My head was really in the clouds last Friday. I was running on right about four hours of sleep and Earl Grey. I desperately needed the caffeine, but I hate coffee. (I find it extremely disappointing; it never tastes as good as it smells. But that’s another story for another time.)
I was hoarse, my ears were ringing and my rapidly approaching 50-year-old hips ached far more than they usually do.
I couldn’t stop smiling.
The night before I attended my 100th concert. By that, I’m referring to concerts by professional musicians, as I’ve attended innumerable other performances in my lifetime.
That night’s was loud and raucous and utterly wonderful. I sang every word at the top of my lungs and danced without caring if anyone was watching.
The musicians were young enough to be my children. By all appearances, the majority of the audience was even younger. One of them, in fact, was my child.
You know the saying, “If it’s too loud, you’re too old?”
I fervently hope I’m never too old.
Concert number one was saxophonist Kenny G at the Salt Lake City symphony hall that I attended with my mom, aunt and cousin when I was a very young teen. What I remember most about that experience was that my cousin and I thought one of the back-up saxophonists was really hot.
For concert five, Def Leppard visited the Salt Palace with opening act LA Guns. It was at the peak of their popularity with their album “Hysteria” and it was my 17th birthday. I’m pretty sure I cried, more than once. My best friend and I stood in line all day to see the band I was completely obsessed with at the time. It was magical.
Some acts have been seen multiple times in those 100 shows. I’ve seen Cold War Kids and Violent Femmes each three times; Modest Mouse, Def Leppard and Poison each four; John Butler Trio six and Dave Matthews Band 10 (including a few concert road trips).
I was there when Bon Jovi filmed their music video for “Lay Your Hands On Me,” and got to hear that song performed multiple times that evening.
I saw Joan Jett and the Blackhearts at the Uinta County Fairgrounds over Memorial Day weekend in 2003. I saw Jason Mraz playing in a parking lot in Washington trying to make a name for himself before anyone knew who he was.
For a few years from 2001 to 2003 I perpetually had concert tickets and new shows to look forward to, including Weezer, Incubus, Ryan Adams, Alanis Morissette, Dave Matthews Band, Taj Mahal, the Cowboy Junkies and a Bob Dylan concert with my dad and brother at Deer Valley where I apparently had way too much fun. (In fact, I distinctly remember a random stranger telling me I was having more fun than anybody else there.)
I was in the nosebleeds — actually the very back row — at the Delta Center (now the Vivint Arena) when No Doubt opened for U2, for a couple of stellar performances.
I took my eldest son and my nephew to their first concert when Green Day visited Salt Lake during the “American Idiot” tour and saw Green Day again a few years later when I was nearly eight months pregnant with my daughter. She turned somersaults in my belly all night long.
It’s no wonder she loves music and dancing so much.
I stood in the rain on a hillside for hours waiting for a Depeche Mode concert to begin, only to have it postponed and moved indoors the following night. Roughly 15 years later I stood in the rain again while Alison Krauss and Union Station played and later that evening witnessed a parking lot altercation between a couple of people with far more money than sense deliberately running into one another’s fancy cars trying to get out of the parking lot. Did I mention my friends and I were wrapped in blankets at the time, having shed most of our thoroughly-soaked clothing before the drive home?
I saw Eric Hutchinson and OAR play in a Salt Lake City club in early 2009, a night of great music made particularly memorable due to a sense of excitement in the air as the country prepared to inaugurate its first black president the following morning.
I once saw Dwight Yoakam in that same Salt Lake City club in a performance where he played several songs more than once simply because he was so excited and wanted to perform them all over again.
At one time I would have said the loudest show I’d ever seen was Clutch at The Depot in Salt Lake, until that show was overtaken when a friend gave us some tickets to Rush, where I actually resorted to buying ear plugs at a grossly inflated price from a vendor making bank off a band known for being one of the loudest, if not the loudest, in history.
My musical tastes are wide and varied. I’ve seen Harry Connick Jr. and Soundgarden, Brad Paisley and Smashing Pumpkins, Etta James and Tool. I’ve seen bands few have ever heard of, like local Utah groups Fictionist and Zodiac Empire. I’ve seen musical legends like The Rolling Stones; Crosby, Stills and Nash; and Billy Joel.
My husband and I spent an inordinate sum of money on tickets and T-shirts taking all three of our kids to see Coldplay a few years back. It was phenomenal.
In the past four months we’ve taken in Keith Urban, Lake Street Dive, the Avett Brothers, Portugal. The Man, Mumford and Sons, The National and Modest Mouse. Our concert season will wrap up with Vampire Weekend in a few short days.
I absolutely love concerts. I love the music, of course, but it’s more than that. I love to feel that hum or rattle or pulsing under my feet. I love the feeling of simultaneously losing myself and finding myself — a feeling I think my fellow music lovers will understand.
I love watching the crowd — before, during and after the show. Sometimes there’s drama, but usually what I see is just pure happiness. Music, especially live music, has an amazing ability to bring people together.
The 100th concert was AJR — a group of three brothers who put on one of the most amazing shows I’ve ever seen, and that’s really saying something because I’ve seen some pretty sensational stuff. It was my daughter’s turn to shed tears at seeing her favorite band, which of course made me shed some tears myself.
She said it was the best day of her life. I can totally relate.
In all those performances and incalculable dollar amounts I’ve spent on tickets, I can’t think of a single time I’ve wished for that money back or felt it was a waste of my time. Some have been better than others, while others have been some of the absolute best days of my life.
AJR closed their set with a song entitled “100 Bad Days.” The chorus triumphantly declares, “100 bad days make 100 good stories. 100 good stories make me interesting at parties.”
It’s a celebration of embracing the bad and the good, and it’s one of the reasons we love them so much.
Fortunately, last night was one of 100 good, often great, days that have left me with an intangible something that is woven into the fabric of who I am. Lucky me.