Miscellaneous Rumbles

What Concerts Do You Wish You Could Forget?

1

In other words, which concerts do you wish you never had attended because you remember them being so terrible.

Yes--2017 I think, and they played the Verizon Theater in Grand Prairie/Dallas. The concert was to showcase their entire 2nd album. This may have been one of the most painful concerts I've ever seen. I hated it. I had a buddy who was a huge Yes fan, so I got some tickets and took him. He loved it, but for me, I truly hated that music.

The Church--1989, Dallas "Fast and Cool Club," and this may have been the most bored I'd ever been at a show, along with seeing the boredom of the band members onstage. They looked miserable during the "Milky Way" tour.

Eric Johnson--Oh, maybe 2015, Granada Theater in Dallas. I was so excited to see EJ for the first time. He's a great player, but I hated his music, truly. Honestly, I'd only seen him in pictures, but I don't think I really knew what he's music sounded like. I went to see the "skill," and finally heard the music. I hated it, but not him.

Foreigner--1983 tour, Dallas Cotton Bowl. I really liked Foreigner, and from what I remember, I like the music, but during "Juke Box Hero," a large, inflatable balloon shaped like a juke box grew to the right of the stage. It was so, soooo dumb. It was sort of embarrassing. I seem to remember Loverboy opened, and they kicked butt.

...------

2

Anything you saw in 2017 was not Yes. At best it was Yeah, Sorta.

3

In any case...there are far more concerts I wish I could remember than forget. All I have from many is a vivid impression or two, a general sense that they were great, but few detailed memories. Janis, Mahavishnu, Beck Bogart & Appice, first King Crimson, no doubt others I've forgotten even more completely.

4

There are often instances where opening act is better, but the get worse sound. Then when top bill comes on, suddenly the sound improves.

6

I’ve seen Paul McCartney twice in my life, the first time it was one of the first concerts I had ever been to, an open air affair with my family and a similarly musically afflicted friend. It was nothing other than pure magic.

The second time was about ten years later in a big enormodome venue, I was older and more cynical, more attuned to what it was I loved about live music and what I didn’t.

The gig was the exact same, same songs, same banter, same moves. These guys are total pros and he’s a Beatle, but it left me absolutely stone cold. The magic was gone.

7

Dylan, Louisville Palace, 2013. Theater so black it was dangerous to be seated. When my eyes adjusted, I could see a faint glow behind the stage. When he took the stage, he sat on a stool, I'm told, in front of the screen behind which was the bulb. I was wild; I could have saved the more than $200 to sit up close to "see" Dylan for what could be my last time. At intermission, I went to the soundboard half wild, explaining that this music legend deserved more from the Louisville PALACE than not being able to see him.

One of the guys laughed and said Dylan required that there be ONE 30W bulb behind a break screen and a stool in front, period. I was livid; nearly left. Bob owes me.

8

There are often instances where opening act is better, but the get worse sound. Then when top bill comes on, suddenly the sound improves.

– DCBirdMan

That's far too common an occurrence. The house sound people are not to blame, but the sound guys that work for the band's producer are the guilty ones. The headline act always gets better quality sound, and it's not due to the sound guys' just figuring out the room's acoustics. The room's sound is sorted out by the beginning of sound check. Sound check is to insure the stage feeds and monitor levels. After X many shows on the road, the sound crew know what the gear can do. The crew is just there to make the headliner sound good, often at the expense of the opener, sad to say.

I went to a Jethro Tull gig in Indy at a 100+ year old Masonic temple. The room was wide and shallow, which, back when it was new, was perfect for speech, tho not for music. It's a visually beautiful room, but an acoustic nightmare. The sound was atrocious, hands down. All bass and drums, and rarely could you make out Ian Anderson's voice. I'm a huge Tull fan, and have attended at least ten shows of theirs, both here in the US and in Britain. This show didn't have an opener, just a bad sound crew.

Country bands' road crews are just as culpable in this phenomena. They, like rock groups, give the openers mismatched levels, less high and low end, and less overall house volume. One notable difference between rock and country groups---C&W bands set up their own gear, not roadies. It's their gear, and their responsibility. The sound crews are paid by the bands' label and promoter---NOT by the bands themselves. Follow the money.

Olivia, the last time I worked Dylan, he didn't even tough a guitar, just a piano occasionally. I got paid to be there. Glad I wasn't out any money.

