Your first concert will live with you forever
The first big concert I ever went to was Devo and X at the Long Beach Arena, forty years ago on New Year’s Eve, December 31, 1979, the night when the disco duck 70’s turned into the MTV New Wave 80s with punk rock crammed in the middle. Somehow we scraped the money together for tickets and begged a ride with someone’s older brother, but I mainly remember entering the parking lot and seeing all the freaks with spiked hair and ripped clothes and thinking it was the coolest thing I’d ever seen. A parking lot full of weirdos! I’d finally found my people!! We got out and went into the massive concert hall and found our seats under a thick cloud of weed smoke and got ready for the show. The first band that came on was called “DOVE the group of LOVE.” It didn’t take us long to realize that DOVE was the alter-ego anagram of the headliner. They came out looking like a church group in matching light blue polyester suits, playing slightly more campy versions of DEVO songs like “Praying Hands” and bellowing ‘Praise Jesus’ in southern accents. It was a clever trick to be your own opening band and the crowd ate it up.
Next on were a band I’d never heard of called ‘X’. They had a black haired lead singer in a thrift store dress and the guitar player stood with his legs spread wide apart while shredding rockabilly inspired licks on his Gretsch Silver Jet guitar. They were as cool as anything I’d ever seen or heard. I especially liked the song “Los Angeles” and “The World’s A Mess It’s in my Kiss.” After the show was over I bought their debut album at the merch booth. Little did I know they would become one of my favorite bands of all time.
After X’s set, Devo came on and the crowd instantly went nuts. With guitars and synthesizers blaring and people pogoing all over the place and spastically bumping into each other to freakazoid songs like “BlockHead,” “Whip It” and “Mongoloid,” the entire spectacle completely blew me away. I’d been already been listening to the Ramones, Sex Pistols and the Clash, but seeing DEVO play this historic show, just before Freedom of Choice came out made them internationally famous, I knew that I had found my home. I wanted to play music with other weirdos and freaks. From that first show forward, music consumed my life and defined who I am.
Skip ahead to this year and we were able to book X to be the first band ever to play the Beachlife festival and they sounded better than ever and put on a ripping show for a rowdy group of local fans young and old. For me it was a proud moment seeing everything come full circle, from discovering one of my favorite bands at the first concert I ever went to forty years ago, to helping put together a concert festival they helped kick off. No one in the room that first night was happier than I was.
Your first concert is one that will live with you forever. It could even come to define you as it did me. Make sure it’s a good one.