In honor of our Super Best Friends Forever DJ night at Little Miss Whiskey’s, we’re taking a look back at our first concerts. We asked our staff, contributors and future BFF DJs what helped form their musical identity. Boy bands. Lots of boy bands formed our identities.
Robert Palmer @ Kings Dominion, Summer of 1985
By Jenn Tisdale
I don’t have a lot of clear memories from my childhood. I am not one of those folks who retains all knowledge of their youth. Despite all mental memory handicaps, I recall every detail of my first concert. The time was summer, the location was Kings Dominion (fuck yeah, Virginia), the age was five. I had just tackled my first big girl roller coaster, The Grizzly, in which I almost fell out three times and screamed to my mom that she was a horrible mother and when I was done I was going to call The People (social services, I think). To offset the trauma (I now ride all roller coasters with great gusto), my mom brought me over to the concert pavilion that night to see Robert Palmer who was INEXPLICABLY performing there. Usually amusement park shows are reserved for the ghosts of pop stars past but the ’80s were different I guess.
With a plastic light-up rose grasped firmly in my tiny hand I danced around to all the hits: “Addicted to Love,” “Simply Irresistible,” and The Power Station’s cover of T-Rex’s “Bang a Gong (Get it On).” I befriended other children who were happy to be there though also clearly unaware of what was really going on. It was great, sweaty and filled with reckless dancing abandon. My mom and I were riding in the car together when we found out he died, 10 years ago, a sad discovery made more sad by the shared memory. We’ll always have that hot summer night at Kings Dominion though, frightening roller coasters and five similarly dressed women dancing on a stage, addicted to love but somehow free from the shackles of sweating.
New Order, Sugarcubes, Public Image Limited @ Mann Music Center, July 14, 1989
By William Alberque
Ah, yes, my first band. Now, I don’t discount that I might have seen an impromptu gig by Bruce Springsteen at the Green Parrot back in Asbury Park. He had an exquisite way of ruining dates that way. I had a chance to see Def Leppard in 1987, but somehow I missed out (probably not a bad thing). Instead, it was July 14, 1989, Mann Music Center outside Philadelphia, with New Order headlining and Sugarcubes and Public Image Limited as support.
New Order were touring on the strength of Technique – a truly wonderful collection of songs that fused the underground 303/808 acid house noise (which I adored) with big bass guitar hooky hooks and vocals that were embarrassing, flat, and thus perfect for a tone-deaf teenager like me to sing. Mann is an amphitheater – much like Merriweather – familiar from family outings from childhood. I still recall the verdant color of the lawn and the verge dipping precipitously into the theater on an intoxicating final day of a truly nighmarish summer of failure and pain that would see me drop out of university and take up construction.
I was still taking my seat when the prankster weirdness of Sugarcubes–a bunch of Icelandic punks rapping and joking, with one of the greatest singers of our time hiding out and occasionally glinting in the light like a rough jewel – began rushing through their seemingly improvised set on stage. Looking at their tiny figures, I was amazed at how much stuff crowded on the stage – cabinets and drums and guitars and flight cases – dwarfing them in scale. Before I knew it, PIL was on. I had been a Sex Pistols fan for too long not to be thrilled, and almost immediately disappointed, by the clowning antics and supremely offensive nonsense of late-80s Lydon. But then New Order…ah, New Order.
I’d fallen for New Order first with “True Faith” – not just the song, but the import 12″ (my first prized record), with its stunning artwork and minimal information on the outside, like an open secret. The set was all over the place – including a joyous rendition of “Ceremony” and “All the Way” – and the lights and the massiveness of the sound just carried me out of my body to another, more wondrous, happy, rapturous but calm place. All the pain and sorrow and disappointment of the mess I was in – the horrible, horrible mess I was in – was gone for the duration of the show. I felt impossibly young, and out of place – those older kids all around me knew secrets that I might never learn – but I was part of it, even if tentatively, for a while. The truth is, I’ve never left. That summer night, the heavy, humid air, the feeling of the end of everything suspended for a night – just one night – I feel like I can always return. I often do.
New Kids on the Block @ Hampton Coliseum, January, 6 1990
By Josh Phelps
If life starts at conception then I’d rather admit my first show was during disco era Rod Stewart’s 1978 “Blonds ‘Ave More Fun Tour,” however, that may just be creative accounting on my mom’s part.
Hampton Coliseum is a southeastern Virginian, 757 time capsule known locally for epic battles between Allen Iverson and Damon Bacote but to Cale and worldwide as one of Phish’s favorite stops. In 1990 it played host to New Kids on the Block and I was there in all my parachute pants’d and silk shirted glory to witness the groups “onstage mix of street-talking cool and effortless dance moves.” Being on the younger side of the “crowd of mostly females between ages 10 and 16,” I was as beholden to the choke hold pop music, MTV, and radio had on the zeitgeist as any other kid in elementary school. I didn’t really see the gaps between my beige Run DMC cassette tapes, banned G’nR liner note artwork and the five blue-eyed (soul?) R and B wannabe’s cooked up in Maurice Starr’s cauldron. I wasn’t taping alternative rock songs off of 96x and 3 hour Boodah Brothers mixes off 103Jamz yet. In any case, for what it’s worth, dudes had steps, they could legitimately sing,and when “brash New Kid Donnie Wahlberg rasped in his throaty Boston brogue: “Did somebody out there say they felt good?,” I probably screamed in a very high pitched tone.
