Concert Moments

The last stretch of blog posts have been pretty industry and tech heavy. Time to lighten it up. Here are, in reverse chronological order, my top five favorite concert moments of all time.

1. Mac DeMarco crowd surfs to back of the Fillmore for tequila shot and balcony crowd dive during Top Gun theme encore performance.

The heading says it all here. What a performer.

2. Haim family encore at the Fillmore

Another great concert moment at the Fillmore in SF. The Haim sisters rip live. There’s the Este Haim bass face. There’s the super heavy cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Oh Well.” But, on this night in SF, it was their parents joining them on stage for a cover of Mustang Sally that made the night. Mr. Haim played drums. Mrs. Haim sang lead. The sisters backed. Familial excellence.

3. The Tupac hologram

For two minutes in 2012, during Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg’s headlining Coachella set, I believed, with complete and utter conviction, that Tupac was still alive.

4. Fleet Foxes twice in one day at Sasquatch 2008

In high school my friends and I started an annual tradition of attending the Sasquatch music festival. We were doe-eyed youngsters, new to the festival circuit. As such, we would dutifully show up at the opening of each festival day, eager to cheer on whatever band held the unenviable 11:45am opening slot on the Sasquatch main stage. In 2008, that responsibility fell upon the shoulders of a local band from Lake Washington High School named Fleet Foxes.

It was a short set to an empty Gorge Amphitheater. Still, as famed local producer Phil Ek put it, “it was obvious [Robin Pecknold, lead singer of the band,] had talent coming out of his ass.” The band walked off the stage and our friends looked round at each other, nodding in approval -- they would be back.  As it turns out, sooner than we could have expected.

Later on in the day, when the grassy rim of the Gorge had filled out with people, festival emcee Rainn Wilson* came on stage to inform us that The National’s bus had broken down. They wouldn’t be performing. As a consolation, Fleet Foxes took the stage for the second time that day. They played the same short set (having only released their second EP, Sun Giant, a month earlier) and the Gorge went nuts. A month later they would release their first full-length album and take off. It felt like one of those rare moments when the rapid ascent of a great band is palpable, when it can be felt.

5. James Brown regenerative cape

When I was in the fifth grade I went to a James Brown concert. It was my little brother’s birthday and he asked for James Brown tickets. Standard request from an eight year old. The whole set was exactly what you’d hope for from Soul Brother No. 1. Sax solos. Indiscernible yelps. Drum breaks.

At one point in the set, the Godfather of Soul started to grow weary. He held up his hands to the audience as if to say, “give me a minute.” He knelt to the ground -- gravity had become too much weight to bear. He turned away from the crowd, beckoning to the wings.  I was concerned. After all, Mr. Dynamite was in the twilight years of his life.

And then his stagehands brought out the cape. They swaddled him in its sequined glory. The band grew quiet until there was just a slight murmur from the stage. Then, a high-pitched squeal; Mr. Brown erupted from his crouch, reborn. The cape flew into the air, dusting the front three rows in glitter. The show could continue.

The regenerative cape routine happened at least three more times during the set.

*it’s hard to make this story any more Pacific Northwest.