Sneaking out with friends… cheering for an encore… thinking “Hey, those cigarettes smell different”… We all cherish the memories of our first concert, whether it was Ace of Base or AC/DC. As per usual, being LDS likely presented its own set challenges to would-be concert-goers, as you tried in vain to explain to your parents how the band’s album art cover actually did comply with the standards in the For the Strength of the Youth pamphlet.
To explore that topic, and to introduce you, dear reader, to some of our writers & contributors, we had a discussion of our first concert-going experiences. In the comments section, tell us what your first time was like.
Arthur (Syphax): Mine was the Moody Blues. My parents claim to have taken me to James Taylor and Dan Fogelberg when I was an infant, so they tell me…
Dallin: When I was 6 or 7 years old, the Dixie Chicks played at our county fair in Texas, but I don’t really remember that. My first actual concert was The Aquabats! This was before Ian was with the band. I was actually there to see the Hippos, but The Aquabats! put on a good show nonetheless
Susan: Adam Ant’s Strip Tour, 1983. My dad (who is not Mormon) said “Those rock & roll concerts! All they do is peddle sex and drugs!” I didn’t tell him about the strange smell coming from the guy smoking behind me or that Adam stripped to his satin boxers at the end and dove into a giant tank of water.
Cody: Billy. Ray. Cyrus. My grandma took me and my brother to what we thought was merely a San Diego Padres game. After the game, everyone remained seated at Jack Murphy Stadium while a crew erected a stage in center field. Before we could grasp what was going on, Billy Ray Cyrus was on the stage singing “Achy-Breaky-Heart”. My brother and I wrapped our jackets around and our heads and clamped our ears for the rest of the concert.
Mark Q: My first concert was Billy Joel 52nd street tour. I was in 7th grade, and I remember it like it was yesterday. I also remember being mystified by his parting comment: “Good night Salt Lake City! Don’t take any sugar!” I bet he doesn’t say that anymore.
Steve: Oingo Boingo in 1986. I went with some chick that had a car.
Susan: I saw Oingo Boingo on that tour when they came to Seattle. But I didn’t have a car.
Allison: The first concert I went to was Sawyer Brown. He put on a pretty cool show. That is, until I went to a Kenny Chesney concert and found out what it meant to attend a REAL concert!
Tim: As an awkward teenager just out of high school, I had planned on going to another of those Warped Tours. All of my planned company had canceled on me, so rather than driving to Indianapolis (or maybe it was Columbus) all by myself, I tried to find some people to go with me.
Arthur’s sister Grace wanted to go, but as soon as we mentioned it, both of our parents started asking a lot of questions (What kind of music? Who else is going?) In the end, the parental figures essentially said “no”, even though I was still free to go by myself if I wanted. It’s interesting that my parents had no problem with me going by myself, but if two or more people wanted to make that choice, there were eyebrows raised.
Susan: How far away was the show, Tim? My kids are 20, 19, and 16, and I couldn’t imagine telling them they couldn’t go to a concert with some friends, whoever it was. I never had to, but I probably would have snuck out to see shows as a teenager.
Tim: About 3 hours away. Also, I’m a first child, which was always a factor in my parents’ decisions. My youngest siblings get away with anything.
Grace: I remember that! I was so upset that I couldn’t go. Typical teenager angst. My mother has been to some ridiculous concerts, so she wasn’t really one to talk.
Arthur: Tim—that is hilarious. If you knew what concerts my mom has been to, you’d laugh too.
Mark S: My seminary teach bought my first concert tickets for me. He said that anyone who memorized all the scripture mastery scriptures—it was New Testament that year—would get tickets to the concert of their choice. It was early in the year, and the deadline was only a month away, so I’m sure he thought no one would do it. My buddy Dave and I were seriously motivated, knowing that Black Sabbath was coming to town.
We memorized the scriptures by the deadline and went to claim our reward. Our teacher had never heard of Black Sabbath, but we could see right away that the name made him uncomfortable. I tried to convince him that they were a popular gospel-spiritual group, but he was unconvinced. We compromised, and my first concert was Foghat and Rick Deringer at the Memorial Coliseum in Portland, Oregon. Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo, baby! They just don’t write ‘em like they used to.
Gregg: Mark, I’m nominating that for concert story of the year.