A question I am often asked is, ‘What was your first concert?’ You may say I am lucky, as my first gig was in retrospect painfully cool and arguably an insane foreshadowing into the future of countless shows, meet and greets and long nights spent with artists.
I was 13 years old. I went with one of my best friends. I cannot believe my parents even allowed me to go. It was a massive venue, the Shoreline Amphitheatre, located about 50 minutes (with no traffic) from my hometown of Santa Cruz. The Beastie Boys were OPENING for Run DMC.
Hip-hop and rap were still viewed as a ‘new’ emerging ‘trend’ that could still possibly disappear. Our seats were extremely far away, but the mega screens allowed us to see every detail of the stage, from the girls dancing around in cages to the inflatable penises that the Beasties had on stage as props (I told you, my parents would not have let me go if they would have known exactly what the gig was!).
I had somehow scratched together enough money from hours of tireless babysitting to buy a concert shirt, a Beasties one that said on the front ‘Beastie Boys’ and on the back ‘Get Off My D***’ (but without the ‘*.’) The whole experience was life changing- from literally being dropped off by my parents into this ‘other’ world of the live music experience, to the anticipation while waiting for the band to take to the stage, to the entire audience singing along as one to ‘Girls’ and ‘Walk This Way;’ it did not matter age, background or how much money you made. At that moment, we were one.
It had been a couple months since I had gone to a gig, I realised last week, as I set foot, almost three decades later, into my first show of Brighton’s The Great Escape. The band that were playing were students from BIMM London. It was noon, yet the windowless venue was packed. As people pushed to the bar to get a drink before the music began, I was struck by how, in this entirely different time and place and circumstances, the very same elements were afoot: the pre-show tension, the unspoken excitement within the room of knowing that we are all about to experience something together, regardless of our personal situations.
The group, Luna Bay took to the stage, and I felt like I had come home. The simultaneous attention of an entire room to one stage is a pretty magical thing. When even one person in that audience is literally moved to move, it is one of the most innate examples of connection that we may be able to all experience, for free and in a variety of different places. Though Luna Bay did not have the same stage set up as that Beasties show, the overall vibe- of discovery and musical communion- was much the same as I had that long ago Fall night in California.