Sean Beckwith: Mount Rushmore of missed concerts
You know that feeling when you’re walking out of a venue — drenched in sweat, voice hoarse and just f—ed up enough — after an unforgettable show that immediately inserts itself in your pantheon of all-time concerts?
It could’ve been the walk out of Red Rocks or Belly Up, the now-closed Ranch Bowl, Harrah’s in Council Bluffs or maybe the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, but something about that post-show euphoria mixed with a cool breeze of fresh air — or maybe slightly less stuffy air — sticks with me.
It doesn’t come around that often but when it does, it’s seemingly unexpected despite the fame of the artist. I’ve been to shows that I knew were going to be good but still exceeded my loftiest expectations. And I’ve seen bands I hardly knew who left my ears ringing in the best way possible.
However, that opportunity no longer exists for certain acts other than to imagine it, with a pang of jealousy, through someone else’s first-hand recollection.
So, I decided to put together my personal Mount Rushmore of missed concerts to write about a subject certain to get your mind on less important, yet more entertaining, things.
But before I get started, let me clarify a rule: This is a one-act concert. I don’t have the time to research what bands toured together, or really any interest in ever attending a festival — no offense to people who can sacrifice hygiene for an extended period of time.
If you were to evaluate Sublime’s “coaching tree” it would look a lot like Bill Belichick’s spotty record. Pepper has some good tunes and it’s impossible not to see the Long Beach group’s influence on Slightly Stoopid but there will never be another Sublime.
They weren’t a bunch of white guys sporting dreads and leeching off of reggae and ska. Their scope and influences were never more apparent than on “40 oz. to Freedom.” From a cover of “Scarlett Begonias” to a song literally named “KRS-One,” the album paid homage to a plethora of genres. (If you want even more range, “Caress Me Down” has an impressive bit of Spanglish even if it is from the uber-popular self-titled album.)
And if you’ve ever heard “Stand By Your Van,” their retrospective compilation of live songs, you know catching them at any venue would’ve been about as sure a thing as LeBron in the 2004 draft.
I’ve seen some good reggae shows — Don Carlos at Belly Up specifically — and, when done right, it’s almost spiritual (or I’m just high). There’s always a message involved but instead of Guru and Premiere, it’s Bob and the Wailers.
Unfortunately, a lot of his catalog falls the way of Sublime’s self-titled, as most people are familiar or bored with “Trench Town Rock,” “I Shot the Sheriff” and the like. That said, when you delve beyond the hits, songs like “Chances Are,” “Do It Twice” and “Keep on Moving” are good enough to merit their own Pandora station (guilty).
I even audibled to a Spotify playlist (Bob in Love, credit Bomani Jones) for dinner service the one time I DJ’d a wedding, and it was seamless. Who wouldn’t love to spark up something while in that Marley trance?
A Tribe Called Quest
Most people would go Notorious B.I.G., Tupac or a fully assembled Wu-Tang Clan for their dead-too-soon hip-hop concert. I’m all about gangsta rap, but A Tribe Called Quest had joy in what they did while also keeping it relatively G.
And that was largely due to the one member who’s no longer with us. Phife Dawg aka the Funky Diabetic brought an incredible amount of lyricism, credibility and creativity. I have listened to more Tribe than probably any other musical act.
They slayed their 2017 Grammy performance without Phife, but I’m not trying to see Tribe and Co. I would take a scenario featuring Busta, though.
Kurt Cobain and the boys were the inspiration for this column. There are the obvious grunge-, nostalgia-related reasons but after hearing a coworker’s tale of catching a pre-biggest band in the world Nirvana at a venue favorable to the acoustics of distortion, that concert-going envy washed back over me. It’s like saying “I saw MJ drop 69 on the Cavs before he was His Airness.”
There are just some spectacles that are too iconic to hypothetically pass up.
Honorable mentions: the Grateful Dead (partially to observe my young father in his element), The Doors and Wu-Tang again. Sean Beckwith is a copy editor at The Aspen Times. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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