The Best Concert I’ve Ever Been To

I haven’t been to that many concerts in my life, but I feel like I’ve said this at least a dozen times:

“That was by far the best concert I’ve ever been to.”

And then I say it again the next time. Maybe each consecutive concert is inherently better than the last.

A few very memorable concerts are as follows:

  • Red Hot Chili Peppers at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis (I think the dome has been renamed dozens of times since then. Right now it’s probably something like the Dippin’ Dots/Zynga/Eat Fresh Dome). I’ll never forget how absolutely perfect their sound was. It was crisp and clear and big without blowing out your ears. They got the sound exactly right, and as a result, they rocked.
  • Phoenix in Lousiville: I’m sure you’ve been to a concert where you’re on your feet the entire time and you feel like you share the same heartbeat with everyone else in the theater. That happened for most of the Phoenix concert. If you’ve never heard the song “Rome” live, you need to.
  • Okerville River/The New Pornographers at The Pageant in St. Louis: I went for The New Pornographers, but I mention Okerville River here because they were absolutely incredible. It’s rare that you can hear a band for the first time and feel like you know all of their songs within a few minutes. And then The New Pornographers brought the house down. There was also a hot Asian girl in the vicinity, which always helps.
  • Kings of Leon at The Pageant in St. Louis: I really don’t remember anything about this concert, but I feel like I should mention it because I was there before they got big.
  • Deer Tick in St. Louis: I wrote about this experience way back in 2010 when I was young and nubile. It was a spontaneous act, going to see a band that I’d never heard of due to an extra ticket a friend had, and although I’m pretty sure I have permanent hearing loss due to the concert, it was worth it. I’ve been waiting for Deer Tick to return, and they’re finally coming back to St. Louis on May 16! If you’re a fan, let me know. Seriously. Let me know ASAP.
  • Ray LaMontagne in Louisville: Definitely the most chill concert I’ve ever been to. We just sat back, relaxed, and enjoyed the show.
  • Tom Petty at Verizon Amphitheater (which has also been renamed a dozen times. Currently I’m pretty sure it’s the Baconnaise/Weight Watchers Amphitheater): I’ve seen Petty twice at the same outdoor concert area, and both times he was incredible.

But the best concert I’ve ever been to? I’m going to have to go with the most recent one: Guster at the Sheldon Concert Hall here in St. Louis. It was an acoustic concert, which let Guster show how talented they are. The show felt incredibly intimate due to the way they interacted with the crowd. It was as if we were all hanging out with Guster at a jam session. They’re still on their acoustic tour, so if you get the chance to see them, don’t miss out. And check out their Facebook page before you go to the concert. They might ask you to bring something.

Concerts I need to go to: U2, The Arcade Fire, The Generationals, The Heartless Bastards, Grouplove, and Van Morrison (is he still alive? Or will this require time travel? Is it worth creating an alternate universe just to see a band from the past?)

And most importantly, what’s the best concert YOU’VE ever been to? I’ll accept the top three if you can’t narrow it down.

16 thoughts on “The Best Concert I’ve Ever Been To”

  1. So many good concerts. Best of the best:

    -Sting and Lyle Lovett KC 1995
    -Bon Iver, STL, 2011
    -Dave Matthews, London 1995
    -Jayhawks and Wilco, London, 1997
    -Tori Amos, Lawrence 1994 and STL/KC 2002

  2. Admit it, Guster was the best concert you’ve ever been to because you went with me. 🙂 Kidding.

    That Guster show is my #2 best concert ever.

    #1 was Chris Cornell acoustic in Chicago. Cornell is one of my favorite vocalists ever and after growing up listening to Temple of the Dog and Soundgarden (and then Audioslave and his solo work), I was beyond psyched to get to see him in all his vocal glory. He did not disappoint. His voice and presence was like an angel, if I believed in that sort of thing. AND, his opening act was phenomenal too – if you get a chance and like some banjo, check out William Elliot Whitmore. I saw Cornell again on the same tour in Memphis, but the crowd in Memphis was completely different than Chicago and honestly, I don’t know that I’d see another show there because of how ill-behaved they were. Cornell, of course, still put on an amazing show (even with laryngitis!), but his opener this time around sucked.

