Aplscruf's Music, Art, and Literature Blog

Top 10 Live Shows

I thought I’d take a moment and share my top 10 favorite live shows.  Some are very specific by date and venue, and  some are by artist only.   This will change over time, I’m sure.  And after looking it over, I left out a few, such as The Rolling Stones in 1994.  That was a spectacular show, but it was in the Kingdome, and the band was about 1/4 mile away.  Didn’t really feel the love.  We saw Bruce Springsteen a few years ago, and I felt the same way.  Great, energetic show, but we were looking down on them from afar.  The lucky few hundred who got to be right against the stage, now they had a show to remember!

[You can also view this post and other reviews and features on Randomville]

Anyway, on with the list (all pics taken by me except Jimmy Buffett below):

Jimmy Buffett

10.  Jimmy Buffett – The man has paradoxically built an empire on the Margaritaville philosophy!  I’ve only seen him once back  in 2003, but was thoroughly entertained.  The show was pure fun, with hula girls, tiki gods and fire dancers.  And the Parrothead audience was a spectacle in itself.  He brought along a slew of veteran musicians and singers.  If you’re lucky enough to go to his show, his lead guitarist for the night might be Will Kimbrough, a talented musician, singer/songwriter and producer who has also collaborated on several songs with Jimmy.  You can forget all your problems for two hours Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays!

The Paperboys

 9.   The Paperboys – The Vancouver-based Paperboys have been lifting people’s spirits with their high energy shows for 16 years.  The eight-piece band plays in small venues in BC, Seattle and Portland, and captivates the audience with their joyful, upbeat and very eclectic music:  Mexican, Canadian, Celtic, and Reggae soup.  They make quarterly appearances at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard.

8.   Ryan Adams – – Paramount Theatre, Seattle, WA January, 2008 – I smiled until my cheeks hurt.  Ryan brought along The Cardinals and tore the place up with songs from his album, Easy Tiger, along with many greats from his prolific song library and a few covers. He’s such a quirky character and a comedian, too–a sad clown.  The rest of the talented band seemed patient and knew when to wait for him to calm down, light his cigarette, have a little chat with the audience, etc.  I loved the train-wrecked Ryan, back when he could write a soul-crushing, alt-country song.  Glad he sobered up and married a pop star, because you know after the divorce, the songs will be good again.   

7.  Brent Amaker and the Rodeo Foot-stompin’, belt buckle-wearin’ cowboys in black.  The lead singer dons a red cape, has a stripper assistant and sounds like Johnny Cash–with a potty mouth. Campy country at its best.  A Seattle treasure.  Catch them at The Crocodile, The Sunset and other small venues throughout the year. 

Brent Amaker

6.  The Gourds Texas and Louisiana, sex and religion, country and rock, bluegrass and Snoop Dogg all rolled into a mandolin, violin, banjo, and accordion.  Their shows feel like an old-timey revival in the Deep South.  I get more salvation from their shows than I ever did in church.  The band’s motto: “For The Unwashed and The Well-Read. “  They’ve been featured at SXSW, Austin City Limits, and are regulars at The Tractor Tavern in Ballard, WA.  Yes, they’re the ones who covered Snoop’s “Gin and Juice” on mandolin.

The Gourds









5.  Old 97’s – Alt-country/rock, Texas-style.  Sweat, spit, roaring guitar riffs, and a faithful audience that knows all the words.  There’s even a glossary on their website if you need help understanding the lyrics.  See them LIVE one time, and you’ll want to follow them around the country.

Rhett Miller of Old 97's





4.  Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (Anywhere!) – Tom and the band are American Icons.  Just go see them—anywhere.  The Gorge Amphitheatre in George, WA is a beautiful place to sing along to “Free Fallin’” while the desert sun sets behind the enormous stage.

3.  Todd Snider and the Nervous Wrecks at The Nugget, Sparks, NV 2009 – Wrecktacular.  The whole package.  Comedy, Americana, Folk, and Good Ol’ Rock-n-Roll.  And Will Kimbrough (the man gets around) on screaming, other-worldly guitar solos.  Todd’s solo show is also worth seeing.  He’s a Nashville transplant, originally from Oregon and plays the Northwest once or twice a year.  He can spin a yarn like no other.  Just get him started with stories about Slash or Garth Brooks, and you’ll think you’re at a stand-up comedy show.

Todd Snider and Will Kimbrough

2.  Sir Paul McCartney at The Tacoma Dome, WA 2002, – I was too young to see him when he visited Seattle in the 70’s.  To hear him play not only Wings songs but Beatles tunes with an incredible backing band, priceless.  And the show was a gift from my boss.  I pulled my hair, grabbed my face and screamed like it was 1964.

