Note: By clicking on the names of the bands, a new tab will open and you’ll get to hear a song by the band in question. If the band’s name is mentioned more than once, each one will be linked to a different song. Enjoy!
I have box full of concert ticket stubs.
Esthetically speaking, the ticket is quite a banal object in itself. Once the event is over, it has served its purpose and therefore becomes a small piece of paper with words on it. Nothing very interesting there.
So how come I keep all of my tickets and stuff them into an empty shoe box like old polaroids or past diaries ?
Because they tell stories, of course!
I’m quite the music fan. Although I don’t play any instruments (yet), I come from a fairly musical family with, among others, a great-aunt on one side that is a classical music composer, and an aunt on the other side that is a professional musician. Music is a big part of our lives. Both my brother and I are human jukeboxes (unfortunately for me, I have a rather flat voice whilst he sounds like a jazz crooner).
Going to concerts is something I love to do. When a concert is good, you can feel so many emotions at once, and the concert hall becomes sort of isolated from the rest of the world. You feel like you are experiencing something unique whilst sharing it along with hundreds of people. That can be quite magical.
In that sense, the box of tickets serves as a key to accessing many beautiful memories.
I admit that although I don’t go out every week to see a show, I have attended quite a few in my time and I sometimes forget that I’ve seen certain bands. Opening this box can be a nostalgic affair for me. I don’t that think I’m a sentimental person in general, but reliving great concerts and events can bring back certain emotions that couldn’t be rooted anywhere else than through live music. Remembering these moments can bring you back to that state of mind, if even just a little bit.
I like tickets for that. Even when I go to a free concert, I sometimes cut out an article mentioning it in a newspaper, as memorabilia.
When I opened the ticket box to write this article, the one item that popped out among others was the concert pass to the 2003 Warped Tour. I was 17 in 2003 and this was my second time at the Warped tour. (For those not in the know: the Warped tour is a one day festival touring around North America that includes dozens of bands and focuses on the punk, ska and hardcore genres).
All I wanted for that day was to replicate the fun I’d had the year before, in august 2002. All the elements for success were present: beautiful weather, friends and some of my favorite bands at the time (Pennywise, Rancid, Me first and the gimme gimmes). I don’t know what happened but at the end of the day, I found the whole thing had been just OK, not incredible. I felt dissapointed.
Friday August 16th 2002, day of the first Warped tour I attended, had been an important day in my teenage life.
Five of us had gathered and found a ride to go to Montreal (the big city for us small town folk!). We were all decked out in our fiercest teenage punk attire, scared but excited at the prospect of being at our first real punk show. It ended up being quite the introduction!
At first, we didn’t know what we were doing or where we were going. We decided to make a stop at the first stage we stumbled upon. It was a tiny stage, and some local punk band was playing. Apparently, they never made it big after that because I don’t remember their name, but we did get a free CD out of it!
We then found the big billboard where the day’s schedule was displayed.
One of the nice things about the Warped tour is that they don’t publish the schedule ahead of time. Bands themselves learn their time slot when they arrive on site in the morning. This means that festival-goers have to come for the whole day just to make sure that they’ll see the bands they love. During pauses between the shows, most people will then go to check out new bands that they aren’t familiar with.
I guess that now that people have cell phones, concert times could be shared via twitter or Facebook, meaning that some don’t show up early if their favorite bands are playing late, but I still think it’s a good idea and I do remember people at the door being strict about going in and out of the site.
We were in luck as many of the bands playing in 2002 were among our favorites at the time: New Found Glory, Something Corporate, Mxpx, Goldfinger, Bad Religion… All favorites of the pseudo-rebellious poppy punk teenager of the early aughts that we fancied ourselves being.
The heat was intense, we were covered in dirt and I don’t remember us eating much throughout the day, but when the concerts wrapped up and we headed back towards the south-shore of Montreal to catch our ride, we were ecstatic.
We’d all been to concerts before but this was one of the first that we had enjoyed by ourselves, as a group of unchaperoned teens. It was the start of many more to come.
I lost the ticket to the first Warped tour I attended so now when I see the one from 2003, instead of reminiscing about that year, I’m reminded of the year before, which was such an epic event that I actually tried to recreate it.
I’ve done that a few times, trying to recapture great moments by going back to the same places, eating certain foods, seeing certain people. It never works. I always end up being disappointed that I couldn’t bring back the moment’s sentiment.
How about you? Have you done that before?
