What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to? For some of us it was the experience of enjoying a concert with a group of close friends. For others, it was catching your favorite bands before they hit it big or finally being able to see your music idol up close and personal. Today’s Top 5 is a collaborative one. We’ve polled some our writers and compiled an unranked list of some of our greatest concert memories. Follow the jump for our picks, and be sure and let us know about your best concert ever when you’re done.
While seeing Sweep the Leg Johnny (touring for 18.104.22.168), Rainer Maria (touring for Past Worn Searching), Braid (touring for Age of Octeen), The Promise Ring (touring for Nothing Feels Good) and Compound Red share a stage in 1997 was an amazing experience, I will have to opt for something a little more loud. June 5th, 2000, Oberholtzer Hall Ballroom (essentially it is a ballroom in a dorm on the University of Houston campus). The bands performing: True North, Red Scare, Orchid, and Lightning Bolt. The show had to be billed as a local battle of the bands because, at the time, Oberholtzer didn’t book touring bands.
It’s hard to pinpoint what was so great about the show. There was just an electrified atmosphere that just coalesced with the music. All of the bands played on the ground and were surrounded by the audience. As the headliner, Orchid, was ending there set with screaming and feedback, Lightning Bolt had quietly set up at the back of the room and began playing their first song as Orchid was finishing their last.
It was sweaty, loud and exciting. I actually haven’t had a more exhilarating concert experience sense.
Trying to pick a “best concert” proved to be quite the difficult task for me. To make some sort of decision, I pulled out an old box full of old ticket stubs that I’ve collected over my many years of concert going. This little stub was the one that caught my eye. I mean damn, that’s one helluva lineup for 2001. Weezer was still somewhat relevant and hadn’t put out some of the horrendous stuff they are touring behind now. Tenacious D were the Flight of the Conchords of the day. Jimmy Eat World was also still relevant and had just put out the pop hits filled album Bleed American. Of all the concerts I went to my freshman year in college, this really is the one I can remember down to the last detail. From missing most of Jimmy Eat World’s set, to finding our awful seats in the nosebleeds, to jumping the general admission fence and moving up close; this really was what college and music were all about. I could share more of the story, but nah, I’m going to keep the rest to myself and just say that the night was more than memorable. The music wasn’t bad either.
Once upon a time, What Made Milwaukee Famous and The Black and White Years were just no- names opening for Pete Yorn. A few years back, this very situation happened in a little bar called The Parish. There, I found that the best concert isn’t just an amazing experience watching your idol, it’s a life altering event. This is the best concert ever not only because the venue is tight and informal, but because from that concert, two bands were powered into the spotlight and now hold their own headliners. We were up close and personal, catching the whiff of new blood and tasting the grease of old pros. I like concerts where you can see the sweat on the musician’s brow, really noticing how much effort goes into a show (so long as you aren’t Ashley Simpson). For me, the best concert ever gave me more options in filling my musical portfolio. And that is a prize worth noting.
So your best concert ever is supposed to be when you finally get the chance to see your favorite band live, right? Call it cliche, but my favorite concert was getting to see Bruce Springsteen in Ausitn this past April. While it was hard (and I might regret it tomorrow) to vote this show over Pearl Jam in 1993, Pavement in 1998 or even seeing Bruce the previous year in Houston, this one was a bit different. I woke up super early and kept hitting “refresh” on the ticket site to score floor seats. When you’re a stones throw away from your music idol, it kind of erases the sad reality that your dream concert happened at the Frank Erwin Center. While some folks older than myself might have seen The Boss during his late 70’s heyday, just having the experience of seeing one of rock & roll’s greatest performers up close and personal was enough for me. Judge me if you must, but jumping around for 3 straight hours and singing along to every song is what your best concert ever is all about. Oh, and the 15 minute version of “Jungleland” during the encore. That, too.
For me, this was the ultimate concert experience, though less for the actual music, and more for the overall memory of it all. It was Valentine’s Day, and as a surprise, my girlfriend of the time got all my Austin friends to drive up to Oklahoma, and then to Kansas City. We drove up as a huge entourage, and then we sang the rest of the night through. I’ve seen a lot of shows in my time, but for some reason, this one always seems to come back to me as the greatest show. Ever.