In this First Concert Ever segment, Kevin Comeau, from the alternative rock band, Crown Lands, talks about the story of his first experience with live music. You can check out the story, after the break.
The first concert I ever went to was The Smashing Pumpkins at Massey Hall. When I was 14, just before I discovered Rush and my life changed forever, I was heavily invested in punk rock and 90’s alt. One of my favourite bands at the time was The Smashing Pumpkins. Full of teenage angst, Mellon Collie, and the Infinite Sadness was on constant rotation. I was figuring myself out and I was in the Air Cadets because my dream at that point was to be a pilot. I remember one night during a drill, my sister texted me that the Pumpkins had announced their 20 Years of Sadness tour and they were coming to Toronto. This was my chance. I promptly quit the Air Cadets, dyed my hair blue, and prepared for my first live music experience.
Going to Massey Hall for the first time was an experience in itself. Massey Hall is quite possibly the most important music venue in Canada. It’s where Neil Young recorded his best live albums, where Rush recorded their first live album, and where Gordon Lightfoot has played 4 nights in a row pretty much every year since the ’60s. It is to date my favourite venue, and considering it is the first venue I ever saw a concert in, holds a significant place in my heart. It’s been under renovations for years now, and when it opens again it is a big dream of ours to record a live album there when we are ready.
The concert itself was transcendent. They played Bodies for the first time since their 1996 tour. That night was quite significant, not only for the show, but it also fell on the US election night: the night that Obama was elected for his first term as President. Billy Corgan mentioned throughout the set how proud he was of his country for making the right choice. It’s sobering to think of how far the USA has fallen since then. 2008 was a very different time and it felt like there was finally hope for the future. Ironic isn’t it? I may have only been 14, but the world didn’t feel as radically divided as it does now. That night was a really important experience – one that shaped me in so many ways. It took my burgeoning passion for music and turned it into an obsession.
That concert moved something deep within me and made me into who I am today. Later that week I went to my second concert: Bob Dylan. Those two formative experiences set me on the path I’m on today. Live music has been a guiding force for me in my professional and personal life. It’s heartbreaking to watch my industry go up in flames this year. So many of my friend’s venues have gone under and it still doesn’t feel like there is an end in sight. I feel bad for all of the kids coming of age this year that won’t have the experiences that I had at the right time in my life. We’re on the precipice of something entirely new. I hope that there is space for live music next year.
(photo credit: Travis Shinn)