9

I was at a Soft Cell gig in Hackney and I looked to my side and the guy next to me was asleep! I actually quite enjoyed the gig but I had to admire him for being able to sleep in the middle of earsplitting load electro pop.

I once saw Steve Gibbons at The Half Moon in Putney ( a legendary music venue in south London). It became clear very quickly that Steve was completely inebriated, constantly giggling and looking over his shoulder at the band. What a professional.

Another gig that I wish I hadn’t been at was Jimmy Smith at the Jazz Cafe. This should have been amazing but was awful. It was obvious that he was playing with a pickup band and things were ragged at best. The audience was also full of city types (bankers etc) and the sound was terrible.

Speaking of terrible sound I remember walking out of a Roy Ayers gig in Blackheath. We waited a while for him to come on and when he did it sounded like he was playing in a swimming pool. My friend and I just looked at each other and headed out the door to the pub across the road.

Another time I went to see Jerry Lee Lewis at the Hammersmith Odeon, after cancelling on the scheduled date the gig went ahead a few weeks later. Again the sound was atrocious and there was a steady stream of guest guitarists including Brian May who tripped over his guitar lead. I think this show was recorded and is available as Jerry Lee Lewis and Friends or some such thing. It was bloody awful.

I must admit I’m not a huge fan of overly loud music and out of tune vocalists so a lot of gigs have been disappointing!

10

Well at the risk of being shouted down, Springsteen, 1984 at height of Born in the USA frenzy. All these staged moves, Patti singing off key on Cadillac Ranch... went on too long... just tedious -- I didn't have The Religion then and still don't.

11

U2 was stupid, I was as far away from the band as it was possible to be and still be in the stadium.

10+110+25+5=150 yards and 20 stories up. The sound was shit.

At the top of the upper deck on the right side of this picture.

Link

12

I saw Kenny G with (my then g-friend-now wife of 26 yrs) and it sucked so bad - I mean it flat out hurt my ears - and we unfortunately got into a huge fight over it as we left early due to my dissatisfaction. I behaved poorly, I acknowledged and apologized, but it truly did suck. Say NO to Kenny G concerts if you have a chance.

13

Loudest concert was Bad Company in 74 opening for Dave Mason. Painful

14

Savoy Brown at the Main Point (local Philadelphians will recall) in the mid 70's.. The guitarist, (I'm guessing it must have been) Kim Simmonds was so stoned/ drunk it was horrible. Shame because the Main Point was such an awesome place to see anyone.

15

Joe Walsh at the Capital Theater in the mid seventies. It started out with everyone yelling “We want Walsh” during the opening act. He eventually came out and was so out of it that people were yelling “Walsh you suck”. Finally, he threw his guitar up in the air and walked off. Ironically, I had seen him with the James Gang a few years earlier and he was great and saw him another time where he was good too.

16

Black Sabbath, original lineup in the late 70's, burning crosses on the stage, you know the devil shtick. Way too loud, solos too long, and really evil vibe. And I'm not religious in the least, just a bad vibe from the audience. I walked.

Eric Clapton with Muddy Waters opening late 70's. Muddy was great. Eric Clapton just plain blew. Could hardly get through his songs. Obviously drunk. In his Clapton biography he even mentions that particular show as one of the lowest points in his career. I agree totally with him.

17

There are often instances where opening act is better, but the get worse sound. Then when top bill comes on, suddenly the sound improves.

– DCBirdMan

In 2003 I saw The Who which was a super incredible show. The Pretenders were the opening act. Their soundman should have been taken out back and shot. An otherwise great performance was marred by a horrendous mix: drums too loud, vocals buried.

18

When I was in college, we took dates to see Otis Day and the Nights at the student union building. The band was late almost an hour, sang 3 songs, then did Shout for about 15 minutes and that was it.

19

The Replacements. 6 times.

Loved their records, but they got me everytime wanting to see one of their "legendary" live shows only to feel ripped off at the end of the night.

Springsteen in Philly. Born in the USA tour. 20 minutes of chatter between each 3 minute song and the show topped out at about 4 hours. I saw him years later for the Seeger Sessions tour and he was amazing, so, he's redeemed!

Disco Tex and the Sexolettes. As bad as the name would suggest, but I had the added hell of personally meeting Tex. Nothing more than a coked out, talentless a-hole, lip sync-ing backing tracks. Gave me a palpable reason to hate disco.

