Who ate all the pies?

(me)
Editor’s Pick
SEPTEMBER 12, 2008 4:11PM

Informal Open Call: Best Concert You Ever Saw

Rate: 25 Flag

Over at Liz's blog, there's been much talk about favorite songs and playlists, that started to veer into talk about favorite concerts - so I'm volunteering to host an informal open call: what was the best concert you ever attended?

I'm not as bad as the characters in Nick Horby's High Fidelity - I don't make lists of five by theme, but I can't pick just one, so here are five  stand-outs off the top of my head:

 Best Concert With Heavy Police Presence in the Crowd: Jane's Addiction, Ford Amphitheater, Los Angeles, 1989. The only time I've ever been frisked *and* given the once-over with a metal detector. It was a multi-night date and someone had been stabbed in a huge brawl there the night before. There must have been 40 LAPD officers there and no-one was allowed to move from their seats. And Jane's Addiction still rocked our socks off. 

Best Concert With Heavy Police Presence on the Stage: KMFDM and Ministry, the Avalon, Los Angeles CA, 1989? Remains the only concert I've ever been to where someone has burned a flag onstage and the Five-oh tried but failed to stop it. Unbelievable show though. 

Best Nostalgia Concert: Madness, 9.30 Club, Washington DC, 1999. Twenty years after I managed to evade my mother's ban on a buzz cut via an "accidental" English to Dutch translation issue at the barber shop, I finally managed to see the more-or-less second wave ska legends... and unlike The Who at the Coliseum, they were fantastic - just as much energy and humor as when they first hit the scene. 

Best Opportunity for Permanent Hearing Damage: Ultra Bidé and the Specials, Lupo's (I think), Providence RI, 1995. The Specials were on a reunion tour minus Terry Hall, and because Japanese band Ultra Bidé had a tuba in their song "La Lee Lou Ley Lo" they somehow were booked as the opening act. The place was full of rude boys and rude girls all hanging to the side until the main act came on, and while the three slight members of Ultra Bide set up, one of the bouncers told me to stand back because they were the loudest band he'd ever heard. He wasn't wrong; flushing the toilet was giving me the Pete Townshends over 24 hours later. The show that finally convinced me to start wearing earplugs. Most of the time. Honorable Mention: Jawbreaker at Pomona College, January 1994, which had me thinking that the Northridge Earthquake later that night was permanent inner ear damage...

Best Multimedia: Super Furry Animals, 9.30 Club, Washington DC, 2002? This was the tour for the Rings Around the World album, for which there was a complete companion DVD of animation. The entire show was done in 5.1 surround sound with the songs tied perfectly to the video. Not as mad and loose as their usual efforts but an incredible effort for a indie band playing smallish venues. (But then I'd pay money to see SFA play the Yellow Pages, so take this for what it's worth.)

Friendliest: Firehose at McCabe's Guitar Shop, Santa Monica, CA, early 1990s. A show by the successor band to the Minutemen, in a room off the back of an actual guitar shop, with maybe 75 people on folding chairs. Great songs, up close and personal, and the band shook hands with everyone before they left. Mike Watt is the bass bomb. 

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Kansas at the Peppermint Beach Club. I was freshly graduated and stationed at Dam Neck for intel school. The venue was small -- I hate those huge area cattle calls. The lead singer was ripped like a mother for someone his age. Great violinist and an awesome show. Dust in the wind, baby. All we are is dust in the wind. Nothing lasts forever, but the earth and sky.
(Haggis! Not just a list but categories too, oh, you set a high bar. Will require careful consideration over a double-tall. Back later.)
Too Much Joy opening for Material Issue in Chicago, 1993 or 1994, i can't remember which. The Material Issue guys were being jerks, telling TMJ that even if it was warranted, they weren't allowed to have an encore. If they left the stage, their set was over, period. (We knew this b/c we'd been backstage interviewing the band earilier.) So frontman Tim Quirk arranged to "die" onstage, and Sandy (the bassist) encouraged the crowd, saying, "maybe if we all clap loud enough, he'll come back!" Et voila! An encore without leaving the stage.

But the most amazing show I think I have ever seen, the one that still gives me shivers like you wouldn't believe, is a Redd Kross show at the Metro in Chicago around 1996, when they were touring on Phaseshifter. Jesus, I think I sprained something I rocked out so much.
Loudest: Ted Nugent, 1977 (Abilene TX)

Best Light Show: Yes, 1977 (Abilene TX)

Friendliest Artist with the crowd: James Taylor, 2001, 2005 (Chicago)

Most interesting audience: Tie: The Who, 1982 (Dallas Cotton Bowl) and Pink Floyd, 1987 (Milwaukee County Stadium)

Best New Artist: 19 year old Wynton Marsalis playing in Herbie Hancock's band, 1981 (Munich Olympic Stadium)

Best Atmosphere: Ron Carter and Jim Hall, Village East Pub, NYC
Honorable Mention: Sarah Vaughan, Vic Theater, Chicago

Most Marijuana: Heart, 1978 (Abilene TX)

Best Overall Concert Experience: Munich Jazz Festival, 1981, with Sarah Vaughan, Dizzie Gillespie, Herbie Hancock (and 19 year old Wynton), and many more.
Adam Ant at the 9:30 club in Washington D.C. He rocked that small club. I have to go with a range of years.... 1991-1994, as that is when I was in the area, although I think it is more likely to be the latter than the former as they didn't let me out much. Then again, it might have been one of the nights I jumped the wall...... which would have made it that much better!
Most sweaty. --Public Enemy concert. Many drunken frat guys were pushing people in the front, so much so that the body guards who flanked the stage got down and used their eyes (mainly) and intimidation to push them all back. I had to throw away the dress I wore because it was so covered in sweat that it stretched. And it was cotton. Great music though.
Elvis Costello in a small club in Austin, Texas in early 1979. He tore that place apart.
I was at that Who shoe in '82. It was raining, and we had to suffer through Billy Squire! Uggh!

But at least I saw Pete Townshend smash his guitar!
Best band/crowd interaction: 1) Any of the Gaelic Storm concerts at the Tin Angel in Philadelphia, 2) Any Gaelic Storm concerts anywhere, 3) Any Dar Williams concerts anywhere.
Best new talent: Nancy Falkow at the Grande Hotel in Cape May
Ooh, fun. Laurie Anderson in Santa Cruz 1983, Stevie Ray Vaughn at the Concord Pavilion 1987, Eric Clapton at the Concord Pavilion 1988, Tim Curry at the Metropol Berlin 1979, Bonnie Raitt at Berkeley Greek Theater, Lyle Lovett at the Greek Theater. After being deafened at the Laurie Anderson concert, we vowed never to go to an indoor concert again. (All dates are approximate.)
Hey Blake, are you the guy who had the topless girl on his shoulders, caught on the camera and shown on the 40 foot video screen behind the band?
Bruce Springsteen, Syria Mosque, Pittsburgh, Pa. Aug. 1975 ... before "Born to Run" was released. Theater wasn't quite sold out.

CSNY, Joni Mitchell, Beach Boys, Jesse Colin Young ... Roosevelt Raceway, Long Island. Sept. 1974. I skipped freshman orientation at college and hitchhiked there ...

Jackson Browne, Woolsey Hall, New Haven, CT circa 1974 ...

Van Morrison, Wesleyan University ... 1979?

The Who, New Haven Coliseum, 1980 ...

Those stand out. Rose-tinted glasses, maybe, but there isn't anything like that now. Or I'm not like that now. Something like that.
Best in the History of the World:

Frank Zappa at the Cow Town Ballroom in Kansas City in December 2, 1972. "Just another Band From L.A." tour. Flo and Eddy from the "Turtles" delivered an unearthly operatic performance, supported by Zappa' s masterful story telling and guitar playing.

Best all around: Laurie Anderson, Park West, Chicago in the 80's
She played a violin with a bow that was strung with audio tape, which she skillfully dragged over an electronic pickup on her violin.
A great invention at the time!
Oh. Geez. I forgot Simon & Garfunkel, Central Park, 1981. Besides the music being great, I show up on the video for about 3 seconds.
Certainly NOT!

