15 First Concerts We Went To

Summer concert season begins, and our readers reminisce.

By Nerve Readers

When I was fourteen, I decided I’d get my dad tickets to see The Who for his birthday, since they were one of his favorite bands. So I scrimped and I saved worked all spring and got... enough money for one general-admission ticket. (Man, being fourteen sucked.) But my mom came through and so one perfect-summer-concert-weather May night, my dad and I went to go see The Who. Robert Plant was opening, and he nailed everything — this was pre-Raising Sand so I barely knew he was still alive, let alone that he was still able to rip through "Whole Lotta Love." I had a blast, but I think my dad enjoyed it more than I did — he got to conspiratorially whisper to me that the people in front of us were smoking pot and enthusiastically air-drum for most of the show. — Alex


Pearl Jam! I was thirteen. I won tickets from a Boston radio station and got to ride up to Portland, ME on a bus with the DJs. I screamed lyrics to Vitalogy all night, and Dennis Rodman made an appearance. — Logan


My first concert was Neil Young. I got stoned with my brother; awesomeness abounded. I remember being confused when I went to my next show and didn't see old men with potbellies everywhere. — Becca


Spice Girls, the Spice World Tour. I sat in the second-to-last row and took three-hundred flash photos. — Cindy


The Jesus Lizard, Irving Plaza, '96. I hitched a ride, met my brother along the way, and drank a forty of Budweiser. I was too short to see at the show, so my bro held me up for parts, and said "One day, you'll be tall." David Yow flew out over the crowd as soon as the first song, "Puss," started. He wearing a red cowboy shirt with white fringe, and when the light hit him he looked like a flying squirrel. I had purposefully dodged other, parent-sponsored shows so I could lose my concert V-card at a righteous event and I succeeded. Jesus. 1996. — Charlie


I saw Robert Palmer in 1988 when I was six. My brother and I begged our father to take us because we were obsessed with "Simply Irresistible." He did not disappoint. — Anthony


The coolest girl in my high school asked me to go to a Depeche Mode concert with her. I only knew "Just Can't Get Enough," but I went because I didn't want to invoke her ire. I was a new kid, and I saw this as a ticket into an accepting group of friends. We were the youngest people at the concert by far, but it was a terrific, and I fell in love with Dave Gahan and English electronic music. And from then on out I had friends. Very win-win. — Danielle


Kris Kross for my birthday in elementary school. My parents offered to get Billy Joel tickets instead, but I demanded the band with the backwards pants. As it turned out, they didn't make me wanna jump, jump; they made me want to sit quietly in terror waiting for it to end. That was the first concert I went to and the first time I realized just how white I was. — Jon


Black Eyed Peas and Lit opening for No Doubt. Had no idea who the Black Eyed Peas were, and thought the girl said "fuck" too much. I was already obsessed with No Doubt at the time, and pretty much could not believe Gwen Stefani was in front of me for real. I had spent the past year blasting "Sixteen" and "Just a Girl" in my bedroom and feeling very self-righteous and mature. — Meghan


The Vengaboys. I shit you not. Mind you, I didn't actually want to see them — it was for a friend's birthday and her parents bought the tickets for all of us. Almost wore a bag over my head. — Shannon


Lollapalooza '94. I was thirteen and forbidden to go, so naturally, I won tickets off the radio, dyed my hair black, and went anyway. Teenage Rachael: one, Mom: two million and eight. In Catholic school at the time, I literally prayed nightly, in earnest, for tickets. Jesus is magic. And apparently also a Smashing Pumpkins fan. — Rachael


The Go-Go's at The Greek in Hollywood. My mom was scoffing at the girl in front of us whose bra strap was showing (the horror!) and then got called a “bitch” by another woman when my mom told her to "sober up.” So embarrassing. As if I could have passed as cool, at twelve, even if she hadn't been there. Anyway, we got the beat! — Dalila


The Backstreet Boys, suckers! That’s right. Be jealous. I cried and AJ waved at me. NBD. — Lina


I went to see Depeche Mode's "Black Celebration" tour when I was in the ninth grade. We teased our hair and drank wine coolers all night. It was amazing. — Heather


