The Best and Worst of Live Concert Incidents
Live shows (a.k.a concerts) are religious experiences to me. It is where you find yourself surrounded by people who share the same interests. The love of music, the appreciation of whoever is playing, and the understanding that you are all there for the same purpose. To get lost in the music and to forget about your daily life for a few hours. For that reason alone, some of the greatest experiences in my life have been at live shows. From the feeling of goosebumps slowly rising up on your arm while you sing along to one of your favorite songs with 5,000 other people in unison, to the simple and content feeling of leaving a concert and feeling like you just had the best fuck of your life. Your body is exhausted, your proverbial belly is full, and you are fully sated, awash in a sweaty glow. It is a feeling that can be replaced or substituted by very little, and once you fall in love with live shows, it becomes the single greatest thing in life. A moment on a future timeline to look forward to while you slog through your daily life. But because I have been to so many shows across my many years on this Earth, it means that not all my experiences have been good. Though most have, I have five live shows where five particular incidents stand out above all others, good and bad. These are the five incidents I experienced at concerts that I will carry with me as long as I live.
Dave Matthews Cryfest
If you are into live music and truly appreciate it on every level, there will be a moment you will be brought to tears at a live show. It is just something that happens to the deepest of us at the weirdest times and often, those moments dictate us, we do not dictate them. In this particular example, I was at a Dave Matthews show (don’t judge me, dude puts on killer live shows with lots of drugs around) and I had JUST lost my best friend to suicide less than a week before. The tickets were actually for him and I, but I brought another friend as I didn’t want to let mourning keep from something he would have loved as well.
Anyway, Dave has a huge catalog and love doing classic covers, and he brought out three soul singers that night and did the song Long Black Veil and for whatever reason, I just could NOT keep my shit together. I remember looking up at the sky and seeing the stars (outside venue, nighttime shows are always my preferred way to see and hear music) and weeping openly while this lovely song echoes through the stars.
Suddenly, I feel hands on me. I know it sounds weird but had bonded pretty hard with section I was in and other people (some strangers) came over and just put hands on my arms and shoulders to let me know it was okay and they got it. I ended up sobbing harder.
Was one of the most moving displays of real humanity I was ever on the receiving end and was a moment that I will carry with me to my grave.
To those I never got to thank between sobs, thank you. As far as I am concerned, I am not even religious but ya’ll were some angels, real talk.
Deftones Blood Blunt Karma Killer
My problem when I went to shows in my late teens and early twenties was I would try WAY too hard to look cool and not be dressed properly for the show (I always wanted to get laid, that was my goal in every single thing I did between 15 and 30, and it generally worked) but I am at a Deftones show dressed up like someone who worked at Pacific Sun. In hindsight, that and the long hair would’ve been enough to make ME wanna whip my own ass if I saw me now. Regardless, it was working and I swear to you on my life that I had won over the best looking woman at this show. We were standing outside the pit, listening to the song Be Quiet and Drive (Far Away) and suddenly the pit kind of just opens, parts like some biblical ocean. Out walks a hulking beast of a man, covered in blood (on face and lips and all). He sees my well-dressed ass and a stunner and decides he is gonna ruin my day. I see his eyes meet mine as I am puffing a blunt (my most common practice at live shows) and he sees the perfect 10 next to me (I will never forget you Amber) and dude just walks over, no joke (cannot believe I am admitting this) and just takes the blunt out of my mouth and starts puffing, looking me in the eyes, waiting for me to WHAT THE FUCK this guy so he can eat me in front of this crowd and in particular, this perfect (looking) woman. I say nothing, but I never break his gaze. His bloody (likely hep-filled) mouth all over it, he goes to pass it back to me and I laugh and tell him to keep it. Now, did I fully pussy out? No. Did I fully step up? No, but regardless, I know self preservation and I kept me alive, plus there is a cool ending.
Dude had fucked so many people up so badly before leaving pit that while he was cock waggling me the pit was waiting behind him like hungry animals for him to come back in so they could pounce. He throws blunt on ground like dick and just turns and runs into pit not even thinking.
All I can say is, thank you to the 250 dudes (and brutal metal chicks) who then tossed this muscle bound fuckwad around like a child for the next two songs until he crawled out on his hands and knees, beaten, right at the very spot he tossed the now crushed blunts. It felt very Shakespearean at that point.
I still put that in a win department and my finger still smelled like Amber at the end of that show and I am pretty sure he ended up in E.R.
Pits are no joke, kids. You little spoiled millennials have no idea how we do….
This was not only one of the first real live shows I had ever been too, but ended up turning into the most insane and set a high standard of insanity that very few shows have ever come near. The 92 lineup of ‘Palooza was everyone who was big in the 90’s. RHCP, Pearl Jam, Soundgarden, and Primus (as well as a cavalcade of others with Ministry somehow stealing the show from all of them by putting on a show that was pure hellfire) but that key moment that stood out was not that Ministry set, though it comes close. As does being sold a joint with angel dust at said show, but still, something beats all of that. Crazy, I know.
The key moment came when the show was winding down (night time, show was all day long in summer heat outside). It is dark out and Red Hot Chili Peppers were closing (headlining) the show. Whether it was heat stroke or what, the people where I was seeing the show started going primal (the location is now called the Comcast Center in Mansfield but it WAS called Great Woods before this moment). The show was an outside venue and people started tearing down pieces of the fence around the venue and turning them into bonfires, easily six feet high each, one every hundred feet, across the whole venue. Chili Peppers not missing an opportunity start playing a cover of Hendrix’s fire and, well, shit went south FAST.