I should have been so lucky!
No way I can tag any single concert as the best. And categories aren't going to work so well for me, either since I'm a bit blurry on the details of a lot of the concerts I have been to. Can't imagine why.

Best concert story: When I was 10 years old, in 1968, I talked my mother into taking me and my best friend to see Herman's Hermits at the Coliseum here in Jackson. She kinda liked that fresh-faced Peter Blair Dennis Bernard Noone and his catchy tunes, so she took us.

None of us were prepared for how LOUD it would be. But we were definitely not prepared for the opening act. Some new group called The Who. While my mother held her hands over her ears and wished to hell she had not agreed to this, my friend and I stood transfixed at the wondrous happenings and sounds coming from the stage. I've never been the same since, I am happy to report.
Wow, Gary, I saw Laurie Anderson there in the 80s too. Huh. Good concert. She was amazing. I was but a very young and inexperienced spud so everything about her stunned, thrilled and amazed me.
Although... the best might have been the Rolling Stones in Memphis in the early 1970s. I got grounded because I snuck out with friends, drove to Memphis, went to the concert, drove back, and tried to convince my mom I'd spent the night at a friend's house. She didn't buy it, but it was worth every day of being grounded.
Great topic, excellent start. Agree w/ Donna Sandstrom.

Most intense: Joan Jett & the Blackhearts at the old Hammerjacks in Baltimore. the place hadda be over fire capacity by close 15%. We were packed in tight on a hot summer night and the AC couldn't possibly keep up. I'm thinking maybe '86. In any other context, not a comfortable environment, but that night was electric. Never experienced anything like that since, and I now believe I won't.

Never thought Brigadoon could be a rock concert at 110+ db.
Group most likely to get an older crowd going by concert's end: The Moody Blues
San Diego, November 10, 1969 - 4 Acts: Rolling Stones, Ike & Tina Turner Revue, BB King & Terry Reid. Front row center seats for my 19th birthday the week before. It was AMAZING and everyone was at the top of their form. Let it Bleed!
Best pinch-yourself moment:
The Kinks, Boston Garden, December 1984.
As a life-long New Orleans Saints fan, I just couldn't get over all those world championship banners hanging from the ceiling. Taking the T from Cambridge, walking through the snow, sweating profusely on the floor of the garden. It was amazing.

Most emotional weekend (or best $40 bucks ever!) -
New Orleans Jazz Fest, 2006. First Jazz Fest after Katrina.
Highlights included:

Bruce Springsteen's "My City in Ruins"
Elvis Costello & Allan Toussaint - "River in Reverse"
Others: Dave Matthews Band, Ani diFranco, Cowboy Mouth, the subdudes, Sonny Landreth, Michael Doucet and BeauSoleil
I'm sorry, but I have to break my answer to this open call into Rolling Stones-related and non-Stones-related experiences.

Susan - was that Stones show you're talking about in Memphis the 4th of July, 1974 at the Liberty Bowl, when Furry Lewis opened and they had Elephants on the stage? That was a spectacle of spectacles. Funny aside, as reported later in RS magazine, Keith was quoted saying, "Hey man, I've already worked with Elton John, I am not working with elephants!"

The best Stones show I ever saw from a music standpoint, however, was the Some Girls tour, at the Mid South Coliseum in 1978.

It was fun hanging out in the Governor's Suite at the Superdome for the Tattoo You tour in '82, but there was so much blow and alcohol for that one, I was lucky to get out of there alive.

5th row seats at the Oakland Coliseum for Steel Wheels was pretty special, but the one that made me feel like a rock star was with backstage passes to the Voodoo Lounge show at the 'Dome in '94, where I partied with Jade Jagger and told Charlie Watts I would refrain from kissing him on the lips even though I'd had two separate friends who personally asked me to do it for them if I got the chance. He thanked me for my forbearance.
Lonnie, you MUST blog about that. A comment simply won't do. Leave nothing out. Go ahead. We'll wait.
Best non-Hawaiian/non-Jawaiian act to see in Honolulu: Ozomatli.

I went both nights two years a row (05 and 06) and all four shows were incredible. They come every year and play at the usually shut-down/boarded-up place in the Aloha Tower marketplace that used to be called Kapono's.

Mid-range national touring acts hardly ever come to Hawaii (I guess it costs a bunch to fly out the instruments or something), but Ozomatli has been hitting the 5-0 for years. Everybody comes out for the party and nobody's afraid to dance like crazy, because its Hawaii. Plus its an outdoor venue and the weather's always nice. I've seen Ozomatli a couple of times on the mainland and it just ain't the same. On da island dey bring da kine aloha spirit, bra.
For the best of the rest, in roughly chronological order:

My first concert - Grand Funk Railroad, Mid South Coliseum, Memphis, 1968 or 1969.

The first concert I appreciated - Badfinger, Auditorium, Memphis 1972 (73?)

First live music epiphanies - Jethro Tull, YES, Mid South Coliseum, Memphis, 1974

Best big concert ever (at the time, which reigned nearly 10 years) - Fleetwood Mac, Mid South Coliseum, Memphis, 1975

Best assault by an army of guitars - Molly Hatchet, Marshall Tucker Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd (yes, all three in one show; I sat 2nd row, center), Mid South Coliseum, Memphis, 1976

Best concert where I could have died from a drug overdose (morphine) - Bob Dylan, Baton Rouge, 1977

Best shows by bands that got much bigger later - The Police, Talking Heads, Tom Petty, the Warehouse, New Orleans, 1977 - 1978

Most marijuana (on stage and off) - Peter Tosh, Jed's, New Orleans, 1978

Best Band to rock out with two or three nights a week for an entire year - The Radiators, all over New Orleans, 1979

Most fun dancing with a weather balloon filed with nitrous oxide - NRBQ, Beaux Arts Ball, New Orleans, 1980

Worst case of self-induced whiplash from tossing around way-too-long hair in LSD-induced frenzy - Allman Bros., Jazz Fest, 1981

Best concerts enjoyed from as far away from the stage as you could be and still need a ticket to be present - Peter Gabriel, Security tour, 1982, Greek Theater, Berkeley; Talking Heads, Speaking in Tongues tour, 1983, Greek Theater, Berkeley; U2, The Unforgettable Fire tour, 1984, Oakland Coliseum.

I started writing and singing my own music in 1985. I could also do a separate post on Grateful Dead concerts, but I think that's enough for now.

Gary Justis, I am so jealous you got to see FZ in 1972. I saw a perfunctory show at the Saenger Theater in New Orleans in '79 or '80; it was always a dream to catch a Halloween show in NYC. Maybe next life.

And Steve, you'll appreciate that I saw Stanley Clarke at the Antibes Jazz Festival in 1974.

And one more, just because I have to mention it, even though it wasn't, like, a great show, but I did sit in the front row at the Mid South Coliseum in Memphis in 1974 for Elvis. My baby sister got a scarf.
@ Susan Mitchell - that story about the Who has a familiar form: the first time my father took my mother out on a date in 1964, he took her to see Scottish chanteuse Lulu (this was in Glasgow), and the opening band was a bunch of English teenagers who fell out a van and started playing - it was the Who.
probably The Who with the Clash at Shea Stadium in 82. That was my first. Then Springsteen at the Meadowlands, Pink Floyd at Madison Square Garden, Roger Waters at the Meadowlands, Black Sabbath at the Meadowlands, The Dead boys reunion, Lords of the New Church reunion. The Ramones at the Ritz. I saw the Zombies in 2004 with Arthur Lee's Love opening up. Probably a few I'm forgetting.
Best sound: Jane Sibery in the mid-80s in LA (AMAZING sound)

Best rock show: Aerosmith in the mid-90s in Orange County

Small venue: Melissa Etheridge at the Que in Long Beach pre-fame

Favorite show: 7/21/84 Grateful Dead in Ventura -- "Might As Well" to close the first set... NICE.