When I was nine-years old, Boyz II Men came to the York Fairgrounds, and my grandmother took me. I cried because they came into the audience and were handing out roses, but they were too lazy to walk up into the nosebleed section and give my prepubescent ass one. — Nichole


Let your voice be heard! Tell us about your first concert in the comments, and submit to our next series — Student-Teacher Romances. Have you ever made good on a teacher infatuation? Or, even better, are you a teacher who's hooked up with your students? Tell us about it in 300-500 words. Click here for more details or email your story to submissions@nerve.com 

Commentarium (66 Comments)

Jun 09 11 - 3:52am

My first show was Journey in 1987, and my second show was Slayer in 1988. A lot changes in a year in the life of a teenager.

Jun 09 11 - 6:08am

I worked out a system on how to win whenever i wanted to from a radio show. It worked. The Offspring, Unwritten Law (before they became famous for a softer hit and subsequently sucked worse afterwards) and a Local wrestling band called The Bumping Uglies. Best Part: Seeing the really crappy singer for the wrestling band try to break a table in half with himself, only to realize that it was reinforced with a steel beam and really really painful to land on. Then it was 900 people crammed into St Andrews Hall in Detroit (capacity 700)as the duct taped railing rocked and Dexter Holland handed the sound guy a beer via crowd surfing (keep in mind, this was 1999. crowd surfing was still ok to do).

Jun 10 11 - 3:26pm
Not Amazed

Well, what was this flawless system?

Jun 11 11 - 3:41pm

Bumping Uglies at St. Andrews!!! I'm having an early 20s flashback and loving it

Jun 09 11 - 6:50am

The Coronas, I was 13 and didn't actually know any of their songs when I got the ticket,I was only going for my friends.I crammed the whole week long and wow, was it worth it!In the Olympia where I fell in love with their opening act (the delorentos-with whom I still love) and then the coronas themselves. The feeling of unity in the crowd for first time ever(you know when everyone is screaming the lyrics together) was amazing.Best First concert ever!

Jun 09 11 - 8:12am

My first concert experience was an arena Aerosmith show that I went to with my friend and his Dad. I was fourteen, I think. All I knew about Aerosmith at the time was that their songs were older than me. That and they had a pretty bad arcade game called Revolution X that I’d sometimes play. That and they had a song in the movie Mrs. Doubtfire. Anyways, the ticket was free. The seats were so far from the stage that the band looked like insects wearing bedazzled pants. Everyone in the audience stood completely motionless throughout the set. On the car ride home, my friend’s Dad said, “Great show, huh guys?” I think I began drinking alcohol shortly afterward.

Jun 09 11 - 9:19am
Oscar Eugene Hasten

My first was Led Zeppelin with Jethro Tull opening at the Community Concourse in San Diego. Jethro Tull blew away Led Zeppelin at this concert.
History in the making.

Jun 09 11 - 10:03am

My first concert was Nina Hagen. I had been sick all week, but I was not going to let that cause me to miss the show. Even though I felt terrible I went, and I had a great time. The next day I ended up in the hospital.

Jun 09 11 - 11:22am

Incubus at a big arena, by myself, as a senior in high school. Brandon Boyd, in retrospect, was VERY stoned throughout.

Jun 09 11 - 12:07pm

Peter Frampton in '79 - Sweet opened the show. Got my first contact high!

Jun 09 11 - 12:08pm

Red Hot Chili Peppers, with Foo Fighters opening. My best friend and I made t-shirts ("Look at me, Flea!"), but got a flat tire on the way to the show. Her mom had to come pick us up and drop us off. Great show.....thank goodness for moms!

Jun 09 11 - 12:12pm

I was 16 when I drove out with a friend to the Yes -Big Generator Tour at the Capital Center (from the famed Heavy Metal Parking Lot Video). Nosebleed seats and they ran a Max Fliescher Popeye Cartoon instead of having an opening Band. I got the t-shirt.

Jun 09 11 - 12:13pm

Led Zeppelin - MSG. I win, unless of course any of you saw Hendrix @ the fillmore east!

