We Share (Embarrassing) First Time Concert Experiences… Do You Remember Yours?

Do you remember your first time? Mine was magical. It was new and exciting; I was scared at first, but once I realized how good it made me feel and how much I enjoyed sharing that feeling with others, I was hooked. It was loud and hot and sweaty, plus I’m pretty sure at one point I cried but I don’t think anyone noticed. I’m referring to, of course, my first ever concert experience. Your first live event can be both terrifying and incredible; nevertheless, it’s likely to be a memorable experience you will always cherish. We asked the Rukkus staff to recall their first concert experience and write some fun words about it. Here’s what we got:

First Time Concert Experiences

Nicolas White: O.A.R. at MSG


Look at these cool guys.

As someone who takes music seriously, I want you to know that I’m sharing one of my most well-guarded secrets: Yes, it’s true. O.A.R. (Of a Revolution, amiright dudes?) was the first concert I ever attended. I was 15 years old… and I had the time of my life. MSG was jam-packed with teenagers getting 3-beer wasted and sipping vodka from smuggled Poland Spring bottles. It was pure magic.

As I shed my layers of sweaters (my mom insisted I would “catch pneumonia“) and scanned the quaking arena, something awakened inside of me. Maybe it was the energy, or the hurried sips of Tanqueray from a Nalgene that my friend stole from his parents, but damn it, I knew right then that I had fallen in love with live music.

The opener, Gomez (forgotten mid-2000s rockers), left the stage, meaning the main act would soon join us. Marijuana vapor filled the air, emitted from strange misshapen glass pipes. Suddenly, the jam-band legends took the stage to the sound of “Love & Memories,” and the place went wild. I watched as the Garden was bathed in colored light, slapped hands with a friend and exclaimed “this is awesome!”

The show continued in a blur of saxophone solos and sing-alongs, as crowd-members regularly excused themselves to go vomit in the bathroom. In an encore, the band played their signature song, “A Crazy Game of Poker,” as a girl and I held eye contact then looked away, too shy to do much else. Romance was in the air, and all was right with the world.

Alas, at my current age, I could not ask for a greater hell than attending an O.A.R. concert, considering the only “revolution” they started was one of massive teenage blowouts to the sound of shitty pop-jam-rock with Christian undertones. But if I could return as my 15 year old self, I would do it all again in an instant.

Raefa Alsalah: Britney Spears


Classic Britney.

I wish I could say my first concert was a more profound experience, but there’s only so much you can do when you’re 9-years-old in the year 2000, the prime era of pop music. I was lucky enough to see the reigning queen of pop at the time, or maybe she’s still the queen today (it’s up for debate), Britney Spears, while she was on her “(You Drive Me) Crazy” Tour.

I was with my older sister, dad, and I vaguely remember a possible co-worker and his daughter (I could be making this part up). The first thing we did was head to the merchandise, even then I knew the importance of a good concert tee. I left with a t-shirt, matching hoodie and a glow stick. What did a nine-year-old need with a glow stick? Who knows, but I still have all these items, and wear them occasionally and un-ironically, to be honest.

Our seats were fairly close to the front, not that I was able to appreciate it when I was that age. A wannabe-Nsync- boy-band opened the show; I don’t remember the group’s name or any of their songs, and after searching the internet it seems they’ve been lost to time, with all the other manufactured groups that were being churned out.

Britney’s set is mostly a blur to me now, but certain elements – like the crazy neon spandex outfits and abundance of body glitter – still stand out in my mind. The one song that I am still able to remember clearly was the show’s closer, a hyped-up dance performance of “Baby One More Time.” The choreography was on-point and I remember being so amazed by all the dancers’ abilities and how Spears was able to dance AND sing at the same time (I was young and naive, okay?).

Trevor Ziegler: HFStival at RFK Stadium

Papa Roach: 'Whatever, dude."

Papa Roach: ‘Whatever, dude.”

When I was 15 years old I had mercilessly begged my parents to let me go to one of the final installments of the historic HFStival in Washington DC. It took a fair amount of convincing, but to my surprise, they finally relented and let me go. It was supposed to rain that day, so my friend and I thought we’d be clever and take garbage bags to use as ponchos. We got to RFK Stadium, ponchos in tow, and I remember being so overwhelmed by everything that was going on. I had seen festival footage on the internet and TV, but it did nothing to prepare me for the real thing. I was blown away at how all these people – who came from all over the country – had the same enthusiasm and passion for music that I did. Being the young, naïve music snob that I was, it was just something I wasn’t used to.

The lineup for the festival was pretty incredible for my 15-year-old self: Jay-Z, Cypress Hill, Violent Femmes, The Offspring, Yellowcard, Taking Back Sunday, Lit, POD, Papa Roach, amongst others. The Cure was the headliner and my friend and I wanted to beat the traffic/ “didn’t want to see some old 80s band,” so we decided to leave early. I got into the Cure about a year later and kick myself to this very day for not staying to see them. I’m pretty sure we skipped out on Modest Mouse, who was there as well, which is hard to admit, but it happened and there’s no turning back from that.

So there I was, wandering around the stadium, trying to take in all the amazing sights and sounds of the festival. The scariest moment that happened to me was witnessing the ominous cloud of doom that had accumulated over the crowd during the Cypress Hill set. I had never really seen or smelt weed before and it seemed like everybody was smoking it, but I got over it pretty quickly. The highlight of the festival was Jay-Z, who had just released the Black Album and was about to “retire”. He absolutely destroyed and I remember towards the end of his set, while singing along to “Public Service Announcement” with 40,000+ other fans, feeling like that was the greatest moment in my young life.

Overall, the festival was one of the most amazing experiences of my life and it seems like once I had my first taste of live music, I never looked back. I still can’t believe I got the chance to see Jay-Z in his absolute prime; a feat not a lot of people can boast. I also can’t believe I paid to see POD and Papa Roach live. Although, in their defense, they really weren’t that bad; in fact, I’m pretty sure I really dug it. Yeah, I said it. Anyways, I will always cherish my first concert experience. And even though I probably went at it all wrong and looked like a total dork in the process, it will always remain one of my fondest memories.

Pauline Pechakjian: No Doubt at Gibson Amphitheater in L.A.


You gotta check out this band, No Doubt. They’re the next big thing.

My first concert experience was seeing No Doubt when I was thirteen years old. I had been obsessed with them upon hearing them for the first time in the third grade, so I was absolutely ecstatic when I got the chance to sing (or scream) along to every single song during the show. They played at the Gibson Amphitheater in Los Angeles and had amazing opening acts.

The Sounds performed first, and were followed by Paramore, who opened for No Doubt. I was really lucky to have this be my first show because I got to see a band that had meant so much to me growing up as a kid. Gwen Stefani was my role model for most of my childhood and early teen years (I still have all my Harajuku Lovers merch), and seeing her on stage was inspiring.

No Doubt catapulted to superstar fame during the late 90s and early 2000s, and I was too young to jump onto their bandwagon the first time around.  Luckily, the concert I attended was a greatest hits show and they performed all of the main singles from their golden decade.  The best part about my first concert was the energy and unity I felt in the audience as fans coming together to see a mutually favored artist, and this only reaffirmed my love for music as I matured.  At the end of the day, I’m still the biggest No Doubt fan at heart!

What was your first concert experience? Let us know in the comments section!

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