Dear 100 Hour Board,
I’m going to my first concert in a week, which feels crazy because I’m a college student. What’s the normal about of concerts somebody my age has been to? How many have all the writers been to?
And, just for fun: what’s the best and worst of the ones you’ve been to?
-My Name Here
Here's a list of the concerts I've attended and the age at which I attended them. For simplicity's sake, I'm limiting the list to contemporary artists I've heard on mainstream radio.
- Chicago (18) - my first real concert, and the only one I've ever been to without my wife
- The National (23) - this was my second date with my wife, so I was paying a lot more attention to her than to the music
- James Taylor, performing with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (23) - it was good, but honestly it was an odd pairing and I'd rather hear him on his own
- The Goo Goo Dolls (24) - the opening acts were the Plain White Tees and Daughtry, but I didn't really care one way or another about them so I don't count them
- Journey (24) - at Stadium of Fire
- The Doobie Brothers and Journey (25) - The Doobie Brothers are amazing live, and Journey is absolutely worth seeing twice (or more)
- Dennis DeYoung (formerly of Styx) and Boston (25) - Boston put on one of the best shows that I have seen in my life
- Phillip Phillips and the Goo Goo Dolls (27) - I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the opening act; also, I will never not love John Rzeznik's monologues
- Muse (27) - amazing band, but we had absolutely terrible seats
- Gavin DeGraw (27) - we bought tickets to a small show at a campus venue on the spur of the moment, and it turned out to be an amazing performance
Honorable mentions: I've seen Joshua James a couple times, and a year and a half ago we went to a performance by a spot-on cover band called Led Zepagain.
Biggest regrets: Not seeing Rush on their farewell tour the summer of 2015 because I didn't start listening to them until that fall, and missing a Jimmy Eat World concert a year ago because they came to my city right when money was at its tightest.
Top of my list of bands I still want to see: Jimmy Eat World, Green Day, and The Killers.
I don't think it's that weird to make it into your mid-20s without ever having been to a concert. One tip: Bring earplugs. You might need them and you might not, but some venues don't sell them and those that do typically want $5-$10 for a single cheap pair.
Have fun! Concerts are amazing.
Dear your name,
I'm not sure how many concerts I've been to, because every time I try to count I realize I left something out, but I'm pretty sure it's in the ballpark of 20-30. I'm guessing you're talking about not chamber music or that kind of thing? But, like, a band that you might hear on the radio? I think my first concert was (if you count this) when that Mormon band Colors played at our youth conference one time. But assuming that's not what you mean, and assuming jazz concerts don't count, my first one was probably in college, too (when I was 18.) (Incidentally, because I am apparently a creature of habit and many of my concerts are repeat shows from bands I have already seen, my first college concert was ... Colors! It was their last concert before they broke up the band for several years.)
After that, I went to a lot more concerts, mostly during my last year or two of college and then the bulk of the rest between college and when I got married four years later (with some exceptions ... it's just harder to go to concerts now especially with kids and particularly a nursing baby.) My favorite concerts have been the three times I've seen the exceptional Andrew Bird (my favorite was the first time I saw him, which was the smallest and I was just a few feet from the stage), seeing Joanna Newsom's ethereal, beautiful show, and seeing the super fun Tally Hall. Tally Hall's was a fun concert, but the best part about it was afterward, when they came off the small stage and just hung out with everybody. Their merch table was full of junk they'd picked up at a dollar store and signed. It was hilarious, and I was considering buying something small from it, but one of the band members talked me out of it by saying, "What?! Don't buy that! It's all junk! Do you have something else, just let me sign something you already have!" So I did that, instead, especially once we bonded by finding out that we both had broken our mothers' coccyx when we were born. So, I'm just saying: awesome concert. Haha. I also really loved seeing Eisley in Salt Lake with my roommate and Waldorf and Sauron. They are a favorite band of mine (now I've seen them two or three times), and it was one of my earliest concerts to go to so I am pretty sure I acted super weird, but everyone put up with me and I was in heaven.
Honorable Mentions: I loved seeing Cake (I was in the front row, or close to it), All American Rejects, and I saw Gogol Bordello (which was crazy and fun but kind of too much?) but I was really there mostly to hear "Start Wearing Purple," and they didn't play it until so late that I missed it (it was at a music festival and I just couldn't spend the entire night listening to them and skipping out on everybody else just waiting for the one song I knew.) Other great shows: Shiny Toy Guns, who I have seen twice (especially the second time, where for one reason and another my friends and I were so late that we basically missed the concert, they wouldn't let us in, and we ended up watching the last two songs from backstage.) Mute Math, whose shows are crazy and so, so fun (I've seen them twice, too. I'm telling you, it's a theme.) Eric Hutchinson, who opened for G. Love and the Special Sauce (Eric Hutchinson's show was awesome, G. Love's was awesome sometimes but kind of sketchy other times and we left early from that one.)
