Friday, March 17, 2017

Ain't That Peculiar

Talk about your rabbit holes.

As anyone who knows me can attest, I love asking people what their first concert was. It's often a fascinating glimpse into a side of someone you'd never get otherwise and inevitably, it leads to far-reaching music conversation.

Like when I asked a woman and she responded, "Billy Joel, on "The Stranger" tour," and then began a conversation with herself, eventually concluding that it had actually been the "Glass Houses" tour. But for me, it was that she'd seen him at the Capital Centre in Maryland, where I saw scores of shows myself, including my first.

"Do you remember WPGC?" she asked me excitedly after finding out we had shared venues. To quote the name of a Facebook group I belong to, "Bitch, please, I grew up in Prince George's County." Yes, that's an actual group.

From there she reminisced about how every week the radio station would release a pamphlet with a band's photo on the front and inside, the Top 10 for the week. She'd recently come across a stack of them she'd tucked away back in the day, for what purpose she couldn't conceive.

"Can you imagine that we used to care that much what was gonna be number one?" she asked rhetorically. There was apparently so little to occupy the teenage mind in those days without the internet or porn.

Mentioning that she still remembered buying Billy Joel's "The Stranger" at Variety Records, we then took off in that direction. We'd both frequented Kemp Mill Records, but most of my album purchases back then had been made at the University of Maryland record co-op, a groovy student-run means of paying $3 for the latest Grin album or the all-girl Fanny's first album.

I've only met one other person who's ever even heard of them, although David Bowie famously said that Fanny was as important as anybody else, it just wasn't their time. "One of the most important female bands in American rock has been buried without a trace. Revivify Fanny and I will feel that my work is done," the Thin White Duke said, echoing my opinion.

When I said that while my first show (the Who) had been at the Cap Centre, my second a few weeks later had been at Merriweather Post Pavilion to see Carol King, her response was that she'd seen Joni Mitchell there sitting on the grass. We recalled how cheap it had been to get lawn seats at Merriweather back then and what a polar opposite experience it was from the 19,000-seat Cap Centre.

A millennial I asked said her first had been the Backstreet Boys at the LA Coliseum, but she couldn't resist pointing out that every other boy band that followed was inferior, a point that several others nearby disputed. Another's initiation into live music had been seeing Green Day on the "American Idiot" tour, which he half-apologized for, saying he knew it was lame even then (2005).

But it was when a young woman said her first show - at 23! - had been Lynyrd Skynrd opening for Kid Rock that we came full circle. A young and drunken Skynyrd had also opened that first show of mine by the Who and it seemed pretty obvious from the crowd's reaction that almost no one had any idea of who they were, much less cared.

It didn't stop the guys in the band from shaking up cans of beer and aiming them at the crowd or pulling on bottles of Jack Daniels between songs, but even then I sensed how difficult it must be to be in front of 19,000 people with zero interest in your music.

Of course, the Lynyrd Skynyrd she saw was minus the three members who died in '77, so barely the same band although they probably got a lot more appreciation from the audience than the one I was a part of. But aside from that, what 23-year old wants to go see Kid Rock?

Fanny is forgotten and Kid Rock still attracts our youth? Let the revivifying commence.


  1. The Turtles & Three Dog Night at the Dome in Va. Beach


  2. So happy together! I'm sure that was a great show, cw!

  3. Ah....."You know what I mean"


  4. I'm revealing my age here, but my first concert was the Yardbirds with Jeff Beck and some replacement guy on bass… Jimmy Page (who was playing his first gig with the band!) Tickets were $1.25.

  5. Well done, sir! When your initial live music experience starts there, how do you top it?

  6. It's been tough… I've seen better shows, but none as thrilling, of course I was only 16. Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band was right up there. Páll Óskar (singer) and Pascal Pinon (both Icelandic acts) might have topped it.