd, coupled with my little body just refused to stop dancing as long as that live music continued to play.

Worst Show: During high school a group of friends and I frequented the various North West Jersey punk shows of the time, many of which took place in church owned buildings. One location, “The Lyceum” attached to a church in Franklin, NJ (Sussex County) in the middle of no where. This was an ordinary night in January. One of the favorite bands, Paulson, was playing the show, they played the location usually 1-2 times a month. My friend and I were just 15 or 16, so we were dropped off while parents went to have a night out. At this particular show things were much more packed because last minute a local band that was soon leaving for a national tour was going to play. This band, Tokyo Rose, was not very good in my mind, but they had gained some notoriety and as such they really packed people in this little church building. One thing led to another and a mosh pit during Tokyo Rose’s set caused a kid to have a badly broken nose. When the emergency vehicles came they very easily ascertained that we were way over the occupancy rate for that tiny building and shut the show down. Now this location was in the middle of no where, the closest non-residential thing was an Arby’s about a mile away along was was then an icy cliff side road. Hanging out at the Arby’s turned out to be a fun time with all the other rideless high schoolers, however the show remains the worst. Not only did we not get to see our favorite band that night, but also The Lyceum was shut down as a venue, ending the glory years of local punk in Sussex for my mini generation.

Want to see your First Show/Worst Show on the Charm City Jukebox? Click here.

February Round-Up: Love, Live Music, and Casio Keyboards

Claire: Happy Leap Day everybody! This month, we celebrated the many sides of love with good songs, bad songs, alternative songs, even sexist songs.  We laughed, we cried, we celebrated the musical stylings of Fergie, we rediscovered the band Next, we talked about Casio keyboards—and we wrote about it.

Love and Stuff Lists:

We also launched out First Show/Worst Show series and heard all of your magical tales about seeing the Grateful Dead (jealous), the Steve Miller band (not jealous), and Cobra Starship (confused). If you haven’t submitted your First Show/Worst Show yet, click here.

First Shows/Worst Shows:

Our friend/guest blogger/sometimes copy editor Noura Hemady wrote an awesome blog about seeing the Old 97s at the 9:30 Club. But as I read it, I realized that she had totally forgotten about an Old 97s show that we saw together at the 9:30 Club. We had a huge fight and I threw shoes at her. Not really. Instead I wrote about the LOST SHOW from Noura’s illustrious show-going life, and our one-off series about the Old 97s, DC, growing up, armpits, and prostitutes was born.

Old 97s

A special shout out to our amazing Guest Bloggers this month: Eric Fish, Noura Hemady, and Miriam Doyle! Write more stuff for us. Seriously guys.

And a big thank you to our First Show/Worst Show writers: Andre Moshenberg, Rahnia Mersereau, Jamie Breazeale, and Maureen Noble!


First Show/Worst Show: Maureen Noble

First show: My first show was at Merriweather Post Pavilion circa 1971/72 – Bread. I went with my older brother and my older sister. They had lawn tickets. I was about nine or ten years old and everyone was getting high on the lawn. It was such a mellow concert. Ah, David Gates. Is this what all concerts would be like in the future? If… only.

Worst Show: Recently I was almost held at gunpoint to watch The Steve Miller Band perform at an outdoor pavilion much like Merriweather, here in Chicago. The seats were in the pavilion and were about $75 each (unbeknownst to us at the time). It was horrifying to watch these old fat dudes on stage trying to recapture something. Something. Anything. Please. These guys needed to be somewhere in Florida listening to Jimmy Buffet and sipping something girlie. I was embarrassed for them. I wanted to demand that they pay me double to have had to sit there and listen to horrific new songs. Midlife crisis at age 65? Wow.

Want to see your First Show/Worst Show on the Charm City Jukebox? Click here.

More First Show/Worst Shows: