Friday, May 05, 2006

First Concerts

*Note: This was not my first, it was actually my 2nd concert. I'd rather disavow all memories of my first concert-- Franki Valli and the Four Seasons.

I remember the excitement of that first concert. It was hot & muggy on the long drive down I-87 to suburban Albany. The high Adirondack peaks surrounded the highway. The scenery was absolutely beautiful. I'd been a fan of Chicago for over five years, but this was the first opportunity I'd had to see them live.

Being only 16, my father opted to take the trip with me. Despite my age I didn't yet have a driver's license, and even if I had the return trip would have been after "curfew" (in NY state Driver's under 18 are not allowed to be on the roads after 9pm without a note from work). I wasn't even in a rush to get a driver's license anyway. My town was small enough that it was just as easy to get around by foot or on bicycle (which I, more often than not did), and I enjoyed the serenity and solitude of bicycling anyway-- so what was the point of a driver's license?

So, anyway, my father and I were headed to Latham, NY to see my favorite band live. He and I had always been close, still are. But at that point in time I was a teenager and while I knew he too had once been a teenager as well-- that had been a MUCH different era (being a teen in the late eighties and early nineties was a wholly different experience than it had been in the late forties and early fifties).

We didn't talk much about important things, we listened to and enjoyed the music of the band we were making the three hour trek to see live.

I don't remember much about the show itself, other than the excitement I felt seeing Chicago perform live-- opening with Introduction-- the very same song that opens their 1969 debut album (and one of my favorites due to Lee Loughnane's trumpet solo) and closing with their classic rock staple 25 or 6 to 4. I also remember it was a theater in the round. So, for portions of the concert the band's backs were to me (but did I ever get a great view of their drummer, Tris Imboden, in action).

But it was after the concert I will never forget. My father and I waited by the buses for the band to come out. I wanted to meet them and thank them for making music that has been like a close friend to me. Other music groups and musicians have passed in and out of my life, but Chicago has been a constant. Their music has always reminded me of happy times and was the soundtrack of my adolescence. Their lyrics have sometimes been rather trite, but to me-- with Chicago at least-- it's always been about the music moreso than their lyrics and there was something about that music I've always been able to connect with on a deep emotional level-- moreso than with any other band I've ever come to enjoy on anywhere near the same level.

And sure enough-- that night was my lucky night as I got to meet trumpeter Lee Loughnane and bassist/vocalist Jason Scheff (incidentally, the following year I'd attend my 2nd Chicago concert at the same venue and meet the rest of the band after the show-- but that's another tale for another time).

Even after we pulled into our driveway at about 3:30 am the next morning. I was still coasting on the excitement and the electricity from the concert.


Bar Bar A said...

Great story. There's nothing like that first concert (first kiss, first anything good).

I didn't get my DL till I was 18 but my son is making me take him on his 16th birthday which is exactly 7 months from Sunday (he's counting)

Bruce said...

I saw Chicago in '77, I believe it was, up in Akron, at the Blossom Music Center. I was visiting my uncle and his family in Cleveland, and my cousin and I drove down to see them. They didn't suck.
IIRC, my first concert was BTO in '74(I didn't start going to concerts until I was out of college), and they were on the Not Fragile tour. I had such a good time, that I went to about 10 more in the next year(ah, the memories of $10 tickets). :)

The Phoenix said...

I've seen Chicago four times...their last show was with Earth, Wind, and Fire.

They really still put on a great show. I'm glad they skip a lot of of the fluff love songs.

Perplexio said...

Barbara: In Virginia they get learner's permits @ 15 1/2 so by the time they turn 16 they have 6 months of experience behind the wheel. My 15 1/2 year old nephew, Gregory lives in Virginia and is relishing the fact that he can drive before his older cousin, Kelan, in NY state who has to wait until he's 16 (in June). The friendly cousin rivalry between my 2 nephews amuses me.

Bruce: If you saw Chicago in 1977, of course they rocked-- They still had their original lead guitarist, Terry Kath. I envy you man! I was still in diapers when Terry accidentally killed himself in January 1978, I never had the opportunity to see Chicago live when he was still alive! The dude was a monster on guitar!

Phoenix: I've since seen Chicago live another 8 times, and my last time seeing them live was also with Earth Wind & Fire. They still do put on a decent show, but they don't change their setlist enough from year to year to warrant me going every year any more.

Keshi said...

OMG u've been to Chicago concerts?? U lucky person :)

My first ever LIVE concert was REM's in Sydney...was absolutely brilliant!


Perplexio said...

Keshi: Yeah, the above tale was my first of nine Chicago concerts over the years.

They did a few shows in Australia and New Zealand last year.

LostInTX said...

I'm not big into concerts. I think it's because I have a hard time coughing up so much money for just a few hours (if that). My first concert ever was George Strait. I'm almost embarassed because I was in high school and I don't listen to country anymore but then again, I do live in Texas and it's George Strait not Billy Ray Cyrrus. Heh... I also saw Run DMC and the Violent Femmes back in the day. That's about it for me.

Perplexio said...

lostintx: I agree, I have to REALLY enjoy a group before I shell out the boku clams to see them live-- OR they have to be a local/regional band playing in a smaller venue for a reasonable cover. I saw a cool ska band (Deals Gone Bad) in a Chicago bar that way once and saw a folk/country musician (Pat Dailey) put on a killer live show for a $5 cover at a large Ohio bar once. But I must admit my appeal to Dailey was his Jimmy Buffet-esque style and his rather crass and humorous lyrics.

phlegmfatale said...

wow - what a great experience to record as your first concert. Thanks for sharing.

Keshi said...

na I cyudnt go to those ones...I knew abt it tho...