Zdravko Colic @ SPENS Arena, Novi Sad, then Yugoslavia, End of 1991
by Svetlana Legetic
So you guys, I don’t know if you know this about me, but my parents didn’t just decide to give me my name because of some perverse need to pre-brand me as a Bond semi-villain or Olympic rhythmic gymastics hopeful (though they sort of succeeded in both). Nope, I was actually legitimately born and raised in Former Yugoslavia and (another fun fact) just as I was about to hit prime first concert going age the country fell into somewhat of a disarray (a “lets keep this piece breezy” understatement if there ever was one) and on account of that, our borders were closed and we lived for a few years (read: better part of the decade) with: 1000% a month inflation, no foreign music (legally) available anywhere and no foreign musicians visiting us whatsoever (I mean, I think the Gypsy Kings made their way in somehow, but maybe that was just a Bamboleo bootleg fueled fever dream I had when I was 10). ANYWAY, long story short, IDEALLY my 1st concert would have either been Jason Donovan + Kylie Minogue (circa Especially for You) or New Kids on The Block (circa anytime) or maybe Paula Abdul BUT that was not meant to be. tear
Instead, I went to see Zdravko Colic on one of his annual massive concerts at the only sport arena/concert hall in my hometown that could hold more than 500 people. (in the defense of my hometown, I should note that these days it is the home of one of the biggest international music festivals in Europe and that kids there can now say they saw Nick Cave or Prodigy or Atoms for Peace or in 2014 Disclosure as their first concert ever, which, I guess, is pretty cool). But this was 1991 and frankly, in my mind, this was ALMOST better than seeing NKOTB.
It is completely OK that you have NO IDEA who Zdravko Colic is but for the better part of 80s, 90s and 2000s this former professional soccer goalie-turned-singer was the Yugoslavian answer to George Michael, Bryan Ferry, David Bowie (instead of “FASHION”, he had a song encouraging you to “FORGET FASHION”) combined smoothly together in a soft-serve swirl of Balkan pop. Ambiguously sexual, with amazing hair and what my Mother referred to as “snake hips” (sorry Mom), he was the biggest pop star one could possibly see live at the time.
AND SO I DID. AND IT WAS AMAZING. The concert itself, I mean. The most important thing was that I was allowed to go by myself (along with my two other best friends at the time, all of us barely/maybe not quite 11 (Tina! Jelena! Ljubim vas!) and that it felt VERY grown up (I feel like there were tiny backpacks and mock turtlenecks involved-the lure of which traveled past economic embargo and into our closets no questions asked, as if the Western World was all too happy to get rid of it) and that we knew all the words to all the songs and we never sat down once. We were awkward and gawky as all hell (this was the era we wore legging jeans as regular pants because we were THAT skinny) and maybe a little hopped up on off brand Coca-Cola we were consuming heavily all evening but we felt like these songs were sung TO US. Just us. No chance in hell any parent would have allowed for this to happen in the States, but this was the early 90s in Yugoslavia and there were ALWAYS more dangerous things to worry about than what time your kid may end up going to bed or if they may see something they were not supposed to see at a pop concert. And I am weirdly grateful that that was the case. And now, a 1000 concerts I attended across all sorts of countries later, as I was looking up the youtube clips to choose for this story I STILL remembered every single word to every single song. There is (apparently) just a part of my brain that will never not contain that information.
I have chosen 2 clips below-first one has sort of a pop-Gypsy vibe and is built around the notion about how Hungarian girls are “as sweet as candy” (a point of contention in my hometown, which was very close to Hungary and for reasons still not quite clear to me VERY competitive with it, making it all the harder to succumb to the undeniable turbo-folky catchiness of the song) and the second one is a power ballad entitled “You can do it all, but not this ONE thing” (loose translation) and the video looks like one of those horrible no-copyright things they play in cheesy karaoke private rooms but still makes me cry a little as the chorus swells. Who am I kidding? It makes me cry A LOT.http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pgiN60dekIs http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NhDR7Ssm4M
Insane Jane @ 9:30 Club, November 16, 1991
By Peter Heyneman
In the summer of 1991 I missed going to the first Lollapalooza because I had to go to a pool party or something. I blame the hostess Jenny, she had super cute braces and was wicked fit. The pool party was lame, they only had candy and the parents were there and they blasted Paula Abdul. I wore a pair of black cutoff jeans and a t-shirt in the pool and weirded everyone out.
