I am a certified concert addict. I have a problem and I am going to be upfront about it. In 2014 alone I went to seven concerts. Any extra money that I have goes to seeing various artists play live. And I wouldn’t have it any other way. Nothing is better than seeing someone do what they love to do, entertaining people and creating something beautiful.
Ever since I saw the Spice Girls at the Meadows Music Center when I was nine years old, I was a groupie. I have been to so many concerts throughout my life that picking my favorite out of them is a truly difficult task that requires a lot of thinking and debating. But I attempted it. Here are my personal three favorite concerts I have ever been to and why:
Ed Sheeran, Gillette Stadium, Foxboro, Massachusetts, September 25, 2015
This was a truly incredible show. What I loved was the utter simplicity of it. It was Ed Sheeran with nothing but his flannel shirt, his guitar and a loop pedal. There were no fancy lights, effects, or showy exploits because he simply didn’t need them. His voice shone through so beautifully. The smoothness in his tone filled every pore of your body.
What was truly amazing is that Gillette Stadium was completely packed. If you have never been there, it can accommodate almost 70,000 people. All of those people were there to see a 25-year-old kid play the guitar and sing. And why? Because of his pure, undeniable talent. It was really something to see.
Hanson, Night 2 of Anthem album Release party, Irving Plaza, New York, June 19, 2013
Okay, some things I have to say about this one:
1.) Yes, I am talking about Mmmbop Hanson.
2.) Yes, they are still making music.
3.) They are amazing.
When people think of Hanson, what automatically comes to their mind is the group’s typical ’90s ballad, ‘Mmmbop.’ You know, the one where you could never correctly pronounce the chorus? (by the way, its MMMbop, ba dupa dop ba du bop, ba dupa dop ba du dop, ba dupa dop ba du, ya imbeciles!).
What people don’t know about Hanson is that they create some of the best, Motown-style music you can find. They are true musicians, and they take their craft very seriously. Their documentary, Strong Enough to Break, that documents the process of their attempting to release their third album, Underneath. It took them four years to get that album out – and even then it only came out because they decided that they couldn’t take any more stress and pressure from their record label, Island def Jam, and started their very own record label, 3CG Records.
Yes, that’s right. Hanson refused to succumb to the pressure from their record label to be like every other artist out there and be mainstream. And they decided to be true to themselves and write music they love. That takes a lot of strength and confidence. They have an incredible amount of talent, and it shows through in their music.
If you look past that one single that they had over 20 years ago, you would see that they write unique music. It is a mix of jazz, Motown, pop and rock, but somehow it all comes together and works. Each album they have put out is something completely different. They have many different sounds, and they put their all into each one. In fact, the youngest member, Zac, was the youngest songwriter to be nominated for a Grammy. He was 12 years old, people. You know what I was doing at 12? Probably still making mud pies.
Hanson is still together after almost 25 years. I have been to many Hanson concerts, but I picked this one because it was possibly the best quality concert I have ever been to.
At one point during the night, Hanson did a cover of A Change in My Life, written by Billy Stratus. It was just the three of them, but it sounded like a full choir in that venue. If you looked around you, people all over were crying because of the beauty and purity of their sound. Given their small fan base, the concert was intimate, and every person there truly wanted to be there. There was a sense of unity and connection between every person. It was a truly incredible night. And it didn’t hurt that they looked darn good.
Backstreet boys ft. Avril Lavigne, Nikon at Jones Beach Theater, NY, June 22, 2014
I’m going to be completely honest here. This one is on this list more because of the personal significance it had for me rather than the actual quality of the concert.
Avril Lavigne has always held a special place in my heart because her music carried me through some of the most difficult times in my life. If you look back at the first issue of #NAMB, I wrote all about it.
Anyway, as part of her Black Star Tour she did a few shows where she opened for the Backstreet Boys. I was able to secure VIP tickets and I got the amazing opportunity to meet the artist who wrote the music that changed my life and guided me in so many ways. Meeting her was a moment I will remember for the rest of my life. I heard her voice before I actually saw her, and my heart started pumping.
Upon her actually entering my eye sight, I immediately broke down into tears. She automatically said “Oh my gosh, come here!” and gave me a huge hug, which made me start crying more. I was unable to form words at this moment, but luckily one of my best friends (and the creator of #NAMB), was with me and was able to tell Avril everything I wanted to tell her but couldn’t.
All I was able to do was give her an angel pin that I had and have Mary Grace tell her that she was my guardian angel in a way, and I wanted to give it to her. The show was fantastic, of course, but the significance of this night wasn’t the actual show – it was the moment before.
I choose to spend my extra money on concerts because they have given me moments that I am so lucky to have. I always have a great time because music is the best therapy. Seeing your favorite artist live is always something you will remember. As you can see, each person’s favorite shows will be different because of each person’s favorite styles of music, personal interests and many other factors. But there is one thing that concerts will always do: bring people together. That’s a pretty awesome thing.