A friend in high school’s older brother had a last minute cancellation so I was invited to see Rick Derringer and Foghat at the Capitol Theater in Passaic, NJ. I was 14 or 15. The best part was being introduced to Tom Waits (Small Change) on the drive to and from, the older boys sang along, and I remain a fan.
“Rock and Roll, Hoochie Koo” not so much 😉
I grew up in Reno, Nevada. We had concerts that were held in the fairgrounds livestock pavilion, of all things. Metal building, now replaced, maybe ten rows of bleacher seats along the long axis, perhaps a hockey rink size floor. Mostly compacted earth. Capacity 600?
I was 11 and Elton John came through town in 1971.
Being that age (and size) and being inclined to street urchin-ism, I decided to go. The pavilion had shrubbery along the outside, and the inside wall had full length curtains to cover the corrugated metal walls and girders. There was a very small opening behind some of the shrubbery that would allow a small person to enter the pavilion via that ‘tunnel’ and emerge behind the curtain, then step out into the building below the bleachers. Perfection.
Even at that age, I was astounded by the poor audio quality of the room, but actually seeing someone who I had heard on the radio was amazing! That’s my lasting first impression: Wow, it’s the actual person!!!
Show was fine, all in all.
Black Sabbath came to town later that month and the trick worked again. The sound was actually better. I remember wondering if loudness could physically overcome a bad sounding room. They had true menace to their sound, it was great for a 7th grader in his Black Sabbath t-shirt! I also remember that smell. To this day, when I get a whiff of pot in the air, I think, “Smells like Black Sabbath.”
The original venue is all gone now.
Also Reno related: I had seen many “shows,” like Mitch Miller, Big band stuff, even Sinatra and that kind of crowd, etc, but those above shows were my first “concerts.”
When I was really little, my mom worked nights at a place called Harold’s Club and they had the craziest child care on earth. It was a weird high school cafeteria-like space with a front counter to check kids in and out, and then a sea of linoleum and folding chairs and endless reels of Three Stooges, Our Gang, and other old B&W reels that played endlessly 24-7. I’d get tossed in there at 8 pm and leave at 4 am. We’d put chairs together to lie across to sleep. I found a floor vent up front and to the side of the screen and could sneak off the cover and crawl in it. It took me across to the lounge next door, maybe the “Arch Lounge,” across the tiny alley next to Harold’s Club. The vent I followed went right to the side of the stage for the lounge and I would crawl over and listen to the jazz music they played. Iwas invisible! It was sublime. Probably plenty of cigarette smoke sucked in, however. I was too young to be aware of who was who, but famous musicians would play there and jam after shows around Reno. Not exactly attending concerts, but it was terribly thrilling!
It was the summer before college. I was 17 years old and had just returned to New Jersey after spending four long and suffocating years in culturally deprived Central Florida. I was tagging along with Uncle Omar and his cool, older friends. We were at Maxwell’s in Hoboken, NJ, and the Superchunk show was sold out. Not knowing any better and wanting to prove myself to my new friends, I walked up to the ticket guy and asked if we could get in for free. This is not the type of thing I do and I have no idea of what I actually said, but it worked.
“He’s letting us in!” I reported.
“He’s letting us in?”
“What did you say?”
“I don’t know. I asked if we could get in. I might’ve mentioned the girls.”
For the rest of the night, we watched as Mac and Laura bounced around the small Maxwell’s stage like wild puppets. I felt like a hero.
@Anton: Whoa! That’s an amazing story, man. I tried giving it multiple thumbs-up, but the system prevented me. 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing.
As I remember it was Nils Lofgren’s first band Grin at the Alexandria Roller Rink sometime in late 1969 when I had just turned 16. Grin were the hot local band at the time and the Roller Rink was the only venue in Northern Virginia at the time that booked rock music. I saw Jethro Tull there in ’70 and quite a few other acts at clubs in DC like the Cellar Door and Childe Harrold’s in the early 70’s.
Black Sabbath and Blue Oyster Cult, September-October 1979 at Pittsburgh’s Civic Arena. I was 15 and went with 3 friends. I think the ticket was $20. We had OK, not great, seats. My friend’s Father dropped us off and my Dad picked us up. I guess the concert was loud because Dad said (with some concern/confusion in his voice) “I could hear the music from outside!”. Good times.
Other than bars and small clubs the only concert I ever attended was at Alpine Valley in Wisconsin to see Neil Diamond in 1977 before he started wearing the sequined shirts and playing to the silver-haired ladies. Cost $10.00 to sit on the grass. I was 30 then and have not been to a large venue concert since.
In March 1977, at the age of 14, I saw Max Webster and Rush play The Kitchener Memorial Auditorium in Kitchener, Ontario Canada. It was my first concert.
By the end of the year I was no longer interested in Rush because I had discovered Ramones.
Near as I can recall, and there may have been a Rick Derringer/Journey (pre-Steve Perry) concert prior to this, Frank Zappa and the Mothers, Nov. 20, 1976 at Cleveland (OH) Public Hall. It was a memorable evening, and the musicianship was top notch, as you would expect from Zappa. Not to mention the stage antics, some of which involved blows up dolls and the like.
Had tickets to see Zeppelin and The Who (both in 1975) at the old Richfield Coliseum, but at the ripe old age of 14 I guess my parents made that decision for me. Apparently at 15 I was ready for Frank 🙂
December 1978, Ted Nugent with The Cars opening at the Pontiac Silverdome. Horrible acoustics and extremely loud.
Mine was The Misfits at First Avenue in Minneapolis. Prince’s home club.
First, Ruleof72, I was at that show!
Aug 2nd, 1972 I was 13 and went to the Alice Cooper, Humble Pie, Uriah Heep show at Pittsburgh’s 3 rivers stadium. As always (use to skip school all the time) took the trolley downtown and walked over the bridge to the show.
No one was on the field, just massive speaker setup. The stage was at second base… Uriah Heep did a short set. Then Humble Pie came out in convertible limos each one had their own all different colors. People went crazy jumped onto the field and killed the sound system. We had an hour wait for Alice Cooper to come out.
Great show, was the start of a long list of concerts. Second show was Yes with Wakeman on the Fragile tour. Some reason bought the program which had a detailed list of their instruments. My algebra teacher took it away from me the next day. That guy hated me for many reasons. 🙂
Awesome Gordon! So, you must’ve been the guy in front of us smoking the mega joint, right? 🙂 That’s one thing I remember from that show, THICK….very THICK pot smoke.
3rd Oct 1986 – Swindon UK, Status Quo, in a marquee in a public park. I was 15 years old at the time. It’s easily the loudest gig I’ve ever been to as I could not hear properly for about 3 days afterwards and we were stood near the back. At the time Quo were in some contractual wranglings with their label, so mostly played their older back catalogue songs, for which the audience offered no objections.
A great band much maligned in my opinion. Glad I got to see them and quite a first gig for a young teenager.