A few weeks later me and my best friend Mark took the train from Silver Spring to see King Missile at the old 9:30 club, which at the time was the regular 9:30 Club. I had never been to a show before, but I had seen Suburbia twice, and Repo Man once, so I was pretty sure of what was going to go down. I wore my acid-washed grey jean jacket festooned with cheap Soviet medals my dad brought back for me from Russia and my jungle boots. Mark wore a level 33 jewish afro-hawk, because he did that every single day like a fucking hero. The 9:30 was in a part of town that is definitely really nice now, I actually don’t remember where it was even though the address was in the damn name. Back then I think the neighborhood was called ‘Escape From New York.’
We slunk in with our Xs and milled around staring at everyone. It was not approximately like Suburbia, it was exactly like Suburbia. Everyone was so cool and old and pre-emo hardcore we couldn’t look at anyone so we argued about who the coolest Teen Titan was instead. It was also packed, and 3000 degrees. The opening band came on, a weird sub-Throwing Muses ripoff local band called Insane Jane. It was probably called, at the time, College Rock. Mark and I, not even in the front of the club, but stashed behind the first column in the middle of the room, immediately started circle-moshing. The college girls, skinheads, and Guy Picciottos looked at us like we were pogs covered in shit and swiftly moved out of the way. Embarrassed, but unwilling to admit we had no idea what we were doing, we continued to semi-halfheartedly slamdance for their entire set, even to the ballad about the lead singers’ mean sister or negative magazine images or whatever it was. Then it was 11:25 and we had to walk to the last train to get back to Silver Spring. I’ve never seen King Missile. I hear they are pretty good live.
In retrospect, I didn’t make out with Jenny at the pool party but the work I put in netted me a date at the end of the summer to the Larroquette/Alley flop Madhouse, a movie so filled with putrid 80s cringe-humor that she had no choice but to make out with me; my first open mouth kiss. Her breath tasted like steel cabbage. I regret almost nothing.
Luciano Pavarotti @ Capital Centre, July 1, 1992
By Andrew Bucket
In 1992 I went with my parents to see Luciano Pavarotti at the Cap Centre. Our seats were on the 2nd tier, stage right, just above the bowl. Then President George H W Bush was in attendance and accompanying him was the Prime Minister of Japan, and this was their first time hanging out since Bush had famously vomited in his lap. Pavarotti was serving a diplomatic function at this show and have shout outs to both world leaders and also said something weirdly flirty to Barbara Bush.
Bush left early, and the Secret Service were ushering him out of the bowl along a path at stage right. I ran out to the railing, and stuck out my hand. Bush rerouted towards me, and shook my hand for a photo op. He asked me if I liked Pavarotti. I said yes.
After the show we spent $6 on a pay phone to call relatives to tell them the news that I had met the President. The next Easter my parents sent me a card “from my friend the President,” and I acted excited about it, even though it was now 1993 and I only cared about Bill Clinton.
Pearl Jam @ ?, Summer 1995
Hm, I sort of remember my parents sneaking us into the lawn of Wolf Trap to see Peter, Paul & Mary (such rebels!), but the first real concert I went to without parents was probably Pearl Jam. When I was home for Christmas this past December I found an old box with ticket stubs. This post wasn’t a thing at the time so I didn’t note down the date, but I’m guessing 1995. Others included Tori Amos, Widespread Panic, Medeski Martin & Wood, Ani Defranco, Indigo Girls, Bela Fleck, but mostly Phish. Apparently, I was a hippie lesbian. I really don’t remember much of the Pearl Jam show except it was awesome. More interesting though was the other assortment of goodies I found in the box such as:
– cassette tape Transformers dog
– MC Hammer wallet
– 100-sided die (2x)
– Gremlins 2: The New Batch candy dispenser
– Construx cosmonaut
– smiley face snap bracelet
– authentic ninja sai
Bad Religion, Unwritten Law, Dance Hall Crashers @ Paramount Theatre, May 17, 1996
By Erik Lofton
I got dragged to a Bad Religion show at like 13 years old. It was my first time ever seeing the Misfits Crimson Ghost logo on the back of some punks leather jacket… and I was irrevocably changed forever.
Hootie & the Blowfish @ Nissan Pavilion, July 27 or 28, 1996
By Ross Bonaime
The first concert I remember going to was The Beach Boys. I barely remember anything about this show, except that as a young child, I was more excited about the inflatable car next to the stage and that Uncle Jessie was playing the drums. But the first concert I actually chose – rather than being dragged by my parents – was 90’s legends Hootie & the Blowfish. Now I’m not even talking about peak Hootie, you know, “Hold My Hand,” Cracked Rear View-era Hootie. I’m talking after their second album, Fairweather Johnson-era, where America was basically saying, “oh…what were we thinking?” already.
I remember my grandma bought me the tickets and told my family the story of how she called Ticketmaster (likely on a rotary dial phone cause Jesus, this story is making me feel old) and asked for three tickets to see “Pootie and the Boofish.” Apparently the Ticketmaster people laughed at her, which my family also did over and over.