Ummmm... all my super cool indie friends will shake their heads at this one, but I actually saw Taylor Swift's Reputation concert a few weeks ago also, and that was a different level of show. I got my ticket for free the day before, so there's that, but it was pretty fun. I prefer smaller, more intimate concerts where I know more of the songs, but I hadn't ever been to a stadium concert, and it was a whole new experience. Even though I only know some of her music, she's indisputably a talented lyricist, and I like how she's big on fighting for artists' rights and isn't afraid to make herself look silly or awkward in the name of empowering women to be themselves. (Because of her, I have MOST CERTAINLY spent more than a few minutes on YouTube trying to learn finger tutting.) There were fireworks and multiple stages and flames. Anyway, so that was my most recent concert, and it's not my normal style, but I'm glad I went.
WAIT. I did go to a stadium canto pop concert one time with some friends who had box seats through work. There were no flames, but they covered a TON of American music from the 90's, which was a riot because the selection was super random and it was always so surprising to hear what they were going to play next. Being in a box seat is pretty different from being down in the crowd at a big concert, though, so it doesn't seem quite like a full stadium concert experience. (More free food, though!)
Biggest regret: Not going with Optimistic. and all the other people who saw Joanna Newsom in the very small Utah venue she played on her first tour. That concert happened after I had first heard her but before I was converted to her beautiful, beautiful music, and also I was broke, but if I could do any concert thing over again, I would go to that show.
Ahh this has been such a fun answer to write, I'm sorry I kind of took some tangents. I haven't thought about these in years but I really love my concert stories. Honestly, I don't think I have been to a bad concert - even G. Love was awesome, it was more the copious pot and creepy guys in the audience that threw off that game. Live music is one of my favorite things in the world, and I have been to far, far fewer concerts than a lot of the other Board writers, but I love them all the same.
I doubt I'm representative of my age group, but just to give you another data point to plot: I've never been to a concert. (Unless you count concerts by the San Diego Symphony Orchestra, the New York Philharmonic, or BYU Singers, etc., which I suspect isn't what you have in mind.) So, you know, if you put age on the x-axis and concerts on the y-axis, you can graph me at (27, 0).
My first concert was Bright Eyes. Then there was Grizzly Bear, Delta Rae, Aquabats and then a bunch of free ones I can't remember.
I need to go to more concerts.
I've been to a few things that I'm sure count as concerts, technically (an EDM thing, some Rooftop Series shows, even live performances at the Velour), but the only time I've been to a normal concert in a normal venue was last September, when I saw Muse in SLC.
It was amazing.
My first and only concert was twenty one pilots. I saw them at the Saltair 3 years ago. It was great because it was right before they were super popular so the crowd was a good size but no overwhelming.
I'm not a fan of of concerts because the music I like does not sound the same live as it does on an album. I'm also not down to pay hundreds of dollars to get a seat in a stadium where I hear mostly screams and fans singing.
My first "real" concert was Gavin DeGraw, fronted by Toby Lightman in 2004. I was 14 and it was hosted in a bar in downtown Houston. My parents accompanied me and my friend because we were both obsessed with Gavin DeGraw (and I alone was obsessed with Toby Lightman). After that I didn't attend a non-classical/choral concert until 2009 where I first heard Imagine Dragons when they got to open for Kelly Clarkson:
In June 2009, they [Imagine Dragons] won the “Utah Valley University’s Got Talent” competition. The band became one of five local music acts to open for Kelly Clarkson at a concert at Utah Valley University’s Brent Brown Ballpark held on 11 June 2009.
A little piece of music history right there! The only other rock concert I've attended was Gogol Bordello in 2010. My fellow grad student concert goers stood at the front and danced while my husband and I sat in the balcony and watched quietly. It was great! I recommend balconies.
So, let's say something like 4 concerts in 27 years. And that's just enough.
I turned 21 last week.