    #2 was Guster acoustic because it WAS such an intimate feel. It was a comedy show and concert all rolled into one. I can’t ever think of Michael Landon the same and every time I listen to the Doobie Brothers I’ll think of that Guster show. All acoustic shows typically have this type of atmosphere, but Guster was really able to let their personalities shine as well.

    #3 Jimmy Eat World – in Nashville and also STL. Because they’re awesome.

    #4 Brand New at the Pageant – one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen. And if you’ve never seen 3 drummer play in perfect sync, it will blow you away.

    #5 Incubus at Verizon Wireless – I love it when band members are able to let their personalities show when doing a concert. Brandon Boyd did not disappoint.

    #6 Tom Petty – I’ve seen him 3 times and all three times are counted in this favorite. He’s never put on a bad show, usually has great stories, and sounds incredible for as long as he’s been around.

    I’ve been to a LOT more shows than these, but if I keep going basically I’m just going to end up describing every show I’ve ever been to. However, one of the only concerts I’ve been to that I was disappointed in was O.A.R. I saw them about 8 years ago and it was just BORING. It was as if we were at one of their practice/jam sessions, only it wasn’t cool at all.

  3. Typing this comment is definitely going to make me late for work, but I just had to agree with you that RHCP puts on an excellent show. I saw them at John Paul Jones in Charlottesville, and the only thing that keeps me from saying it was my favorite is the fact that we were so far up in those steep seats that I refused to get up to even sway for fear of toppling ass over head all the way down to the bottom.

    So, my favorite concert experience is probably going to be seeing John Butler Trio in the pouring rain last summer. Number two is getting up on stage to dance at a Phunk Junkeez concert here in Richmond. I can’t commit to a number three.

  4. The best concert I’ve ever been to was the first time I saw Metallica, Hampton Coliseum in 1997. As my favorite band, I love seeing them every time, but I remember that set list being especially fantastic and I got to high-five James Hetfield and Jason Newstead. Norfolk in 2004 was close because Godsmack opened for them and they were incredible, but that was Metallica’s St. Anger tour so we were all subjected to at least two horrible songs from one of the worst albums ever released by a band people have heard of. The two teen girls in front of me trying to figure out the difficult act of making a fist and extending the pointer and pinky fingers oft seen at many concerts, particularly those of a rock or metal nature, was especially humorous. Especially because they failed and did it backwards. As a general rule, one should not view his or her palm when throwing metal unless being a little douchy and posing for a picture.

    At the top of the list of favorite concerts would probably be that same Phunk Junkeez show Amber mentioned. I sprained my ankle all sorts of bad by dancing too hard on beer bottles, but that was after I got to get up on stage and sing one of my favorite songs while getting far too close to the bassist.

  5. I can’t resist this topic.

    1) Joe Strummer at the Blue Note in Columbia: Just a couple years before he passed away, lotsa Clash songs as well as excellent solo stuff, just an amazing show from a legendary artist.

    2) Bob Dylan at the Mark of the Quad Cities: I’ve seen him 11 times, and this was the best. Great seats, acoustic and electric stuff, incredible set-list.

    3) Leonard Cohen at the Fox in STL: A stunning 2 1/2 hr show from a guy I never thought I’d see live. We got upgraded from crap nose-bleed seats to something like row 12!

    Hon. mention: Bettye Lavette at the Sheldon, Gillian Welch at Mississippi Nights, U2 at Busch.