I don’t know exactly why I liked Hootie & the Blowfish so much – besides that the rest of American also loved them for like two years – and I was too young to understand the intricacies of “Let Her Cry” or “Only Wanna Be With You.” Was Darius Rucker saying that actual dolphins or the Miami Dolphins made him cry? I assume this is also why I liked the Miami Dolphins in 1996, the only year I had any interest in football, but more truthfully, an interest in football team logos.
Hell, for some reason in elementary school, for an assignment on who we looked up to, I wrote about Darius Rucker. I have no idea how pre-Internet Ross knew so much about Darius Rucker, but for some reason I saw him as a role model?
Anyways, doing some Google research, I discovered that the show took place at Nissan Pavilion, where the South Carolinan quartet played two nights. TWO! That’s twice as many nights as James Taylor, Steely Dan or Alanis Morissette WITH RADIOHEAD OPENING.
By the night of the concert, I had already sort of grown tired of Hootie. Think Cracked Rear View sounds bad now? Try listening to Fairweather Johnson. It’s impossibly terrible. My first concert also happens to be my first awareness of how obnoxious concert goers could be, as I got my taste of awful middle-aged drunk spectators. Which to be fair, they had more of a right to be at a Hootie & the Blowfish concert in the mid-90s than a barely eleven-year-old child.
I barely remember much about the concert except I was mostly bored and that I just wanted to sit down or go home. I’d probably have preferred to listen to Cracked again while playing NBA Jam at home or something. I don’t think I ever really listened to Hootie & the Blowfish beyond that concert, as soon my taste would change to more “alternative” music. You know, like No Doubt and Tragic Kingdom. I guess I should just stick with saying my first concert was The Beach Boys, I guess.
Shawn Colvin @ Wolf Trap, Summer 1996 and/or Rolling Stones @ FedEx Field, October 4, 2002 and/or Rooney, Phantom Planet @ 9:30 Club, July 11, 2004
By Megan Burns
If we’re going to be super technical about this, then my first concert was Shawn Colvin (you know, the “Sunny Came Home” person) at Wolf Trap when I was still in elementary school. We were there because my sister Quinn (who is five years my senior) felt like going (#SOCOOL), so my dad took me, her and a friend. It was the first time I’d been around people who were bad at hiding their level of inebriation, so that was pretty exciting, but mostly I just remember eating Cow Tales (which is a dumb candy, in case you aren’t privy) en masse and being majorly bored.
I guess my next super technical “first concert” was the Rolling Stones at FedEx Field in 2002; I went with my best friend’s family for her birthday, and I remember it took a lot of parental convincing since my mom is a Beatles fan, and she probably felt like it was going to be Altamont all over again, and I’d be stabbed with a pool cue by a member of the Hell’s Angels at the age of fourteen. Fortunately I was not stabbed by any bikers; the only remotely scandalous thing that happened to me was when I unwittingly drank a large sip of my friend’s older brother’s bourbon and coke. But Mick was obviously amazing, slash I’m pretty sure we wore the same jeans size at that moment in time. (Maybe I should’ve thrown my pants at him in appreciation.)
And if we’re NOT so technically speaking, then my first “cool” concert (we are using “cool” in the slightly ironic sense, just to be clear) was at the 9:30 Club when I was fifteen years old for a Rooney and Phantom Planet show. I actually remember very little about the performance except for that afterward we waited for a really long time to have Robert Schwartzman sign my checkerboard Vans (I repeat, SO COOL!) outside the tour bus. I’m also fairly positive there was another band on after that for a separate late show, and while my friend Beth (whose mom had driven us) was asking how she could get involved in the street team movement (LOL) I was busy plotting how to steal memorabilia, like set lists and also a bloody guitar pick (which was super disgusting in retrospect, slash I still have it in my childhood bedroom in a cigar box).
So I think what we can learn from all this is that I am really cool, slash much cooler than you, slash it is a wonder that no one came to my sixteenth birthday party! THE END.
Foo Fighters, Smoking Popes @ Milwaukee Summerfest, July 5 1997
By Brandon Wetherbee
I didn’t realize the Smoking Popes were opening. The bill advertized Supergrass. Supergrass was just OK. I loved The Popes. I definitely wouldn’t have let that girl stand on my bleacher if I knew it was going to be the Smoking Popes. I was on the last row of bleachers, standing to get a decent view of the stage. Behind me was a few thousand people straining to see. I was straining to see during the Smoking Popes.
My then favorite album by my then favorite band. The Foos only had two albums to pull from so the set was the exact set I’d like to hear in 2014, half Cheap Trick meets Naked Raygun inspired garage rock from their self-titled debut, half polished attempts to sound like The Pixies from The Colour and the Shape. It was a good set that seemed great at the time. It was good enough to purchase a black (HARD TO FIND!) tour t-shirt.
