Top 10 Concerts

Posted on 02/07/2023 in misc

I was listening to a podcast today where two dudes my age were listing their top 10 concerts. I got inspired. In chronological order, because I gave up trying to rank them 1-10.

Night Ranger - Aug/Sept 1984 - Honolulu Civic Center

My first concert. It was right around the time Sister Christian was making them famous. The trip home was more memorable than the concert. It’s on this list because I think your first real concert gets grandfathered onto your top 10, unless it objectively sucked or something. I tried to find a set list on the Internet, but this show does not exist online.

We were in Honolulu on vacation and the show was at the Honolulu Civic Center. I took the city bus to the show from the hotel, which was a few miles away. When the show got out city buses were done for the night, I didn’t have enough cash for a taxi (or assumed I didn’t), and because I was 16 and had been drinking, wasn’t going to try to call my parents at the hotel. So I’m standing there, wondering how I’m going to get back to the hotel, and some guy pulls up and offers to sell me pot. I turned down the drugs, but offered him 5 bucks for a ride to the hotel. And that is how I got home. My parents were out partying and weren’t even at the hotel anyway when I got back. My mom might be hearing this story for the first time if she reads this 🙂

Motley Crue / Whitesnake - Sept 87 - Market Square Arena, Indianapolis

Peak Motley Crue and peak Whitesnake. I think this was my first concert with Michelle.

Monsters of Rock - Summer 88 - Van Halen / Scorpions / Dokken / Metallica / Kingdom Come - Market Square Arena

At the time, I was probably most excited about seeing Dokken. They sucked. They broke up (for the first time anyway) not long after this tour. You could tell Lynch and Dokken weren’t speaking by their performance. This show is most memorable for the Metallica set, which blew the roof off the place. Many years later I saw an interview with James Hetfield where he names this specific show as the day they knew they were blowing up huge.

The Who - Lakewood Amphitheater - August 89

This was a few months after college graduation. I was living at home and my parents won the tickets somewhere. They gave them to me. The tickets were 6th or 7th row center stage. I saw The Who, from the 6th or 7th row, center stage.

Drivin N Cryin / Drivin N Cryin - Fox Theater - 1990

I’ve seen DnC over 20 times, and could have picked several of those shows as most memorable. In fact, they would be in the top 10 at least twice if I didn’t impose a 1 show per band rule on myself. This was one (maybe the first?) of their famous Thanksgiving week shows at the Fox Theater in Atlanta. They opened for themselves and encouraged fans to bring a canned food donation. They did a 45 minute acoustic set, took a break, then came out and rocked for 2 hours. shows them doing 31 songs at this show, which is why I’m picking 1990 as the year, even though in my memory it was a little later, like 91 or 92.

Queensryche / Suicidal Tendencies - June 91 The Omni, Atlanta

I don’t remember the Suicidal Tendencies at all. I think we may have stayed at Underground Atlanta drinking for the opening set. This is the famous tour where they played the entire Mindcrime album, in order. Also, I think this is the first show I attended that had a giant video screen. Queensryche was at peak commercial popularity as Silent Lucidity was hot around this time.

Iron Maiden - June 2008 - Merriweather Post Pavilion, Columbia, MD

The second time I saw Maiden live, the first being in college. Every Maiden show is awesome. This show stands out primarily because it was my son’s first concert. I’ve seen them 3 more times since. Also, this kind of marks the line where we started attending concerts again, as the kids were old enough to either bring along, or leave at home.

Dan Baird / The Del-Lords - Iota Cafe, Arlington VA, Sept. 2013

Those two bands, for like $15, in a dive bar? That’s basically music heaven. I’ve also seen Drivin N Cryin in this place.

Tesla - Sept 2017 - The National, Richmond VA

Tesla had been one of my favorite bands since about 1987, and I had seen them several times by this point, but always as an opener or at a festival with a shorter set. So this was the first (and only) time I saw a full Tesla set. It was everything I hoped for, and more.

Butch Walker - Aug 2022 - Lincoln Theater, Raleigh NC

IMHO, Butch is simply the best live rock and roll show that you can see today. Without the 1 per artist limit, all 4 of my Butch shows may have been on this list. It’s possible I’m dealing with some recency bias here, but there was an energy at this show unlike anything else I’ve experienced. Maybe it was both him and the fans being so damn happy to be back at a Butch Walker show after the COVID layoff.

Honorable Mentions

  • Paul McCartney, 1993, at The Omni in Atlanta.
  • Debbie Gibson, June 2022, at The Birchmere in Alexandria VA
  • Sheryl Crow, July 2013, Fredericksburg VA
  • Gin Blossoms, Spin Doctors, Cracker, September 1994, Lakewood Amphitheater, Atlanta
  • Kiss/WASP, Jan 1986, Market Square Arena, Indianapolis
  • John Mellencamp, Emmylou Harris, June Carter, July 2017, Wolf Trap, Vienna VA
  • Jimmy Buffett, Aug 2014, Jiffy Lube Live, Bristow VA
  • Saxon / Armored Saint, September 2015, Howard Theater, Washington DC

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