REO! UB40! Elmo Live at the Civic Center!

Columnist Steve Lange looks back at six concerts he'll never forget.

Oddchester - Steve Lange column sig

Six concerts I'll never forget.

That first concert
Who: REO Speedwagon. Bay City Central High School, Bay City, Mich., June 25, 1977.
What: I'm 8. My 19-year-old sister drags me along because she's been forced to babysit. I remember sitting on a tarp. I remember a shirtless guy throwing up next to me. I remember the cigarette smoke smelling different than other cigarette smoke I had smelled. And I remember this being the most amazing thing I had experienced in my eight years on earth. Afterwards, I can't wait to tell everyone about it. Until my sister reminds me that I'm not supposed to be here and that I can never, ever, tell anyone about this.

That concert that may get me in trouble if my parents read this
Who: UB40 and Fine Young Cannibals. Chene Park Amphitheater, Detroit, Aug. 27, 1986.
What: Sure, it may have been UB40 (the "Red, Red Wine" band), but my buddies and I are 17 years old and drive from Bay City to Chene Park in Detroit, a venue that was so questionable that, when my dad reads this now, I'll probably get grounded.

That concert where I missed that one band
Who: The Flaming Lips with special guest. The Blind Pig, Ann Arbor, Mich., Oct. 3, 1989.
What: A buddy and I have tickets for The Flaming Lips at one of indie rock's classic small venues. Lorne wants to go early, because he's heard the opening band is really good. "Um, we're 20-year-olds," I remind him. "We show up late for things because that makes us look cool to all the dorks who bothered to get there early." He finally talks me into heading to the show, where we catch the last song of that opening band. That opening band is Nirvana.

The first time I saw Springsteen, barely
Who: Bruce Springsteen (I think). Palace of Auburn Hills, Mich., Aug. 17, 1992.
What: After waiting in line overnight, now-wife Lindy and I are 30th in line to buy Springsteen tickets. Take that, fans who didn't spend the night on a sidewalk! We get our best-available tickets. First row? Maybe I'll catch a bandana! There has been, though, a computer glitch. By glitch, I mean the box office has released tickets by WORST AVAILABLE SEATS FIRST. When I open my envelope for the grand reveal, I yell "OK! Here goes! We're in Section ZZZZ! Row 1,300! Seat obstructed view! This is going to be the best concert … Wait a second! Section ZZZZ?" Anyway, we think the person onstage was Springsteen.


The time I saw Elmo Live
Who: Sesame Street Live. Rochester Civic Center, Dec. 16, 2012.
What: Super Grover's opening song reveals that he's lost his superness. When he tries to fly, he falls all over the stage. And so it goes, until — spoiler alert! — the other monsters help Grover get his superness back. For the final song, daughter Emma, then 5, dances like she's in a mosh pit at a Clash concert. She asks our two older kids to dance with her. And while they're probably mortified (I mean, Hadley's a teenager), both of them wave their arms and sing. I spend the last song watching my youngest daughter dancing and singing as her two older siblings at least play along and I think that, yeah, I've been to some pretty cool concerts.

The time I took my oldest daughter to her first real concert
Who: One Republic, The Script. Target Center in Minneapolis, June 17, 2014.
What: When 15-year-old daughter, Hadley, and her friend Olivia ask me to go with them to their first concert, I casually nod and say something like "Sure. Whatevs." Then I run upstairs and pull wife Lindy into the bathroom and keep scream-whispering "They asked me! They asked me!" Deep down, I realize they need an adult to go to the show with them. But, still "They asked me! They asked me!" Our seats are on a corner, so, when we stand for that opening song, I'm awkwardly facing the girls. And then I start doing my dad dance. Square alert! By song two, though, the girls barely notice I'm there, which is probably as good as these things get.

Steve Lange is the editor of Rochester Magazine. His column appears every Tuesday.

Opinion by Steve Lange
What To Read Next
Get Local