Best free show: Talking Heads on the UCLA campus in 1978, free show on a Sunday afternoon

Best vibe: Flo and Eddie at the old Golden Bear in Huntington Beach in June of 1978. Fantastic show, entire room was into it.
Oh god I have a list.
Zeppelin - Madison Square Garden 1973 (I was barely 12 - totally lied to parents)
No Nukes Concerts - MSG 1979.
Stop Making Sense Concert (Talking Heads) at Shea Stadium 1983
Live Aid - Philly - 1984
Diana Ross in Central Park (cause the rain was amazing) 1984

and the absolute best: U2 at Lupos in Providence, maybe 1979. We drank with them, and tried to get them to come home with us.

I could go on and on...
Jim - thanks for reminding me, the Who and the Clash, Day on the Green, Oakland-Alameda County Stadium, 1982 - a great show.

Gordon - best pre-fame shows were Steve Earle and k.d. lang, New Music Seminar in NYC, early 80s; best free show was the Tribute to Bill Graham in Golden Gate Park, 150,000 hippies strong.

dorelvis - don't be shy!
Lonnie I also saw Frank Zappa in Wichita Kansas in 1973 at the Century II Center. He had a Rock band on one side, and an Orchestra on the other side of the stage. He stood in the middle and directed. It was brilliant, all instrumental..............we were mesmerized.

Also, my wife LJ waited on Frank Zappa and his family at Lawry's Prime Rib in Chicago in the 80's. She said he was very gentile, wonderful with his family, and he left a really good tip.
I wanted to say also Marc Farner of Grand Funk Railroad was incredible in Wichita in the mid-70's. I'd never seen hair like that.
they did "Closer to Home" and there wasn't a dry eye in the house.
By all accounts, Frank Zappa was the most normal really intelligent creative guy you'd ever want to meet. A phenomenal teacher and musical perfectionist, and a great American patriot, to boot. The first time I heard Apostrophe at summer camp in 1974 I woke to a whole new realm of possibilities in music. I mean, humor in music? Who would imagine...

Two bands I never got to see but really wish I could have, Led Zeppelin and Little Feat w/ Lowell George.
I have a long list...long...it would need reconstruction from research both because of my poor pre alzheimerish brain and that I was wasted for many of them.

a few stand out:

first: Jan and Dean

biggest: Palm Springs Pop Festival (Canned Heat, Country Joe, Flying Burrito Bros., Procul Harem--some others I can't recall--it was before my life turned around and the LSD made the black and blue lights on the 10,000 motorcycle police bikes the most beautiful and most horrifying thing ever imagined)

most produced: Pink Floyd's The Wall in LA (their concert tour for the US for that was just NYC and LA)

many, many more...
Lonnie, I saw Led Zeppelin and Jethro Tull at the same time in San Diego. I forget who got top billing for that concert, but it was teh awesome. I think it was in the 70s sometime.
I think it was in the 70s sometime

I haven't laughed that hard all week. Thank you, Barry.
Geez---after doing this---we should do "concert I wish I saw" Steve seeing sarah vaughn would be up there for me.

On the best ever? Livingston taylor at the Old town School of Folk Music---because I finally found someone (my wife) who heard in music what I heard.

But seeing Roy Haynes, Marian McPartland and McCoy Tyner would be on the list.

John Stewart at the Abbey Pub.

And once there was this little guy named Steve Goodman---and there was this New Years eve show at the Earl of Old Town---and after that everything changed. . .

Of course Maria--my wife--won free tickets (best kind for the unemployed) to see Keith Jarrett tomorrow---so I might have to get back to you on this question
Best Concert in a Natural Setting that’s not the Gorge: Los Lobos, Concerts on the Pier, 1996*. Sailboats bobbing and a full moon rising, everyone dancing so much it felt like the pier was shaking. (The pilings were later found to be unsafe, so maybe that wasn’t our imagination ;)

Best show I happened into by accident: Crowded House, Bumbershoot, 1994*. This was the Woodface tour, both Finns part of the group. I was wandering through the arena on my way to the parking lot and stopped to have a listen. Fell in love, on the spot, forever.

Special Appearance by God: Van Morrison at the Great American Music Hall, 1982*. My friends bailed, so I took a cab from the Sunset and went alone. It was magic: Van was talkative, generous, and played a version of Across the Bridge where Angels Dwell that I will never forget. At the end of the first show, he invited all of us to stay for the second show for free. Really! It was heaven.

The Blasters at the Backstage, many times in the 80s. How sweaty can you get?

U2 at the Paramount, 1983, just on the cusp of their Catapult to the Top, Bono crowd-surfing, place gone wild.

Paul McCartney, the Tacoma Dome. I was always a John girl, but it was sheer joy to see Paul playing songs like Fool on the Hill, I Saw Her Standing There, and The End. Most I’ve ever paid for a ticket, don’t regret a penny.

Second-best Bumbershoot Moment: Tony Bennett at the Opera House, 1996. He turned to the audience and sang an un-mic’ed, a capella version of Fly Me to the Moon that brought the place to its knees.

And the Best. Concert. Ever. Bruce Springsteen, Winterland, December 1978. Something akin to a religious experience. Never seen anything like it, or since.

*all dates approximate, because it would take way too long to figure it out...
Arcade Fire - Coachella Festival - 2005
The National - Doug Fir Lounge, Portland, OR - 2006
Roger Waters - Coachella Festival - 2008
R.E.M./Wilco - Missoula, MT - 2004
Prince - Coachella Festival - 2008
Bruce Springsteen - Milwaukee, WI - 1997
LCD Soundsystem - Coachella Festival - 2007
The New Pornographers - Missoula, MT - 1997
The Secret Machines - Coachella - 2006
Donna---I saw Tony Bennett do that acappella too.Unbelievable!
I made two errors in my previous comment:

I did not see The New Pornographers in 1997, that would be silly because they weren't a band then. If this were Mastermind I would get one black peg for the 7 being the right number in the right place. The 199 are all wrong number, wrong place. Instead, it should be changed to 200. Meaning 2007, not the year 200. I did not exist in the year 200. As far as I'm aware.

The other error is that I saw The Secret Machines at Coachella in 2005, the same year I saw The Arcade Fire there.
For you Lonnie:
Ok. Some of the best (because it was new and loud and...)

Bruce - Radio City - 1975 (lied to parents again)
Blondie - Max’s Kansas City - 1977
GoGos - Providence - 1980
B52s - Providence - 1980
Bow Wow Wow - New Years Eve, 1981? NYC. God only knows what club.
Ramones - Ritz - 1984?
Bowie - MSG - 1984?
Best Concert: Bruce Springsteen 1978 in D.C. My friend Sonia's older sister went to get our tickets for Rod Stewart but he was sold out so she got us tickets to see . . . this guy.

Most Unfortunate: My first concert starring John Denver in 1976 in Little Rock, Arkansas. My mom was trying real hard to give us a cool birthday present.

I am very, very old.
Best REAL Opportunity for Permanent Hearing Damage:

My alter ego wants me to write that REAL hearing damage was incurred at The Kinks concert, Cape Cod, MA, July 4, 1977.

Wouldn't bother me, of course, I have plastic ears.
First concert I remember: Willie Nelson, Hollywood Sportatorium, late '70s

First concert at which I realized that alcohol and country music aren't always a perfect match: Waylon Jennings, Sunrise Musical Theater, Sunrise, Fla., early 1980s. Oh, and Waylon was drunk, not me. I was only 10 or 11.

