First show you ever went to?


My first gig is kinda embarrassing. (Isn’t everyone’s?) Sha Na Na at the late (but not lamented) Warwick Musical Tent —with my entire family in tow. In my defense, I was just a kid and had grown up watching their TV show. (Wasn’t Bowser on Miami Vice? Or am I making that up?)

My first REAL show was probably Sugarcubes/PIL/New Order at Great Woods (now Tweeter Center), 1989 or thereabouts.

Our local Cutting Edge of Crapola station WBRU held a contest to win backstage passes and I was determined to be that lucky fan. Alas, I won second place: a cassette copy of Technique (oh the humiliation!) and two (crappy) pizzas. Oy. Thanks but no thanks.

Despite my disappointment about not meeting my musical heroes, it was a pretty damn fine show nonetheless. (Besides, it being post-Madchester, New Order was, in all likelihood, too collectively coked-up to be kicky backstage company.)

The poor Sugarcubes played to an anemic crowd. Björk admonished us to “Dance! Dance! It looks like an Icelandic disco out there!”

MP3New Order, “Mesh” (from Factus 8, 1982)

MP3Sugarcubes, “Delicious Demon” (from Life’s Too Good)

MP3Public Image Ltd., “Public Image” (from Public Image)


Radio On




  1. darrin ego

    hah. too damn funny. my first concert was sha na na too . . . with my whole family as well, pnly in portland, maine. And my first real concert was the first lollapalooza at great woods. keep up the good work i enjoy your blog.

    • I was at the first Lollapalooza at GW too. I remember being SO mad that Siouxsie cancelled. I tried to sit through some of Jane’s Addiction but Perry’s schtick was so obnoxious I left before the first song was over.

      Thanks for the kind words about the blog. Glad you’re enjoying it!

  2. My dad took me to see Richard Thompson at Newport when I was seven or eight. My first concert that I attended of my own accord was probably the B-52s on the Cosmic Thing tour. Strangely, I think I’m more embarrassed about the latter than the former. Love shack, baby!

    • I was at the Cosmic Thing show too! I wish I could remember who opened that tour -if it really was Pylon I’d be really pissed me off as I was completely clueless about them at the time.

      Richard Thompson at Newport Folk Fest is a pretty great (and utterly non-embarrassing) show to start off with!

  3. James

    You’re not dreaming. Jon Bauman appeared on an episode of Miami Vice (not *as* Bowser, though).

    My first show was They Might Be Giants. I am not embarassed (and I’ve seen TMBG live about seven or eight times).

  4. the first real show i think i went to was sleater-kinney at a place called pato’s tacos in 1995. it was pretty much strictly a taco place and almost never had shows, so it was weird.

  5. Jim

    I saw that tour in CT, at some crappy amusement park. I was psyched to see New Order – the rest of the bands made no impression on me whatsoever.

  6. It wasn’t my first show, but your description reminds me of seeing The Cure with Love and Rockets and The Pixies at Fiddler’s Green Amphitheater in the suburbs of Denver. The Pixies had to play in broad daylight to a half-empty theater. All I remember of L&R is Daniel Ash doing the encore in a mini-skirt lifted from one of the backup singers. The Cure were monolithic and mopey. It sounded good on paper but, as New Order once said, sometimes the dreams are better. (I think my actual first show was Elton John in Lincoln, NE)

  7. My first show was Kiss and Fleetwood Mac. You may be thinking, awesome! Not really. This was Kiss with only Gene and Paul and also without makeup. Fleetwood Mac consisted of Mick Fleetwood and John McVie as the only original members.

    The first concert I went to on my own was They Might Be Giants. I’ve probably seen literally thousands of shows since (I run a venue), but that T.M.B.G. show remains one of the most fun.

  8. My first show was Matthew Sweet at the Whisky in L.A. in early 1995. I was right in front, sang along with all of the songs, and I got to meet him after the show. The two opening bands were atrocious.

  9. Ian

    My first concert was a local ska band that some of my father’s friends were in. I was 11. Nothing terribly memorable, but it could have been a lot more wince-worthy.

  10. The Cardigans at the BRU summer concert series, with pApAs fritas. it was in lupo’s because it was supposed to rain that day.

    The first show i ever actually paid to go to was also The Cardigans, also at Lupo’s, only that time I missed half the show because my friend had a curfew.

  11. baconfat

    UB40 at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, VA.

  12. discombobulator

    the first gig I went to was Madness, the Sports (an aussie band from the 80’s that had had fair success) and the Go-Betweens as the opening act. It was 1980 and I was sixteen. Madness were a hoot, and the Go-Betweens have always been one of my all time faves. b.t.w. this was in Brisbane, Australia.

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