1.  Tom Petty with Mudcrutch at The Troubadour, Los Angeles, CA 2008 – Tom, 10 feet away.  My Musical Messiah–my Jesus of Rock ‘n’ Roll.  He smiled at me (ME!) and I was saved.  I can clearly remember standing there near the stage saying, “I can die now; my life is complete!” Tom reunited his old band (pre-Heartbreakers) and played a few gigs, mostly at The Troubadour, to support their new album.  Tom and the band, which included Mike Campbell on wicked guitar, seemed relaxed and happy.  No big light show, no grandstanding, just a regular band out to enjoy themselves and connect with the audience.  TEN FEET AWAY!

Tom Petty and Mike Campbell

February 8, 2011 Posted by | Brent Amaker and the Rodeo, Jimmy Buffett, Music, Old 97's, Paul McCartney, Rolling Stones, The Gorge Amphitheatre, The Gourds, The Paperboys, The Tractor Tavern, Todd Snider, Tom Petty, Will Kimbrough | , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Jimmy Buffett Live in Auburn September 16, 2003

It looks like August 2010 will be a slow month for shows.  Nothing scheduled.  I will continue to hunt down and post old concert journals…

Jimmy Buffett and the Coral Reefer Band

White River Amphitheatre, Auburn, WA

September 16, 2003

P and I went to the Jimmy Buffett concert in Auburn.  There is a new amphitheatre on the Muckleshoot Indian Reservation called the White River Amphitheatre.  I heard it was beautiful, but the parking was a nightmare.  We decided to park at the Muckleshoot Casino and take a shuttle bus to the concert, which is only about 5 miles away.

We had to leave after work to start the long commute south.  I left about 3:30 and we took off from home at almost 4:30.  It was one of the drizzly gray days of the month, and the traffic was terrible.  We crawled along in the diamond lane.  It took about an hour to work our way to Auburn.  P and I hardly spoke the whole way down because he had to go to the bathroom and was tired.  He hated traffic.  I brought along a breakfast cookie, so at least I wasn’t starving.  I was also mad at him because he refused to wear his Hawaiian shirt, even though I told him we would be “underdressed” compared to the rest of the Parrot-Heads that attend Jimmy’s concerts.  This was our first one, so P didn’t really know what to expect.  He thought he would be too cold, and refused to even wear it under his sweatshirt.  I wore mine, even though I later had to pull on a wool sweater underneath it.

We finally made it to the casino around 6:00.  The concert started at 8:00, but I wanted to be there about 7:00 to watch the hula contest.  We were so hungry and thirsty, though, we decided to go into the casino and get some drinks and a snack.  Once inside, we quickly realized we were not the only ones going to the show that night.  We were definitely underdressed.  There were people with Panama hats with parrots, palm trees, junior mints, little planes, and flowers stuck all over them.  People wore their Hawaiian shirts and leis with pride, even though they had to wear sweatshirts underneath them.  I wore a pink lei, but P once again refused to wear his, even though I bought him a white one.  He stuffed it in his coat and later put it on after a few more drinks at the concert.  [Wow, he’s really not that uptight anymore!  He’s learned how to live it up a little and get silly.]

The crowd waiting outside the casino was immense.  We were about 100 people back in line, so we didn’t make the first bus.  There were supposed to be 3 buses, but they were so slow.  Later, we found a guy at the show who said he got to the casino at 7:00 and was 45 minutes late to the concert because he had to wait for a bus!  That’s terrible.  He was so mad.  We made it on the second bus (barely) and it took a good 20 minutes to get to the venue.  There was no separate bus lane on the two-lane road.  The traffic was a mess.  It was much less organized than the Gorge.

We got to the concert about 10 minutes before the show started.  I was mad we missed the hula contest and didn’t have time to look around.  We got some beer and food and found our seats.  That was another disappointment.  Our seats were so far back, Jimmy was only about 1/2 inch tall.  A lady in front of us was decked out in a foam shark hat, Hawaiian shirt, lei, etc.  She said she bought tickets one week after us and ended up one row in front of us!  I was pissed.  I usually purchase tickets the minute they go on sale.  She was funny, though.  she snuck in this 18″ tall margarita under her jacket. “For godssakes,” she kept saying.  She had been to 7 Buffett concerts and her husband, who wore a giant, red parrot hat, had been to 4.  They were quite the fans.  Really nice people.  I think this made P feel more comfortable, knowing that I wasn’t the only crazy one.

