It wasn’t until 1994 when I finally went to my first rock concert. Most of my high school classmates went to them all the time, but I wasn’t so lucky, dammit. I guess you could say I was seriously deprived during my adolescent years. As a Freshman, I kept hearing about those Poison and Billy Idol shows my classmates went to, and I felt envious of them as going to such an event seemed far too difficult to pull off. The closest I had ever been to an event like this was seeing Bill Cosby at the Concord Pavillion with my mom back in 1988. Of course, this memory has been sullied as Cosby is not the man I thought he was.
But thanks to my brother and his then wife, I finally got to go to my first rock concert which featured my favorite rock group at the time, Aerosmith. They had just released “Get A Grip,” their follow-up album to “Pump.” “Pump” was the first album of theirs that I ever purchased, and it still remains my favorite of theirs to this very day. But despite having some wonderfully rocking songs like “Livin’ on The Edge” and “Shut Up and Dance” among others, “Get A Grip” was not as good as “Pump” in my humble opinion. It was not a boring album to say the least, but it was not as wonderfully unhinged as the one which contained such classic hits as “Love in an Elevator,” “Janie’s Got a Gun” or “The Other Side.”
Anyway, this concert took place at the Shoreline Amphitheater in Northern California on October 8, 1994. Before going to it, I had been warned by my parents to bring ear protection as concerts are loud, loud, LOUD! Their warnings even reminded me of when my friends talked about seeing Motley Crue or Nine Inch Nails live and of how ear bleedingly loud those concerts were. Some even said they were sitting next to the speakers, and they left those concerts with massive headaches, holding their heads and begging for the most immediate cure for such unexpected pain.
Collective Soul, the same band known for the song “The World I Know,” opened for them, but we missed them as we were running a little late to the venue. We ended up sitting in the grassy section which is in the way back of the amphitheater. These of course are the “cheap seats,” so we had to thank the venue for at least providing us with a big video screen for us to watch the proceedings more closely as we were so far away from the stage.
From where we were sitting or standing, I can tell you the concert was not ear-bleedingly loud, so those foam protectors which I brought with me turned out to be unnecessary. Aerosmith warmed the audience up with their song “Eat the Rich.” There was a curtain covering the stage and, once the music began, the whole audience stood up in anticipation of the band making their imminent appearance. Our first look at Steven Tyler was through his silhouette behind a curtain, boogying his way through the spoken word intro of the song. Then the curtain came down, and the concert commenced with a passionate fury.
For me, the whole experience of seeing all the members of Aerosmith in person was very surreal. However, watching them through that giant video screen took away from the experience for me. Being a member of the MTV generation, I was so used to seeing this band in one music video after another, so watching them on the big screen made the whole concert seem less real to me. From where we were, they only appeared as tiny little figures on the stage, and being closer to it would have been far more exciting.
For the most part, though, I really enjoyed the concert. Their live version of “Same Old Song and Dance” really made me change the way I listened to that song, and the groove on the last half was very infectious. Joey Kramer had some kick-ass drum solos which had me cheering until a couple of guys looked at me like I was stoned or something. Joe Perry had some great solos, and hearing him say Oakland, San Jose, and San Francisco Bay Area had us screaming in excitement.
Still, the concert only lasted about two hours, maybe even shorter than that. Looking back, this concert experience was not quite what I thought it would be, but it was certainly not forgettable. It paved the way for me to attend many other concerts which were far more exhilarating to experience than this one. These days I don’t go to concerts as much as ticket prices continue to be increasingly obscene, but I hope to head out to one again in the near future. Having Aerosmith be the first band I saw in concert proved to be a good start.