Monday, November 05, 2007

You always remember your first...

I had a great time attending a concert this weekend and it had nothing to do with the bands or the music they played. The reason I enjoyed the event so much was that I got to take my 14 year old niece to her very first concert (Fallout Boy with Plain White Tee’s and Gym Class Heroes as opening acts). Not only did she get to see the show, but due to the generosity and thoughtfulness of some very good friends of mine, my niece actually got to meet her favorite band before the show. She has in the last year or so fallen in love with pop music and much to her joy, received an iPod for her birthday this past summer that has since never been far from her grasp.

While technology has changed by quantum leaps, the process of falling in love with music seems to have changed very little. I began my love affair with music listening to top forty AM radio in the fifth grade. From there, word of mouth from kids at school and friends older brothers whom I thought were cool guided my early record purchases. About the same time (1976), FM radio was fast becoming the main stay for album oriented rock (AOR). Each record I purchased deepened my obsession with rock and roll music that carries on to this day. I couldn’t wait for the chance to see my first show and would bum out for weeks when my friends got to attend a concert, usually as a reluctant guest of their older brother/sister.

Everybody remembers their first concert. I remember mine like it was yesterday (Starz opening for J. Geils Band, Eisenhower Hall, Fall of 1977). I still listen to both acts regularly and just recently re-purchased J. Geils ‘Monkey Island’ on vinyl. I remember the anticipation that began the minute my ticket was purchased. I dreamt of the performances for weeks ahead of the show and listened to nothing but the two bands records exclusively in the interim. What little time I spent previously in school actually paying attention to what my teachers were blathering on about was now spent day dreaming about loud ear splitting guitars being played by long haired dudes in spandex pants. One thing I did have that my niece is without were record jackets with pictures to get lost in. I’d stare at the album covers for hours while blasting the tunes and imagining what it was going to be like. I was NOT disappointed. In fact, it was about the coolest thing that had ever happened to me up to that point in my life.

My niece was every bit as excited as I was back then. I’m not sure what I would have done had I got a chance to meet the guys in Starz or J. Geils (oddly enough, I did meet guitarist Richie Ranno from Starz some 25 years later and he had very vivid recollections of the Eisenhower Hall show), but I can say with certainty that I would have shared the grin my niece is wearing in the above picture. I knew every lyric of every song as did my niece when the diminutive Fallout Boy hit the stage for their set Saturday night.

What really brought a smile to my face was what I got to witness before the show. The logistics for the event had us meeting a contingency of sweepstakes contest winners from around the country at a hotel forty five minutes from the venue. We happened to have arrived first and boarded this decked out party bus that would take us all over to the show. As the out of town contestants arrived and boarded the bus, my normally shy and slightly introverted niece immediately began chatting wildly with what were only a minute ago perfect strangers. That is the power of music my friends.

I’ll say this too: It is the reason EVERY parent should make it a point to try and keep current with what their kids are listening to, no matter how crappy and/or distasteful you might find the music to be. Find a way to enjoy some aspect of it and even if it’s easy to do, try your best not to ridicule it either. Kids will inevitably grow out of their first pop idol infatuations, but at the moment the sun rises and sets on these one hit wonders and they probably have more influence on your kid than you do.

For my niece’s first show, she got to meet her favorite band in person and witness her muse play their stuff from close up floor seats, lights, pyro, confetti, $50.00 plus concert shirt and all. As she ran down the experience to me afterwards all I could do was listen and smile. I knew she didn’t want to hear a recount of my similar experience 30 years ago. Perhaps someday she will. No, all I could do was nod in silent acknowledgment and share in the joy of seeing her heroes spill their blood on the stage. For me, a bunch of unremarkable samie/samie performances of songs that sort of all blend into each other. For her though, an experience that she will NEVER forget as long as she lives.

I'm truly glad to have been there. It was a good night indeed…


At 9:04 AM, November 06, 2007, Blogger Mother Goldstein said...

Great post, I'm glad you got to be part of that experience.

Be glad she doesn't like Britney, Fallout Boy are pretty cool.

At 2:15 AM, November 07, 2007, Blogger Jackson said...

My first concert, also at Ike Hall, was ARS (Atlanta Rhythm Section). I wasn't a fan, but I was blown away none the less. Something about the energy. I was hooked on live rock immediately.

My next show was Kiss......

At 7:58 AM, November 08, 2007, Blogger milkyum said...

I must have been there with you?? ARS was my first official (not counting Captain and Tennille or Beverly Sills which were also at Ike hall)
I had not ever heard of them prior to the show.. I knew "Magic Carpet Ride" and think Steppenwolf was most likely the reason I wanted to go. Paul Goddard (ARS bassist) was cool. He looked geeky as shit, but I remember he was very talented.
Lots of great shows at Ike Hall.
What is your list from there?

