Tag Archives: Elliot Smith

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.
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