Let's talk about the time when I wanted to see my favorite band (Jukebox the Ghost) they WOULDN'T LET ME INTO THE STUPID 21+ VENUE BECAUSE STUPID UTAH DOESN'T ALLOW "X'S" ON THE HAND OR WRISTBANDS FOR EXCEPTIONS SO I COULDN'T GO TO THE CONCERT I HAD ALREADY PAID FOR EVEN THOUGH IT WAS LITERALLY 2 WEEKS BEFORE MY 21ST BIRTHDAY. And they didn't give me a refund. Boo.
I've also seen Arcade Fire (the absolute best), the Killers (also so good but we had the most OBNOXIOUS girls in front of us), Imagine Dragons (my first, I was 15 or 16 at the time), Piano Guys, The Mowgli's, Vance Joy (some very drunk girl tried to fight me after groping me which was WEIRD), Walk the Moon, Jukebox the Ghost (yeah I've seen them 3 times but I STILL WANTED TO GO TO THEIR MOST RECENT CONCERT OKAY), and I think that's all I've seen.
I'm 26, and I've been to 167 concerts. I realize this is a lot, but I grew up in LA and live here now, so I have the opportunity to see a ton of bands for $20ish all the time.
I keep a doc of every show I've been to, including the date, venue, band, and who I went with. I edited out the names of my friends and created it as a google doc, which you can see here if you're interested! It's color-coded by year.
I don't know if I could ever choose one to be the absolute best, so a few of my favorite artists I've ever seen for the quality of the performances are Beyoncé, Hozier, The Matches, and Rise Against. In fact, I've seen them all multiple times.
The worst live performance I've ever seen was Neon Trees, and this was before I ever even came to Provo or knew they were associated with the town. It is the only time I've ever seen a band actually be booed offstage. Ten years later, I'm sure they've gotten better or found crowds that are better suited for them, but the performance I saw was truly terrible.
23 years old and zero. Yes, I'm disappointed with my life as well.
-guppy of doom
Dear Nameless Wonder,
I went to two concerts in high school and haven't been to one since (unless you count, like, community symphony concerts). The first was Cheap Trick and Heart opening for Journey and it was AMAZING. Arnell Pineda is a fantastic performer and it's so cool to see those old guys still at it forty years on. The second was Kansas, which was fine. They're vastly diminished from back in the day and I wasn't that big a fan anyway. I wanted to go see Owl City back in their heyday but it was in Idaho and thus too far away for very cash-strapped high school me.
I have also not been to any concerts. I want to add that you can still live a good life and not attend concerts...I think.
-Sunday Night Banter
Dear maybe boring,
I need to practice my data analysis skills, so I made a survey to answer your question. Also because what is the Board if not a place to overdo things nobody asked for?
So, from 28 writers here are the results:
Note that these are just from writers who did the survey. I'm pretty sure we have older writers than 35.
Number of Concerts
Low: 0 (age 23 and 27)
Here it should be noted that only 9 out of the 28 writers have seen double-digits worth of concerts. So though 8.1 may seem like a high average, the median is 5.5 (and the mode is 2, 5, and 6, for anyone who was wondering). Which is basically to say the data is possibly skewed by some people who really like concerts and go a lot more than the average person. Then again, maybe that's representative of the larger population. Who knows? Anyway, here's a bar graph.
(It should also be noted that the writer who has seen 176 concerts is very cool, but I stopped using their data after the first question because it was an outlier and messed with the data. Still very cool, though. Keep living your best life.)
Average concerts seen in college: 4.6
This average seems pretty normal, really. That's a little more than one a year, and I feel like enough big names come around that people would be in to. Plus, there's the Velour and the Roof Top Concerts, so there's a lot of opportunity to just happen upon a concert in the area.
Since your question focused on being in college, I asked how many concerts people had attended after graduating, to see if the people seeing concerts were just concert people or if it was influenced by college. Half of the respondents (14) said zero, so it does seem like a pretty college-y thing. This could also be skewed because I forgot to ask how many were still in college.
The average number of concerts attended after graduating was 2.84, significantly less than those seen during college. Here's another bar graph to show that.
(The last data point says "still in college suckaaas"...but are we, the ones still in college, the real suckaaas?)
I don't know why I did this graph. There's a correlation to age and concerts attended, but obviously if you've been alive longer you're likely to have seen more concerts. But it was fun to make and I got to use Stata again.
But I couldn't remember how to do everything, so some of these points represent multiple responses. At least it's not the worst graph I've ever made.
Best and Worst
Some of these may have been mentioned above, but...