Why did I let that pretty girl stand on the bleacher during the Popes? She had a boyfriend. What was I going to do? My chivalry was pointless. Why did my mom wait a few stages away, alone? Jesus Christ, I was a dumb asshole kid.
Aaron Carter @ Pier 6 Pavilion or Merriweather Post Pavilion, sometime between 1998 and 2003
By Kaylee Dugan
To be honest, I can’t exactly remember a lot from my first concert. It’s not because it wasn’t awesome, because it was, and it’s not that I was too young to remember, because I wasn’t. It’s all my parents fault actually, because they took me to see Aaron Carter twice in a row. The only things I know for sure is that both concerts took place while I was in elementary school (so sometime between 1998-2003) and that I saw him once at Pier 6 Pavilion in Baltimore and once at Merriweather Post Pavilion in Columbia. Actually, when I needed a job during the summer after my freshman year of college, I applied to Merriweather Post and I’m pretty sure the only reason they brought me in for an interview was because I gushed about how my first concert was there (sorry I might have lied, guys! But thanks for getting me a job, Aaron Carter!). There are a couple of things I vaguely remember, like my brother and I buying the same Aaron Carter t-shirt (I think it was blue?) and that my younger cousin Rachel and I had a competition where we tried to get Aaron Carter to wave at one of us, or something like that. What is crystal clear in my mind was the pure unadulterated joy that I felt during the show. I remember screaming along to every word and dancing to every song. I remember having the time of my life. And then I (kind of) remember doing it all over again.
Beck, Ben Folds Five, Elliott Smith @ Saratoga Performing Arts Center, June 6, 1998
By Benjamin Freed
Whatever and Ever Amen was not the first album over which my friends and I geeked out, but it was the first album that compelled us to save up our allowances for a few weeks and blow it on concert tickets. Ben Folds Five was the middle act between Elliott Smith and Beck on tour in 1998, stopping at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center in early June. My friend TJ’s mom drove me and our friend Brian up to Saratoga and let us loose in the SPAC parking lot.
God, I wish I had known who Elliott Smith was back then. I can’t remember a damn thing about his opening set, and I’ve felt shitty about that for the past decade. And then Ben Folds Five came out and played pretty much all of Whatever and Ever and most of the self-titled album. Wasn’t “Brick” the big hit then? Yeah, half the amphitheater pulled out their lighters for the song about an abortion. We were holding out for “Song for the Dumped,” which seems strange for a bunch of 14-year-olds. Sure, we were old enough to have been rejected by a crush or two, but none of us had been fucked over by a girlfriend yet. But, whatever, that track rocks, and it’s still one of the best break-up songs. Folds started smashing the keys out of the piano, which I learned later that summer—Thanks, proto-Internet!—was actually a nightly tour stunt.
And then Beck. Plays the hits for an hour. Goes off-stage. Comes back with “Where It’s At” for the encore. His stage set included this inclined treadmill he rode up and jumped off. I’ll admit to this: Odelay had been out for nearly two years by then and I didn’t own a copy. I went out and bought it the next week.
Korn, Rob Zombie, Videodrone @ National Car Rental Center, March 9, 1999
By Chris Kelly
My first concert was Korn (anyone know the ASCII code for a backwards R?) and Rob Zombie, back on March 9, 1999. I was 14 years old, and I make no apologies for it — nü metal and Jncos were how you rebelled in the South Florida suburbs.
The show was at the National Car Rental Center (it’s not called that anymore) in Sunrise, FL; it’s where the Panthers play and it’s better known as the overflow parking for the nearby outlet stores. I went with my best friend, as you do. My parents dropped me off — none of this helicopter-parents-at-the-concert shit that I saw at the Earl Sweatshirt show the other night.
Videodrone opened; I remember that is wasn’t any good, and Wikipedia says they were originally an early 90s industrial band called Cradle of Thorns (holy shit). They gave away this split cassette after the show and I still fuck with this Shootyz Groove song:
Rob Zombie had just released his first solo album; Setlist.fm lies – it was a full length set, and I definitely remember some weird version of “More Human Than Human.” Did he drive the Dragula on stage? Who can remember.
Korn headlined — they were touring in support of Follow the Leader, an album that has sold an unfathomable 14 million copies. The setlist is also online, and I only recognize a few of the songs — “Blind,” “Freak on a Leash,” “Got the Life,” and “A.D.I.D.A.S.” – a song that still resonates with 14-year-olds everywhere. What I mostly remember about their performance is straining to see if the women in the on-stage cages were actually going to flash the crowd. If they did, I couldn’t see from the cheap seats.
RIP tracksuits and7-string guitars.
Backstreet Boys’ “Into the Millennium” Tour @ Great Western Forum, October 19, 1999
by Stephanie Breijo
When I was 11 or 12 years old I sat in my orthodontist’s chair with a plaster mold taking shape around my teeth.
“Do you want anything in it?”
