Unlike hearing about what someone dreamt last night and dissecting its symbolism or sitting around talking about other people’s dead pets for hours on end I really love hearing about people’s first concert.
The first concert a person attended can tell you more in a few sentences than a poorly construed autobiography could do in months. One’s first concert marks a moment, a period in time, a fad that dates them, dates their parents or older sibling and is often a telling insight into their awkward pre-teen years.
Often the person was dragged to a concert by their parents, which explains a lot about their upbringing. Did their mom drag them to see Neil Sedaka? Or perhaps their father took them to an open-air Cream gig because he couldn’t afford tickets and a babysitter. Notice the completely different feelings these two sentences give. Cookie cutter kook or far-out rebellion on a dime.
Occasionally you hear of the person who went to some concert with their older brother or sister because their parents forced Bill to take little Johnny along with him and his friends so they could have a night to themselves. I always envied these people, as I don’t have an older sibling of my own. They got the chance to go to shows like Blondie, Madonna in her black lace fingerless gloves phase, Twisted Sister. They felt left out by being the tag-a-long little sibling at the time, but somewhere deep down inside they knew that this night would make them that much cooler for the rest of their lives.
Then you have the people who chose the concert all on their own. The actual age of the concertgoer at the time is crucial for this story – it indicates whether they had strict parents or not or whether they were late bloomers. Usually the concert that is actually chosen by the person happens around the awkward pre-teen years. These are the years when good taste has been often abandoned for any popular trend. Debbie Gibson and Tiffany spring to mind.
Technically my first concert was Joni Mitchell somewhere in California. I was four years old, taken there by my parents. My only memory of it is dancing on a hilltop in a sunflower dress while hippies clapped me along. If my parents hadn’t divorced I think there would have been a lot more of these concerts in my upbringing.
My first actual chosen concert was when I was 13 (a late bloomer in my eyes) to see Bob Dylan play at the Riviera in Chicago for my birthday. It was me, two friends and my mom. I felt kind of lame for having my mom there, especially when she refused to pass along an incense stick that was making the rounds through the crowd as if it were some kind of a drug, but I never would have had the guts to go without her.
I wonder if the fact that I chose Bob Dylan shows that I have a vintage philosopher’s soul – more likely it simply shows that the kids I thought were in cool in junior high were into our parent’s music, and with gusto.
What does your first concert say about you? Trendy teenybopper with a laidback upbringing? Late bloomer with a penchant for the oldies?
As I was scanning over the crowd at the Gomez concert last night (who kicked ass by the way) I tried to discern who were the young first time concertgoers. Which of these kids belonged to the tight-lipped parents standing against the wall hoping their child doesn’t get swallowed into the mass of bobbing heads and plastic cups filled with beer.
And what will people think of them when they say: “My first concert? It was Gomez in a dive bar in Sheffield in 2006”