Friday Five: 5 of our Favorite Concerts

I played in a band, Leo Goes Grr, for over 6 years when I lived in Oklahoma. We played Indie rock on the weekends all across Oklahoma and parts of Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, and Arkansas.  We played in dive bars, on top of rail cars, for swanky birthday parties, and even school and church events.  Meagan faithfully worked as a “merch” girl and roadie for the band, traveling with us and taking care of us.  After Cora was born, her involvement became more limited.  We really missed spending time in crappy venues setting up for shows never quite knowing what was going to happen that night with a loud, full crowd or just two super enthusiastic fans who traveled to hear you play!  But we found a way to enjoy the fun of traveling and staying up late.

She and I share that fun by going to see some of our favorite band’s perform. It’s not exactly the same, but now we get to stand or sit next to each other and enjoy watching musicians, entertainers, and bands put on elaborate and fantastic shows. Even if we don’t stand close enough to the stage to go partially deaf for a few days, we enjoy the time together and soak up time sans kids.  We love finding groups or entertainers who are on our “musical bucket list” and crossing them off after an evening of tunes!  We text each other constantly when concert tour lists go out and try to figure out how we could make each work. We try to determine if it is something that we REALLY want to see or just something that would be novel if we were close (we have seen MC Hammer and Hanson…because they were at the OK State Fair at the same time we were).

Our families and friends will watch our kids for an evening or even a couple of days while we try to get to the nearest city where someone we love is playing (because Lubbock doesn’t always have a huge selection of great shows…sorry but Garth Brooks wasn’t on our bucket list!).

So with summer upon us, we present our five favorite concert experiences.  We have seen some of these groups more than one time, but instead of just picking individual times that were really great, these are just people we have enjoyed overall.

1. Dave Matthews Band

Yes.  We’re some of those folks.  We have seen them multiple times.  Across multiple summers.  We have even spent a few days following them at stops throughout Texas.  Meagan and I get lawn seats and just sit back and enjoy the show.  Music that moves us, musicians at the top of their game, and people watching unlike anything you’ve seen before.  Old hippies, young professionals, barefoot and pregnant ladies (Meagan has done that a couple of times…), groups of college students, and couples just like us.

We’ve got the fire dancer on the cars. Our dog…ok, even one of our children…is named for the affection we have for Dave and the live performance of the music. Going to shows has become one of our favorite getaways together. It’s just an experience we don’t ever tire of (And how can you? Every show and set is so different!). We’ve seen them perform about 100 different songs (some of them multiple times across different shows!) and I can’t wait to do it all again.

2. MUTEMATH

There is NO better live band show.  Absolutely NONE.  Energy, lights, live instruments, electronic gadgets, buckets of sweat, and even duct tape to ensure the drummer’s headphones stay on. Watch one of their insane music videos, and I promise they replicate that unbelievable showmanship onstage.

We have seen them multiple times. One time in a hole-in-the-wall venue in Oklahoma City where there were 4 people on the front row – and we were TWO of them! Lead singer Paul Meany used Meagan’s shoulder as a brace to step from one side of the stage to the other!  At another show, the drummer handed me and several others his bass drum, climbed on top of it, and leaped back onto the stage. He missed (and broke a couple of ribs), but what commitment? Right?

I don’t understand how they aren’t one of the largest touring bands in the world.  They toured with Twenty One Pilots last summer. Their drummer, Darren King, contributed to Kanye West’s latest album, and they’ve had songs on several movie soundtracks.  I really hope they continue to get wide spread acclaim and recognition because I think once people have seen them, they will want to keep going back for more.

Meagan and I sure do.

3. Cake

If I ever need to travel back in time to my sophomore year of high school, I just pop on Cake’s Fashion Nugget album.  Every song brings back memories of great conversations and even better car rides with friends.

We have seen Cake a couple of times and always enjoy the show.  They have such a wide variety of genres and sounds that a concert can scratch a lot of musical itches at once.

The first time we saw them, we spent far too much money on scalped tickets (sshhhhhh) because they sold out so quickly. And they hardly EVER play anywhere in this region of the country!!! When the date for the concert came (in a city 5 hours away), I was sick. Like, maybe you should stay home, even check in at a hospital perhaps sick…but we WENT. It was crazy and stupid, and we actually plotted out the scenario of events in which we WOULD in fact go to the hospital if things got that bad… But we made it. And it was amazing.

We saw them a few years later on the outskirts of OKC when they played a show by themselves.  They opened up with a set and closed with another set.  It was a phenomenal 2.5 hours.  Meagan and I play a game where we try to guess where songs will be in a set with whatever band we go see.  I nailed the opener of the 2 set show on this one with Sad Songs and Waltzes.

4. John Mayer

I have 5 albums that I could pick to take on a desert island if I had to (but that’s another list).  One of them is Mayer’s Continuum.  We saw John Mayer in February of 2007 while he was touring for this album.  He played hits from old albums and played every song from Continuum except one.  It was a magical evening.  That dude can make a guitar SING.  Plus his backing band doesn’t have any slouches in it either.

We also got to enjoy this show with some of our best friends, Aaron and Karlee.  It was fun to stand with them and sing at the top of our lungs.  I never thought I’d be so excited to see Mayer live.  When I was in high school he was at the beginning of his rise to fame and his was a “girly” song rocker.  I’m so glad I was wrong.  He is one of my favorite songwriters working today.

I can not wait to see Mayer again, hopefully soon!

5. Justin Timberlake

I  get made fun of a little for this one sometimes, but I bought these tickets and made  DARN sure we were going to be there.  Meagan and I love his music, but I was definitely NOT going to miss a live show.

Our sweet friend Sarah came to our house on a cold November night and snuggled Cora while Meagan and I drove to Tulsa and then back in the same night for the 20/20 Experience Tour.  It was truly INCREDIBLE.

Of all of the musicians and bands on this list, Justin is the consummate entertainer.  The show was three hours long and had 30+ songs.  The stage moved.  The entire backdrop was a video screen.  And that dude can DANCE.

I loved it and would not mind shelling out to see him again.  Even though I purchased nosebleed seats at the BOK Center in Tulsa, his entire stage moved to the back of the venue at one point and we had an up close view as he did a portion of his set.

 

This list was kind of hard to pick from as Meagan and I have other great shows that we have seen – Jars of Clay during the If I Left the Zoo era (one of the best Christian music albums of ALL time), Mumford and Sons during one of their first US tours, Dave Matthews and Tim Reynolds on one of their solo tours of the US – and we have also seen some great shows apart from one another.  Meagan has seen Aerosmith, Cheap Trick, and a laundry list of great Christian music groups. Jeff has seen Jack White, the Prophets of Rage, P.O.D. (man I miss the early 2000s!), and plenty of little groups who deserve more fame!

We still have plenty of folks left on our bucket list (although sadly I lost one this week, Chris Cornell of Soundgarden AND Audioslave) and hopefully will see many more shows together. I have a spreadsheet that tracks who we’ve seen what the set list was, and how long the concert was – because who doesn’t love data?! But seriously sharing these memories with Meagan is one of my favorite things to do.

Who have you seen? Who do you want to see?  Let us know!

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