20

I was dating this pretty Hot chick and she invited me to see The Gypsy Kings at The Greek Theatre, our tickets were in the 10th row center.. It was extremely painful to sit thru that monstrosity of a show. Every single song sounded like the last.I spent alot of time walking to the beer stand up in the nose bleed area just to kill time.

I sat thru it like a champ though,knowing that my reward was coming after the show.

Do NOT go see the Gypsy Kings.

21

I'm glad there was a happy ending for you, Manny...so to speak.

22

Mr. Crowbone, I'm a huge Replacements fan. You saw them 6 times, and they were all bad?

Was it because of the band being drunk and indifferent to being professional?

I'm curious.

...------

23

My Dylan experience at IU Auditorium was different than yours, Liv, and almost equally off-putting. Also in the last 10 years or so. There was no stage management or showmanship to speak of, just Dylan and a (loud) electric band - doing whatever the hell he wanted to do, which was pretty much not the "hits." And anything he thought would be more or less recognizable was (apparently, and with some hostility) delivered in such as way as to frustrate all expectation, as far from recorded form as possible. Like get to a chorus and then stop...scramble or otherwise butcher signature lyrics.

It was like a sloppy, half-enebriated, fully enervated Dylan impersonator with a sub-standard local pickup band - playing sullenly and angrily for an Elks Club convention they didn't want to be anywhere near.

But. It was Dylan, so I had to try to come to terms with whatever intentions he might have had, and what kind of artistic statement he was trying to make. What I got out of it was that he was a garage rocker at heart (the songs were long, shambling, and LOUD, and Dylan was doing a fevered and sneering impression of a very sophomoric lead guitarist), and if this was what it took to be shocking and offensive, that's what he'd do.

Given all that, it was an interesting if not particularly musical experience. I'm glad I got to see him, but I won't need to go again.


Chuck Berry was similar, in a different way, when I caught one of his monthly outings in the small dank basement of the Blueberry Hill bar/club in St Louis, sometime in the early 00s I think. Maybe four rows of 10 folding chairs on a concrete floor, a barely raised stage that put the bands' heads nearly into the ceiling. I think lighting was actually bare 100 watt bulbs hanging, and some colored lights for the stage.

The band included at least one of his kids, and I think some of the regular pick-up guys he used at the time when in St Louis - which I understood could be literally anyone in a band in the area, as everyone seems to have played with him one time or another. Naturally, given the material, there should have been little trouble for any of them to deliver cohesive arrangements with a modicum of both professionalism and energy.

But, per the legend, that's not what you got. You got out-of-tune-and-who-cares on Chuck's part, halting stumbling and very pedestrian bass and drum, and maybe harmonica and background "vocals" by his daughter? Hard to recall. Whether through age and creeping senility or willful defiance, no song was played all the way through in recorded - or even beginner garage band - form. Instead we got cubist shards of Berrysong soup: a badly played but recognizable intro from one song, a verse from another, a half-chorus of another, then who knows what. The band didn't have a chance. I don't know if Chuck had a plan, or it was an exercise in hostility.

After hearing it for a lifetime, when you drive 4 hours to see Cap'n Berry, you might like to hear Johnny B Goode all the way through. We never did. I think he teased the chorus four or five times, but never actually played it.

I'll give him this though: he made a stab at dressing up (though the clothes hung off him like a scarecrow's), and there was no mistaking the canny and challenging gleam of wary intelligence in his eyes.

Again, not a musical experience - but certainly an interesting cultural one.


In utter contrast, Arlo Guthrie at Brown Auditorium in Louisville - also with a family band - was a moving and heartfelt love-fest that quickly built to a warm bubble and floated there throughout. The songs and the tales connected everyone present intimately to a practically mythic American cultural lineage, from Woody and stories of life with Woody and Marjorie to Arlo's own absoLUTEly authentic hippie heritage ("Alice!", "Comin' in to Los Angeleez!", "City of New Orleans") to more contemporary and less familiar material. Arlo was gentle, genuine, and generous, and I never felt closer to the roots of American music.


My Jethro Tull experience was utterly unlike yours, Wabash. I saw the band in spring 1973, between Brick and Passion Play, at Miami U in southwest Ohio, driving there after classes at Ohio Wesleyan on a sunny spring day with three buddies in a tu-tone tomatosoup-and-cream '59 Ford Galaxie. We might have altered our consciousnesses a bit on the way down: I remember thinking the rolling hills, woods, farmlands, and golden bluesky greenery of Ohio had the visual and emotional resonance of some timeless pastoral paradise.

