Suffice it to say, all of our musical tastes have changed quite a bit since we were adolescents. That being said, there is certainly a lot to be said for the music we all listened to in high school. Some of it may be embarrassing (I may have enjoyed some pretty trashy alt-rock at some point), but there is a lot of music I would still deem good that I dabbled with. So today, I decided to pick a selection from some of the bands I first saw live. From the first band I saw through my jam-bandy years, I was fortunate enough to have the freedom to travel around the Midwest and see some pretty great acts while I was still reveling in my newly-minted driver’s license. Without further ado, here is a quick snapshot of my early listenings, and a word or two about the live experience that fueled my love of music.
Incubus – “Make Yourself”
I didn’t see Incubus until their Morning View tour, the peek of their popularity. Being my first proper rock show, I wasn’t sure what to expect. What ensued was an exhilarating and also somewhat terrifying experience. The floor at Fort Wayne Memorial Coliseum was a sea of moving people and I had to do everything within my power to stay on my feet. The culmination of the show was a quieter version of “Make Yourself” than you hear on their album of the same name. Despite the broken down version, it was no less effective and really stuck with me.
Added Bonus: The opener was Hoobastank. Nuff said.
Ben Harper – “Glory & Consequence”
The city was Cleveland, OH (also known as the “magic city” for those that attended Wes’ bachelor party). The venue was Tower City Amphitheater. The artist, Ben Harper, opened with the crushing “Glory & Consequence”. Harper may be known as more of a hippie artist, but on his tour behind Diamonds on the Inside, I believe he decided he wanted to be a bonafide rock star, which the powerful looping guitar riff of “Glory” perfectly exemplifies.
Added Bonus: My one buddy claimed to get a contact high.
Robert Randolph & the Family Band – “Tears of Joy”
This may be the first concert I attended with Wes. The show was at a little venue called Newport Music Hall in Columbus, OH. I was turned on to Randolph because he came out with Harper in Cleveland to perform slide-guitar on “Temporary Remedy”. I just had to see this guy do a whole show. What ensued was 3 hours and 15 minutes of pure bliss. In that time, Randolph only played fifteen songs, but kept every moment fresh.
Added Bonus: On the drive back, Wes cemented his status as a sticky little creature by getting honey all over himself.
Rusted Root – “Heaven”
I’ve seen Rusted Root do 2-3 great shows and 2-3 pretty average shows. The first was the best though, and because of that the Eagle Ballroom in Milwaukee, WI will always hold a place in my heart. At this point in time, the band still featured all of their original members, and played 2+ hours through much of their catalog. It was a glorious experience, cementing Rusted Root as probably my favorite band from that point in my life.
Added Bonus: I gave a homeless man a $5 bill outside the venue on the stipulation that he buy liquor with it. He of course obliged.
Guster – “Come Downstairs & Say Hello”
I saw Guster touring for the first time supporting Keep it Together, and touring with Ben Folds and Rupert Wainwright. Wes’ mom bought us tickets and a hotel room if I remember correctly, and we drove from seeing DMB in Indianapolis to see Guster etc. in Columbus, OH. There still isn’t a more fun pairing in pop than Folds and Guster, and we made the most of Linda Jakacki’s generosity. Guster is still one of the great pop bands of our time.
Added Bonus: Us Midwestern boys were still a little homophobic back in 2004 and it still makes me laugh how freaked out we were by all the gay folks there to see Rufus Wainwright.