My Top 5 Shows Ever – Who Was There? | Christian Music Zine
May 25, 2011Posted by on
It isn’t just the music, it’s the atmosphere. Everything surrounding a show can make or break it. It isn’t always about if the vocals were pitchy, if the guitar strings broke or the speakers blew out your ears. It isn’t always about the music. It isn’t always even about that night. Sometimes it’s just about the memories that you associate with your favorite concerts that you’ve ever been to. Here are mine. Were you there?
5. Hawk Nelson at Chain Reaction: Anaheim, California. 2006
I have a friend named Mike, he was still in the Marines at the time and had been to Iraq once or twice. I used to walk up behind him and yell “BOOM” as loud as I could to scare him. It was a jerk move, but it was funny and we’d get a laugh about it, me more so than him, but he was a good sport about it. I don’t think we had a thing in common outside of wanting to know Christ better and that we were really just starting to get into Christian music. I was a little ahead of him at the time in my knowledge on what was what and so I came up with plans as far as who to see and when. We had been to a couple disappointing shows up to that point in time and we really needed something good to not make this whole concert going thing a waste. We decided to check out this joint up north called “Chain Reaction”, where some bands we liked were playing. Showbread was supposed to be there, but they left the tour at the last minute for reasons I still don’t know. Instead we got this up and coming local band opening the show, nobody had ever heard of them back then. I can’t even think of their name at the moment, but I’ve seen their name mentioned from time to time and they’ve had a little bit of success. Run Kid Run followed with six songs from their freshman album, “This Is Who We Are”. I had seen them get off the bus and thought that the lead singer was their roadie or something. I think that is when I realized that rock stars were just people. Finally, Hawk Nelson took the stage and lived up to every expectation I ever had of them. They had come out with “Smile, It’s The End of the World” earlier that year and I had played both of their albums countless times. I don’t even remember much that happened during their show, other than high five-ing front man Jason Dunn, watching him bust out a keyboard to close with an encore of “36 Days” (a song he hadn’t played in months) and finally watching him head back to the bus shirtless, with some kind of manager in tow. In reality, the show was just a show, but it was fun and it cemented a friendship, that’s what shows should do.
4) House of Heroes at The Knitting Factory: Hollywood, California. 2009
If you had only seen it on television, you would think that Hollywood was the glitziest and most glamorous place in all the world, something of a magical fantasy land where all your dreams and wishes come true. The reality is that there isn’t a sketchier town in California, which is saying a lot. Yes, there are big names on the buildings, like Jimmy Kimmel and Conan O’Brien and the like. But on the street there were some real characters. No, not the highly paid professional actors that plays princes and princesses or Mickey Mouse and the gang at Disneyland. No, more like fake Jack Sparrow on meth. I’m not joking. It’s a sad, sad place. My new bride and I went to the Chinese Theater before the show to kill some time, as we got there early to be sure to miss all the traffic, even though it was a Sunday. We got there way too early, so we watched Aliens in the Attic. Yes, it was that hot outside that we paid to watch that movie. Eventually came show time, but first I got the opportunity to talk to Dustin Ruth of the band Ruth. I’m not the one that does most of the interviews around here anymore, I am not Type A or whatever you want to call it and I’m not the greatest socialite the world has ever seen, but talking to Dustin was one of the best non-interview interviews I’d ever done. I just asked him question after question and he responded like we were longtime friends. We tend to put our favorite musicians on these pedestals, but they’re people. Some of them are cool. When you meet the cool ones and they remember you six months later it makes you feel like you’re part of a community. I should have talked to Tim Skipper of House of Heroes while I was at it, but I chickened out because I didn’t have an opening line. Maybe next time. The show opened with a pretty well unknown band, The Workday Release, followed by the now defunct Sleep For Sleepers. Ruth followed and just thinking about them makes me hope they make a comeback for real, with word having it that they’ve been working on a third album to be released independently. House of Heroes closed the night and they were just stoked that there were people there this time, as they’d been there a couple years before them when no one had heard of them. The End Is Not The End had finally come out to stores and their reputation was growing a little. The way they pulled off all the harmonies is something to behold live and I can’t wait to see them again. My wife still wears her Ruth shirt and I still wear my House of Heroes shirt from that night, though they both probably should have been tossed a year ago.
