Top 5 All Time Concert Memories

>> Thursday, December 16, 2010

And I wonder, when I sing along with you, if everything could ever feel this real forever, if anything could ever be this good again. The only thing I'll ever ask of you, you've got to promise not to stop when I say when, she sang.

No, this is not a post about the Foo Fighters. It is not a post about the futility of love and life and so on and blah blah blah. That lyric just felt as good as any to broach this next topic. To explain the exact feeling I get from standing in a crowded bar, or with my elbows on the bar of the mezzanine railing letting the music besiege you. The bassline vibrating your very breath from your body, as the melody forces your eyes shut because 5 senses is just one too many.
This is a mini list where I am going to share with you my top five concert memories/experiences. Now, to understand this list, you must know, I am not much of an interactive concert goer. I am that guy that gets there early. I’m that guy that finds the best spot to take it all in. Not just the music, but the crowd, the lighting, the set up. I love opening acts. I don’t throw things on stage. I don’t try to sneak backstage to meet the band.  I just go. I listen. I love. And the world needs guys like me. As a good friend once told me, “where would the world be without lovers of things?”

Anyways, enough with that crap. Onto the list.

5. Faceplant Keyboard Solo.
This is actually a memory from this year.  It was fleeting, but awesome.
I was at The Vera Project, a quaint all ages dive of a club in Seattle seeing this little band that has one of my favorite albums of the year. So, First Aid Kit is a sister duo from Sweden, that I have already written about and that you can read about here.  First things first, it was a good show, I came away overall more impressed by the opening act, Samantha Crain, but they were good nonetheless. Anyways, as First Aid Kit was wrapping their show, they finished things off with a rousing version of their song “I Met Up With The King.” During this rousing encore song, Klara, the younger sister, did the most punk rock think I have ever seen at a folk show.  Faceplant Keyboard Solo. Yeah, she rocked out, long hair and all, by rubbing her face back and forth on the keys. It was out of nowhere, it was awesome, and it was unforgettable.
first aid kit
(Photo Credit: Victoria of The Portable Victoria aka Imaginary Victoria of Three Imaginary Girls, a fantastic NW music blog. I met Victoria at this very concert, and she is one cool lady.)
4. And everybody cried…
Picture this. September 21st 2001. The Gorge at George. Dusk. Crosby Stills & Nash. It was 10 days after 9/11, and nothing was right, but the music went on. We all gathered on the hill, and before everything really go into the swing of things, the Band asked the audience to reflect for a moment, that the next song was going to be dedicated to those lost, and those still hurting from that loss.  The sang “Find The Cost of Freedom” A cappella, and everybody cried.
(Random photo found online, not actually from show. But The Gorge, at sunset nonetheless)
3. What, who are these guys?
I was at The Gorge for a show I never had any intention of being at. Given tickets at the last min, I was just there because it was free and because it was The Gorge in the summer. The bill looked something like this, Silvercrush (never heard of at the time, and even now), Ziggy Marley and the Melody Makers (who I was and am not a fan),O.A.R. (never heard of at the time), Train (who I loved at the time, but had just seen in Seattle earlier that year) and Sheryl Crow (who is super annoying). So, as you can see, not the most enticing bill, especially if you realize this was only 2002. But, I was there, 10 rows back, center stage, reserved seat, just waiting for Train to do their set, so I could drive home. While I was waiting however, something amazing happened.
Keep in mind; this was back before I perfected my snobbery, back before I spent hours and thousands of dollars finding that next great band. So, when O.A.R. took the stage, I felt nothing, it was just filler, until it wasn’t. About 30 seconds into their set I was on my feet. And suddenly surrounded by thousands of people who obviously did not miss the Of A Revolution bus like I had. I was like a wall of noise surrounding me. It was fantastic. Then I started to listen to the music. Started to bob my head as I do, and just got happy. Then, they kicked it up a notch. The broke into a 15min version of a song called “A Crazy Game Of Poker” that every single person around me knew every single word too. It was the most surreal experience of my life. The crowd took on a life of its own, encompassing one giant sway/bound/shimmy/repeat motion. This band that I had never heard of, with a crowd that 1 hour before I had no desire to be around, became a part of me. I was in on the secret. They stole everysecond of that show.

2. 1100 voices as one.
This is my most recent concert memory, as it is just from 11/27/10. But, I knew right away that I would be revising this unpublished list. Let me paint the picture for you…. 1100 file into the Showbox at The Market for a trifecta of NW music at its best. You have the old school headliner in David Bazan (Pedro The Lion), the indie singersongwriter vet Damien Jurado, and the like-a-freight-train upstarts The Head and The Heart, it’s the perfect possible NW showcase, and I was excited. But, to be honest, I only cared about those upstarts. So, Jurado did his sitting down thing, he sang and was not unspectacular, but not memorable. Then the buzz started. The crowd felt anxious and alive. We were sitting on the side of the stage in the bar, the perfect spot to see the entire show and watch the crowd react, as this is half the fun. But this was different than I have ever seen, there was an energy that I cannot explain. From note one of The Head and The Heart it was like all out choir practice for all 1100 people. Every word, of every song was shared, and not in the annoying I wish I could hear the band way. It was like we were feeding off eachother. Almost cultish, but in a fantastic way. It’s like the building had once voice, one breath, one beat for one fantastic show. Looking over at Stevie (co-blogger) just absorbed into the music with her eyes closed and voice ringing will always be one of my favorite mental pictures. This was my second favorite concert memory of all time. And it’s less than a month old. Oh, then David Bazan played, but nobody cared after THATH.
(Photo Credit goes to Abbie Simmons from Sound on the Sound, my favorite local music blog)
1.  Speechless
The Swell Season, one of my all time favorites were half way through what was already one of my favorite concerts of all time, top 10 for sure. But then they did two incredible things that I will never ever forget.  Yes, this concert has two memories in one. I have written about one of these before, and it is hard to put into words, so I have a video below from this exact night that might do it better justice. But, here is a quick rundown and the other memory.
Glen, solo, center stage played a cover of my least favorite Van Morrison song “Astral Weeks.” I knew a Van song was coming, he always pulls it out. And at first, I was mildly disappointed. But then he started to rock it. Upon doing so, he broke a string on his guitar. No big deal, another was run out to him. Not more than 30 seconds later, he broke a string on this one too. But, he decided to continue to rock it. He played hard, on 5 strings, until another broke, down to 4 now. He pushed on, it was clear he was going to both finish this song, and break every single string on that guitar while doing so. Raising his arm up and driving it through the remaining strings he push that song faster and harder than it was ever meant to go, and every second or third swipe, you would hear the pop/twang of another string breaking apart, until the stage was quiet and stringless  and the crowd roared to life. It was the most bad ass rock antics I have ever seen on an acoustic guitar. Right then and there, I knew this show just jumped into the top 5 all time. But he was about to outdo himself.
Here is that video, quick recap, Glen, stepped infront of the mic, and did this. This is actually pretty close to where I was sitting, so you can get a good feeling for it. I also have included a video with better quality and sound. It is again Glen solo, and if you have ever seen the movie Once you may know it. Still gives me chills.



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