Metro Times' Staff: First and Best Concerts
For the 2013 Music Issue, the Metro Times staff looks back on their first and favorite concerts.
Published: November 5, 2013
Yara Beydoun (editorial intern)
First: Green Day
The first concert I went to was Green Day. I was still going through that “fuck the man” punk-rock phase in middle school. I, undeniably, showed up to the concert in ripped jeans, a crop top and freshly dyed purple hair. Although I can’t say it’s still my mission to find Billie Joe Armstrong and marry him (and I still can’t think about my previous fashion choices without cringing), seeing Green Day for my first concert experience was pretty sweet. I rocked out with other wannabe-rebellious teens and successfully avoided my first mosh pit.
Best: Detroit Electronic Music Festival
My favorite concert experience is actually a music festival — the Detroit Electronic Music Festival to be exact. Along with the amazingly talented DJs and my eagerness to support anything “Detroit,” my favorite thing about this festival is the people. People from all types of backgrounds, ethnicities and cultures coming together to share their love of the same music. Seeing this diversity in the crowd the first time I went was sublime. I still try to go back every year.
Jeff Milo (freelance music writer)
First: Suicide Machines
It was my 14th birthday and I was learning about mosh pits. Trial by fire, thrown to the wolves, good luck, kiddo! Local ska-punk revivalists the Suicide Machines were having their release show for their Battle Hymns album at St. Andrew’s Hall. Terror and joy, panic and celebration, it’s all knotted up in that undulating riot at the edge of the stage. I made it through three songs, albeit, by SM standards that’s barely eight minutes, but still — it gave me my sea legs!
Best: Of Montreal
It was 2004, and Of Montreal was still “underground” enough to play the Blind Pig (Ann Arbor). There was no light show, no drum machine, just a band of wonderful weirdos playing exuberant pop anthems, British-Invasion-tinged, richly lyrical ballads flourished with a silly panache and psychotic whimsy. It helped being in the “front row” during their 10-minute-long skit, going like a slow-motion ballet of aliens wobbling through the crowd, incorporating us into their fun freakshow to an unbroken Moog’s drone.
Lee DeVito (freelance writer)
First: The White Stripes
The first show I remember was the White Stripes at the Masonic Temple in 2003. I was 17. I remember it well because of how precious it was: Rock bands usually don’t play the Masonic, and I’ve never been to a show since where I was treated to projections of old Betty Boop cartoons between sets. In their press photos, the band walked the line between dorky and reverent in peppermint-colored country regalia (still the most punk rock thing I have ever seen), and a bunch of the audience showed up in their own costumes.
Best: Jack White
The best gig I’ve ever seen was Jack White in a packed country bar at SXSW. His solo album was not yet released but he played songs from his entire career, reimagining scrappy White Stripes songs with two different full bands, including a backup soul singer. It was unexpected and bizarre … and it sounded amazing. I went alone and later found out the woman I geeked out with all night was drummer (and Scott Pilgrim actress) Tennessee Thomas.
Tyler Martin (editorial intern)
First: Brian Culbertson
My music snobbery really began the summer of 2008, when I saw Brian Culbertson at Chene Park. I bragged to my friends that my first concert was a jazz concert, imagining there was a secret society of cosmopolitan Detroiters who only had time for cocktails and the exclusive smooth jazz sounds of a musician whose piano riffs made the city fall to its knees. When Culbertson stepped on stage, those pretensions fell away. His ’90s frosted tips, slim-fitting jeans and Converse sneakers challenged the expert notes pouring from his fingertips like a spell. Right then, I had this classic realization that, “We’re all here to see this guy, he’s blowing us away, and nothing else matters.”
Best: Big Gigantic
I’ll admit my concert experience is limited to about four bands, but the Big Gigantic show at Mr. Smalls in Pittsburgh stands out as a wild memory. The venue was at a former Catholic church, and while waiting outside to get in, my college buddies got glitter bombed in the face by a local high school girl possessed by the party spirit. Surrounded by people who reeked suspiciously of marijuana and who grinded together through the opening act, my buds and I created our own safe circle where we pretended to know the bass drops and flopped wildly like Sesame Street puppets. Danceable electro-jazz tunes combined with a raw, youthful energy made this concert explode with a unique vivacity.
Ashley Fagan (editorial intern)
The first major show I went to was at Skelletones in Grand Rapids, now closed. I honestly can’t tell you who I went to see. There were four of us in the freezing cold and snow; we stood in line for the door. It was wall-to-wall, obviously over capacity. We were quickly sweat-soaked and music pounding in our ears, the crowd in absolute mayhem over the bands. You couldn’t have fallen down if you tried, with the surge of the crowd pushing toward the stage. It was much more of an environmental experience for me that night than anything else.
Best: The Garden Gnomes
One of my favorite shows was in the basement of my brother’s house on Thanksgiving night a few years ago. Our friends had put together a band called the Garden Gnomes, mostly playing covers of the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, the Allman Brothers Band, and more, occasionally playing originals like “I Hate My Job” and crowd favorite “Poo Poo Monster.” A lot of us worked at a pizza joint together, hence the first song’s title. The second you’d have to hear it and know our group of friends. We sang our hearts out that night. Good times, good people. They go by Carp & the Boom Booms now and they have a ferociously loyal following around Muskegon.
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