Suddenly, huge clumps of the lawn are getting torn up and thrown about, so much so there is no way to NOT keep getting hit by chunks of lawn. Amidst that, some girl overwhelmed by the power of the moment tried leaping across one of the bonfires.
I am sure you know it did not end well for her.
At this point, RHCP stopped the show and told us all to chill the fuck out because someone was seriously hurt.
So we did.
But man, that show began my concert life and still has yet to be surpassed.
Broken Bells and Falling Beers
For those who do not know who Broken Bells are (for shame, you missed out on something awesome) it was a side project of the lead singer of The Shins, James Mercer, and super genius producer Danger Mouse (aka Brian Burton). It was a trip hop, synth, ambient poppy mix of music and was one of the best albums to come out 2009. At the time, my cousin’s band was doing really well (Ra Ra Riot) and I was catching all his live gigs, usually with the benefit of sometimes popping backstage. At this one particular show they were doing for a radio station in Boston, they were opening for Broken Bells. I adore the Shins (as most people who wear flannel and have beards do) and I ADORE Danger Mouse (I am sorry but putting a whole Beatles album over a whole Jay-Z album is one of the slickest and illest producer moves of all time and it takes a genius to do that and actually make it work, which he did) so to go backstage and potentially meet these two had me amped up. Didn’t hurt that show was at awesome, vintage theater with balconies and shit.
So fast forward, Ra Ra finishes it set and Broken Bells are getting ready to take stage. I high five Danger Mouse as he is going on stage (I am literally the last thing they see as they leave the stage to go on) and I get cocky and assume I am going to do same thing with lead singer of The Shins. He has a beer in his hand and a set list (or a piece paper of some kind) in his other hand and I am not even thinking so I go to high five him and he doesn’t wanna seem like a dick so he goes to do it WITH HIS BEER HAND.
Suffice it to say, it did not soak him or anything but I can confidently tell you the look this man gave me after he realized what I had caused him to do seconds before appearing on stage was not a pleasant look. His face clearly said “you fuckhead.” I did not need his words to. I concurred with said thought, actually. What a fuckhead.
By the way, never had time to say sorry as I shrunk to the size of an ant when it happened, but um, sorry about that, James. And trust me, if you think that one second of walking on stage a little wet was embarrassing, it can not trump the utter shame I felt for weeks after.
LSD, Radiohead, and the Rain That Fell in Tune
There are few bands around nowadays that can do it like Radiohead. They are just, as some people say, on some other level shit. And this has always been true. If there is ONE band alive that we can jokingly say came from the heavens to make ethereal music to make Earth life better, it would be Radiohead. They transcend music and create something more. If you have never been to a Radiohead show and sen or heard them live, I insist you must add it to your bucket list. No frills, no tricks, nothing needed, Just an incredibly tight band that plays music that takes you to another place that you could not access otherwise. Okay, enough jerking them off, I am clearly a fan.
Anyway, this particular show was, again, at an outside venue and I am with one of my closest friends at the time who is also a huge Radiohead geek, so all is well with the world. Also, I am on LSD. I feel like that may play a slight part in all of this, but only slight.
Suddenly they start playing Paranoid Android and as they are cranking it, the sky overhead is getting darker and darker and more menacing (remember folks, OUTSIDE show). Then, right when they hit the bridge of the song where it gets really mellow and Thom repeatedly sings “rain down from a great height”, warm summer rain starts falling on us. The sky is salmon colored now and it just opened up, and with the lead singer singing as if he were instructing mother nature herself, we all just laughed and spun around in the rain, as if the whole moment had been choreographed by fate itself.
Even weirder, rain stopped dead when bridge of the song stopped and the sky starts getting clear again. Suddenly, the clouds part over the stage (there is no way the band could have seen this as they were facing us in the opposite direction we were facing) and a big, fat bellied full moon slowly started revealing herself directly over the stage. As this is happening directly over the band’s head, they break into Sail to the Moon (a staggeringly beautiful song) and you could hear the audience I was part of just gasp in awe. Like it was all serendipity. A moment pre-scribed by the very fates themselves onto tomes of stone, years ago.
A more chill and goosebump inducing concert moment I cannot recall.
Kid Cudi and Odd Future (with Tyler the Creator):
Kid Cudi put on one of the best live shows I have ever seen. But what really stood out was Tyler the Creator literally trying to start an actual riot (which is a thing he does around the Boston area because he hates authority around here with good reason as they always force him to stop his shows early and without warning). That was pretty fucked up for a minute but settled itself soon thereafter, thankfully.
Also, huge props for Kid Cudi for chilling that entire venue out by himself. That took balls.
Buckethead shows cannot be explained but they change lives and you have never seen anything like it. Here is some proof of that.
He also gives away toys and shit. No, seriously. I left a Buckethead show once with a movie quality fake severed arm. How can that NOT place on the list?
Black Sabbath’s (original lineup):
When Sabbath reformed with all its original members in late 90’s, early 00’s, I knew I had to see them live. Show was great. But that stand out moment was breast related, in the weirdest way possible. Lemme explain.
I was blazing and dudes were coming up to me flashing me their lady’s breasts to take a hit. I took two things away from that. One, wow, tits ARE currency which I kind of always suspected. Two, I would never use a woman I loved tits’ as cash (but who’s to say anyone that night was “in love”). Classless but funny as hell and befitting of the sound and environment.
Also, quite memorable and a funny note to end the lost on.
Featured photo by Avarty Photos via Flickr.