Since 2004, I’ve been keeping track of all the concerts I’ve attended. To be honest, those early years, there are probably some gaps, because I wasn’t so serious about it. But in the last 5 years or so, I’ve been mildly obsessed with tracking who I’ve seen and where I’ve seen them, and what my “show count” is for the year. The number has always landed somewhere between 50 and 80 – not too shabby for someone who holds down a full-time job that has nothing to do with music.
In August or so of last year, I was doing my monthly update and realized that there was a distinct possibility that I could set a record for myself if I stepped up my concert game a little. The number? 100 live shows. Could I do it? I was pretty sure I could.
Now, there are rules to my madness. For example, festivals only count as one show, no matter how many sets I see during the event. If I did that, I’d be halfway to 100 by the time the Rock Boat was over in January! Plus, at festivals, you end up moving around too much, seeing only part of a set, etc. I only count something as a show if I specifically went there with the purpose of seeing the artist play – so, if I’m hanging out at a bar and there’s a band playing, that doesn’t get counted. You get the idea. Hey, we all have our rules. NPR’s Bob Boilen keeps count, of his shows, too. But he counts every band he sees as a show. So if a show has 3 acts, that’s 3 shows. (For the record, he saw “506 shows” in 2015.)
What this new “goal” did for me was it forced me to broaden my horizons: go see new artists, acts that I didn’t know at all, and others that aren’t typically the type of music that’s up my “power alley.” Some of those new acts I enjoyed, others I didn’t love quite so much, but I listened with an open mind.
And I did hit 100 shows. 101, officially. (You can see my full list here.) I’m kind of proud of that number. I realize there are people that go to a lot more than I do, but for someone who doesn’t work in the music industry, I think 101 is pretty solid.
There are definitely highlights worth noting. Like that time I flew to Indianapolis to see the OPENING band because it was the only chance I had to see Mighty Oaks on a short U.S. tour (they’re from Berlin). Or that time I forced Rodric to drive to Atlanta and back with me on a weeknight so I could see Alpha Rev. Or going to see The Brothers Landreth on a whim because Stu Larsen had talked about them, not knowing a single note…and falling weak-in-the-knees in love with them. Or driving to Jacksonville to spend a day at the CleanWater Music Festival, put on by Flagship Romance, and being blown away by Israel Nash. The Dirty Guv’nahs farewell shows. There are literally dozens more that I could talk about.
Who did I see the most in 2015? SUSTO takes that title. Saw Justin and his band of compadres 8 times this year. Watching them come into their own and start to get recognized for their incredible talent has been one of the highlights of my year. Furthest traveled? The Rock Boat wins that contest almost every year. But that Mighty Oaks show in Indianapolis was a close second. Most visited venue? The Evening Muse, hands down.
But the most common question I’ve gotten is… What was your favorite? Normally, I have a pretty cut and dry answer to that, but this year, I have a hard time choosing. I mean, any Quiet Hounds show always sits at the top of the list. But that first Brothers Landreth show was pretty phenomenal. Then there was Rainbow Kitten Surprise, who shattered my expectations and made me feel so alive. That Butch Walker show was pretty darn powerful. Then there was the Counting Crows concert…and we all know what they mean to me. My biggest victory was getting Christopher Jak to play a show this year, and my…that man singing could never be short of breathtaking for me. Oh, and Great Peacock…who I barely knew, but went to see to support a friend…completely rocked my world. I think, though, if I had to choose, it would be a tie between The Mighty Oaks at The Deluxe in Indianapolis and be Noah Gundersen at The Visulite Theater in Charlotte. Both of these artists’ music has come to mean so very much to me personally…and seeing both of them was really emotional for very different reasons.
Of course, because I’m an overachiever, I am ready to do it all again in 2016. In fact, I’m going to try to exceed it. So, 2016 is the year of 125. Who wants to join me on my crazy adventure? Keep up and keep me accountable…
Here’s to more live music in 2016!