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This article is in response to a friend's Facebook Post, which asked anyone to comment with a list of their five favorite concerts (I listed seven because I couldn't help myself). While forming my response, an avalanche of memories came over me, each show being so tightly connected to a certain "era" of my life.
This is why music is the highest art; the cinema of the soul. Our life stories need a soundtrack. Enjoying that music live with thousands of other people can be a rapturously cathartic experience. You're joined, body and soul, into a mass agreement over your shared enjoyment of a particular band. So, yes, concerts can even be religious.
(NOTE: I lived in Miami during the majority of my "rock concert age," so you'll notice that a lot of these shows were in South Florida. This is a good thing because, being at the bottom of the country, many performers have gone out of their physical way to put on a show for South Florida. Couldn't help but feel like we were always getting their best effort.)
- Rolling Stones at the Miami Orange Bowl. Any band that keeps an audience that large on its feet for almost three hours deserves to be #1 on any list like this.
- U2 at Miami Arena. Only the second show ever on the ZooTV Tour. I'd never been to a concert where the audience was this loud. Every note made people shriek. And, sorry, but Bono in his bug-glasses was the shit.
- Porno for Pyros at Chili Peppers in Fort Lauderdale. I was never a big fan of this band and hadn't even heard their new album, but this show felt so intimate. And Perry Ferrell seemed to have a much smoother relationship with the crowd. Unlike the time I saw Jane's Addiction in Orlando where he insulted us, and seemed bothered that we were all staring at him.
- The Goods at Squeeze in Fort Lauderdale. They performed "Five Steps to Getting Signed" front to back and encored with the favorites. These guys are good friends of mine and they really killed it that night. They killed it every night actually, but this show sticks out in my mind. They were just ON and I loved every second.
- Marilyn Manson at Chili Peppers. I know he's become a celebrity parody of himself, but think back to when he first came out. I got dragged into going to this show, so wasn't exactly sure what I was going to watch. I'd never heard someone scream-sing like that. The bass player wore a dress and his face looked like something drawn by a demon-possessed four-year-old. MM repeatedly encouraged us to spit at him. None of the band members had eyebrows. I barely missed having my skull caved in by the boot of someone crowd-surfing. The show genuinely scared the living hell out of me as rock-n-roll should sometimes and rarely does anymore.
- The Cure at Miami Arena. They played long and loose and managed to hit just about every song I would've hoped for. A friend had somehow gotten us third row seats. This is one my favorite concerts, even though I got accidentally kicked in the groin by someone fleeing security. I remember I made eye contact with The Cure's bass player as this happened and I saw him wince, like he felt bad for me. So that was kinda cool.
- Johnny Cash/Genesis. No, these acts were not on the same bill, believe it or not. Johnny Cash was in Lake City, Florida and was the first concert I'd ever gone to. I went to see Genesis with my dad in Jacksonville. It was my first true ROCK concert and I've been hooked ever since.