Here are short recaps of other great concerts I’ve had the pleasure to see and that I would highly recommend you attending if these acts play in a venue in or close to your city:
Arcade Fire being a local band here, we fans are lucky because the group treats us well! In June 2010, not long before the release of their album The Suburbs, the band announced that a free show would be happening the very next day in the parking lot of a mall in a suburban town close to Montreal. People didn’t believe it at first, as it started out as a rumor, but then the group confirmed it. On their website, they gave instructions as to how to get there, telling us to download a file that would accompany our walk from the subway station to the location where the concert would be held.
News spread quickly on Facebook and twitter and it was even printed in the newspapers that had time to add it to their pages last minute before sending their issues to print.
No one knew what to expect. We all got to Longueuil subway station a few minutes before the scheduled time of start. We found ourselves following a trail that had been drawn on the pavement with chalk. Scattered throughout the lines and arrows where short phrases, which we would later learn were lyrics from one of the new songs. Everyone put their headphones on and listened to the file they had been told to download: it was a recording playing one of the new songs and namesake of the album: The Suburbs, twice in a row. The file played out long enough to take us from the subway station to the stage. Once we got there, we could see members of the band chilling out on the grass in the backstage area. They also seemed not to know what to expect.
Ten thousand people showed up and witnessed something beautiful.
A little more than a year later, one hundred thousand people came to see Arcade Fire when they played another free outdoor show in Montreal. This one had been well announced beforehand and was happening at the Place-des-festivals. Once again, it was a great show. This band really gives it their all when on stage.
Radiohead: Outdoor show at the Parc Jean-Drapeau (on Ile Sainte-Hélène a small island near Montreal).
Towards the end of the show, the weekly summer fireworks competition held at the amusement park on the same island had started and it made for a beautiful, if unplanned finale. I heard afterwards that Thom Yorke was annoyed and didn’t really appreciate the surprise light show that was competing with their own that was playing out on stage. I don’t care, it was superb and seemed well timed (plus I’m one of the only people on earth who hates the sound of fireworks cracking, so having such gorgeous music covering it up and only being left with the beautiful light explosions was a great thing for me).
Thomas Fersen: Free at the Francofolies music festival.
Crowds that attend free concerts at music festivals are often strange. There’s always a mix of true fans, people that know only one song by the artist, people that were dragged here by friends and people that have no clue and are just here because it’s free. The Thomas Fersen show at the Francofolies 2010 was no exception. Arrogant teenagers screamed random curse words at each other, a group of african mamas stared at the stage and seemed unsure that they liked the music and an obviously stoned middle-aged man danced around spastically. It was beautiful. Beautiful because everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves and a large part of the crowd were true fans so it became quite the sing-a-long. That and the fact that Fersen came back to the stage for four encores meant that is was a memorable show.
Amadou et Mariam– Twice. Once at the Metropolis in Montreal and another time at Palais de la Méditérranée in Nice (France). The famed blind couple from Mali make beautiful music together and surround themselves with a great entourage, making for a nice concert even though they themselves don’t move around much on stage (except when Amadou has crazy guitar solos). Most of the music is very upbeat so if you attend one of their concerts, expect to dance! One note: Amadou et Mariam have blind fans who come to concerts for the music. I learned that the hard way. At the Nice concert, my boyfriend and I had a great spot right in front of the stage. During the concert, I felt a guy touching me. Thinking he was trying to grope me (it happens a lot at concerts, sadly) I pushed him away over and over and eventually got my boyfriend to stand right in back of me. The guy stopped and I felt relieved but still irked. Finally, when the lights came on at the end, I saw that he was blind and was just trying to see where the stage was! Needless to say, I felt horrible and tried to apologize but the guy left too quickly.
Karkwa– Undoubtedly one of the best live bands we have here in Quebec. I’ve seen them three times. Once at a rocking Quebec National holiday concert, once when they opened for Arcade fire at the Place des Festivals and another time as a main act, playing at the Metropolis. Don’t expect to mosh or dance like there’s no tomorrow at one of their concerts. Karkwa plays rock music, but more in the category à la Radiohead circa OK computer or even Kid A, so most times the crowd floats into a trance, carried by the beauty of the melodies and the singer’s delicate voice.
Eiffel: A powerful rock band that has a large following in France but is largely unknown here. They came and played at the latest Francofolies festival this summer. Their music is rocking and packed with lots of energy. If you understand french, the lyrics are worth reading as frontman Romain Humeau has a way with words. I attended both shows that they played, the free outdoor one and the paying indoor one. It was strange knowing that they have no trouble selling out large venues across the Atlantic, but that here they are no better known than the next up and coming band. Even though the room at the indoor show wasn’t very full, Eiffel gave it their all and seemed to have fun. We, fans (all thirty of us!) sure did!
I’d love to hear about your favorite concert experiences! Feel free to tell me about them in the comments section.