Weekend Question Thread

Most memorable thing you’ve seen at a rock concert?

Saw Neil Young in concert several times, and Bob Dylan (who is almost impossible to understand, even more so than usual), and a very, very, very undergraduate-drunk Dave Grohl, but probably the most indelible thing to me is Leonard Cohen, a few years back. I was in the very back row of the very last section but I felt like I was on stage with him:


12 thoughts on “Weekend Question Thread

  1. I saw Spoon in concert in Richmond at a general admission show where I randomly showed up way too early and ended up belly-up to the stage. It was intense and loud and kind of awesome but I don’t think I managed to hear a single word of their songs because I was in the magic dead zone between the amps and the monitors… oops.

    I think it sticks in my head because it’s one of the few even remotely awesome things I did in Virginia 😛

  2. Well, up until about 11 years ago, I was an active, touring Union Stagehand (three years off for time in Navy). I’ve seen some memorable stuff. The one thing that caused me to re-think my career was being assigned to Deck for a Goo Goo Dolls concert. My job was to light the stairs so the band or fellow Stagehands could get on and off stage. I was given specific orders that Robbie would run offstage, and I was to proceed him to wherever he went backstage.

    Turns out, it was to go shoot up.

    That was the one and only show I ever quit in the middle. I just walked away, straight to the office, and told them to find someone else.

    I don’t like playing a role in someone’s self-destruction.

    My Steward defended my decision.

  3. Neil Young solo at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans ranks right up there. Some guy more inebriated than myself kept loudly thanking Neil personally (“THANK YOU, NEIL! THANK YOU NEIL!”) from a nearby seat…way up in the balcony…

  4. Aerosmith at Tufts University, last date of tour in the mid 70’s. I worked FOH for the opening act and Aerosmith were short on crew and I was asked to work the fog machine for them.

    I’m standing side stage waiting for my cue. The band is a few songs into the set and the response was “crickets”, nothing working. Kramer goes into a solo, again, no response. He stops, looks over at me, shrugs. I clapped to say “its not you”, he took a deep breath and used sticks and kick to get the crowd involved and from thereon it was smooth sailing.

    People can be such Sheeple.

  5. Emerson, Lake, and Palmer at the height of their powers – Brain Salad Surgery tour.
    They played for THREE AND A HALF HOURS. They were playing everything about 25% over album speed (which was pretty speedy to start with). It’s as if they thought “Look, we’re going to play everything from all our albums, so if we don’t get on the stick, we’re going to be here all night.” I was looking for Carl Palmer to start lagging from the pace, but towards the end of the evening he started SPEEDING UP! I would not have been surprised to see a big key sticking out of his back. After that 3.5 hour set, they came back for an encore – the entirety of the Pictures At An Exhibition album. Unbelievable.

  6. SummerFest, in Milwaukee, back when the mainstage was at the north end of the grounds, and the ‘headliner’ would sometimes play an afternoon show and then another in the evening; summer of 1975 – James Taylor.

    I went down early, bought a sandwich (Suburpia – Miles Standish, for those who remember), and sat on the grass just outside the mainstage to eat. There were maybe twenty or so others hanging around, etc. After a little while, they come out to do a ‘sound check’, and when they finish a song. the twenty of us give them a cheer. James hears us, then sees us, and tells a security guy to let us in. So the twenty of us go in, sit down. And James Taylor and band run through three of four songs for a crowd of twenty or so.

    (I remember particularly that he sang a version of the Beatles “If I Needed Someone”, which so far as I know he has never recorded, but his brother Livingston has.)

  7. At the end of the `60s, Hawaii was a great place for music because all the touring bands wanted to end a tour there and have a little vacation (which is why it was pretty cool that Jefferson Airplane, when they heard that there was a line all the way around the HIC–a big, big building–for SRO, and there wasn’t any SRO left, they got the permits to do a free concert in one of the Honolulu parks a few days later for all the people that got left out).

    The most memorable, though, was a Jethro Tull concert in the spring of 1970. The HIC–Honolulu International Center–was the premier venue, and seated about 18,000. But, Tull’s promoter had booked them into the Honolulu Arena… which was where the weekly wrestling matches and occasional basketball tourneys were held. So, it was a basketball court with a wrestling ring at one corner, folding chairs on the court, and roll-out bleachers. They’d removed the stanchions and ropes on the wrestling ring to make a stage (they probably should have left them on, because Ian Anderson nearly fell off a couple of times during his knee-up whirling dervish flute solos).

    The place was loaded with narcs (they could all be spotted by their uniform for the evening–chinos, Hawaiian shirts and gum-sole cop shoes), but, it being 1970 and Honolulu, the moment the lights went down and the music started, people started firing up all over the place. The moment they did, cops would run along the bleachers after the perpetrators, and every footfall on those bleachers echoed through the building, ba-boom, sproing, boom. It sounded very much like a herd of stampeding elephants.

    The first time it happened, there were two cops bounding along the length of the bleachers, chasing after some hapless toker, and Anderson stopped everything and watched the pursuit, amazed, slack-jawed. When it was over, shook his head, and resumed. After that, it was intermittent background noise, “… when I was young–boing, boing, boing–and they packed me off to school….”

    And then there was Nigel. Poor Nigel. Either he’d been on a hectic schedule without sleep or he’d scored some smack, no one was quite sure, but he was nodding off at the sound and light board. Finally, about halfway through the show, Anderson stopped everything in mid-note, walked over to the edge of wrestling mat, leaned far out over the court and said, “Nigel… oh, Nigel.” Nigel stirs himself. “Nigel, the monitors go up on loud songs, and down on the quiet songs.” Nigel nods assent, and they go on, but poor Nigel is again spaced out a few minutes later. To their great credit–they could have gone all huffy artistes at the interruptions, the cops’ galumphing terrorizing of the crowd, the cheesy venue and the technical glitches–they instead hunkered down and put on a dazzling show–Anderson is nothing if not a grand showman.

  8. saw bob marley and the wailers in chicago in the late 70s. my then-wife worked for a PR company that did a lot of work for the Jamaica Tourist Board and scored backstage passes. the ganja smoke was so thick a couple deep breaths would get you high.
    also saw the beatles at the old comiskey park and the stones at the international amphitheater in the mid 60s.

  9. I’ve seen a lot but the wildest was the opening night of the Who’s Quadrophenia tour when Keith Moon fell off the drum stool and passed out cold. They called for a drummer and a buddy of mine who went to the concert wanted to be that guy. It did’t happen but for years he muttered bitterly that he was a much better drummer than the other guy. He was too.

  10. Saw Patti Smith on the Wave tour. The group blasted right off with So You Want To Be A Rock And Roll Star and did the Wave album, then worked backwards through Easter, Radio Ethiopia and Horses. For the encore, the houselights came on, a giant American flag dropped from the ceiling behind the stage and the band played Twist And Shout. When the band stopped, guitar feedback was still pouring from the speakers, the crowd was screaming and Patti stood there looking ecstatic. I walked out of the Aragon thinking that I never saw anyone who looked like they enjoyed being on stage more than her.

  11. I’ve seen many great shows (Stones’ Exile tour, mid-’70s Aerosmith, Police from the front row at my college just before they exploded), but the most memorable THING I’ve ever seen at a show was Bruce Springsteen giving me a thumbs-up as I worked for a good close-up of him while shooting his first Charlotte show on the Born in the USA tour. Just two working men showing mutual respect.

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