At 9:38 AM, November 08, 2007, Blogger Tony Alva said...

I'll give you mine...

Starz/J. Geils
Peter Frampton (I'm In You tour)
Outlaws/Pabalo Cruise
Elton John
Harry Chapin
UFO/REO Speedwagon
Pretenders/The Baby's (sold weed to the Pretenders)
Doobie Bros.
Peter Frampton (I Need The Money tour)
Joan Jett
J. Geils (Freeze Frame tour)
Cheap Trick

I worked a couple of shows there, but other than the Gattlin Bros., I can't remember who they where.

At 1:25 PM, November 08, 2007, Blogger Jackson said...

I saw The Pretenders, Joan Jett, B-52's, J. Geils (Freeze Frame), hmmm, who did Spys open up for? Who did New England open up for? I do remember being diassapointed that Steppenwolf didn't make the gig with ARS, we saw the Mushroom Band instead.

At 2:50 PM, November 08, 2007, Anonymous Busbee said...

Definitely cemented favorite uncle status on that one.

I saw Chuck Mangione first at the Circle Star in San Mateo, CA in '82(revolving stage made me dizzy) and was blown away by the guitarist(Grant Goodson?). Hit the motherlode in '83 by seeing Van Halen (Cow Palace, Daly City, where buddy Bob and I smoked hash for the 1st time with complete strangers after boozing on my Dad's crappy Apricot wine. Also first time I saw/heard someone selling acid. David Lee wore naked chaps and swigged JD the entire time and some dude yakked in the seat in front of us) and Doobie Brothers(Greek Theater, Berkeley, supposedly farewell concert - NOT) in the same week. Since then(that I can remember at this moment and not in chron order), The Dead, Chris Isaak(3 times?), Jackopierce, Tracy Chapman, Peter Gabriel, Train, Pearl Jam, Ziggy Marley, Tracy Chapman, Alanis Morrisette, Sheryl Crowe, Aerosmith, Billy Joel, Elton John(2), James Taylor, among others. None of them were disappointing, though live music rarely is.

I'll add that if you can play music with your kids, it's even better. Accompanying Eliza on guitar to the GoGos "We Got The Beat" in her school talent show two years ago is a moment neither of us will ever forget.

At 3:10 PM, November 08, 2007, Blogger Tony Alva said...


My dad still brags about seeing Capt. & T at Ike Hall. After those later shows, the Dialectic Society who booked the shows at Ike Hall must have taken a funding hit or something, because good concerts disappeared at Ike for a long time.


Hash, stolen parents booze, and yakking patrons... Ah, the good ole days of concert attendance. I really can't think of a single concert out of the hundreds I been to that I didn't have a good time.

At 8:47 AM, November 09, 2007, Anonymous Starstylist said...

Hmmmmm....I remember the Doobie Brothers concert well.

I waited on the loading dock for a long while hoping to meet Michael McDonald. Doobies were arriving by limos and filing past me left and right, but my eyes just glanced over each one of them looking for my man.(I did exchange a few words with Skunk Baxter, only because he was just so cool!)

After what seemed like a lifetime, the loading dock was quiet and I had given up all hope of meeting Michael. I let out a huge sigh and decided to wander into the house at Ike Hall and take my seat like the rest of the concert goers. As I turned to leave, I found myself face to face with him. It was fate! It was me and my Michael, all alone!

We started to converse and the heavens opened up and the angels began to sing....I was sure he was just a few sentences away from asking me to marry him..when all of a sudden...this long haired kid appeared with his skateboard gang and all hell broke loose. As the skateboard crowd surrounded us looking for an autograph, the backstage crew started to call for Michael. Chaos ensued and Michael and I were torn away from our divine appointment. As I watched Michael go through the backstage door with a tear in my eye, I vowed two one day meet him again, (I did!), and to kick that long haired skateboard kid's ass (I didn't.....because as fate would have it, he would become one of the people I love most in my life.)

Yes, Tony....that's may have ruined my love life but I love you dearly! Besides, I'm not dead yet...I may still get my chance with MM......sigh....

At 11:32 AM, November 09, 2007, Blogger Tony Alva said...


SO GOOD to hear from you! I owe you a phone call.

The guilt associated with ruining your hook up with M. McDonald has haunted me for years. For that matter, the guilt associated with MANY things me and the skateboard gang did has haunted me for years.

I was just reading a Lefsetz Letter and was reminded that I saw Capricorn recording artists The Marshall Tucker Band a couple of times at Ike Hall. I worked one of their shows.


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