I’ve been thinking a lot about live music recently. On Thursday, I saw Jack White at the beautiful, albeit impossible-to-get-to Deer Lake Park, and it was siiiiiiick. I remember the last time I saw Jack White; Sasquatch, in 2012. It was the first time the world had seen Jack White on his own, and at that show, he blew my freaking mind with amped-up, slick real rock show versions of garage rock White Stripes classics. I was bouncing. I was screaming. I was singing. This was no different. Both outdoor shows, both great memories.
Another incredibly special show I saw within the last couple of months was Arcade Fire at Squamish. It was the first time I saw Arcade Fire and I couldn’t even come down from my excited, heightened panic attack mode when Win Butler & Co. hit the stage. They burned their way through a riveting, exciting, mind-altering 90 minute set that played out like a greatest hits reel with a few surprises, confetti, five drummers, feathers, performance art, shiny pianos and everything in between. It was a mix of a proper rock show and an odd, freaky, left-field artsy performance, equal parts art gallery and arena. I was in the front alongside other hardcore fans of the band I had also waited my whole damn life to see and on top of everything else, the super moon was bright and full and in its full, hot-white glory. I felt like I was made of crystalline stars, a spirit entity watching myself and all of these other people from above enjoying the best damn rock show of the whole summer, maybe ever. It was that good. I was on another planet. It was an out-of-body experience.
What about that time two then-good friends of mine finally, finally, after years of all of us growing up and salivating over the second coming of the 90s British invasion, getting to see Oasis live which, as it turned out, was mere moments before their official break-up? Not only was Oasis playing, for which we had floor seats, but THEE Ryan Adams, one of my top two favourite artists ever, was the opening in what turned out to be a sick, amazing, life-altering double bill. For me, Ryan Adams was it and I remember how I felt hearing “When the Stars Go Blue” live for the first time (he didn’t play it the first time I’d seen him and the Cardinals two years prior). When Oasis hit the stage, we bonded. More than we ever did before. This was our youth up there, in all their snarling, mock-teddy boy, accented egotistical glory. Liam, who I think is the lesser Gallagher, stands on stage as if he has more swagger than anyone on the planet and when you see him up there, hands behind his back, belting out classic songs from Definitely, Maybe and What’s the Story Morning Glory?, you believe him.
Or the time I saw AC/DC, a long-time favourite for one reason or another (my reason mostly being the guitar-wielding majesty that is Angus Young), and during the show there was an all-out thunderstorm that drenched and flooded Commonwealth Stadium with water. We were all soaked. It was windy. Thunder and lightning struck. And these 60-70 year old rock stars took breaks to mop the water off-stage in between songs and then just kept going. At one point during the encore, little Angus, shirt off and soaking wet, stood on a rising podium that towered over the crowd, and played something like a 15-minute solo up there. Just before we all, fists in the air, sang along to “For Those About to Rock” as the canons went off.
These are memories. These memories are a part of why I love music so much. Music is about the creation of memory; whether a song reminds you of an ex you were in love with or a magic summer with friends or that time your face melted off during a Nels Cline guitar solo, these are reasons why concerts are the greatest and most momentous fun one could possibly ever have. Sharing the air with your favourite musicians, sharing a memorable experience with thousands of strangers, sharing and feeding off one another’s exuberant and high high energy, could not possibly get any better.