1) Josh Ritter in Idaho during my road trip from Seattle to Chicago in 2006. The stage was a 4×4 crate. The audience was about 30 strong. We were at the base of a mountain 10 feet from Josh and 15 feet from a crystal blue lake. Awesome and mind blowing are the only two descriptions that come to mind.
2) Matt Kearney and Shawn McDonald on New Years Eve 2004. The amazing music was topped off by the picture we got at the end of the night with Matt and Shawn on the top of our human pyramid.
3) Wilco @ Northwestern: This is a combination of two concerts that have morphed into one amazing concert in my memory. Nothing about the concert atmosphere was amazing, but simply put- Wilco is amazing.
4) Death Cab for Cutie with Adam and Dan– Oh Wait! I didn’t go to this show because they didn’t mention the show to me until they found a ticket at the door. When I didn’t come because it was five minutes before the show and I didn’t have a car they proceeded to tell me it was the most amazing concert ever for the next two and a half years. This past week they finally admitted that Death Cab is horrible live and the concert was no better than listening to their CD, which I did the night I missed the concert. Zach wins again!!!
5) Seeing Horse in the Sea with Adam last Friday night:
There I was, home alone on a Friday night, sitting in my gap sweats and watching a movie I recently rented from blockbuster. Honestly, does life get any better? Adam comes home excited that a friend of his from church was playing a concert that night. Needless to say, I was not in the mood for a concert- let alone a crappy band whose only fans are those required out of the bonds of friendship.
The combination of Adam’s innocent joy, his strong plea “come on…” and the promise that my #1 British mate Andy would come was enough to rouse me from my stupor to put on a pair of jeans and a black zipped sweatshirt. Luckily for me, my lackadaisical fashion choices would fit in well with the ‘trendy, artistic’ types that filled the concert hall basement.
Half way to the concert I realized that we were in the middle of the construction/warehouse area of Chicago. After five minutes of questioning Adam on whether he really knew where we were going we parked in an empty alley that bordered a parking lot filled with garbage trucks. But there in the middle of nowhere was the most elegant and beautiful concert hall I had ever seen… The Hideout. On the outside, it vaguely resembles a houseboat that had been run ashore about fifty years. On the inside, it looks exactly like a parent’s basement from the early 70s minus the green shag rug.
After paying 7$ and getting my hand stamped, I walk through a surprising herd of people considering these are no name bands in a Concert basement that one would need a treasure map to find. The actual room of the concert was about forty feet wide and a hundred feet long; the walls were lined with 13 large plastic fish; Christmas lights lined the rafters of the ceiling; band equipment was piled on the left side of the room and an old man with an eye patch sat at the only table drinking a pint of beer. (No, I did not throw that last detail in for artistic effect and yes he would have looked like a pirate if he was wearing a striped shirt or had any form of bird on his shoulder).
The descriptions above probably do not fit your image of an ideal concert, but it could not have been more perfect for this band or this night. I was hooked after only a couple songs, but I truly fell in love when they brought out a banjo and began to sing ‘George had wooden teeth.’ The lyrics were poetic, the melody simple yet beautiful and the stage presence intimate. I felt as if I had grown up with each of them since kindergarten yet I didn’t even know their names. I love U2 and Coldplay as much as the next guy, but I say goodbye to the $80 concert tickets and hello to my $7 heaven.