The show started with loud drumming.  A hula guy came out with an air cannon full of leis that he shot into the crowd.  Of course, we were too far back to catch one.  Meanwhile, a fire-eater twirled a huge baton of flaming torches to the beat of the drums.  Hula girls danced.  Then Jimmy and the band came out.  There were cheers and screams from the crowd.  He played all his greatest hits, plus some fun numbers like the swinging, “Thank God the Tiki Bar is Open”.  He exclaimed, “Work, work, work!”  His job is so tough.  He also played I Still Miss Someone as a tribute to Johnny Cash, who died earlier that week.  The crowed wildly cheered and sang along to “Margaritaville”.   He had a 15 member band, including saxophones, trumpet bongos, steel drums, keyboard, steel guitar, electric and acoustic guitars, drum kit, singers (including  the lovely and talented Ms. Nadira Shakour) and several dancers.  It was such an entertaining show.  A great “first” concert.  I would definitely see him again; only it would be nice to see him in some tropical place, not in 45 degree weather.  I purchased the album afterward.  They recorded the show from start to finish:  Jimmy Buffett Live in Auburn.   

There were three big screens that showed video and home movie footage of things like Jimmy out on a sailboat in the Caribbean, Jimmy on a huge coast guard ship, then more local pics and video of him on a ferry in Puget Sound, wandering in downtown Seattle, and crazy videos of the Parking Lot Parrot Heads living it up before the show.  There were also giant animatronic tiki gods on each end of the stage.  A huge “Tiki Time Tour” sign done in bamboo was in the backdrop.  The band were dressed in bowling shirts with tiki gods on them.  Jimmy wore a long-sleeved yellow t-shirt and bright red slacks.  No shoes.  He looked cold!

He came back for an ovation.  We stayed through the first song, then I told P we’d better leave.  I started wondering what the bus line would be like.  I hardly ever leave a concert early, but this time I knew it would be a wise decision.  I was glad we did.  There was already a huge crowd of about 100 people queued up – actually, just wandering in a pack waiting in the general area where the bus dropped us off.  I started getting nervous when I saw the crowds and the lack of movement of the cars and buses.  No one seemed to be getting out, and more people and cars were coming!  About 10 minutes later, a bus pulled up.  People started pushing their way toward the bus.  There was only one parking attendant trying to control at least 100 people.  there were no cones or roped-off areas to tell people where to even stand for the bus and keep them in an orderly line.  So, everyone just stood in a pack and tried to elbow their way to the front of the bus.  We got to the front of the bus, but were stopped by the parking attendant because the bus was full and was trying to pull out.

Naturally, we had to wait, but would be the first ones on the next bus–in a normal situation.  With the crowd building and getting anxious to get on the next bus, it was almost impossible to keep in front of the pack.  It started to get ugly.  By this time, at least 1/2 hour passed.  The people immediately behind us were also trying to keep in front.  Shouting matches began when anyone tried to stand in front of our little pack.  P suddenly got very assertive and shouted at people to move to the back of the pack, because WE were first on the next bus! 

The next bus, unfortunately, was stuck on the other side of the parking lot trying to make its way through the mess of cars and people exiting.  We had to wait at least another 15 minutes before it could move out and turn around in front of our pack.  The parking lady kept screaming at us to back up, but there was no place to go.  People were already against the fence and no one was budging from their coveted spots.  Some guy with a Panama hat and tons of shell necklaces pushed in and had the nerve to stand right in front of P.  He yelled at him to move to the back and he refused, saying he was here first but left, and wanted to be in the front of the line again.  About 20 people yelled at him in unison to move.  He started to pick a fight with a man about 20 years older and a foot shorter than he.  He said he would find him later and backed off.  We all laughed at the thought of this!  Good luck finding anyone in this mess.  There was a Santa behind us with his plump Indian wife.  He was pissed off and yelling, too.  All of these peace-and-love Parrot Heads were going against their fun-loving nature and were turning ugly, including ourselves, all for a ride on the damn bus.

The bus arrived.  The driver, a short man of about 130 lbs, inched his way down a step in the doorway and looked fearfully at the crowd shoving its way toward his bus.  He yelled that he was not to be crowded or touched, or he would get back in his bus and leave without any of us!  P was still yelling that we would be first on this bus.  We did get on first, but it wasn’t easy.  We really had to push and shove to get there.  I thought I was going to lose P in the push to the front.  I gripped his hand as tight as I could.  Santa got on behind us, too.  One group of friends got on, but only part of their party made it.  The rest got lost in the crowd as the bus pulled away.  One lady was really worried because she got on, but her friend with the car keys did not.  She was going to have to wait in the casino for probably a good hour until they showed up, with hope, on the next bus.

It was a nightmare.  I don’t think I’ll ever go back there.  At one point, I even thought aloud about pooling all our cash and begging a limo driver in the parking lot to give us a ride if he had room.  The lady who was missing part of her party said, “Don’t bother; I already tried it.  They wouldn’t even talk to me.”

We didn’t get home until 1:00 am.  I was wiped out.  At least the show was fun.  P had an ok time during the show, but I just don’t think he enjoys going to concerts.  [He’s come a long way since 2003!  Praise God.]

August 7, 2010 Posted by | 2003, Jimmy Buffett, Music, White River Amphitheatre | , , | Leave a comment