Tonight, my lady friend and I are going to the rock show: Dinosaur Jr. at The Valarium. This will be the very first event ever held at the V, a brand-new venue in a very old building, so I’m a little apprehensive about the concert. I don’t know how difficult it is to figure out the acoustics of a space, but I hope the sound doesn’t completely suck. Then again, Dinosaur Jr. is known for being especially loud, so maybe it won’t matter. We’re taking ear protection. Actually, I’ve never been to a concert that I wouldn’t describe as ridiculously loud, so this specific characterization of the band is a little unsettling. And now I’ve figured out what I’ll write about today: Notable concerts I’ve attended and what makes them noteworthy.
-The Verve (Roxy Theatre, Atlanta, 1997 or 98) This was my first real concert, not counting those sketchy clubs I went to in high school to support bands with members who were friends of friends (the Somber Reptile, anyone? Scary, scary place). The sound was great and I understood, for the only time in my life, idol-worship. Richard Ashcroft was absolutely magnetic on stage and the crowd responded with incredible energy. I’ve never been as wrapped up in a scene than I was at that concert and I was stone sober. Not even my favorite band, but a great show. I think it was one of their first-ever US shows and they broke up soon after. They just got back together, so we’ll see if they make it across the pond.
-Pixies (Ryman Auditorium, Nashville, 2004) One of my favorite bands playing in the Music City at the historic former venue of the Grand Ole Opry. Awesome. Plus, it was Courtney’s birthday and I had flown in from Wyoming for the occasion. They didn’t get all cutesy with the songs, just playing them straight up like we all know them. The crowd was appreciative of what they were witnessing and the sound was great.
-A Perfect Circle (International Ballroom, Atlanta, ca. 1999) Best sound I’ve ever heard at a concert, which is amazing considering it was essentially in a warehouse. Maynard takes his vocals seriously and actually hits all the notes he does on the album, which is unusual for a rock singer. Plus, he was wearing rainbow-striped spandex pants and a long, blonde wig. Sweet. The guy walking around in the home-made t-shirt that said "I f---ed Jesus" (minus the censorship) added to the ambience, although no one wanted to stand next to him for fear of being struck by lightening.
-Frank Black (don’t remember the name of the venue- it doesn’t exist anymore, Atlanta, ca. 1998) Good show. Plus, there was no backstage there, so the band had to walk right through the crowd to get to the stage. Mel and I were right up front and I touched Frank as he went by (though not inappropriately)!
-Frank Black (40 Watt, Athens, GA, the night before the Atlanta show) I saw Frank in the street out front before the show! No touching this time, but it was the first time I ever saw him in the abundant flesh.
-Tool (Voodoo Music Experience, New Orleans, 2001) Two naked people, a man and a woman, completely hairless, hanging upside-down from their ankles and writhing about above the stage. And Tool was there. What else do you need?
-The Black Crowes (Jackson, WY, 2006) This was supposed to be held outside on the ski hill, but they moved it into the hockey arena at the last minute because they didn’t sell enough tickets. They didn’t want people free-loading by just hiking up the hill to watch the concert, a Jackson tradition. As a result, the sound in the concrete-floored, metal-roofed arena was horrible, basically just incredibly loud static. Oddly, I could hear the backup singers relatively clearly. Even stranger, the opening acts, Drive-by Truckers and Robert Randolph, sounded fine. Chris Robinson looks like Jesus again, though, so that was cool.