My first concert was the summer of 1992. Great Woods in Mansfield, MA. (it has previously been known as the Tweeter Center and currently is known as the Comcast Center, but anyone who grew up in the area will tell you it will always be Great Woods). I was a CIT (Counselor in Training) at a camp in Brookline, NH called Camp Tevya. All of the CIT's had 1 "night out" a summer and it worked out perfectly that the Steve Miller Band was playing at Great Woods on our night out. While a night out in the summer may seem pretty standard, not to anyone who works at a camp. When not many, if any of us have a license much less a car, it's hard to go anywhere or do anything that isn't camp sanctioned. So when we were afforded this luxury of an opportunity, we jumped on it. We sat on the lawn (grr..) and everybody danced and sang and it was so much fun. I "grr" at the lawn sentence because what used to be a really nice amphitheater seating about 10K under cover and another 9K on the lawn above it has now turned into a fortress. People used to bring chairs, blankets and have a grand old time on the lawn. Plus, it was cheaper than the seats. Lawn seats for most shows were about $15-$20. Now, they have built seats that encompass about 90% of the "lawn" leaving the very top grass. But you are so far away, it doesn't even matter. It certainly has taken something from sitting up there for a show. But I digress.
As I get older I'm trying to do a few things I've never done before.. Some may call it a bucket list, some may call it "things I've never done before". Either way, I'm trying to do these things before I don't have a chance. Many of the items on this list include seeing bands I've never seen. Many bands obviously I would love to, but it's just happening. (Although STILL holding out hope for a Led Zeppelin reunion tour with either Jason Bonham or Dave Grohl on drums). It could happen.. Seriously, it could.. But it's also different nowadays. back in the 70s, 80s and 90s, if you didn't go to the show, you didn't see the show. Now, with the advent of cell phones with such great cameras on them, you can just look up on you tube any show you want and see what it looked like. While it does take some of the value away from being there, however I don't think anything is quite like being physically at the live show. So when the opportunity came to see KISS and Motley Crue at said Great Woods, I jumped at it. Obviously, these bands are not in their prime. KISS only has 50% of its original members. But that's ok. I didn't mind. Both bands put on fantastic theatrical performances, stuff I had never seen before at a live show and sang many songs I knew.
Getting back to the cell phone, is it me or has the cell phone replaced the lighter? Everyone always has their phone out taking pictures and video of the show. Previously, if a band or artist was playing a ballad, the crowd would take out their lighters and use them to light the arena during the song. However now due to the brightness of the cell phone screens, people just leave their phones out for the entire show and use the phones during said ballads. It's kind of weird. There was something about all the lighters up with the flames hanging in the air while a band like Skynyrd played their classic "Free Bird". No shortage of jokes coming here I am sure.
Back to this show. Out of everything going on, I did see something that caught my eye: Kids. Especially for KISS, there were so many kids.. I mean, we're talking 9, 10, 11 years old in KISS t-shirts with KISS makeup on throwing up rock fists and singing along.. Granted they were wearing noise-canceling headphones (very smart), but they were there and I thought it was awesome. Originally I had wanted my boys' first concert to be something low key, maybe a James Taylor or something like that. An artist I have seen numerous times, music than transcends generations and you can enjoy the show. You're not going to see theater or pyrotechnics or anything of that nature, but you'll say great musicians performing their art to perfection. And that is still a show.
But I want my kids to go to a rock show. They don't necessarily need to paint their faces, but I want them to experience something they've never experienced before every time they go to a show. That's the reason why Gene Simmons formed KISS. He said he was tired of the same old crap for live shows. They were boring and cookie cutter. He wanted to perform on stage for people something they had never seen before and something they would never forget. If my kids can have those types of experiences at the live shows, then I've done my job.