- Beyoncé Formation Tour
- The Avett Brothers at Red Butte Ampitheater, summer 2016
- Taylor Swift
- Ben Rector
- Joanna Newsom or Andrew Bird or Tally Hall
- Howard Jones/OMD/The Barenaked Ladies
- Grizzly Bear, and surprisingly The Strike
- Ingrid Michaelson
- The Decemberists or Fictionist
- This one I suppose.
- Carly Rae Jepsen
- Tally Hall
- Joanna Newsom
- Arcade Fire with other Board friends!
- The Flaming Lips or Sufjan Stevens
- U2? Decemberists?
- Guster's SLC concert in 2017
- Provo rooftop concert
- Either twenty one pilots or The Aquabats!
- Because it's Taylor Swift and she's the best ever
- Went with my husband
- Joanna Newsom and Andrew Bird, because I love them. Tally Hall because they're great but also there were like 20 of us in a bar and afterward they tried to convince us not to buy the dollar store stuff they had bought and signed for the merch table and they just hung out with everybody.
- For Grizzly Bear it was because the music was actually better live. It was mixed to high heaven, but the style and band were born to be loud and encompassing. The Strike was great just because the crowd was nuts and the dancing was good. Definitely tranced for a minute in a good way.
- Because she is the best....
- There weren’t as many people high on drugs
- Small venue and a great live performance
- It was just incredibly entertaining
- Because she’s rad and I will fight you
- They made me feel things.
- I already knew and liked their music.
- It was an outdoor concert at the park near the Natural History Museum. It was a fun setting and they gave an excellent performance.
- George Ezra was pretty good--his music is great, and he was self-deprecating and funny
- I went with Owlet and Stego Lily without even realizing it was Stego Lily.
- The Aquabats! had a great stage presence. And twenty one pilots was a big concert without as much personal interaction but breathing the same air as Tyler Joseph was a highlight of my existence so eh, it was worth it.
- N/A (4)
- Neon Trees (2)
- I probably blocked it out
- I guess also that T-Swift concert
- That Fleetwood Mac tribute concert last summer
- Yellow card
- Some Rooftop concert—I can’t remember who performed.
- Surprise! Also this one.
- The Killers
- 30 Seconds To Mars opening for Muse
- Death Cab for Cutie (2010)
- Ben Folds
- Trans-Siberian Orchestra
- Because I've literally only been to one concert. Also because I threw up and the girl I went with totally ignored me the whole time. Great concert though.
- None of them were bad, just forgettable. I went to that Fleetwood Mac tribute concert last year. Hearing the songs live was fun, but again nothing special.
- Didn’t know the music well, very loud, very crowded, and I’m not into mosh pits
- It was an awkward first date.
- It was in a huge venue and felt very impersonal
- Small venue, not the original band
- Touring to support an album I hadn’t heard and that wasn’t very good
- I love Ben and I think he performed well, but the venue was awful in so many ways that it really detracted from the experience.
- It wasn't bad by any means, but it isn't the type of concert I typically enjoy; I like being able to stand in the crowd close to the stage, and this was more of a sit down concert (in the Delta Center, which wasn't really my favorite venue).
- Not as good live
Other thoughts (also from the survey)
I go to a lot of concerts at BYU (ie. jazz band, choir, folk dance) but not a lot out side.Gogol Bordello is my wild side concert: those guys are crazyConcerts are bomb, and I love them!
I have fun, but also I'm mildly disconcerted when they don't exactly match the album versions I already love, and standing for so long sucks, and why would I pay so much to be uncomfortable while listening to music that I already own in a way I like? I think I'm mostly done with concerts. But I just saw the Chieftains since my roommate had an extra ticket, and since the average audience member was 60 or older, it was indoors, with seating, and lasted like an hour and a half. That was great. I want more old-people concerts!
I was not a huge fan. It was a Blink-182 concert, and people were crazy. Definitely not as fun as I thought it would be.
Introducing our kids to good music and taking them to concerts now is such a joy.
I have mostly been to very cheap or free concerts. I really love live music but the bands I would pay for just never work out. I would say you definitely get what you pay for MOST of the time. If you want to have good concert experiences that you remember forever, pay to see the bands you love. ALSO HAVE I.D. I know that's a given but I missed Kishi Bashi once because I was dumb.
Personally, I agree with the old-people concerts comment. Maybe I'm boring, but I like sitting and smelling normal smells, and most concerts I've been to really lack both of those opportunities.
But I think you're not too abnormal for going to your first concert now. College is all about trying new things, so you're right on track.
And since this posting late, I hope it was great! If not, feel free to come to old-people concerts with me and the other writer who talked about them.