And that was before the gig even started. The sound was superb. Sparkling, and at just the right volume for a beautiful auditorium. Ian Anderson was at the height of his fevered and inspired, mad-eyed pied piper madrigal powers, bedecked in fringes, hair a frenzied halo, thigh-high suede boots, seemingly conducting and choreographing every move, every rhythmic punch, start and stop in the songs. The music was tight as classical composition and loose with a grand rocking swing, Martin Barre's guitar stinging and singing, John Evan's B and piano suspended somewhere between liturgy, Bach, and honky tonk, and the Hammond-Barlow rhythm section fat, funky, and precise.

Thoroughly satisfying - and then a dreamy drift back northward in the Galaxie, big moon and all the stars out for the occasion, occasionally obscured by crossing clouds like trails of glory.

I can't say it's the best show I ever - there have been too many - but for a whole experience, there've been none better.


The first time I saw Clapton, in 1988 or '88 (maybe?), the lethally boring Robert Cray opened at Richfield Coliseum south of Cleveland. I'd already seen Cray empty a full hall at a NAMM show: this time he started his set in a virtually empty hall (I guess everyone knew what to expect) which gradually filled toward the end as Clapton time neared.

After the interlude, a single spot came on overhead, Clapton standing along on stage, starting an epically slow and majestic "Crossroads." Just the guitar - big fat juicy tone, fully formed and perfect notes - was all you needed to hear. And then the band came in on the second verse, a snare drum sounding like midgets were being dropped like cannonballs from 10 foot above the head. Just HUGE sound throughout the band.

Big stage, lots of players...who's the bald drummer? No! Can't be. About two thirds through Eric introduced the band, and shonuff: Phil Collins on drums. What? No vocals, no Genesis, just Phil as Mr Monster Muscle. Helluva show. Clapton was dead-on and devastating.

Second time I saw Clapton, maybe 10 years later, Nationwide Arena in Columbus. Again, a big band. Some semi-celebrities in it too. Very professional show. Lots of hits. Cold, clinical, boring, phoned in. If I hadn't taken people to the show for whom this was their Clapton chance, I would have left halfway through.

One truly great Clapton, one merely workmanlike. Lifetime average: good enough.


Do I wish I could forget seeing Chet Atkins at IU Auditorium? Well no, but it probably wasn't his finest hour. Sometime in the early 90s, he guested on a road show of Prairie Home Companion, and as it was Bloomington, Hoagy Carmichael was the theme. So, good material. I can't blame Chet for my seat way to hell and gone up at the high back end of the theatre, hardly a great vantage point to seehear a fingerpicker. But he didn't seem to be particularly on, and he seemed also not to have full command of the Peavey amp he was using. (Whether provided or his, I don't know.)

What I remember most vividly was that, come time for some solo work in the middle of "Stardust," he tapped a footswitch for the amp...and got the dirt channel. It can't have been intentional - he must have been going either for more reverb or less - and he had to have heard the god-awful coming out of the speaker.

Now it's surely possible to play a beautifully lyrical, lilting, sinuous, and elegaic overdriven melody to "Stardust." But it's safe to say that Chet didn't have much experience playing dirty, and the solo was impressively not special. Not horrible, not a terrifying feedback squall...just a pedestrian delivery of the melody, perhaps in light chord-melody form, with medium mediocre 90s Peavey dirt. Chet gave no facial or body-language indication that anything was amiss, stuck with it through the whole solo, tapped the button at the end to go back to Chet tone, and that was that.

I assume he and Paul got a chuckle out of it at dinner after the show.

24

Big Country, first tour. Was supposed to be the Scots Equivalent of U2. Way too loud and the singer kept angrily dictating to the audience. Liked the album but they sucked. I heard the singer committed suicide. Hot Tuna at the Greek sometime in the mid/late eighties. Just a drone noise. I've seen them since and they were great. Thank god the opening band (some dudes from L.A. called Los Lobos) were incredible. Got dragged to a Peter, Paul and Mary concert. Mary was great but the tall guy was a didactic bore.

25

Just remembered...

Alabama--Yep, country band, 1982, my first high school girlfriend was a country girl, and got tickets to go see the country band Alabama at Reunion Arena in Dallas. The arena was full of cowboys and cowgirls, who all knew the words to every song.

Addendum: The "1" highlight, they sang "Hello, I Love You" by The Doors, and to tell you how dreadful the concert was, I freakin' can't stand The Doors!!!!

...------


Register Sign in to join the conversation