Angels & Airwaves - Zack Zarrillo
My first concert experience could be best compared to an 18-year-old girl going to prom and having her virginity taken by her dream date. I am most certainly the girl in this scenario, and Tom DeLonge was my dream date.
Growing up in New York City, my parents didn’t really understand what shows were. And I didn’t really either. My first show wasn’t in a small room, it wasn’t in a house, it wasn’t in a basement. It was in 2008 when I was 15 years old in a 3,000+ cap venue called Roseland Ballroom.
I couldn’t miss the show. It took so long to convince my parents, and it finally paid off. Looking back at it, the lineup was kind of ridiculous. It was Ace Enders (The Early November), Fred Mascherino (ex-Taking Back Sunday), Meg & Dia, and Angels & Airwaves. Boy was I happy. It was truly a dream show for me. AVA played almost every song I could have asked for, and Tom played a Box Car Racer track.
He treated me so well. It hurts it hurts it hurts it hurts. (It didn’t).
Dance Party, Barcode - Matt Brasch (The Wonder Years)
The first show I attended was January 27, 2001 at the Knights of Columbus in Lansdale, PA. The bands were Bob Macadoo’s Dance Party, Barcode, Concept 7, Bad Influence, Live For Today and Royal Noise Brigade.
Coincidentally, it was the first show I had ever played. I remember my parents helping me unload my drums a few hours before doors and being extremely nervous but excited. Bob Macadoo’s Dance Party kicked off the show and got everyone moving. It was the first time I saw someone skank. My anxiety escalated throughout their set because we were next.
When my first punk band — Barcode — started playing, I was on cloud nine (until I put a stick through my snare drum head a few songs in). Luckily, Ryan from Bob Macadoo’s Dance Party was nice enough to let me borrow his snare for the duration of our set.
I got up front to watch the remainder of the bands for the show since it was a floor show and I was shorter than I am now. Though the room was filled and the experience was a bit overwhelming, everyone was welcoming and friendly. After leaving the show that night I decided that playing music, going to shows, and surrounding myself with music is what I wanted to do with my life.
Cartel, Fabulous - Erik van Rheenen
By way of a broken foot (not mine, thankfully), I lucked into my first scene concert. Because “Apologize” was kind of a cool song in 2008 I guess, I bought a ticket for OneRepublic’s Crocs Next Step Campus Tour at Gannon University in my hometown of Erie. A billion boring singles and an awful fashion trend later, pretty much everything about that last sentence embarrasses me.
But a handful of days before the show, lead singer Ryan Tedder broke his foot (there’s an “All the Right Moves” joke somewhere in there, but I’m too lazy to find it) and had to cancel the gig. High school me thought, ‘seriously, does a broken foot make it that hard to sing?’
So in a last-second scramble, Cartel was added to the lineup as the show’s headliner, and now I can’t imagine it any other way. I saw the “Honestly” video on VH1 a few times and loved it, so I made my friend (and concert going partner) Ethan burn me a copy of “Chroma” and tried to commit as many lyrics as I could to memory. The band was hot on the heels of its self-titled album, so it was a frantic dash to take in two albums in the span of like, six hours.
The opener — no-hit wonder rapper Fabolous — sucked, but when Cartel hit the stage, I pogoed like a good little pop-rock soldier and sang along with all the songs I knew (“Honestly,” “Burn This City,” and “Runaway”) and faked it through the ones I didn’t. I bought a shirt and wore it the next day to a chorus of “what the heck is a Cartel?” I didn’t care. Having a band that felt like my secret was the best feeling.
Testament, Savatage - Bob Nanna (Braid)
It wasn’t my very first show, but it was one of the first shows I attended unaccompanied by parents or chaperones. March 25, 1990. The Vic in Chicago. The lineup: Testament, Savatage, and Nuclear Assault. This was towards the end of my regrettable “metal phase.” (The next show I saw that year was actually Naked Raygun.) When I think back on it, it may have been this particular Testament show that pushed me more towards punk, or at least the punk ethic. It was more my speed.