Written By Braddon S. Williams AKA “The Concert Critic”
Live music has been on my mind quite a lot during this time of quarantine and social distancing, sparking much nostalgia about shows I have attended thus far in my lifetime, along with speculation (and dread) over how concerts will proceed moving forward. Personally, I don’t have a clue what is in store, or even when we will all be able to gather in large groups to experience some live shows again. This break in the action has definitely been fostering a ton of creativity among musicians in many genres, and I am eager to see how many amazing songs and albums await us in the aftermath of this pandemic.
Social media has been full of inspired collaborations and live performances, and it has certainly been entertaining, but let’s face it…nothing beats the thrill of actually being at a show. The exchange of energy between the artists and the audience is simply something that must be experienced in person.
Having begun my love affair with live music in 1976, I readily admit I am hopelessly addicted to the thrill of seeing and hearing the music delivered at maximum impact.
My father drove me (along with a couple of my friends) to Market Square Arena (RIP MSA!) in 1976 to see Kiss, Bob Seger & The Silver Bullet Band, and Artful Dodger (all for the price of $6.50!). Needless to say, the torch had been lit, and from that moment forward I have continually been looking forward to the next time. All the while, I have been compiling this staggering list of incredible experiences at shows. No matter if the venue is a tiny indoor hole in the wall or an enormous outdoor state of the art facility, the recipe remains largely the same; I am with people I love, surrounded by people just like us, people who love the music, bands, energy, and sheer spectacle of the scene. We meet new friends and share stories about past shows and generally learn that our tribe is pretty damn spectacular for the most part. For that relatively brief time we are together, we all escape all the negativity, stress, and anxiety of our “normal” lives. For that time, if we are lucky, we experience a bit of bliss.
In the 44 years I have been attending concerts, I have been fortunate to see many iconic performers and performances, and have crossed a huge chunk of bands and artists from my personal bucket list. Of course, I have also seen people that have passed away since I saw them, making the experiences even more precious. Among my treasured memories are The Rolling Stones, Frank Zappa, Ramones, Iggy Pop, Willie Nelson, Jimmy Page & Robert Plant, The Who, ZZ Top, Rush, Kiss, Queen, Steely Dan, Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers, Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Robert Plant And The Sensational Space Shifters, Ted Nugent, Crosby, Stills, Nash, & Young, Fleetwood Mac, Jeff Beck, Yes, Foghat, Heart, Cheap Trick, Max Webster, The Doobie Brothers, Aerosmith, Supertramp, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, The Allman Brothers Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Santana, Foo Fighters, Johnny Winter, Joan Jett & The Blackhearts, George Thorogood & The Delaware Destroyers, The Black Crowes, Oasis, Weezer, Ween, The Flaming Lips, The Raconteurs, Patti Smith, Bob Mould, Snoop Dogg, Ice Cube, Paul Rodgers, Joe Cocker, Peter Frampton, John Fogerty, Cher (yeah, I said Cher!) and the list goes on and on.
My list would not be close to complete without my beloved Metal and other varieties of Hard rocking bands: Slayer, Black Sabbath, Opeth, PanterA, Ministry, Rammstein, Jinjer, Baroness, Marilyn Manson, Alice Cooper, Rob Zombie (and White Zombie), Nine Inch Nails, Behemoth, King Diamond, Testament, Anthrax, Megadeth, Mastodon, Strapping Young Lad, The Devin Townsend Project, Amon Amarth, Cannibal Corpse, Morbid Angel, Nile, Tool, Meshuggah, Avatar, Motörhead, Judas Priest, Iron Maiden, Ozzy Osbourne, Deep Purple, UFO, AC/DC (with Bon Scott and Brian Johnson, too!), Blue Öyster Cult, Whitechapel, Slipknot, Korn, Machine Head, Black Label Society, Down, Hatebreed, Red Fang, Primus, DevilDriver, Clutch, Melvins, Weedeater, Arch Enemy, In Flames, Lamb Of God, Gojira, Cradle Of Filth, Dimmu Borgir, Deftones, Mr. Bungle, Queens Of The Stone Age, Mudvayne, Steel Panther, Van Halen, Mötley Crüe, Guns ‘N Roses, Whitesnake, Tesla, Dokken, L.A. Guns, Great White, Ratt, Poison, Saigon Kick, Soundgarden, Alice In Chains, Pearl Jam, Rage Against The Machine, Fishbone, Monster Magnet, Corrosion Of Conformity, Type O Negative, GWAR, Nashville Pussy, System Of A Down, Static-X, Otep, Jane’s Addiction, L7, Butcher Babies, Walls Of Jericho, Suicide Silence, Unearth, Chimaira, Children Of Bodom, Thy Art Is Murder, Death Angel, Slaughter To Prevail, Masked Intruder, Pennywise, and John 5 And The Creatures.
As I typed that crazy list of bands, I realized there were at least as many that I left out. They can’t all be winners, after all. What is really important (at least to me) is the simple fact that when I am at a show, I am in my element…my true happy place. I miss live music. I miss everything about the ritual of going to shows, and I’m quite sure I’m not alone in feeling this way. I hope this finds you all safe and healthy. I look forward to resuming our passion for shows, for music, for Life!
Braddon S. Williams is a music journalist, musician and avid concert goer somewhere in the US.