3) Emery at Spirit West Coast: Del Mar, California. 2007
As festivals go, I’m sure this was a long day. I remember earlier in the weekend saying that I liked Emery’s one song I had heard. You know, um…um…that one song…”Studying Politics”. I had gotten it off a free sampler, I believe. I may find those samplers useless to me now that I get just about everything for review, but back then they were great for me. When the show started I was pretty much in about the fiftieth row, basically at the point where you can just walk around and actually hear what your friends are saying to you. A few songs in I followed my large and in charge friend Joey to the front. I was weighing it at about 260 at the time and Joey, a kid just getting out of high school, dwarfed me. Following him to about the third or fourth row was a cinch. The longer the show went, the more into the band I got. This was a few months before I’m Only A Man came out, so this was all stuff from their first two albums. Eventually came the encore. Guess what they played. I heard my friend tell me this song was called “Wolf”, the name being corrected by my yet to be friend Caralee on my myspace blog, whatever that is. Give me a break, it was loud. Next thing I knew I had Josh Head walking on the crowd’s hands and screaming “Walls” into my face. I’ve been hooked ever since. There are two things I really took from this show. One was that after the show I had to physically pick up a lighter weighted friend of mine and carry him a hundred feet away so that he wouldn’t get into a fight with some guy who was mad at him for “pushing” at an Emery show (some people don’t understand rock and roll) and that Emery was on their way to becoming one of my favorite bands.
2) Anberlin at Cornerstone California: Irvine, California 2007
I’ve talked mostly about going to shows with people that I cared for very deeply. This one is different. It was day two of a two day festival, sloppily thrown together by the makers of Cornerstone and Joshua festivals and hasn’t been back since. I went with two people from church that I didn’t particularly get along with. This was a day when God was working on my heart. It is really easy to love those who love you. I had a tenuous relationship with one and a completely distrusting relationship with the other. God wanted and wants me to love both. That is just the backdrop to the actual show. Underoath was to play right after Anberlin on the other stage, but I didn’t get to make it to that and I’ve yet to see Underoath since, something I still wish I could have back to this day, but talking the other two into staying long enough to see Anberlin was a chore in itself. This was the only time I’ve ever seen the band and it was just about half a year after Cities had come out. You know, only their best album. Everything about this show was the best. Stephen Christian looked so cool I wanted to find a jacket just like his. I was 27 going on 17. The crowd was poppin’ too. We hung on every word. We jumped up and down with every beat. This wasn’t just a show, it was a workout. Forget Jillian and Bob from The Biggest Loser, all you need is an Anberlin show every night to get in shape. This was a night where the crowd’s energy and the band’s performance were unmatchable. This was the kind of show that makes going to show worthwhile.
1) Bleach at the Promenade Mall: Temecula, California. 2004
This isn’t even about the show. The show was depressing. The show was depressing because Davy Baysinger was depressing. Davy Baysinger was depressing because he was depressed and it showed. I was single and this was Valentine’s Day and I watched Passion of the Christ earlier in the day, but this show was more depressing. I wouldn’t know until years later that it wasn’t just because they were on their long farewell tour. It was also because their brother had recently passed away. The band has a brother? Yep. Well, two of the band members were brothers and they had a third brother who had died at war, but he was really a brother to the whole band. Losing your brother and eventually your dream job would be hard for anyone to take. I remember thinking later, “they were good, but depressing”. I still feel that way. I’m still amazed that it happened, but I bought their album much later that year, it was called “Astronomy”. Over the course of the next two years I would obtain their other six albums and they’d become my favorite band of all time. After they had broken up. They have recently done some reunion shows, but I doubt they’ll ever make it back to southern California for a show. There’s always hope. The show may not have been that great. I didn’t even know a single song until Skillet’s last song, “Savior”, closed the night. I got into them that night too. I’ve seen Skillet four times and the last two easily could have made this list too, if only there was some sentiment that went farther than remembering how bad I had to go to the bathroom or how far they had come after such a long career to get there. Memories make shows what they are, not just the melodies.
Were you at any of these shows? What are your favorite shows and the memories you have attached to them?