He had already explained the basics insomuch as late ’90s technology allowed for customized retainer color, pattern and even inserts. I informed him of my wish to have a deep blue plastic base with silver sparkles, one red heart graphic, and a cut-out of the words “BACKSTREET BOYS” from a J14 magazine. Why I chose the words as opposed to a photo of the boy band I’d long sworn allegiance to I’ll never know, but it was done and I spent the years surrounding Y2K with the Backstreet Boys in my mouth every night, with the most innocent of intentions, unbelievable as that may sound to your ears now.
While this was possibly the pinnacle of my BSB fandom, it really came to a head when a handful of friends and I drove to Inglewood, chaperoned, in a rented limo to the Backstreet Boys’ Millennium tour. These were some of the closest friendships I ever had, forged in the fires of BSB sing-a-longs where, in an obsessive stroke of tween fan rabidity, we would designate which of us would sing whose vocal parts, and spend hours–literal hours–watching and rewinding VHS tapes of their music videos to learn the choreography of “Everybody,” the elusive “As Long As You Love Me” chair dance and even the live version of European export “That’s The Way I Like It.”
While I don’t remember many specifics of this tour I found a video of the opening to the show, which for all its technological/pyrotechnic opulence is sadly overshadowed by just how fuckawful Nick Carter’s hair apparently was during this period and the fact that the costume designer figured post-millennial society would be overrun by two classes: elite boy band and janitorial staff. There are a lot of hand-drum solos during their intro and let’s all please note that A.J. McLean, the “bad boy,” refuses to remove his backwards baseball cap even while decked out in futuristic garb. (He also refuses to remove his chinstrap 15 years later, but, you know, erroneous).
Say what you and I will about the video, though; it’s clear they’re all singing live and I can’t say the same for Britney, whom I saw shortly thereafter. This talent was apparent on their Black and Blue tour, too, though that was the end of the line for my BSB fandom. While I’ll always hold dear the limo ride, the bizarre hover boards and the terrible costumes, the Millennium tour really serves as the realization of an era I’m not so ashamed to revisit every now and again; I just make sure to do it alone or in the company of trusted friends and without the roll-on body glitter and butterfly hair clips.
P.S. I listened to “Quit Playin’ Games (With My Heart)” six times in a row while writing this.
P.P.S. Do you guys remember when they made a comeback without Kevin?
‘N Sync @ The Today Show, August 20, 2001
By Morgan Fecto
I hate to contribute to the identity of the proverbial “90s kid,” but most of my childhood memories are mod-podged with Lisa Frank stickers. I wore necklaces that looked like tattoos, watched Billy Madison multiple times in a single sitting, and sang along to “Man in the Box” from a car seat. The memory of my first concert, however, is firmly rooted in the new millennium. It was 2001. It was The Today Show. It was N fucking SYNC.
I was sandwiched between so many hormonal fan-girls that my 7-year-old cycle almost synced (no pun intended,) and I narrowly avoided freezing my ass off. I didn’t even get to see frosted tips in real-time—only the idea of them suggested by a nearby monitor. The snake-skinned fivesome didn’t Courtney Cox me on to the stage either, although Mira Sorvino did wave to me in an effort to seem accessible during an interview. The synchronized suck fest was not all I ever wanted (or all I ever needed,) but it taught me a valuable lesson about hype, and that I shouldn’t lean on strangers in front of me unless I want some lady to yell, “quit crushing my daughter.” If I could go back with the knowledge I have now, I might spend less time waving a crudely designed, misspelled poster at the back of a stage and more time searching for Al Roker.
Pretty Girls Make Graves @ Sit and Spin, July 14, 2002
By Farrah Skeiky
I didn’t know what “Art Rock” was when I was 12, nor did I really care. All I knew was that Pretty Girls Make Graves had put out an amazing debut album, Good Health, a couple months before. I was starting to get scared. When you’re that young, you’ve got a very selfish perspective on music: this song is your song. It made your life better. And the second this band hits it big (or even bigger than they already have), they won’t be your band anymore. PGMG had already started touring the west coast at this point, and were even headed to Reading & Leeds that summer. And I had one chance, before the whole world and MTV2 stole this gem away from me, to see them– at a laundromat.
On this particular night, PGMG was opening for Mudhoney, but seeing Mudhoney was sadly never part of the plan. I was the kid that would shut myself in my room with my pre-ordered Harry Potter the day it came out, refusing to release myself until I was done with the book. But that could only get me so far in the oblivious parents department. I was a nerd, and they trusted me to be a nerd, but I had a feeling they’d notice if I was gone for more than a couple hours. I grabbed the bus to Bellmont under the guise of working on a project at a friend’s house, hoping that no one would care about the scrawny kid who came to see the opening band.