Jun 09 11 - 12:35pm

My first show at age 11 was Corey Hart's "Boy in the Box" tour at the Warfield in San Fran. I went with my brother, bought an extra large t shirt that I wore with a belt.
I didn't particularly like him, but I thought it was time to go to a concert - I looked in the paper and he was playing.
Echo and the Bunnymen was also playing the same week but it was 21 and up...that probably would have been much cooler!

Jun 09 11 - 1:34pm

The Police with the Go-Gos opening!!!

Jun 09 11 - 1:44pm

My girlfriend took me to see The Tubes. I could not believe my sweet, virginal, correct girlfriend was so totally into a band that was into chainsaws, leather and 12" platform shoes. Great show and she's still one of my best friends. One year for my birthday she bought me front row tickets for Blood, Sweat & Tears.

Jun 09 11 - 1:51pm

1988, 7th grade, with my gracious father, who was pleased to take me to see the Waters-less Pink Floyd at RFK Stadium in Washington, D.C. It was a religious experience. The wafting odors were new and interesting. Ignorant of the concert tradition known as "the encore," my dad I left before they'd finished their "last song," as he didn't wanna deal with the insane parking situation outside the stadium, and I was bereft when, as we left the stadium, I heard the opening strains of "One Slip." For years, I'd jokingly say "we're staying until the END this time."

Jun 09 11 - 3:15pm
And Justice For All

Metallica when I was fourteen. Yes, I was a very scared, small, Mexican girl, but I became a fan for life.

Jun 09 11 - 3:16pm

My first concert was the first day of school in 7th grade. It was the Arctic Monkeys at the Summer Stage a couple years back. (Im still in high school). It was really great. I had so much fun. I ended up going to like 15 concerts by the end of the year.

Jun 09 11 - 3:47pm

Humble Pie at the Academy of Music in NYC, around '70. Frampton AND Steve Morse! Couldn't hear for two days. Shared a joint with Rick Derringer in the bathroom ("Who's the little guy in the fur coat?"), while a guy was selling balloons of nitrous for $1 each. Everyone in the orchestra had a balloon in their mouth by the encore. Fantastic!

Jun 09 11 - 3:49pm

My first concert - Bruce Springsteen, Boston Garden, Christmastime, I was 16. 1978.
Flash forward THIRTY-ONE YEARS to September 1999 -- I am 37 years old, 9 months pregnant with my first child, rocking and rolling again to Bruce in Wash. DC. Again, he gave a 3 hour concert as if not a day had gone by.
(A labor and delivery nurse was sitting right in front of me and told me as we left she was prepared to swing into action if my baby decided to come out and join the fun!)
I just love that Springsteen has seen me thru the angst of adolescence to the joys of motherhood!

Jun 09 11 - 4:57pm

If you had had that baby there, (s)he would have had the best story here. By far.

Jun 19 11 - 9:07pm

16+31 = 47

Jun 09 11 - 3:58pm

S Club 7 in the nineties, we were so far back we couldn't tell who was who but we were only seven and they were our heroes. Ten years on and we saw three of them play at a club. How they had changed; older and fatter. They tried to rub themselves against us and asked us to go back to their hotel with them. We politely declined and I still try to remember them as the heroes of my childhood and not as adults getting fat and desperately trying to cling to fame.

Jun 09 11 - 3:59pm

Also, I would have done anything to see Vengaboys when I was younger! The person who saw them should start enjoying life and stop pretending to be so cool.

Jun 09 11 - 4:00pm

New Kids on the Block. Milwaukee. 1990. I was in 7th grade. I loved me some Joey-Joe McIntyre.

Jun 09 11 - 4:23pm

AC/DC when I was 13 or so.

Jun 09 11 - 4:40pm
Symphony Geek

In the front row for the National Symphony Orchestra at the US Capitol, Labor Day 1979. Aaron Copland narrated Lincoln Portrait, and conducted several other pieces of his.

Jun 09 11 - 5:24pm

99.1 HFStival 2001. I was 13.

Acts included: Green Day, Incubus, New Found Glory, Fuel, Good Charlotte, SR-71, American Hi-Fi, and many more.

It was insane.