Concert at which I realized punk rock could maybe, just maybe, save your soul: Fugazi, Fort Lauderdale, early '90s

Concert at which I didn't feel the least bit guilty about using my media credentials to attend: Bob Dylan's rehearsal before 300 people at The Edge, Fort Lauderdale, 1995

Concert performed by God: Johnny Cash, Broward Center, Fort Lauderdale, late '90s

Concert at which James Brown threatened to jump on my neck in one breath and have me killed by assassins in the next: James Brown, Kravis Center, West Palm Beach, 1997

Concert that exemplified everything I love about music, life and the human spirit: Bobby Blue Bland, New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, late '90s

Concert that taught me the cello may be the punkest instrument of all: Alejandro Escovedo, Iota, Arlington, Va., 2002 (Alejandro + cellist + "I Wanna Be Your Dog" = jaw-dropping)

I could go on all night, so it's best if I stop there.
Oops, forgot to write that hearing loss occured when firecracker went off within a few feet of right ear. Big bummer. Otherwise, great concert.
Best seats: 5 hour Vote for Change Concert at the Verizon Center in DC before '04 election as seen from the private box of a major cable television company.

Worst Seats: hanging out in the parking lot at Hershey Park Arena without a ticket at a Dead Show in 1984 (my best friend had a ticket and assured me I'd be able to find one when we got there). Still, if you're gonna be stuck in a parking lot, a Dead Show is the place to do it.

Most full of Old Hippies: Arlo at George Mason University 2006 or so.

Show I never got to see but wished I could have: Talking Heads anywhere.

Most unexpectedly awesome: James Taylor in the 80's. I was expecting a really mellow show.
I’ve been to several great performances over the years but for me…this is a “no brainer”. Mid 70's Lynyrd Skynyrd with Journey as a back-up band. Journey played 3 encores that night as a back-up band! I smoked a joint with the San Diego KGB Chicken and ended up third row for the last half of the concert enjoying “That Smell” and the infamous “Free Bird” up close. This was a short time before the plane crash that took Ronnie Van Zant and several other band members. This was truly an unforgettable night.
Best concert:
Patti Smith, Tower Theater, Philadelphia, 1976. We all walked out thinking we'd never seen anything like it.
Honorable mention: Bob Dylan/The Band, Spectrum, Philadelphia, 1977 I think;The Ramones, Chestnut Street Cabaret, Philadelphia 1983; Bruce Springsteen, Wembley, London, 1992; Frank Zappa, Boston, 1979 or 1980.
Oh I forgot, The Talking Heads New Year concerts at the Main Ponit in Bryn Mawr Pa. They were like the house band there for a few years becasue Tina Weymouth was from Broomall, nearby.
Haggismold, this is a really fun post! It's clear that a lot of OS members have seen some super bands over the years and have great stories to tell about the concerts.

Here's a list of my more memorable concerts:

First rock concert: Flo & Eddie in Providence, 1972.

First popular local Rhode Island rock band: The Fabulous Motels in Providence, 1975.

First Jazz concert: The Dave Brubeck Quartet at the Danbury High School auditorium in Danbury, CT, 1980. (I designed the posters for the event.)

First Jean-Pierre Rampal concert in an old church, in my town in upstate New York, 1984. (With a beautiful, outdoor reception afterwards at a friend's house.)

First outdoor classical concert: New York Philharmonic, Ives Concert Park, Danbury, CT, 1984.

First concert I saw in Carnegie Hall: Liza Minelli, 1988. (My wife handled the pr for the event, and there was an elegant reception after the concert at a hotel ballroom nearby.)

First rock concert that I took one of my sons to: The Black Crowes, Ives Concert Park, August 2007.

Recent concerts with photos/stories and posted on OpenSalon a few months ago:

David Sanborn at The Blue Note, November 2006.
http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=2554

Stanley Clarke at The Blue Note, March 2007.
http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=3279

Kenny Loggins at Ives Concert Park, Danbury, CT, August 2007.
http://open.salon.com/content.php?cid=4363
No doubt about it.

Apollo Theater, 1963. Ray Charles with the Raylettes and the Coasters were on the bill. Thought I'd died and gone to heaven.
One more for my list: My first concert viewed from backstage, Herbie Hancock, Ridgefield Playhouse, Ridgefield, CT, September 2007.
Bruce Springsteen at Avery Fisher Hall, 1975.
Oh, lawdy, what memories these comments bring forth. I was a concert junkie from that first transcendent experience at 10 until... well, I still go to concerts but it's probably been 10 years since I really went out of my way to see a live show. They are too damned expensive often and the venues are too damned big. Although I did see Cracker at a club here in Jackson and it was better than drugs. No, really.

Lonnie, we have to have bumped into each other (literally) at some concert along the way. Yes, the Stones concert was the amazing show in 1974. And because of our geographic proximity to Memphis and NOLA, a lot of the concerts Lonnie mentions were acts I saw here in Jackson where they used to stop as they traveled between those two larger cities.

Haggismold - that is pretty damn funny that your parents have a similar "accidental Who" story. Less funny that I'm about the same age as your parents ;)

My jealousy cup runneth over reading some of these. Easily the single biggest regret--never seeing Zappa perform live. He was phenomenal, much better than his radio hits would suggest. And don't forget, he was Checkoslavakia's Minister of Culture under Vaslav Havel!
I was roadie for the day for Eddie Money -- so even though I wasn't a big fan of his and did much toting and hauling, being part of the crew made it awesome.
I really enjoyed Def Leppard in 1987, their "Hysteria" tour. It was just a very satisfying show, well-played. Tesla opened up for them, and played their hearts out. It was that whole "360-degree concert" deal, where they played in the round, and there really wasn't a bad seat in the house. Def Leppard were a lot of fun.
Fugazi 10-year anniversary show at the Wilson Center in Washington, DC. If you missed it, there's a lot of great footage from that and other shows in Jem Cohen's documentary Instrument. I think my 2nd and 3rd favorites might be Fugazi shows too: The free Fort Reno show where the sunset was looking all crazy and there were fireflies everywhere would be one, and the one at the bandshell at the base of the Washington Monument the first week I moved to DC would be another.
Best: Bruce Springsteen, December 1984, Nashville. He played for 3 and one-half hours with the E Street Band. It was awesome.

Loudest: Metallica, Bonnaroo 2008, Manchester, Tenn. They blew the bark off trees five miles away.
I forgot one more.
Most memorable: Lynyrd Skynyrd, July, 1974, Nashville Fairgrounds. Ronnie Vanzant and the boys put on a great show in spite of guzzling beer the whole time. Blue Oyster Cult opened the show. The place was packed with blue jean wearing, long-haired hippies screaming "Free Bird!"
First concert: Gary Lee Lewis ("This Diamond Ring")! Spokane Armory sometime in the mid-'60s
Most significant w/out me knowing it: Led Zep opening for Vanilla Fudge on their third American date, Kennedy Pavilion, Spokane
Best up-close-and-personal: Zappa w/Flo & Eddie, Spokane Coliseum, early '70s; a friend promoted this and as writer for "underground" rag, I was onstage for the sound check/rehearsal (Zappa to Aysnley Dunbar after flubbing an ending: "You won't do that again." Interview FZ after the show and, as already stated, a generous, genial human
Most thrilling: Stones "Exile" tour in Seattle; Springsteen, Portland & Seattle Paramounts, '75
Most transporting: Rickie Lee Jones, Spokane Opera House, mid-'80s, methinks; brilliant
Most ecstatic: Los Lobos, 'way back when, before "La Bamba," in a small Spokane club; 20-minute jam on "LB;" Lord, take me now
Best jazz, tie: Jon Scofield w/Joe Lovano, Spokane Falls Community College; Shirley Horn, Jazz Alley, Seattle
Runnerup best jazz: Miles Davis, Starry Night, Portland
Best Dylan (he gets his own category): MaryHill Winery, Columbia River; Riverfront Park, Spokane
Most disappointing no-show: Dylan at the Spokane Coliseum, a Sunday afternoon in, what?, '66?
Most predictable no-show: George Jones, Spokane Opera House

Must stop now, but ...