And the Sit and Spin was the perfect place for a kid’s first show. It was a laundromat/restaurant hybrid with board games and bands. The ambitious space was small, meaning I was standing just a few inches from the band the second I arrived, which was earlier than most (It took me a while to break this habit of needing to be the first person there, but I promise you, it happened). I couldn’t hang around the bar counter because I was obviously a kid, so my only option was to be the only weirdo standing right in front of the stage while the band soundchecked. And for a twelve year old, it was a weirdo’s dream come true. All summer, I had been worried that this band wouldn’t be mine any more, and this soundcheck was for me.
I had no idea that this show would set the standard for any following live performances I would attend. Good Health was and is fun to listen to in the car, at home, at a bar, at your friend’s party, but each song wailed with audacity and instigation live– even in a small laundromat. I was under the naive notion that they would be performing songs exactly as they had been recorded, and this is partly why I was so surprised. Andrea Zollo was a great frontwoman with more energy than most, and the chaos she created on stage later had the band referred to as a “female fronted At the Drive-In.” But here, my favorite lyrics were brought to life in a way I wasn’t anticipating.
It’s pretty powerful for a weird little kid to hear those words live– lyrics like “Do you remember when you could not put it away/ Do you remember what the music meant?” and “Cause someone always wants to listen to hate/ It’s just too bad you’re so easy to ignore.” It wasn’t emo, but it was highly relatable and delivered in the provocative manner of the riot grrrl bands that came before. To be a kid and discover a song like “Speakers Push the Air” that describes your love for music so perfectly is truly special. This show was also where I discovered that I wasn’t self conscious at shows– I wanted to dance like an idiot, and I wanted to belt out the lyrics along with everyone else. Plenty of the lyrical content was so vulnerable and relatable that the band inevitably created a safe space for girls like me to scream our hearts out over our insecurities– and when you’re 12, you’ve got a lot of insecurities.
As soon as the band finished, I sprinted to the bus stop and hoped my absence hadn’t been noted, but I felt emboldened by what had just happened. At this point, I couldn’t settle for not seeing my favorite bands live. In short, yes: I heard a record and it opened my eyes.
Britney Spears, Kelis, Skye Sweetnam @ Wachovia Center, March 31, 2004
By Emily Cohen
My first concert was none other than the Princess of Pop, or is she the Queen by now, Miss Britney Spears. I was a late bloomer when it came to concerts. My mom took me when I was twelve to the, then, Wachovia Center in Philadelphia to watch Miss Spears and her two openers, Skye Sweetnam, who sadly never made it past her one big song, and Kelis, yes, ‘Milkshake” Kelis. It was a purely magical night on her Onyx Hotel tour, life changing even. Within two years I started making concerts a regularly scheduled part of my life (you know, after my mom stopped being scared of Philadelphia and would let me go to the shows even though she would sit in the parking lot for most of them.).
The Corrs @ Wolf Trap, August 25, 2004
By Ashley Wright
I was 10 or 11. My best friend’s father took me, my best friend Kirsten, and her two little brothers. Her brothers ran between the concertgoers, screaming and laughing and annoying the shit out of everyone. Kirsten and I sat on our blanket with her dad and tried to catch the eyes of the equally awkward pre-teen boys sitting on the hill below us (Did the preteen boys choose to go see The Corrs? -ed (Who goes to see The Corrs? -ed)). I think I only knew one of the songs. All in all it was pretty anticlimactic.
Warped Tour @ Darien Lake Six Flags P.A.C., July 26, 2005
By Matt Byrne
Warped Tour 2005 wasn’t my first concert, throughout middle school and early high school I’d been to my fair share of shitty Battles of the Bands, watching dudely Incubus wannabes mop the floor with each and every member of the myriad third wave ska bands one each show (marching band was huge in my hometown, so ska was a natural evolution for these band wieners).
Warped ’05 was, however, one of my first opportunities to see a bunch of bigger time bands I’d become vaguely interested in after reading about them in a copy of Alternative Press I’d convinced my mom to buy me from the supermarket. I was midway through the process of figuring out what music was good (I remember buying The Chili Peps’ By The Way and Belle & Sebastian’s Dear Catastrophe Waitress in one Sam Goody transaction around that time), so a festival with a buttload of bands, most of whom I was familiar with in name only, seemed like a cool way to scope out one scene I was considering getting way into.
I had a nice, if unexceptional time. I convinced a handful of my cooler theatre friends (including my then best friend and my now long term girlfriend) to head out to the local Six Flags. We spent a lot of time perusing the merch area, picking up a ton of free swag, like label samplers, key chains decked out with logos of skate companies I’d never heard of, and free Trojan Mint Tingle condoms, which we immediately opened and dared each other to taste (consensus was that they tasted like rubber dipped in Listerine).
As far as actual bands go, I remember being way unimpressed by My Chemical Romance, getting yelled at by security for crowd surfing during All American Rejects, and being totally down with a then-unknown Paramore, who was relegated to a tiny pink-accented, poorly attended “Girls Rock” type side stage, the setup of which looked like an afterthought to an afterthought.