Jun 09 11 - 6:32pm

Molly Hatchet, The Allman Brothers, and way too much Southern Comfort.

Jun 09 11 - 8:54pm

My first concert was Lollapalooza 1993 in Ogden, UT. I was 12 years old. I convinced my parents to let me go because I was a fan of Arrested Development. I had no idea who Tool, Primus, Dinosaur Babes in Toyland, Front 242, and Rage Against the Machine were. All I knew is that I had the chance to hear "Mr. Wendel" and "Tennessee" live.

My friend's older sister started smoking weed in the car on the way to the concert. I was pretty buzzed when I got there. When I got to the concert, imagine my surprised when I saw high, drunk, and sexed people everywhere. Needless to say, for a naive suburban white mormon kid, it was quite the eye-opener.

Jun 14 11 - 4:54pm

I was at that show (when it was in Ohio). I still remember the manager of Tool juggling a chainsaw on the second stage.

Jun 10 11 - 1:38am

Aerosmith before they got sober. When they were good. Think "Toys in the Attic" good. They played all their hits. Transcendent! Corpus Christi TX, y'all.

Jun 10 11 - 10:15am

My first concert was Camera Obscura. I was 14 then

Jun 10 11 - 12:25pm

The Who, when I was 13, on the first 'Farewell Tour'. It was a good show, though the playing for the encore was obvious to me, a first time concert goer.

Jun 10 11 - 1:06pm

My first concert was Jimmy Buffet when I was 7, at the Merriweather Post Pavillion in Maryland. My dad took me. We had lawn seats, and as I would later find out, pretty much everyone around me was stoned. But I had a grand old time with a coloring book and some dunkaroos.

Jun 10 11 - 5:34pm

Grateful Dead, Palace Theatre, Waterbury CT, Fall 72. I was 14. Our prep high-school (Taft) took us all in a bus. I had no idea what I was about to see. The entire theatre was SRO, completely cloudy w/ smoke, and lots of candy being passed around. We all got completely wrecked. It was an amazing show & I'm even more a Dead fan today than ever!

Took my Dad to a Yes concert in Colt Park, in Hartford the next year. In return he took me to the Hartford Symphony Orchestra for a Haydn concert. Great trade!

Jun 11 11 - 1:50am

Harry Chapin, at a small college in NJ, when I was 13. I got to go up on stage with him during "Taxi." He died a couple years later. I still get a twinge of sadness whenever I remember that night. He was such a beautiful spirit, a great loss.

Jun 11 11 - 11:45am

Kelly Clarkson, '07 or '08. One of my friends wanted to go but didnt have anyone to go with so she shouted me a ticket I just had to give her a place to stay for the night. Good trade I reckon. Had good seats in the middle on the side. The concert was amazing but my favourite part of the whole thing was Ben Lee did a surprise duet with Mandy Moore who was supporting. Earlier that day my brother had rang me on his way to uni and said he was at a charity busking thing and that he had donated $20 so Ben Lee would say hello to me on the phone! I was so excited I was speechless! So when he walked out on stage as a surprise it just made my night, I'll never forget seeing him and knowing I'd spoke to him only a few hours earlier.

Jun 11 11 - 6:10pm

The first? Had to be Three Dog Night with Earth, Wind and Fire as warm up. Or it might have been Badfinger, with warm up acts Cornelius Brothers and Sister Rose, Tony Orlando and Dawn, and the Gentrys.

The true experience was an outdoor show of Chicago on my 18th birthday. A transformer blew when they started up, and the show finally ran from midnight to 4 AM at Lake Spivey in Georgia. Meanwhile we amused ourselves with skinny dipping and bonfires. This was right before the third album came out.

Jun 12 11 - 5:36am

kill your idols, bane, and ensign in nj. made me love hardcore.

Jun 12 11 - 11:54am

My first concert was that same tour with no doubt, black eyed peas, and lit. It was amazing....i remember having so much fun!

Jun 12 11 - 12:24pm

Allman Brothers Band, '75. Lots of people scandalized by the "extortionate" $5 ticket price. The bass player in the opening act was a former ABB roadie. The band was on the verge of falling apart at the time, but either I couldn't tell the difference or it was one of their few good shows of the tour. They played until about one and I went home and dreamed guitar solos all night. Definitely a game changer.