Bands I wish I'd seen: Hendrix, Clash
I'll have to split mine into only two categories: best intimate setting and best arena concert. The best intimate setting was seeing Justin Hayward, the main singer/songwriter of the Moody Blues at the border's bookstore in Phoenix, Arizona. It was like MTV Unplugged up close and personal. He was promoting "The View From The Hill" and also played several Moodies classics on 6-string and 12-string guitars. I was front row center and could have leaned forward and touched him and I got great pictures. Second best in this category was Alvin Lee and Ten Years After. My best arena concert was Loggins and Messina on their last concert tour together while promoting "Native Sons" in San Diego. Their fantastic singing in harmony, great bass guitarist and the saxophone, mandolin and other backup musicians made it sound as balanced as their studio albums, but with their great rapport with the audience, even better! My second best arena concert is a tie between Stephen Stills and Boston. I've seen dozens of live concerts from the Beach Boys to the Village People, and Ambrosia to Tim Weisburg, but those were the standout best.
Hey Gordon! Most of audience on ludes concert, Blondie at the Golden Bear in good old surf city. Lots of interplay between the stoners and Debbie.

Most nostalgic for me was seeing the last get together of Buffalo Springfield in Long beach.

Best concert ever was David Bowie at the Shrine in LA about 6 years ago (not real sure about that date). The first thing he said when he came out was "we're going to be here for a while". He told great stories about the early days in New York with Dylan etc. His band did a great cover of "under pressure" with his black female bassist doing a great Freddie Mercury. They played for about 2 1/2 hours. Totally worth every penny we paid.

LT, another good one was Kansas also in Long Beach. They had a new band (at that time) 0pening for them by the name of Cheap Trick. This was in the day when the cops wouldn't bust anyone in an arena for pot so it was contact high city.
The most recent was Tony Bennett at Radio City Music Hall. Among his guest performers were kd Lang and James Taylor. He was fantastic, and the showstopper was when he sang without an orchestra behind him, and without a mic, and his voice sounded so pure in that huge hall. He is 82, I believe, and an inspiration.
Tom Petty Anywhere.
Wow, you all have seen a lot of shows I wish I could have been to. I'll contribute just a couple, in the category of tiny venues with maybe only a couple of dozen people listening:

Kevn Kinney at the Lincoln Theater here in Raleigh, touring for his Broken Hearts and Auto Parts album, around 2002.

Ellis Marsalis at Snug Harbor, back around 2000.
#1, without a doubt: The Who, the Quadrophenia tour, Madison Square Garden, 1995 or 96, I think. Roger looking like a 25 year old construction worker in jeans and undershirt, Pete with great licks, and fuckin John Entwhistle with a 5 minute (at least) finger-tapping solo on the bass, 15 thousand people with slack jaws, not quite believing. Even the marginally talented young Mr. Starr (I've heard Keith Moon. Keith Moon is a favorite of mine. You, Sir....:P) couldn't spoil it.

Close second: Native* at the Wetlands Preserve on Hudson Street in NYC, Dec 18 1993 (my 23rd birthday). Not because it was the greatest Native show, but because they called up a friend, and I was like "yeah, ok, whatever", and within three bars out of said friend's mouth, I couldn't believe what I was hearing - the finest female vocalist in America today, as I was to find out. Her name - Catherine Russell.

Check her out: http://www.myspace.com/catrussell

Jethro Tull were amazing in Tel Aviv in 1988. Park was blanketed by a green cloud - my first exposure to such :-)

Bobby made a lot of disillusioned fans in Israel by sucking badly in Tel Aviv in 1988. You know those Dylan concerts where it's the second or third chorus before you recognize what he's done to one of your favorites this time? Like that, plus about two hours in aggregate hold up, plus the Byrds sucking badly as warmup. Only Tom Petty saved the day a little. Reason I bring this up is, next night in Jerusalem he was very, very good. That's the Bob for ya.

Hassan Hakmoun and Zahar win the Best Ethnic Concert, at Irving Plaza in NYC, winter of 94. My talented homies Esta warming up. I was on shrooms and danced my ass straight through both concerts.


* Native, with the astounding, late Michael Jaimes on lead guitar, were the greatest band of the 90's you never heard of. NYC jam band, ranging from psychedelic guitar rock to the borders of jazz. RIP, Mikey.
bbd & I were apparently at the same Palm Springs Pop Festival. I remember hearing a Led Zeppelin 8 track tape on the way there in my friend's van for the first time. I was totally knocked out. Somebody gave me Red Mountain wine with LSD in it and I lost my shoes. I hiked to Tahquitz Falls to swim in Scorpio pool, it was so cold I might have drowned if I hadn't been so close to the edge that I was able to float over toward the shallows and walk out.

The music was amazing and I went home without my desert boots, which I lost up by the pool. I think someone thought they were theirs.

AMAZING Intimate venue: The Cellar Door in Georgetown (Washington, DC). I saw Doug Kershaw and fell in love with New Orleans music. I saw Tom Waits sing Diamonds on My Windshield while he drank something that looked like Bourbon and smoked at the piano. I also saw Crystal Gayle (Loretta Lynn's baby sis) there once and another time, Emmy Lou Harris; Fat City before they were (Starland Vocal Band); and friends of mine, Red Sales and the Sunsets multiple times. It was a great little club to hear music and have a few drinks. I also saw Patti Smith there in the mid 1970's and Johnnie Barnett. I don't think I can remember everyone I saw there. It was an amazing place. Closed now. RIP
I was at the earlier mentioned Chicago, Redd Cross show. That was amazing. Their encore was Elton John's "Love Lies Bleeding."
Best Concert With Heavy Police Presence in the Crowd: Boris The Sprinkler at a village hall. Boris was a pretty small punk band from Wisconson - they gained enough notoriety to have NOFX write a song about their singer, Rev. Norb. Anyway, they played this little village hall we used to have shows at back in '95ish. The local cops were really trying to crack down on kids moshing and punk shows in general (this was after some Fox expose' on moshing as well as some pretty crazy scuffles that happened in the area, unrelated to shows - but all involving kids in the punk scene). Since the police station was right around the corner, they had no trouble showing up, half suited up in riot gear. Sadly, during the last song of the Boris set - the tension exploded, ending up with one kid getting a flashlight to the skull. Still though - fantastic show, great energy.

First show not at a giant concert venue: Fear at the Metro in '94. I was 14 years old and got knocked around by people more than twice my age and I'm pretty sure spit on by Lee Ving. No better way to come into adolescence.

Most expensive concert: Billy Joel and Elton John on their face to face tour. I bought two tickets for over 200 bucks for my brother and I. This was possibly one of the coolest things to see talent-wise. Plus, getting to enjoy two musical legends with my brother was a great night indeed.

Weirdest show ever played (I was in a band for awhile): I played this small out of the way suburb in St. Louis. While I was pretty used to playing venues out of town for only 8 or 9 people - the 12 people that were there were all under the age of 13. The rest of the entire town's youth were "cruising" around the block in beat up cars.

Friendliest: The Evans at the Allied Media Conference in 2004. Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat/Fugazi and Amy Farina of the Warmers make up this sweet acoustic duo. They played in a classroom for probably about 30, maybe 40 people. We were all sitting down crosslegged – it was like a punk rock jamboree. Also, I was sitting next to Mark Hosler of negativeland, which was pretty cool.

Best sounding: This is a tie between either Tom Waits or Morrissey, both of which were at the Auditorium Theater in Chicago. Of course, the venue is heralded as the one of the best sounding places in the country (at least, that's what people have told me), but you still can't discount how amazing these two legends are.
lpsrocks,
Jazz fest 2006 was incredible. Bruce Springsteen earned my undying love with that show. Also the only time I cried racking sobs at a concert. He was amazing, like a shaman.

Lonnie,
I know you went to Tulane, but Beaux Arts Ball, too? (I graduated from architecture school there) Best party was Beaux Arts Ball in 1993 with the New Orleans Klezmer All-Stars rocking out. Everybody was dancing like crazy, and slipping and falling down on spilled alcohol, and hopping up and continuing dancing. Found many bruises the next day. Sort of like a kick-ass, and very drunk, Jewish wedding.

Brian Setzer Orchestra at New Olreans House of Blues in 1998 (or 1999). He had the big band, with a stand up bass, a huge horn section. They were on fire. The big gang of them filled the stage and gave me tinnitus that lasts to this day. I walked out of there and couldn’t speak. I realized I was hoarse, but I didn’t even remember screaming.
Todd Rundgren at the Columbus Agora in 1981. No question.
Dorinda,

No...You are NOT Old.
Oh wow, I may have to invent some new categories.

First concert: Moody Blues, Lincoln NE, 1980 or so. Also, first contact high. :)

Bands I've seen most often:

1. Nine Inch Nails (San Diego--first tour, had a "band" but they didn't actually play, only Trent's stuff was actually life), TJ, Lollapalooza/San Diego, a club in San Diego whose name escapes me now, up on Clairemont Mesa Blvd, and again at the first place I saw them (Agh, can't remember the name! California Theater maybe?).

2. Peter Murphy solo (El Cortez, 2x at the California Theater, and the venue downtown where the symphony played + Bauhaus 3x (LA, San Diego, Portland) + Love & Rockets 3x (all at the SDSU Outdoor ampitheater: David J actually lived in coastal north county, so they played San Diego every time they toured.

3. Jane's Addiction: Montezuma Hall SDSU, Golden Hall (I think?), Lollapalooza/San Diego, Iguanas in TJ, reunion tour at the Sports Arena in San Diego.

4. Henry Rollins: San Diego (SOMA), Houston (2x: #s and some dive bar downtown).

Loudest concert: Jane's Addiction reunion tour at the San Diego Sports Arena, Dec '97, with Flea from the Chili Peppers. Holy god, the drum circle deafened me for a week, but it was f'ing amazing. This is also the show where Dave Navaro actually inserted a dildo during the show (I'm sure you can figure out where), then licked it, then played his guitar with it. This segment was cut from the resulting tour video, "Three Days."

Best "we knew them when" concert: Jane's Addiction, Montezuma Hall, SDSU, 1988: very small room, very small audience, the power went off close to the end of the concert and they performed Jane Says with Perry singing at the top of his lungs, using Dave Navarro's black cowboy hat to help the audience (we were all singing along) keep time, and Dave playing acoustic (obviously!) guitar, leaning off the front of the stage so we could hear him.

Most guitars in a single show: Sonic Youth, Iguana's, TJ.

Most digusting bathrooms in any place I have ever been in the world: Iguanas in Tijuana. I learned to hold it until we got back across the border.

Other "before they were big" concerts: Pearl Jam at Winter's in San Diego, April '91, the night of the start of the Rodney King riots in fact (we didn't think they were all that, really); Los Lonely Boys in Houston at the Verizon theater (damn, those boys put on a SHOW, guitar tricks and all).

Best band to see anywhere, anytime, every chance I get: Social D.

Best concert to sleep at: Cocteau Twins, San Diego, 1991, the Heaven or Las Vegas tour: Hadn't slept for about 3 days (major insomnia) and their music and Elizabeth Fraser's voice were so soothing, I actually fell asleep mid-way through. Most restful time I'd had in days.

Most spot-on vocalization: The Cure, San Diego Sports Arena for the Disintegration tour, and Irvine Ampitheater for the Wild Mood Swings tour. Robert is amazing live.

Best local band: The Beat Farmers, seen about 10 times in San Diego. Country Dick, we still miss ya.

Most disappointing concert/worst concert venue ever: Evanescence at the Woodland Pavilion, in The Woodlands, TX, summer 2004: It was closing in on the end of the tour, and Amy's voice was shot. And it was an outdoor venue. Who the hell thought summer concerts at an outdoor venue in SE Texas was a good idea?!

OK, I should probably stop now, as I'm pretty sure this post is about 2 or 3 times longer than the original haggis posted. :)
OH! And, "Least contact with the audience at any concert, ever": Jesus & Mary Chain, California Theater, San Diego, performed about 90% of the show with their backs to the audience. Shy boys, they were. :)
Some that spring to mind:
David Bowie, Station to Station tour, circa 1977, Montreal.
Elvis Costello, Nick Lowe and Mink DeVille, Montreal, 1978?
Bob Dylan, Slow Train Coming tour (yup!), Montreal 1979?
Bob Marley and the Wailers, Paris 1980.
The Jam, Montreal, The Spectrum, 1980-ish.
Richard Thompson solo, Oxford, 1986.
Tom Waits, London Hammersmith, 1986.
Lemonheads, CBGBs, New York, 1992.
Chris Whitley solo, Montreal, 2002?
The Kills, Barcelona 2008.
My concert countdown

5 -- two Stones concerts in the 1990s

4 - also in the 1990's, watching Bob Dylan during a night of pouring down rain

3 -- a Neil Diamond concert in the mid-late 1980's, he sang for 4 hours with no break, and performed continuous back to back reprisals of Forever in Blue Jeans, then did it one more time for the folks stuck watching from behing the stage in the Spectrum in Phila.

2 -- Paul McCartney in DC, in 1990. I got lost for 2 hours trying to find RFK Stadium. Then as I entered the stadium I heard the jet engines SFX for the beginning of "Back In The USSR". There were wild pyrotechics for "Live and Let Die" and it was great joining in the the "na na na's" during "Hey Jude."

And my number 1 greatest concert ever, Ringo and the All-Starr Band, Garden State Arts Center in NJ, August 1989. I was just 11 rows back and in latter-day Beatle Fan heaven! Ringo's band included members of other great bands, including one or two members of Springsteen's band, who performed some of their hits.

And since we just a few miles from Springteen's NJ home, Springsteen showed up to jam with the band.

Also a friend of Ringo's (from the movie Caveman), was in NY for a talk show, and came down for the show; so we also got to see John Candy tell a few jokes, and then someone handed him a tamborine and he was jamming with the band.

It was unbelievable! Totally once in a lifetime great.
Hands down best concert EVER: Sleater-Kinney opening for the double-bill of the Flaming Lips and Wilco, at Madison Square Garden, on New Years Eve 2004. Aside from being able to sneak myself and 6 friends down to the 10th row floor (thank you to all you dirty Phish-heads who taught me these concert-going tricks), Wilco showed up in pajamas, the Lips had a completely bizarro stage show, and the Lips and Sleater-Kinney covered Black Sabbath's "War Pigs" with full-on audience participation.

Other notable concert-going events:

Sonic Youth at the Roseland, spring 1996-ish.

The Black Crowes at the Beacon Theatre, winter 1998(?)--simply because the lead singer chased a frat boy off the stage, waving the mic stand the whole time.

Ben Harper opening for Dave Matthews at Jones Beach, somewhere in the mid-90s.

Soul Coughing at some place in Boston, late 90s.

Cibo Matto, Hampshire College, late 90s.

The Melvins, Portland, OR (maybe the Wonder Ballroom?), fall 2007--Hello?! Two drummers who totally kick so much ass it's unbelievable...

Other cool concert-y things: Meeting Mike D at the Nader Rally; meeting Ozzy after winning a trivia contest; standing outside waiting for the Violent Femmes show when my friend notices Cracker is the opening act. He says, "Who the fuck is Cracker?" and some dude is all, "We are." We were standing in front of their tour bus. Oops.
a few highlights:
best concert-as-new-life-chapter ... Fugazi at Fort Reno in DC, my 3rd day at college. the show was amazing, but so was the fact that all the people i would meet that night would reappear in my life over the next four years as dear friends.

best venue... Radiohead. touring for OK Computer, but playing in a high school auditorium. i can only imagine this was a confusion in the booking process, but it worked out to my advantage when the first hundred people in went for seats instead of the orchestra pit ;) my second-best cleveland memory of all time.

band most obviously enjoying themselves... Team Dresch reunion show at the (new) Black Cat in DC last year. even if the music had failed us (which it absolutely did not), they infectious happiness would've been worth the ticket.

best perfect free-summer-night show... Old 97s at Schenley Plaza in pittsburgh. impressive enough that they played all the songs i wanted to hear, spanning a huge list, but the more awesome for the nice family-vibe, with kids chasing about but not disrupting anything really.
Whitenoise’s memorable shows:

The Wall in LA: My first show. I thought all rock concerts had gigantic inflatable pigs.

