This probably comes as no surprise, but I love music. Really love music. I clearly have some unfulfilled rock star dreams, so I try to get as close to action as much as possible.
I’ve seen a lot of great concerts in my life — Paul McCartney (twice), U2, Radiohead (well, they’re more my husband’s idea of a great concert, but I was still glad to see them), Madonna, Bruce Springsteen, Elton John (twice), Billy Joel (3, maybe 4 times), Eric Clapton, Britney Spears (pre-head-shaving, back-up dancer marrying days), the Grateful Dead, Willie Nelson, Bob Dylan, the Rolling Stones, the Flaming Lips, Bon Jovi (of course!), and far and away my favorite group of all time, Wilco (four times).
I’ve even seen some not-so-great but still memorable concerts — New Kids on the Block, Mill Vanilli (oh yeah, you’re jealous) and Rod Stewart, to name a few. The biggest disappointment that I was most excited for of all time was the United We Stand: What More Can I Give benefit concert in Washington DC in October 2001. The lineup was great — James Brown, Carole King, ‘NSync, Backstreet Boys (remember this was 2001, people. They were HUGE), Mariah Carey, Diddy, Destiny’s Child and the big draw of the night, Michael Jackson. But it was a disaster. Let’s just say they ran out of WATER by 3 p.m., only 1/4 of the way through the event. It was a nightmare. We ended up bailing before MJ even hit the stage, but I digress.
See, that’s one of the things I love about concerts — the memories they create. This past weekend, DadJovi and I headed over to Tampa to see another one of our favorite bands, Kings of Leon. We’ve been fans of theirs for years. I think DadJovi saw them for the first time in 2005 at a small club during Jazz Fest. They play the kind of music we like, country-inspired rock. Their songs are really singeble and sort of perfect background music for a weekend around the house.
The first time we saw them together was on Halloween in 2007. It was at Orlando’s Hard Rock, and the concert was pretty poorly attended. Not empty, but nowhere near the 3,000-seat capacity. I wasn’t complaining though because the floor was open and we were able to get right near the stage when we wanted.
But what made it really memorable was that I was about five months pregnant and that night was the first time that my husband got to feel our baby kick. And boy was she kicking! Something about the amps made her go crazy in there. It was so much fun, and I knew then and there that we’d make sure music was always a part of our family’s life.
The next time we saw Kings of Leon was May 2009. By this time, their biggest commercially successful album, Only by the Night, had been released. And of course, you throw a catchy song with the word sex out there (“Sex on Fire”) and every college kid in America is going to love it. We saw them that time at the new UCF Arena, which seats about 10,000. This concert was definitely packed with college kids and I was feeling old in the crowd. It could have had more to do with the fact that it was one of our first post-baby concerts (yup, she was already over a year by then, but we didn’t get out too much the first year!), but I was still thrilled just to be out for a fun night of boozing and singing out loud.
But those two previous shows were clearly the warm-up for this past weekend’s show. This time, they sold out the horribly named 1-800-ASK-GARY Ampitheatre in Tampa. Seriously, how is this that place’s name?
And it was certainly packed — nearly 20,000 came out for a beautiful night with some great music. Since we rarely spend money on shows anymore, DadJovi sprung for the Pit, which was awesome. We were up front in the standing-room only section, right up against the stage. The coolest parts was turning around to see what the band saw — swarms and swarms of people singing along.
That’s one of the most magical parts of a concert to me — getting tens of thousands of people to sing together. It must be such an intoxicating feeling for a rock star.
(Side note: I’m never paying attention to a ticket again. It said no camera, so I didn’t bring my camera. I was about the only person in there without one and all the pictures I took on my Blackberry were really crappy, so here’s someone else’s better photo of lead singer Caleb Followill. And that’s about the same view I saw the whole show, too!)
The concert was a blast. They still sound great, even if the rest of the world has heard of them now. I hate to be one of those music snobs (“I knew them before you, therefore I don’t like them anymore.”) but I must admit that I rather prefer being part of a smaller fan base and feeling like I’m privy to a great secret.
But we still got to have our insider moments, such as being among the few to sing along to some of their earlier songs and knowing that the opening strains of “Sex on Fire” or “Use Somebody” was probably a good time to hit the bathroom (no lines!).
And we also each got to hear our favorites. For me, it’s “Knocked Up.” It probably has something to do with the fact that I was listening to that album (“Because of the Times”) a lot when I was pregnant, but I love that song. (Note to self, though, I should probably stop playing it so much. The other day I noticed E. quietly singing “She’s going to have my baaabeeee” while playing. Oops!) And my husband loves the song “Trani” (it’s about a transvestite hooker, but hey, who cares when it sounds so sweet).
The show was also a great reminder of how much fun a night out at a concert is. I can’t wait til E gets a little older and we can start taking her along too. We saw a couple kids there with their parents, and I just hope she still thinks we’re a little cool to be taking her to rock shows rather than just dying from the embarrassment of being in public with us.
We’ll be back for more Kings of Leon, even after all the teeny boppers and young drunks have moved on. We’ve got more memories to make.
What’s the best concert you’ve ever been to? Who do you pay to see over and over again?