The Shows That Could Have Been
I’ve already written an entry about live music and two shows that really blew my head apart. I will surely get to shows that sucked, but what about those shows you never got to for whatever reason? I got some serious musical letdowns due to a wide spectrum of issues ranging from nobody to go with to sheer stupidity. Let me share some of these with you.
I have two that are in the same mold, both of equal importance in the loss I felt when I fucked up and didn’t go to these shows. Both also were missed because I knew no one else who wanted to go to the concert so I’ve vowed not to do this again. Hell, it’d probably fun to go to a concert alone; maybe I could pick up random women. Alternately, I think the live music experience is best when with someone you like and who has an at least passing interest in the music at hand. It is fun to introduce somebody to a band they eventually love.
The first show is a White Stripes show that came to the smallish city near my rural town. My girlfriend at the time didn’t want to go, none of my high school friends liked anything except for rap, and my neighbor who loved them said he was broke. The same neighbor, not one you’ve heard of before, ended up randomly getting a ticket and calling me the day of the show to tell me. I was ripshit with this French Canadian expatriate type who swore in Quebecois when he was drunk or angry. Not only did he previously say he did not want to go, he said he had no money and then calls me drunk from the show. I’ll never forgive him.
The second is the ultimate psychedelic honky-tonk band once involving my man Jerry Garcia, The New Riders of the Purple Sage (as a quick side note; the band was a lot better without Jerry Dawg as I will soon explain.) I am really in to this type of music and one of my life goals is to play in a band in that style. There are few original remaining members but the current pedal steel player is amazing and goes by the name Buddy Cage. His role is largely why I love the type of music as it will often include pedal steel guitars hooked into things like fuzz boxes and jammed in a very non traditional steel style.
(Jerry Dawg was not, in my opinion, ever that amazing on the pedal steel. I think he is amazing at many points in his career, especially before 1977 or so, but not ever really on the slide.)
The Riders were in town last fall and the girl I was dating was always broke, a recurring theme in my rural area, and I would have had to bring her and pay for everything so I didn’t. So cheap of me and so stupid. For my defense, we didn’t get along that well and one of the points of contention was that she was always broke. The band is very old and will likely not make another tour. If there is a next time, I will go alone if need be.
The next two were missed simply out of laziness. Taj Mahal and Old Crow Medicine were shows I would have had to have put a little effort into attending and I didn’t. The latter doesn’t bother me too much as I’m not as in to that music anymore and they are still a band so chances are that I’ll pick them up down the road a piece. The former is getting pretty goddamn old and is still arguably a legend.
Taj came to my college town at least two times and the first time I didn’t have any idea who he was so I naturally did not go. The second time I owned much of his early vinyl but waited too long to buy tickets. I must have called the box office of the club twenty times in two days to see if any more tickets were released, much to the chagrin of the two people whom I was constantly annoying.
The consolation prize is two-fold. I got a cool limited edition print since my buddy knew insiders at the club; I also heard he wasn’t very good and barely played the guitar. In fact, the one reason I like Taj Mahal so much is the slide sound on the his self titled debut album. That wasn’t even Taj but instead a Native American slide player named Jesse Ed Davis. I do still want to check him out though to see for myself. Classic blues fo sho.
OCMS was a band very near and dear to me early on in college. Close frienda are still in a pseudo bluegrass band and I’d say OCMS is one of their biggest influences. Hell I’m in a bar-band cover-type of deal right now and we cover “Wagon Wheel” which is sort of the “Freebird” of the bluegrass circuit nowadays or so I’m told. Old Crow was about an hour away one weekend and I decided to go camping instead. My homeboys in the band gave me shit for a while and I do still want to see them. Maybe it will reignite my passion for bluegrass. Who knows?
I’ve missed several shows due to financial constraints, but only one really bothers me: Them Crooked Vultures in Montreal. If you don’t know, it’s Dave Grohl of Nirvana and Foo Fighters, Josh Homme (“rhymes with mommy”) from Kyuss and Queens of the Stone Age and John Paul Jones from Led motherfucking Zeppelin. To say this collaboration is ill is the understatement of this new century. I bought the vinyl early on and spun it for hours on end one weekend to visit from friends from college back in our college town. They loved it, as they should, because it combines all of the individual talents of these great musicians and turns it into almost two hours of badass rock and roll.
So that week, one of the closer friends texted me saying the band rolling through Montreal and that we should check it out. We looked at it from all angles and neither of us in this recession post-college era could afford it. I should have sold a kidney because all of the boys are back to their old bands and I’m sure JPJ is up to something cool, but this is the breaks for not making this shit happen.
To end this entry, to truly end the shows that could have been, I think I need to share two more things. First, why should one write about shows that could have been? Well, mostly because we don’t get a second turn around in life…this is it. If you dig music and you have a chance to see a band you really dig, find someone to go with you or go alone because you may never be able to have that experience again.
Live music is almost always cool and if you already know you like it, just go because it’ll be worth it. Case in point is a Ray Lamontagne show I went to in 2005 to see the opener, Mike Doughty. Doughty was the lead singer of the banging 90’s band Soul Coughing, an impressive solo artist to boot and a fixture of the first half of my college years. I drove four hours to see him and he rocked. I even saw him in the parking lot before and couldn’t think of anything to say except “You’re the man” to which I think he sniggered.
Anyway, Ray came on with just an acoustic guitar, didn’t introduce himself or say anything as he just started singing. He sounded good to my ears then but I had no idea who he was and I left after three songs. He is now one of my favorite artists and was from my home state when he got big so naturally I love repping him.
Lamontagne has developed much since then: he now has a full band and stage persona so the Ray of then no longer exists. This was him at his most raw and pure and I chose to leave so I could play beer pong. I am not sure I will ever forgive myself for this transgression but it serves my point. If you can see someone you like perform, do it because it always leaves you with a good time, quality memory, and solid life experience.