But the most vivid memory I have from that day is unrelated to any of the handful of bands I’d seen. As things came to a close and we made our way back to the car, we discovered the huge bag of gummy worms we’d bought to snack on during the 45-minute drive to Six Flags had melted together after spending eight hours baking inside a hot sedan.
There’s probably a metaphor to be wrung from that image; a hot, colorful, amorphous blob of substance-free sweets greeting us after a Summer day spent watching mostly forgettable mallcore bands for 5-10 minutes apiece before wandering off. Even though it was a sticky mess that honestly didn’t taste very good, we still ate that rest of that candy glob on the ride home.
Fall Out Boy, All American Rejects, Hawthorne Heights, From First to Last @ Merriweather Post Pavilion, May 4, 2006
By Carly Loman
My first concert. Jesus. Well, I just did some Google-ing and discovered that the particular tour I attended (notice I haven’t disclosed artists names as of yet) was in 2006. That means, using math, that I was 13-years-old. Recently bat mitzvahed and fresh outta 6th grade, I’d say I was more than ready for my first concert experience. My best friend thought so too, I discovered late one sleepover-night. We had just finished raiding her parent’s liquor cabinet and taking sips of everything imaginable (think: cooking sherry) and, red-faced and numb-lipped, began questioning why we hadn’t attended a “real” concert yet. There was no good reason, we realized. We had to find something.
That’s when we moved into the computer room, as it was called then, and began discussing who we would like to see in concert. We almost immediately agreed (as best friends are wont to do) that either All American Rejects or Fall Out Boy would be perfect. We then ‘asked Jeeves’, or did whatever you did to look things up back in 2005, and discovered *gasp* they were DOUBLE HEADLINING a tour AND coming to Merriweather Post Pavilion.
The next day I asked my Dad, who said yes, but also insisted I bring my high school aged second cousin. It was chill, she’s chill. So I got on the phone with my best friend and we coordinated ticket-buying along with (I think) three other lucky, lucky, ladies. In the interim between ticket-buying and concert-attending, we decorated concert-themed shirts. I bought the supplies at Michaels. They were probably the lamest things to have existed, but looking back I feel sort of affectionate towards their bubble lettered proclamations of “rock on!” and glitter-laden lighting bolts that simply screamed “ROCK N ROLL.”
So, the actual concert. We got ready at my house and, in matching shirts, got driven by my nervous father to Merriweather. Once there, we squeezed our way right into the middle of the audience. The first to play was From First to Last (which means I’ve seen Skrillex (in some incarnation) a total of 3 times now. I don’t want to talk about it.) and then it was Hawthorne Heights. I remember feeling scared.
I remember feeling more scared when Fall Out Boy (or All American Rejects, who knows) came out. We were in the mosh pit. I can’t imagine how intense a Fall Out Boy mosh pit actually was, but I do remember how intense I felt it was at the time. Namely, very. There was a dad behind us and he did most of the blocking for us, which was kind. Ignoring my burgeoning anxiety, I continued singing along and flashing the metal-hand. I remember feeling very cool using the metal-hand. The mosh pit eventually subsided, as did my worry, and I actually began to enjoy the show in a real way. It felt cathartic to be lost, singing, smooshed in a big crowd.
To this day, I think that’s my favorite thing about going to shows—the catharsis. I don’t know what it is about live music, but it has that effect on me (and lots of other people too, I bet). It feels great. As I left the venue, sweaty and sore, I felt like I had conquered…something. Not sure what, exactly, but I know I felt good when I met my dad out back and drove home.
I’m pretty sure I put on my Fall Out Boy CD.
Osheaga Music Festival @ Jean Drapeau Park, August 2-3, 2008
By Avalon Swindell Jones
My mom had a few bands when I was little, so I have been going to concerts since before I can remember. I saw The Rolling Stones when I was 13, but my greatest memory from the experience is that fire was involved in some way…I think. Canada’s 2008 Osheaga music festival was the first concert(s) I can remember in detail and could appreciate. I definitely did not understand the coolness factor of going to a huge music festival, even if I was with my parents. If I went today, I’d be much more grateful and excited because I’m actually familiar with the bands I saw. Instead, I’m stuck deciding if I have the funds to go to Firefly or Sweetlife, while being super annoyed with my younger self.
Anyway, my parents were cool enough to include this festival during our trip to Montreal. I saw great bands, including The Black Keys, Rogue Wave, Cat Power, MGMT, Chromeo, Broken Social Scene, Jack Johnson, and Duffy (totally forgot about her). During the Rogue Wave concert, I distinctly remember people squatting down in front of us to roll joints. My younger sister had a bad habit of yelling inappropriate things out, so of course she loudly questioned my parents about what was happening. I was super uncomfortable, yet tried to act cool, while I pretending to focus on recording videos (that I will never watch again) on my digital camera. The whole experience is kind of like a dream now; I can remember snippets of each concert and whatnot, but if I tried to explain them, I would make no sense. Maybe it’s better that way…
Now that we showed you ours, please feel free to share yours too. (Obviously) we won’t judge: