FT5: Best.Concert.Ever

1023top5coverWhat’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.

lightningboltTrue North, Red Scare, Orchid and Lightning Bolt at Oberholtzer Hall Ballroom

While seeing Sweep the Leg Johnny (touring for, 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.

From mwilliamrice

weezerliveWeezer, Tenacious D and Jimmy Eat World at Freeman Coliseum

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.

From rayray

whatmademilwuakeefamousWhat Made Milwaukee Famous, The Black and White Years and Pete Yorn at The Parish

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.

From jourdan.simmang

brucespringsteentourThe Boss at the Frank Erwin Center

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.

From raygun

getupkidsThe Get Up Kids, Ultimate Fakebook and Revolver in Kansas City

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.

From nathan.lankford


  • If not Springsteen, I’d have to say it was in the french quarter seeing the Preservation Hall Jazz Band: http://www.preservationhall.com/

    They’re doing it right. No stage, no PA… skill & tradition.

  • I’m disturbed that a WMMF/Black & White Years/Pete Yorn concert could possibly top anyone’s list of best concerts ever, but to each their own, right?

    As for my own list:
    Neil Young & Crazy Horse – Dallas 2003 – Greendale Tour, 2nd row, 2nd encore opened with Country Home (close followups for Neil would be solo acoustic at Madison Square Garden’s theatre in 1998 or with Crazy Horse at MSG in 1996)

    My Morning Jacket @ Mercury (now Parish) 2003 – Back to back nights for the It Still Moves tour

    Guided By Voices @ Stubb’s w/ Spoon circa Girls Can Tell (close followup would be GBV @ Mercury on the same tour… or maybe GBV with MMJ opening for them @ La Zona)

    The Wrens – Denton 2007 – 2nd-to-last Meadowlands tour show. Got to be the opener, which basically meant a private show of Everyone Chooses Sides during the soundcheck.

    Pearl Jam – 9/11/1998 @ Madison Square Garden – First time they played Breathe in years. Recognized as “their best show ever” until their epic Seattle 2000 show (and probably now eclipsed by the LA show a few weeks ago).

    Honorable Mentions:
    Explosions in the Sky @ Mercury/Parish in 2003. Back to back nights (not sold out!) for their CD release shows.

    McLusky @ Parish Halloween weekend 2004 before they broke up. About 50 people were there and their band is still better than your band.

    My Morning Jacket @ Buffalo Billiards SXSW 2002

    Decemberists @ Buffalo Billiards SXSW 2003 (?)


    I could probably go on forever with a list like this. Not sure if that’s a good thing.

  • Off the top of my head…

    1) Rage Against the Machine, Wu-Tang, Atari Teenage Riot @ The Meadows, Hartford, CT (’95).

    People ripped apart the fence and started bonfires in the grass general admission area. Pits everywhere!

    2) Smashing Pumpkins and Fountains of Wayne @ New Haven Coliseum, New Haven, CT (’95)

    First live concert ever.

    3) Sonic Youth @ Tipitina’s, New Orleans, LA (’02)

    Blew the roof off the joint. First SY show and they played the entire Murray Street CD.

    4) Mastodon, Burnt By The Sun, Bongzilla @ Zeppelin’s, Metairie, LA (’02?)

    Ties with

    4) Mastodon and Dillinger Escape Plan @ Shim Sham club. New Orleans, LA (’03?)

    5) Black Rebel Motorcycle Club @ Antone’s, Austin, TX (’08)

    Trent, I used to work at Preservation Hall before I moved to Austin a few years back. Great place indeed.

  • Nice list Cram. Very nice.

    2001 – La Zona Rosa: Fenix TX “who knows? but they had flamethrower guitars”, Blindside “A Thought Crushed My Mind”, POD “Youth of the Nation”
    Intense, even for the non “jesus rock” folks in attendance.

    2006 – Gypsy Tea Room in Dallas: MMJ “Z”
    so… loud…

    Honorable Mention:
    2001 – Emo’s inside: Mates of State and Appleseed Cast. Knowing very little going in, one of the first atx shows i saw, two great bands, shows like this are why Austin is the music capital.

    2001 – somewhere in Austin for the first of many times… Spoon, because i instantly felt like one of the cool kids for having seen them

  • And how about the Darkness at Stubbs in 2004? “Permission to Land”

    It probably wins on pure volume of fun/falsetto/guitar solos

  • 1) Tool – Brady Theater, Tulsa, 1996

    2) Pearl Jam – Memorial Stadium, Seattle, 1998

    3) Tom Waits – Brady Theater, Tulsa, 2008

    4) Okkervil River – Lollapalooza, Chicago, 2008

    5) Bruce Springsteen – BOK Center, Tulsa, 2009

    6) My Bloody Valentine – Palladium Ballroom, Dallas, 2009

    7) The Killers – Sandstone Amphitheater, Kansas City, 2009

    8) The Flaming Lips – Zpo Amphitheater, OKC, 2006

    9) Wilco – Cains Ballroom, Tulsa, 2008

    10) Radiohead – Superpages.com Center, Dallas, 2008

  • Fridays used to be fun….

  • I just thought of another couple:

    Stephen Malkmus and Bright Eyes (opening) at Mercury/Parish on Malkmus’ first solo tour in 2001.

    Grandaddy at Mercury/Parish in 2001 on the Sophtware Slump tour. Polyphonic Spree opened and it was their first ever show in Austin, I believe.

  • Throw me an idea Sonic Itch and I’ll tear it up. Then again, you could join the team, and write your own.

  • Hard to believe, but July 28, 1996 at the Warped Tour in Chicago, Pennywise put on the best show I ever saw. A day of non-stop pouring rain made half of the acts leave, but Pennywise came out and saved the day. Just tore it up. What makes it most memorable…it was the last show Jason Thirsk performed (committed suicide the NEXT DAY).

    A runner-up was Rage Against The Machine at the Aragon Ballroom, Chicago, 1996, when Tom Morello’s mom, Mary Morello came out before they took stage…she gives a speach on behalf of “Parents for Rock and Rap” and then asked for a moment of silence for ‘Our dearly departed Tupac Shakur’. Fans booed her and wouldn’t let her finish…until she ends with “And now I’d like to introduce the best band in the ‘Fucking Universe’…to which the crowd approved.

  • RHCP (Snoop Dogg opened) in Selma, Summer of 2003 – By The Way tour.

  • DAN:

    I was also at that RATM/WTC show at The Meadows. CRAZIEST F’in SHOW EVER and I’ve been to THOUSANDS (and I’m not embellishing). Only thing is the show was in Summer 1997, not ’95. Rage was not allowed back for the Battle of Los Angeles Tour. And not only was the Rage portion of the show pure chaos, but the Parking Lot was like walking through Armageddon.

    Lot’s of bands talk about bringing the house down . . . well Rage REALLY brought the fucking house down!!!!!

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