("My Ultimate" will run most Tuesdays and will feature any topic that hops into my head. The views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of the other New England Mamas. . . although they should).
A few days ago, Fairly Odd Husband went to see the Dropkick Murphys and the Mighty Mighty Bosstones play a show at the home of the Pawtucket Red Sox. I stayed home with the kids. I'm not sure why I didn't clamor to go to this show except to say that the thought of securing a babysitter just seemed like an awful lot of work.
Ack! I think this means I'm old.
There was a time when "going to a show" was a regular, almost weekly, thing. Like most of you, I'd go out at 11pm, a time now when I'm kicking myself if I'm not sleeping. The few times I've seen a show since I've become a parent, it's the late hour that hurts most of all. I can handle the loud music (my middle daughter can scream louder than any amplifier), the crowds of sweaty hot bodies pressed up against me (it's like my bed when both Jilly and D decide to make a 'mommy sandwich') and the feeling of being the Old Person in the Bar. But, when the time is creeping toward midnight or, gulp, 1am, and the final band has not yet taken the stage? I'm looking for a quiet corner in which to close my eyes for a few minutes, knowing full well that the kids will not let me sleep in past 7am.
Fortunately, I do have loads of happy memories of seeing great bands play at many different places in New England. Last year, I even posted a list of all the bands I'd seen over the years (because I'm a geek who keeps a list). I've decided to list a few of my favorite or most memorable shows---the music may have been just "eh" that night, but these are the ones I remember when I'm trying to call up the days when midnight on a Saturday night looked a lot different than it does now.
Perhaps you were there, too.
Springfield (MA) Civic Center, The Kinks, @ 1982: My first show! Drank too much schnapps! Didn't even know who the lead singer was until the encore! (in my defense, our seats were pretty bad).
Hartford (CT) Civic Center, Bruce Springsteen (Born in the USA tour), 1984: "Hey, Bruce! See me up here! Yes, that is me, up here in the rafters! Pull me on stage, ok? I'm even wearing the shirt!"
Club Babyhead (RI), The Royal Crowns and Reverend Horton Heat, early '90's: Before they were the Amazing Royal Crowns and then just Amazing Crowns, they were playing their first show at this dark, small hole-in-the-wall. It was my first time seeing The Rev too, and I was hooked from the start.
TT the Bears (MA) and The Middle East (MA), twofer with small factory and The Crowns, mid 90's. Ran from one club to the next to catch each band's set.
Great Woods (MA), Lollapalooza, specifically Ministry's set, '92: Kids on the lawn pulled up clumps of grass and started pelting us in the seats. Turned into a mess of flying dirt, grass, smoke and mayhem. And Ministry, with their deafening music and half-clad girls dancing on stage, only added to the surreal atmosphere. Fun!
Lupo's Heartbreak Hotel (2nd location) (RI), Mike Watt, @'95: Standing on the balcony, watching him play bass alongside Eddie Vedder and Dave Grohl was musical ecstasy. Pass the cigarette.
The Boston Garden (MA), Nine Inch Nails, @ '94: They had set up chairs (chairs!) on the floor in front of the stage. I expected to see those chairs going airborne once NIN took the stage; instead I watched the most orderly passing of chairs over the heads of the people on the floor.
Great Woods (MA), Indigo Girls, '90 or '91: A perfect day of tailgating and sunshine and happy people.
Park Street Station/The Red Line (MA), Mary Lou Lord, mid 90's: Used to stand, listen and wonder about the girl with the unforgettable voice.
The Paradise (MA), PJ Harvey, late '90's: Can get goosebumps just thinking about this show.
Plattsburgh Air Force Base (NY---but just over the river from VT), Phish, '96: 3 days of peace, love and (even though I had never listened to them before this) music.
UMASS/Dartmouth back when it was SMU, The Smithereens, early 90's: Drunken, loud and lots of jumping up and down.
Great Woods (MA), Lollapalooza, Moby, late 90's: Skipped the Mighty Mighty Bosstones on the main stage to catch Moby's set on the second stage. Was not disappointed.
Waterfront Park (RI), Southern Culture on the Skids, late 90's: Outdoor show had them playing to just a handful of die hard fans and confused onlookers one afternoon. Got pulled on stage with my sister for a few songs. We got to throw fried chicken at our husbands in the front row.
The Strand (RI), My Life With The Thrill Kill Kult and Lords of Acid, mid 90's: Great bands with, by far, the most sexually expressive fans I have ever seen.
Tsongas Arena (MA), The Pixies, '04: Hey, I'm old and a mom, but they are old too! Had to use breast pump on way home.
As I typed this, I felt a little 'pang' for all the places and bands that no longer exist as I knew them. And I think I need to make more of an effort to get out to see a few bands every year. After all, isn't that why I have coffee?
I'd love to hear your favorite New England concert moments. Leave them in the comments if you care to dredge up the memories.