So as previously established in my first blog, I love music. I really love it. I’ve been to a lot of shows, put on a lot of shows and even put on epic rock shows in my car while driving. I’m honestly most at peace, but at the same time more alive when the music is so loud that it drowns out everything around me. It helps me focus my emotions, think, and basically let it all out. Even right now I’m blasting my ear drums into an early grave. When I’m at a good show, packed in tight between the guy that never heard of deodorant and the little high school girl who thought it would be a good idea to get to the front, I am alive with an energy I’ve only ever felt at a damn good rock show.
So I’ve seen some good shows and some bad shows. I’ve seen bands that I thought would be great that sucked. I’ve also seen bands that I thought would just be okay that ended up blowing my mind. Here is the cream of the crop.
5. NOFX/Alkaline Trio/Jello Biafra
Let me start out by saying that Kevin Shoop is an idiot. I love him to death, but he’s by far my most absent minded friend who you can’t trust with a dollar. I got us tickets literally the second they went on sale while we were at the Battle of the Bands where Stop to Think rocked it. I had the tickets for about 2 months before the show. Now I knew then that Kevin would lose his wiener if he didn’t play with it so much, but he insisted that I give him his ticket a few weeks before the show. So like Kevin he lost his ticket. His solution? Scalping. So we go to the show early to find tickets. These tickets retailed at $35 so we were hoping to find another one for about $50. Not much of a chance at that. $80-$100 was the going price. Another thing about Kevin is that at the time he had two jobs, lived with his parents, apparently bought nothing and was somehow always broke. It defied all reasoning. So I found out that while we were looking for tickets that he was indeed still broke. Now we had driven 90 miles to go to this show and I wasn’t about to leave my friend out in the cold while I had the time of my life, so I covered for him and then spent the next 4 months trying to get my money back, which usually came in the form of chips and fast food. I love you, Kevin. Remind me to tell you guys about the time her burnt his hands.
Now when I first went to this show I was going for NOFX. I had never heard of Alkaline Trio and the Dead Kennedys were long before my time, so I wasn’t expecting a lot until Fat Mike took the stage. Well silly me. Alkaline Trio opened. They came out in crushed velvet suits. They were pretty damn good. It inspired to pick a few of their albums, and what I didn’t have my buddy Dan provided for me. This is another band that I would for sure put on a top 25. After Alkaline Trio blew my mind, Jello Biafra, former lead singer of the Dead Kennedys came out and talked about the war and got everyone fired up and ready to revolt against the government. I did forget to mention that this was the, “Rock Against Bush Tour.” He was very inspirational and by the time he was done the crowd was ready to vent their frustrations. So the greatest punk band of all time, NOFX, gave us all the outlet we needed.
For those of you that haven’t heard of NOFX, let me give you a little history. They’ve been a band since 1983. For those of you that have your shoes on, that’s over 20 years. They’re always touring and recording. They refuse to have any of their stuff on the radio or MTV/VH1. They’re just about the most successful independent band ever. I love them and you should too. They played songs from every era of the band including B-sides and unrecorded material, including one of my favorite songs, Idiot Son of an Asshole (it’s about Bush). I really had no idea what to expect from them and it was great. They were funny, drunk, played like shit, and made fun of the crowd. They ended with the song, Theme From a NOFX Album, where Eric Melvin kept tearing up guitar solos as the lights came up and everyone else from the band had left stage. No encore, just Melvin. It was just rad.
4. Nine Inch Nail/ A Perfect Circle
The first real concert I ever went to was technically the Beach Boys (John Stamos was drumming) when I was 7 or 8. Now that was great, but I don’t really remember it all that well. Nine Inch Nails was really the first concert I really remember. Let’s set the mood. I was 17, hated the world, liked to think I was dark and mysterious but really I was fat, cuddly, and looked 12 with a stupid hair cut. Looking at myself now I’m not much of a fan anymore. Not to say I don’t think their music isn’t great, because it is, but I’m at a different place in my life. I’m no longer the hopeless kid that just wanted to scare the shit out of people. Nine Inch Nails was a band that basically said, “You’re having a bad day? Well let’s have a bad day together. You’re not alone.”