The Clash with Dead Kennedys at Santa Monica Civic: I thought all frontmen were articulate and funny. I thought it was de rigueur to strip the singer naked in appreciation. And then the main act came on, and the bar was raised even more.

Dinosaur at Green Street Station, Jamaica Plain: Ear bleeding country indeed…

My Bloody Valentine/ Dinosaur (by this time Jr.) at some college in Ohio: The farmers never knew what hit them. Shields blew out half the PA closing with “You Made Me Realize”, and Mascis was too stoned to notice for their whole set.

Shellac at Bimbos and the next afternoon at Great American Music Hall: Albini likes to make noises. Todd Trainer’s eyes rolling back into his head with the effort of his drumming. Not just the amps and matching Travis Beans, but also the EA jumpsuit.

So that’s five: also mentions out to Wipers, Feelies. Firehose, and Mogwai for some sharp memories. Worth the permanent hearing loss, sort of.

Folks, seriously, wear earplugs at modern gigs.
Madison Square Garden, 1974. Santana opens for Eric Clapton. After Clapton's set is done, Carlos joins him on stage along with John McLaughlin.
Amazing!
Best Encore
THE REPLACEMENTS
December 4, 1985
Commodore Ballroom
Vancouver, BC
Regular length show then a regular encore then a second encore that went on until the band ran out of beer and cigareetes and songs.
Wonderful!

Best Show Without An Encore
CHARLATANS UK
Early 1990's
Hamilton, ON
Band came on, played for 35 minutes left to a chorus of riotous boos for playing such a short show. Danced, laughed, tried to start a riot, left soaking wet from sweat.
Great show!
Best Private Gig
In the early 90's I was living in Hamilton, Ontario and No Means No were coming to town to play at the Corktown Tavern. Convinced that the show would be a sellout I rushed my girlfriend and I to the show as early as possible. When we got there the only people that came to the show were the two of us, a 19 year old kid as excited as me (my girlfriend not so much) and a few old-timers in the back playing pool. The band played as though the place were packed.
Private show by a favourite band!
How can you do better than that?
Devo in 1982 at the Paramount in Portland, OR. Brightest lights ever!

Stevie Ray Vaughn with the Fab T-Birds opening, Holliday Inn in Odessa, TX, in 1985. Between the two bands they played nearly seven hours. I stood 3 feet in front of Stevie in an electric blue / black brocade rose jacket; Stevie came on in the same jacket in gold / black and started laughing as he saw me in 'his' outfit.

The Charlatans UK in Albuquerque in 1992. Bestest Hammond playing in the world!

My Life with the Thrill Kill Kult with Machines of Loving Grace. Six months later MLWTTKK and Lords of Acid in the same venue. Both shows unbelievable! Blow up sex dolls being bounced through the audience like beach balls...

Hiring Oingo Boingo to play at my college and getting to play through John Avilla's bass rig during the sound check. Watching Vatos doing tai chi to warm up before the show.

Phish in Salt Lake City, 1995. Again at the Portland Meadows in 1998 (and being on the live release - I'm the one yelling "More new stuff" and Trey answers "More new stuff? Fuck Yeah, I'll play *all* new stuff...") The Gorge in 98, 99, 02.

Matthew Sweet in ABQ in '95. Best songwriter ever, IMHO.

Mike Watt and the Black Gang puttin the opera to bed in PDX in '98. Last time he played it.

Built to Spill and Camper Van Beethoven at the Crystal Ballroom in 07. Caustic Resin opening up for BTS back in 01.

Soul Coughing in ABQ in '95, reading a memo from a local corporate rock station warning DJ's not to play "dangerously unfamilliar music." They had stolen the memo off the desk of the station manager when no one was looking. And then they played so, so dangerous that night.

King Black Acid in the Crystal. Wow.

Apricot Jam's last night at the Dingo Bar in NM. Got that one on tape, trying out my friend's new DAT machine.

Jimmy Cliff in Santa Fe, 1990. The Ramones, Blondie, Jerry Harrison, Tom Tom Club (the Shrunken Heads) on the Escape from New York Tour, also Santa Fe, 1991.

Ear damage? Ministry in 1992, Phoenix.
Easy, probably too easy. Nirvana, Fall 1993, Aragon Ballroom, Chicago. Hands-down the best show. Shockingly, they played for almost 2 hours and Cobain's voice was in full-throttle shred-your-vocal-cords glory the whole time, Dave Grohl's drumming was so tight and powerful the whole time, and the show was just such a beautiful expression of what they could do and what they could mean. The show ended with minutes and minutes of feedback and honestly terrifying set and instrument destruction. You don't realize how heavy a Jazzmaster (or Jazzstang, I guess) is until you see it thrown in the air a few times. I was afraid he might break his guitar and it'd be some cheesy thing, but there was no doubt that this was not a joke. No one was laughing when the lights went down, but everyone felt like something had happened. Nirvana was infamous for Cobain's moodiness on stage; evidently, we caught him in just the right mood, because the next night the show lasted for about 30 minutes, I think.
Bonnie Raitt at Sprague Hall on Yale campus 1974? (From this advanced perspective, time is blurred). Just Bonnie on stage, and one bassist-kazooist, was his name Frebo?

2nd Best Ev-er: Same venue, Little Feat shortly before Lloyd George took his last bath.
Shouldve couldve added Most Insanest So-Called Concert: Watkins Glen. Dead, Allmans, was the other band Marshall Tucker? Geesh. It's all a blur....
Two memories stand out, both related to the physical body: Jethro Tull, Central Park, '69- cops charged thru on horseback swinging their batons like they were playing polo, ouch!, not even the stuff we'd picked up at 130th&Lex deadened that pain, but at Carnegie Hall, '82+/-, Berlin Philharmonic (Herbert von K) and a choir from Atlanta, Ga. presenting Beethoven's Ninth,...at the finale I could've been drawn and quartered without complaint, the power of the music and voices was utterly overwhelming.
Wow, so many to choose from...here's a sampling off the top of my head:

Genesis on the Genesis tour, when they were still playing most of their great Phil Collins-era stuff and before they went totally pop. First concert, Carrier Dome, 13th row, floor. The performance of "Turn it on again" still resonates in my head to this day.

Phish, Clifford Ball, 1995 - the first of their mega-concerts, 6 sets (plus the midnight truckbed jam that drove through the rows of cars on the tarmac), amazing music, peace, love, harmony, munchies.

Thomas Dolby, Sole Inhabitant Tour, 2006. The electronic master is back; I saw him in Pittsburgh in a tiny club, standing 10 feet or so away from a genius at work. His music has gotten BETTER with time, and he's working on new material. The performance was simply magical, AND he said hi to my friend and I as we were buying our t-shirts. I've never been so tongue-tied.

VNV Nation, 2006, the docks, Toronto. Loud, pounding beats. Furious passionate vocals that have intellect behind them. The most polite goth crowd you'll ever meet, they'll apologize if their dancing/jumping lands on your feet and make sure you're ok before resuming. If you've never heard these guys, you're missing out.

Best Festival: WOMAD, 1994. Peter Gabriel. Arrested Development. Midnight Oil. Many others...and all phenomenal.

Best Jazz Festival: SPAC Jazz Festival, Saratoga, NY, 1987-ish. Miles Davis. Say no more.

Ok...I'll cogitate on this one for a bit...wow.
best outdoor: Sting. He played at the Milwaukee Summerfest grounds. It was a night with a full moon shining over Lake Michigan. Awesome!

best indoor: Deadbolt. The so-called "scariest band in the world" played at the Cactus Club in Milwaukee. I'm a big fan of this group. You can't take them seriously though.
Simon and Garfunkel at Forest Hills Tennis Stadium 1968. They were young, great, they sang all their songs and finished with "bye bye love" or "this is your song..." I am not sure. They did not disappoint me (13 at the time and completely in love with them).
I sat a the tippy top with my sister.
Tough choices, since I've only been to a few (I'm deprived, what can I say?). My fondest memories though:

1981 (I think) - Styx at the Palladium in Manhattan. It was the "Paradise Theater" tour - awesome show, even from the nosebleed seats. I had my brother's Minolta 35mm SLR with a 300mm lens and an autowinder.