  6. I agree that the more recent concerts jump to mind as my favorites of all time. About a month ago I saw The Joy Formidable at 9:30 in DC and they were amazing. Certainly one of the most energetic shows I have ever seen. As for my favorite old show, it would have to be Metallica in 1998. It was my first big concert and as expected, they totally rocked.

  7. I’m really enjoying seeing shows roll in. It’s remarkable how good our memories are for concerts. I bet all of you could pick out individual songs at this concerts that moved you–it’s like there’s a special place in our brains for concert memories.

  8. Shakira is also on my list. I think she delivers amazing live shows wherever you happen to see her.

    INXS. I had a crush on the members and now that Michael Hutchence is gone, it has more meaning to me personally.

    U2. Not much to say here. I saw them a few years back at the AZ State stadium. You can’t do wrong with them.

    Alejandro Fernandez. You may know that he sang a song in Spanish with Beyonce. He has an amazing voice and when he sings Spanish classics, it’s close to angelic.

    Alicia Keys. Also angelic and soulful.

  9. I’ve been to a few concerts, or gigs as we tend to call them, but there are three that will beat the rest. Two are currently vying for the top spot. I’m not sure if many of your readers will know much about Ireland beyond Dublin being our capital and that we drink far more than any other group of people, but we do put on some great concerts and Slane is one of them. Slane is an old castle in the middle of nowhere and almost every year since 1981 the grounds have held a concert, referred to as Slane. This venue has been home to many of the greats from Springsteen to Queen to the Rolling Stones. In 2003, when I was just 18 and about to head off to college I went to Slane with my school friends, our last outing together before going our separate ways. That year, The Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Foo Fighters and Queens of the Stone Age played and I got a shoe to the face. Literally. Some lads were messing in the queue and a shoe came hurtling my way and of course I turned my head so it hit me right in the nose. Thankfully it only stung slightly. I remember travelling to Slane, leaving at 6am, meeting people I knew at the halfway point in Urlingford (rest stop for bus journeys between Cork and Dublin). The gig started at 12 noon and went on until just past 11 that night. I remember getting home at about 3 that night and sitting up with my sister telling her all about it. The best memory of the day though wasn’t the bands playing, it was sitting on a hill in beautiful sunshine knowing that no matter what happened next this was a perfect day. This gig was the greatest gig of my life and as I went to college and began a new chapter I would meet people and we’d start talking about music/bands/concerts and more often than not they would also have been to Slane ’03. It’s almost like a rite of passage for the teens who did their Leaving Certificate (the equivalent to the SATs)in 2003, it brings people together as they reminisce on an event that marked the summer their lives changed.

    I returned to Slane last year, 8 years later, and it sadly wasn’t the same. Granted this time I went alone, but the atmosphere had changed. The Kings of Leon played, a fantastic band and I spent the evening hanging out with a group over from England who I didn’t know and just randomnly started chatting to, something I love about going to gigs alone. It was a very different experience from 2003 but music wise it was pretty awesome.

    The other concert that’s vying for the top spot, Slane ’11 is definitely in third place, is Prince at Malahide Castle in 2011 (thinking about it we do tend to hold a lot of events in castles over here). This time I went with my big brother and it was just one of those experiences that’s hard to explain. I’ve been a fan of Prince since I was about 5 and to see him perform was a once in a lifetime experience. He spent 4 hours doing sound checks so the sound was absolutely perfect and he was just amazing, he hasn’t lost it at all. And the guitar playing, just blew me away.

    • I think that concerts in castles are pretty much instantly better than castles anywhere else (except maybe bull rings, Anne!) I walked by a Radiohead concert that was happening in a sprawling castle in Kyoto during my study abroad there. The concert was wrapping up by that point (I didn’t know it was happening). I’d love to see concerts in a variety of castles, not just the stoic stone kind in Europe (which I still love, of course–that’s why I went to Ireland)!

  10. Well, castles are up there…I still lean a tad towards the beach…confessing that I saw LadyGaga who wasn’t half bad in paradise…aka Cancun.


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