The show opened with A Perfect Circle. APC was a side project from the lead singer of Tool, Maynard James Keenan. It was similar in style to Tool, but I would describe them as slightly easier to listen to for the uninitiated. They played great and put on a strange show where Maynard was lying down for about half the set. Something to this day I’ve never seen again. Their show wasn’t psychedelic like Tool shows are famous for being, but Maynard’s voice was spot on and it warmed me up for NIN.
NIN’s set was great and I was pressed up against two really hot girls the whole time. In fact, this show marked the first, and so far only time I’ve ever beat up a drunk man. He kept trying to grab at the girls and push me down. So I kicked him in the back of the leg. When he was off balance I pushed him into the mosh pit which where he got tossed around until we didn’t have to deal with him anymore. Needless to say I was a hero of Conan caliber, and was treated to very close dancing (especially during the song closer) with those hot chicks for the rest of the night. My 17 year old hormones loved me so much. The girls actually wanted to hang out after the show. I then broke the news that I was 17. They were 28. At that point I was no longer invited. So NIN marked a few firsts and almost firsts which is really the main reason it make the list.
3. Saves The Day/Senses Fail/The Early November/Emanuel
This show would have been number 2 if the original line up had actually made it. Say Anything was supposed to play but Max Bemis had a break down and canceled the tour resulting in Emanuel taking their spot. In fact the last track on the first disc of Say Anything’s album, In Defense of the Genre, is actually about that same break down. It took a show that would have probably been the greatest show ever and turned it into a show that was just amazing. Emanuel played well and it inspired to pick up their records, but they were no Say Anything.
Now I’m a huge Early November fan, and if they hadn’t broken up they would have beat out Brand New for my top 5. I’ll go more into them a bit later. They came and rocked it in traditional Early November fashion. Little did I know it was the last time I would ever see them on stage, so looking back now it’s actually making me a little sad. Senses Fail played great. In fact I think they’re much better now that the guitarist from Midtown is playing for them after they split. The lead singer, Buddy Nielsen (no relation), has a hard time hitting the high notes live, which would them put him off key a few times, but it was okay because I was singing along pretty loud to cover for him.
Now for most shows I just love to be in the pit singing along, but for STD I went up to the balcony and grabbed a seat. I really wanted to take them in. Some people hate Chris Conley’s voice. I say those people can go to hell. That guy is a freaking angel. He has a way of taking a string of lyrics that just shouldn’t work, and making them work. He’s unconventional and amazing to watch live. He responded so well to the crowd and you could tell that he loves every single one of his fans. I sang along to every song, just like 90% of the crowd. I felt like a damn hippy. They played stuff from every album, and the crowd lit up at the beginning of every song. So far they’ve been the single greatest band I’ve seen, but it’s not about the single band, but the entire show.
2. Warped Tour 2004
This one is kind of cheating. It’s technically a music festival but I saw so many great bands here that I’ve always wanted to see in one place on the same day. So here’s the list of the bands: New Found Glory, Alkaline Trio, NOFX, Anti Flag, Bad Religion, Story of the Year, Thursday, Taking Back Sunday, Flogging Molly Yellowcard, Coheed and Cambria, Bouncing Souls, and my friends in BXF got on for the Portland stop. There were so many bands that I had to choose not to see Senses Fail and My Chemical Romance. These bands listed above make about half of the bands that really shaped me today, so seeing them all in one place was basically the most amazing thing I’ve ever experienced. No warped tour line up before or since has been this good.
NOFX was characteristically drunk and seemed to play every 50 second song they had. Yellowcard seemed like a bunch of assholes, but who knows. Certain bands were just astounding. Thursday and Flogging Molly really impressed me. Justin from NFG basically spent the show in the crowd passing the mic around for fans to sing along. It got to me twice. Story of the Year are practically a bunch of gymnasts. Adam Lazzara from Taking Back Sunday climbed the rigging and sung a few songs while hanging upside down. Over all it was just an amazing experience.