1982 or 1983, it's too foggy to be sure - Steppenwolf live at the Nanuet Star theater. A revolving round stage meant everyone saw and heard John Kay perfectly - and it was a great show by a great old rock band.

Somewhere around 2000 - I took my pre-teen son to the local end-of-summer show at the local auto race track featuring a relatively unknown local band (which wasn't great, but they didn't suck either) setting up for my son's favorite - Charlie Daniels.
The dude can PLAY. Awesome show.
THE POLICE, Pittsburgh PA, April 1982: Their nearest show, Memphis, was sold out when my three buddies and I finally had saved up enough money to get tickets, so we decided to lie to our parents, steal a sibling's tiny Toyota (we were only 15) and drive (unlicensed) for nine hours to Pittsburgh drinking vodka and popping speed. Great show. We slept in our clothes in the car for three hours and drove back. We told our parents we had a debate team meet and forged permission slips and everything.

MYLENE FARMER, Paris France, July 1989: Right before the bicentennial of the storming of the Bastille, her concert tour was like Madonna on acid, complete with cannons and ballerinas.

PATRICIA KAAS, Washington DC, September 1990: The incredible French torch singer with a piano, a solo trumpet, a guitarist and a drummer, in a tiny club venue. Unbelievable. She was over an hour late going on because of a hangup at the airport. Once the show started, nobody would dare complain. I'd wait three days for a show like that.

PIERRE BENSUSAN, Charlottesville VA, February 1992: A guitar virtuoso. The show was four doors down from my apartment. He stuck around for coffee after the show at the little café adjacent to the performance venue. Great guy.

PRINCE, May 2005: The best part of the whole thing, which was all fantastic, was the Purple One alone, with a guitar, in the middle of his rotating X-shaped stage. The mastery of one musician, alone.
EddyPo writes: best indoor: Deadbolt. The so-called "scariest band in the world" played at the Cactus Club in Milwaukee. I'm a big fan of this group. You can't take them seriously though.

Deadbolt! I saw them several times when I lived in San Diego. They were one of the more entertaining local bands.
Beck with the Flaming Lips. Seattle, 2002 in Benaroya Hall. The symphony hall had just been renovated. Amazingly the Lips worked as Beck's backup band after performing their entire opening set. The sound, the energy, the music...I'd given up on live shows until this performance reminded me of how breathtaking it could be when done right!
What a fantastic list of concerts. Marko65, I would have been a happy fourth at that No Means No concert, Tired of Waiting is one of my favoritest songs ever.

Merwoman, for some reason your list made me think of the strangest match of venue to artist: Love and Rockets and the Cure at Dodger Stadium. Rarely have so many Goths ventured into the light, there was a huge food fight spanning two stadium levels, and the Cure played that place like it was a club - in a good way, they absolutely lit the stadium up.
Merwoman, I was surprised when Deadbolt did a gig in Milwaukee. The Cactus Club, while not a dive, certainly has Dive-ish qualities. There was actually a bar fight. First one I've ever witnessed. Harely Davidson was trying to calm down the crowd this way: "Hey cut it out. We're all Americans here". Despite the fight, I had a good time.
I love this thread!

OK, here are some of mine...

Best pre-fame show: White Stripes opening for Sleater Kinney at the 9:30 club in DC, 2000. Jack and Meg managed to wow a bunch of jaded indie rock kids who would usually talk through the opening acts. I don't think anyone in the audience was not completely blown away. Six months later, everyone knew who they were.

Most surprisingly intimate: Public Enemy at Nation, DC, 2000ish. Perhaps 100 people showed up to this large-ish club. Chuck D told us all to get nice and close and who's going to argue with Chuck D? Flav came out in a full native American headdress and a bucket of KFC and the S1W's did their thing with plastic samurai swords. See also Yo La Tengo, acoustic in the alleyway behind the 9:30 Club, '98(?), after a power outage canceled the whole show.

Oddest bill: Violent Femmes and Fishbone, not so odd. Well how about Violent Femmes, Fishbone and Blue Oyster Cult? Cornell, '93

Most mind-blowing: Butthole Surfers, Capitol Ballroom, DC 96. I did not partake of any mind altering substance but stumbled out of that show feeling like I had been on a 3 day acid binge. See also Negativland, 9:30 club, 2000.

Perpetual favorites: Ween, many many times and many many places since 95.
@ICBWB

The other band at Watkins Glen was THE BAND.
@EddyPo: Harley Davidson is a hoot. My favorite local leadman, however, was Country Dick Montana. You know, come to think of it, there were a lot of weird local bands in San Diego: Deadbolt, Rocket from the Crypt, The Beat Farmers, Sprung Monkey, Blink 182, The Rugburns, Mojo Nixon...Must be something in the water. :)

@haggismold: I had a similar experience with the Cure, on the Wild Mood Swings tour: full summer, SoCal. The scheduled show in San Diego is canceled because Robert has a family emergency back in England. They get back in time to pick up the tour at the Irvine Amphitheater. They can't for whatever reason reschedule the San Diego show. So they invite ALL the San Diego ticket holders up to Irvine for a special "sound check" concert. The concert started, I think, around 5 p.m. Robert, no makeup, limp hair, wearing a hockey jersey. They played somewhere around 90 minutes, all good old stuff. Then the "real" concert at 8, where they did the new stuff plus some of the old stuff they hadn't played earlier. In spite of essentially doing 2 concerts in a matter of 4-5 hours, Robert hit every note and trill and squeal perfectly. It was an amazing night. But good god, being a goth in SoCal in the summer sun is just so wrong.

Another similar: The Jule 20, 1991, the second show of the first Lollapalooza tour, Devore Stadium in Chula Vista. Gothed out, all in black (of course), boots and tights (of course), and leather jackets (again, of course). Bright bright bright inland sunshiny day with thousands of people down on the field of the football stadium.

Got to see Jane's Addiction, Living Color, Nine Inch Nails, Siouxsie Sioux (I held up the portrait pf her I painted on the back of my jacket, I have no idea if she saw it or not but I'd like to believe she did, so I will), Ice T & Body Count, Butthole Surfers, and The Rollins Band. I went into the pit for NIN and almost didn't come back out again. I'm 5'1" and in '91 I was really skinny: I got stuck in the middle of all these much taller and heavier guys, couldn't get any air that far down, and couldn't push my way back through 'cause I was, like, the littlest person out there. My ex finally waded in and pulled me out by my jacket. Slam pits are not for small people. :)
OK.

Best Concert by a Bar Band in a Non-Bar Venue: Little Feat, Wellesley College, Wellesley MA, sometime in the late 20th century, say, on or about the night of 1978

It was a tiny room, barely 100 people, and they blew the walls out. It was about a year or so before Lowell George died. The Live album had been released, and George was soon to move out on his own to make Thanks, I'll Eat It Here. Maybe the tension added to the intensity, but Barrere was on fire and Richie Hayward was all jazzy and hot. The show (like all their shows) belonged in a bar but took place in a chamber on the grounds of a small (but select) women's college. I've never seen anything like it.

Best Jazz Concert That Never Happened: Miles Davis, War Memorial Auditorium, Boston Mass, 1966

I bussed with my high school band all the way from NH to see Miles in concert. When we arrived, he came out onto the stage alone, in one of his signature (at the time) pin-striped suits, and told us he orry but he had cancelled the concert because the acoustics were so bad it was an impossible venue to play in. Years later I went to an opera staged at the War Memorial and discovered he'd been right. The echo was so bad, the reverberation so tinny, that listening to music there was torture.

I'm hoping they've torn it down.
Mine your probably De La Soul at the Palace, Paris (france) in 1989 - Unforgettable! (you can see my ticket there : http://www.myconcertarchive.com/en/event?id=130)