I’ve made it no secret–I love going to shows. And while I’m not sure I could ever pick a favorite concert overall, I can think of ten crazy, epic, surreal or just plain lucky concert moments that I will never forget. Here they are:
- Billy Burning Bright
One of the first concerts I ever went to as a kid was Billy Joel with my family. I was pretty young, so I don’t remember a lot, but I do remember the show was at an outdoor amphitheater. We were up on a hill with a blanket on the lawn watching the show from afar, but when Billy started playing a ballad on the piano (of course), my dad picked me up and put me on his shoulders. All below me from our perch on the hill to the front of the stage, people had their lighters out (back when people still used lighters at shows) and it was this sea of flickering flames. I still can picture it vividly, even though the other memories before and after that song have faded.
- I Want to Hold
Some of the bands I love are pretty intense, like Underoath. (Look up screamo or listen to the track I included if you need a reference point.) I went to see them for the first time in college and the venue was jam-packed with dudes. My friend Ashley and I weaved and elbowed our way as close to the stage as possible, but we were still barricaded in by the crowd. During a particularly intense moment in one of their songs, the screamer Spencer Chamberlin jumped into the crowd, hand outstretched. Our hands were like that painting where God is reaching to Adam across the clouds, except ours actually made contact. It was like our hands were two magnets and I held his tight while the crowd frantically scrambled to touch any part of him they could reach. After we pushed him back on stage, the crowd went nuts, my shoe fell off, and I had to crowd surf out holding it to go put it back on.
- Is That Your Pick?
Jimmy Eat World is one of my favorite bands to see live. In fact, I’ve gone to see them twice by myself when everyone else was too lame to go. At one show, I was pretty caught up in the music and put my head down as I swayed along to the melody. That’s when I noticed something small and white on the ground. I picked it up and discovered it was a guitar pick signed by none other than lead singer Jim Adkins, thrown into the audience earlier in the set. I still have it in my jewelry box at home and smile every time I open that drawer.
- The Ace, The Book, and The Earthquake
Recently, I went to see The Early November. My first novel, Hollow Stars, features a slew of characters with names inspired by my favorite bands and songs. I was hoping to give a copy to the merch guy to give to lead singer Ace Enders, whom I named one of my characters after, but when he came out to meet fans after their set, I was able to give it to him myself and snap a photo. Afterward, I went back into the show for a drink and as soon as I sat down the venue started rocking. Not from the other band on stage, but from an earthquake! Read the full story in my blog post here.
- Scaring Me Black and Blue
In college, my friends and I were obsessed with this band Scary Kids Scaring Kids. They were from Arizona and came up to Flagstaff to play a small venue downtown. My best friend Lori and I had these weird shirts made just for fun that were totally unrelated to the band and we got the guys to sign them. We were so excited after, we made our way to the very front of the stage and were pushed so many times into the wooden platform, our knees were completely black and blue the next day. Worth it.
- Gives You Air
I interned at a radio station the summer after my junior year. We worked the Warped Tour. In Phoenix. In July. Needless to say, it was like standing on the sun. Our “tent” was one of the few spots with fans and cold drinks so a lot of the bands would come over to talk to the DJs and cool down. I will never forget watching lead singer Tyson Ritter of The All-American Rejects stand in front of an oversized fan with his arms spread wide airing out his armpits. It was a little odd being downwind of that…
- Contact High
The first concert I ever went to with just my friends was Linkin Park when they were touring for Hybrid Theory. It was in an arena, and we had seats, but my friend and I decided to sneak down to the GA section so we could be in the crowd for their set. We didn’t realize Cypress Hill was the opening band and that every person on the floor would be lighting up as they played. The band even brought out a ten-foot bong on stage! I’d never tried weed before, but after that contact high, I wasn’t sure I could say that anymore.
I love Thrice. I went to a recent show and a group of us got a table, but because I can’t help myself, I still end up in the pit. I was down there by myself most of their show so I got pretty close to the front. After they were done, drummer Riley Breckenridge threw his drumsticks into the crowd. I swear he was aiming for me because one sailed right through the air and the middle of the stick hit my hand. Immediately when I made contact, a swarm descended on me grabbing and trying to pry it from my death grip. At one point, I ended up picking both my feet off the floor and going deadweight to break their grasp. I then stood up triumphantly holding my prize over my head to the unbelieving smiles of my friends back in our seats. (See photo of drumstick above.)
- I’m Running to You
- Surviving the Death Wall
At another festival, I went to see Taking Back Sunday and The Used. I was with some friends who don’t always like to get in the crowd anymore because we’re all getting older, but that night, we were feeling rowdy, so we went into the chaos for both bands. The Used like to do this thing called the “death wall” where they part the crowd and on the singer Bert’s signal, the two walls of people run at each other. I was already down there, so why not do it? Jump forward a couple weeks and I find out I’m pregnant. With triplets. I figured if they could survive that at four to six weeks, they were going to be just fine.