Jun 13 11 - 1:54am
Jean Paul Funky

Summer 1990....Madonna - Blonde Ambition Tour at Wembley Stadium, London!

Yes.....the concert with the cone bras! I was 6 years old and it was a complete family outing: parents, older sister, uncle who didn't even like Madonna (and my six year old self was pissed off at the blatant hypocrisy!)

I still use this as a measure of just how cool my parents are. Best moment: when she simulates masturbation to "Like a Virgin" and I ask my Uncle why she's humping the bed. His response......"If you shut up, I'll buy you a coke."

Jun 15 11 - 12:39pm
good times

Saw Nirvana in OKC in '93 on the tour right before their last. Krist Novoselic gave a shout out to the Flaming Lips, which subsequently led me to loving them and becoming good friends with Nathan Roberts. I was 14.

Jun 15 11 - 1:21pm

My first concert *would* have been Duran Duran at 16, but my mom wouldn't let me go because nobody's mom would be there to chaperone.

Mom: "It's not that I don't trust you and your friends, but concerts attract the wrong element."
Me: "What 'wrong element?' The only people who go to Duran Duran concerts are 16yo girls!"
Mom: "[some bs about predators]"

So my first concert ended up being Public Image Limited, at age 18. One of my new friends at college suggested we volunteer for campus-based rock concerts so we could get in free. My job at PIL was to frisk punks and other assorted members of "the wrong element" to prevent them from bringing alcohol, drugs, cameras, and other contraband into the venue. Too bad nobody's mom was there to chaperone.

Jun 15 11 - 5:32pm
Decameron Knight

My first was AC/DC and Cheap Trick in early 1979. The show had been rescheduled from late-1978, so the original opening act, The Dictators, couldn't make the new date (Damn. "Master Race Rock" still makes me laugh). Cheap Trick opened, and they were terrific...Rick Nielsen in particular was absolutely manic onstage. This was just a few months before their "Live at Budokan" album hit big, so they weren't a huge deal yet, although I had been a fan since their first album.

AC/DC then hit the stage, with the late, great Bon Scott on vocals. Angus Young was even more manic than Nielsen, running and duck walking back and forth across the stage, his head bobbing with each beat. During his solo, Scott carried him on his shoulders through the crowd near the stage; they came within about three feet of where I was standing, and Angus was shredding the whole time.

A great night, a great show, and still the loudest concert I've ever attended. It didn't help that I was standing about 20 feet or so away from the stage left PA columns (ah, festival seating)...the bass guitar notes and bass drum hits were blowing my clothes back with each beat, and I think my DNA may have been altered.

Worst case of noise hangover I ever had, and my ears rang for a few days afterward.

Worth it.

Jun 18 11 - 6:41pm

My first concert was KISS w/ Queensryche opening. This was 1984 or so, during KISS' unfortunate "makeup-less" period, and before anyone had ever heard of Queensryche. I went to the show with my older brother & his best friend, who bought some hash from some guy in the parking lot. I had no idea what hash was but I remember being astounded that a tiny little lump of anything could cost FIFTEEN DOLLARS! (so young, so innocent) Anyway, the show sucked. Nearly any of the hundreds of concerts I've attended since have been better. Sad, 'cause I've always loved KISS, guess it's just better to stick with their albums.

Jun 18 11 - 6:47pm

BTW, anyone know what concert that the photo at the top of the page is from? I know that it's the Gorge Amphitheater in George, WA. Probably a Phish show.

Jun 19 11 - 11:36am

White Zombie and Pantera at Red Rocks. I was 16 and a sheltered Catholic school girl. I liked White Zombie and truthfully had never heard a Pantera song in my life. Rob Zombie was winded from trying to jump and 'sing' with the altitude. Pantera made my ears ache and the singer was wrecked on shrooms and kept talking about wandering in the mountains. I struggled to decide what to wear knowing my preppy wardrobe wouldn't work. I settled on a plain black GAP t-shirt...oh so metal.