Now I mentioned I would talk more about Early November. Their lead singer, Ace Enders is probably my favorite singer/songwriter. Every project he’s really done has actually just been bands playing what he wrote, but The Early November is definitely my favorite project he’s been a part of. He’s such a mellow guy and he loves his fans. He basically hung out at their merch booth until it was show time. Now I’ve had a great experience when I’ve met my heroes and this encounter was no exception. We talked about music and his upcoming projects. He seemed to really like me because he sold me stuff for well over half off and waved at me while they were on stage. Just getting to have a conversation with Ace made the day all by itself. Pick up The Early November if you haven’t yet, also I Can Make A Mess Like Nobody’s Business and his current project, Ace Enders And A Million Different People. There’s a rumor that The Early November might get back together sometime in the future for a reunion tour and I would love to see everyone there.
1. Weezer/Tenacious D/Jimmy Eat World.
So before Weezer started sucking they used to be my favorite band (Seriously though, Make Believe sucked. Red was pretty good though). It had basically been my dream since the fifth grade to see Weezer live. So of course when I get to middle school they break up thus destroying my dreams. But something happened six years later, the first evidence in my life that there may be a god. Weezer got back together and released two albums 364 days apart from each other, one of them being my all time favorite Weezer Album. On top of that they were touring nonstop for two years with only one scheduled stop in Portland. I had one chance at this mother and I wasn’t going to miss it for the world. On top of that they were playing with the D.
So I had heard Jimmy Eat World before in passing, but when those lights dropped in the coliseum and they started off the show, I was hooked. The lead singer, Jim Adkins, had so much energy. I still to this day have not seen a lead singer with as much passion as him. I heard of them before, but after one song live I was a life long fan. Every one of their albums has been amazing and they can be enjoyed by most varying tastes in rock. After that Tenacious D took the stage. Never in the history of the world have two fat men with acoustic guitars and Nerf weapons owned a gigantic stage all by themselves. This was in the transition period from when the D was just doing stuff on HBO to their major release that made them a house hold name. Jack Black had also only done a few small movie roles at this time. They were funny. They really entertained in a way musicians would as well as stand up comedians. At one point I swear I locked eyes with Jack and was taken to a completely different world. There’s something going on inside his eyes that could hypnotize a snake.
So now it was time for the main event. I remember clearly this ass hole at the barrier who kept pushing people down and basically being a douche. So I picked him up and threw him over the barrier and took his spot right up front. When Weezer took the stage I started getting flashbacks of screaming El Scorcho at the top of my lungs, making out to Only in Dreams, and blasting Buddy Holly in my car until my speakers started clicking. They didn’t have the most energetic show I’d ever seen, but they were tight. They played so well you’d think it was Milli Vanilli on stage. They played about 20 songs, before going off stage before the encore. When they came back on they played a few more songs before ending with Only in Dreams. Every person has that one rock ballad that sticks out in their mind from their youth, and Only in Dreams was it for me. Not only did they play it, but they played it epically with huge guitar solos and a huge finish where glitter, confetti and balloons dropped down on the crowd. I was so incredibly happy that I cried the most passionate tears of joy in my life.
As for the show I would love to see if the stars aligned. In order of appearance on stage we have Brand New, The Early November, Say Anything, Bayside, and finally Saves The Day. I put Saves The Day over Bayside in this one situation because Saves The Day has a bigger fan base so I’m sure the crowd we be a lot more into it, thus making them the obvious choice to close out the show. Now we just need to work on getting TEN back together.
So that’s my top 5 favorite concerts. In one week I’ll be seeing my favorite band, Bayside along with New Found Glory. With any luck this will make me revise my list. Everyone has some favorite shows so comment. Join me next week for my top 5 favorite TV shows. Until then…courage.