David Seagal, the former rock critic for the Washington Post, recently wrote an article reminiscing about his time as a music writer (Thanks to Joe for the link!), and the search for the ultimate live concert moment. Which I totally get. It’s what I try to explain to Leah, who’s not a huge live music fan. It’s not that being at a concert is necessarily better than being at home, but there’s that chance that it could be so sublime, and when that moment happens, it’s so much better than virtually anything else in the world, that you have to keep chasing it. Each LIVE MUSIC MOMENT is like that first realization, on E, that you’re high, you’re really fucking high, and everything is so amazingly great you could cry. Or smile. Or laugh. But at any rate, it’s so fantastic all your emotional systems are totally overwhelmed with how just how insanely great this moment is.
These moments are rare, rightly so. Sometimes they’re natural, or as the article exposes, sometimes they’re manufactured by the band. Much like drug addiction, reaching that moment becomes harder as you become used to the tricks of the trade, get jaded by bands, but every once in a while, something truly magical filters through. Here’s some of my LIVE MUSIC MOMENTS:
- Grateful Dead, Fall 1992, Hamilton: They were just coming out of the drums/space jam, starting their “third” set. We had shitty seats way up at the back on the right-hand side of the stage. Beside us, a shirtless deadhead had been jumping up and down arythmically since The Dead first walked on stage. He was probably in his 20s, I was 15. The opening bars to “Sugar Magonlia” broke through out of the space jam. The crowd went nuts. The lights suddenly bathed the jumping guy and us in red light. And that moment, that brief moment, He looked over and smiled, knowingly, and I smiled back. We, for a split second, totally understood each other’s bliss.
- Sheryl Crow, Summer 1996, Another Roadside Attraction (Barrie):Sheryl Crow took an angry, hot, drunken crowd that wanted nothing to do with her, just wanted the Tragically Hip to get on stage already. She opened with “All I wanna Do”, and in the course of that one song, won over the crowd, thousands strong, so completely, that we were all singing in unison with her by the song’s end. The long, repeating chorus, all acappella with this crowd & Sheryl Crow was definitely a fantastic moment
- Radiohead, Fall 1995, Vancouver:This wasn’t a musical moment, but a crowd interaction moment. The band starts into a song, only to stop it quickly, as Thom Yorke admonishes the crowd: “Look, please, no moshing. We’re not all that big, and someone might get hurt. If we see any fucking more moshing, we’re leaving”. With his pouty British accent, I found it very endearing, as, if you’ve ever seen Thom Yorke, he’s tiny.
- Postal Service, May 2004, Sasquatch Festival (The Gorge): I came into this show not knowing the Postal Service at all – I’d heard of them, heard good things about them, but I hadn’t actually heard them at all. Leah, Lauren and I were sitting on the hill, looking down towards the stage and the gorge behind it. To be fair, it’d be hard to not have Live Music Moment with a backdrop like that. But then they started playing “From Such Great Heights”, about how everything look so perfect from far away, and I looked down at them, and out across the gorge, and everything really did look perfect right then.
There’s probably others, but those moments really stand out for me of all the scores, if not hundreds of shows that I’ve been to over the years. And I can’t wait until I can start going to shows again, to find that moment. And I can’t wait to take Liam to a concert, to try and explain to him what that feeling could be, and hopefully, to experience that Live Music Moment with him.
Do you have any “Live Music Moments”?