"The Most Important Night Of My Life": On Seeing Your Favorite Band For The Very First Time


Regardless of how you feel about Taylor Swift, it’s hard not to get a little teary-eyed upon reading David L. Ulin’s LA Times piece recalling his night out at a Taylor Swift concert with his 11-year-old daughter, Sophie.

Writing about the experience, Ulin notes that in watching Sophie idolize Swift from the stage, he recognized the kind of deep connection that comes with the type of music fandom one first experiences in youth, when a band or an artist seems to mean everything on earth: “I don’t want to make too much of this, although in our culture of flash and excess, there are worse messages for Sophie to internalize,” he writes, “But I don’t want to minimize it either, for I remember how I used to feel about the musicians I idolized. Because of that, I can relate to her devotion, to the idea that seeing this concert felt like the most essential, vital thing she’d ever done.”

Sophie, Ulin points out, had been to concerts before, but the Swift concert was different, as Sophie’s connection to Swift “one that transcends fanhood for identification instead.” There is something very precious about that first major concert with the first band that you truly love and identify with: mine was at Madison Square Garden in 1996, and I was 15 and in love with Billy Corgan and had somehow convinced my mother to let me go to New York City to see the Smashing Pumpkins play live. Not only that, but she paid for the tickets and drove me there, along with my boyfriend and two other friends. She and my neighbor went out to dinner while we screamed and swayed and shouted “woooo!” for a few hours until it was time to head back home. My Smashing Pumpkins obsession was absurd and all-consuming, and I think my parents found it amusing, but they never called it stupid or tried to get me to listen to something else: they recognized that I had found a band that had meant something to me, and put up with my band t-shirts and posters, knowing that eventually I’d outgrow it.

Like Ulin, I suspect they recognized that for whatever reason, I had connected to the band, the way my father had connected to Pet Sounds or my mother to The Beatles. The first band you fall in love with can somehow shape the way you listen to everything else, and how you connect to other people, and how you express yourself and carry yourself and look at the world in general. Eventually, you might be embarrassed about all of these things, but at the time, it’s a life-altering experience. One that can even make you want to grow up and marry a bald pretentious man who wears silver pants, no less.

So what about you, commenters? What was your first major concert experience? And did your parents support you or not?

A Taylor Swift Fairy Tale [NYTimes]

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