Jun 19 11 - 12:37pm

Carole King and James Taylor last year at the Gwinnett Center in Atlanta. I was 18. Definitely an older crowd, but they rocked out pretty well, considering. Carole King is my idol, so it was one of the best experiences I've ever had!
Saw Bob Dylan a few months later... it was interesting... but at least I can say I've seen him in concert.

Jun 19 11 - 2:22pm

It was the mid 90's and Dave Matthews Band just came out with 'Ants Marching'. I asked my parents for tickets to their concert at the bryce jordan center at Penn State. My mom took my buddy and I and we had a great time. I bought their first two albums and a concert shirt there and proudly wore to school the next day. Within a few months DMB became huge for all of us 'cool kids' but I was known as the first in the school to see them live. That's how I became obsessed with music (even though I have no playing ability) but still try to go to every indie or local show I can.

Jun 19 11 - 2:38pm

My first concert was KISS with my brother Mitch and my cousins Andy and Melissa. It was AMAZING. To this day, I can't understand why my mom said yes to THAT show (which warped my fragile 10 year old mind) but said no to Paul McCartney and Wings just months before with my MUCH OLDER brother Jeff.

Jun 19 11 - 5:03pm
buggy begeister

Jeff Beck w/ Rod Stewart singing. Opening act, Jethro Tull. Everyone sat around trying to figure who this Tull guy was before they hit the stage. Ethereal flute solos and guitar work only matched by Duane Allman years later.

Jun 19 11 - 6:31pm
Jersey Joe

Lemme see here... Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band, The Stone Pony, 1975. Led Zepplin, MSG, 1976. The Grateful Dead, 1978, the Pyramids, Alexandria Egypt.

Godspeed Big Man!!

Jun 19 11 - 6:41pm

I saw the original Lynard Skynard band in Concord California. I believe it was their last concert, in Concord California.

Jun 19 11 - 7:06pm

Rolling Stones. Had to be either '66 or '67. My kids still can't believe that I saw the Stones when they 1st started.

Jun 19 11 - 10:04pm

Rick Springfield at Kiel Auditorium in St. Louis in 1981, when I was 12. I wore my foxy Sasson jeans! Went with my cousin, and my dad was so worried about us that he waited in the lobby reading a book the whole time. At the time, I hated it, but, wow, that's love! (And he loved me enough NOT to attend the concert with us!)

Jun 19 11 - 11:16pm

Pink Floyd Soldier Field Chicago 6/19/77, on the 'Animals' tour (my favorite PF album, BTW). I was 13 and they were UNBELIEVABLE. Inflated animals criss-crossing the stadium in the warm summer night. Floyd taught this young guy all he needed to know about head trip music that evening.

Jun 20 11 - 12:23am
carrie p

i was lucky enough to see Elvis Presley in concert in Las Vegas when i was all of 6 years old. I don't remember much of the music but his white sparkly jumpsuit is forever shining in my brain as well as the memories of winning money from one of the slot machines while we waited on line to get in! since then, i have seen many many shows but am so grateful that my concert cherry was busted by Elvis!

Jun 20 11 - 11:03am
Sue R

My very first concert was The Jackson 5 in 1970-something. First concert "by myself" was Journey followed a month or so later the Rolling Stones. Awesome!

Jun 20 11 - 2:07pm

Ironically, my best friend in middle school's older sister made us go with her and her friends to see Wham. Opening was Katrina and the Waves, followed by the Pointer Sisters. Thousands of teen age girls screaming for George Michael was quite painful for us 14 year boys. Proudly, I have seen AC/DC four times since this debacle.

Jun 20 11 - 6:52pm

My very first concert was a "Day On The Green" concert with The Who, The Clash and T-Bone Burnette. Great show!

Jul 01 11 - 5:39pm

The Stones at JFK in Philly in 1978. I bought my first concert T-shirt. Fast (way) forward to 2005. I took my daughter to her first concert, the Stones Bigger Bang tour. She wore the shirt.

Jul 22 11 - 1:33am

And I thought I was the sensible one. Thanks for setting me srtaihgt.

Jul 23 11 - 2:11pm

Gee wlilkiers, that's such a great post!