The New Concerts

27 06 2009

Previously: I rattled off a list of concerts I attended in 1993, and noted in closing that I don’t miss that scene one bit.

To clarify, I don’t regret any of it. Music was a Big Deal™ for me back then. I worked at Sound Warehouse (side job, and really for the employee discount) and had a veritable wall of CDs and cassettes. I wanted to start a band, wanted to play shows, and wanted to record music. I did one of the three, anyway. I think in retrospect the idea behind going concert-crazy was to get the 360° experience per band/artist. It wasn’t enough to simply buy the records and listen to them at home, one had to actually be there and get the “live, in person” experience.

Unfortunately, the more “established” the band/artist, shall we say, the less likely it was that one would get the best that band/artist had to offer. Some of them were sick of it all, and it showed. Other rare lights, such as Pete Seeger, aren’t purely in it for the money. I had tears streaming down my face as I listed to a double live CD of Pete Seeger in 1963 at home, and I had tears streaming down my face when I saw him over 30 years later (from the date that concert was recorded) at Ravinia. Bob Dylan didn’t phone it in either. Or Santana. Or the Allman Brothers.

But.

Somewhere in the late 1990s I hit my limit with concert-going, and really closed the door on it by 2001. I was tired of the jacked-up ticket prices, the allocated ticketing that ensured the brokers owned the first 500 rows of any major event, the disrespectful crowds (when John McLaughlin walks off, you’re an asshole), the disinterested performers, and so on and so forth. Milwaukee’s Summerfest provided a fantastic opportunity to see/hear lots of performances but the threat of violent drunks ever lingered. Nothing like spending as much time paying attention to the stage as assessing whether or not the jerk next to you is going to require an ass-whuppin’. I’m all for having a good time, but really, getting stewed and telling random folk you want to fight isn’t what I made the drive to experience.

Sometime this year, I concluded that for me, sporting events are the new concerts.

Actually, even better than concerts, as the odds are significantly greater of meeting my heroes.

Even without pressing the actual flesh of various athletes, the atmosphere is more my speed these days. I don’t need to sit in smoky bars at 1:00am to see legends.

Speaking of seeing legends, back in the days of the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls, I never thought I’d get to see a game at the stadium. I figured it was eternally sold out (I mean, come on, it’s Michael Jordan) and as the Bulls amassed their many championships, up went the price tag and away went the available seats, snatched up by brokers and corporations.

My uncle traded his Green Bay Packers tickets (speaking of waiting lists) for Milwaukee Bucks tickets, who were playing the Bulls. He asked if we wanted to come to the game and sit in a skybox. Hell, and yes.

My Dad and uncle stood in the back of the skybox talking about random crap and not watching the game. How anyone could be in an arena with Michael Jordan in his prime and ignore the game is beyond my comprehension. The people of Milwaukee knew I was there, and who I supported. Scottie Pippen stole the ball at one point and my voice shot off of the other end of the Bradley Center as I hollered “JAM…. YEAHHHH!”

I thought that was my only shot at live Chicago Bulls action, but scored tickets to two home games (years apart) at the United Center.

Michael Jordan is a tough act to follow, but this year I find myself with a laundry list of names and teams I’d like to see in person at least once in my lifetime, and will most likely fall well short of the mark. Too much with too little time and resources.

I want to see Pat Summitt at Tennessee. I want to see Nebraska Women’s Volleyball and be a part of that phenomenal atmosphere. I want to see Lauren Jackson and Sue Bird. I want to see Hope Solo again. I want to see Sonia Bompastor. I want to see Kelly Smith. I want to see Brazil play soccer (men or women). I want to go to England and attend a [soccer] match. I want to attend a [soccer] match in Mexico. I want to go to BMO Field in Toronto. I want to go to Madison Square Garden and cheer on the Liberty. (Screw the Knicks – they’ll never take that hate away from me.) I want to see Diana Taurasi. I want to see Candace Parker and Lisa Leslie. I want to attend a soccer match at Northwestern University’s new lakefront facility. I’d love to hit the Atlanta Trifecta in 2010 and see the Atlanta Dream, the Atlanta Beat, and the Atlanta Rollergirls.

The list goes on and on.

As for that last part, yes indeed, I just got turned on to WFTDA Roller Derby.

This morning, my gradual evolution from music nut to sports nut was officially complete. I sold my dusty, neglected bass guitar to ensure that I could buy a ticket to an upcoming roller derby bout.

I regret nothing.

Ironically, roller derby seems to be the marriage of sports and concerts. Who says you can’t have it all?

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