Join us as Jersey Calling's Josh Kates tells you about his first concert.


In this First Concert Ever segment, Josh Kates, vocalist/guitarist for the punk band, Jersey Calling, talks about the story of his first experience with live music. You can check out the story below:

My first concert was New Kids on the Block when I was in second grade, but I barely remember it, and I’m pretty sure I wanted to leave early because I couldn’t hear the music over the screaming fans…so, instead, I’ll focus on the first concert I went to with my friends – without parental supervision.

I was in 9th grade, and I had just started listening to ska and punk music, and my friends Joey, Johnson, and I went to go see Reel Big Fish at the TLA. I remember getting into that kind of music after seeing The Mighty Mighty Bosstones performing live at MTV’s spring break or something like that on TV. I had never heard horns being played over distorted guitars, and I loved the idea. Our parents were a little hesitant about letting us go to the concert alone, but we rarely got into much trouble, so they eventually gave us the green light. We had never been to a concert before, so we had no idea what to expect.

As soon as we got through the doors, my friend Johnson vomited for some reason (he hadn’t been drinking), but he was known to do that every now and then, so we all just laughed it off and kept going. The opening acts were Frenzal Rhomb and Spring Heeled Jack, USA, and both played very well. During Frenzal Rhomb’s set, I got to experience my first mosh pit, and had an insane amount of fun skanking around in a circle with a bunch of sweaty strangers. After they finished, Spring Heeled Jack took the stage and blew me away with their songwriting and vocals. I immediately went over to the merch table and bought their CD, Mass Appeal Madness, which is still one of my favorite ska albums.

Finally, the main event, Reel Big Fish, came out and started playing songs from their new album, Turn the Radio Off. We also got to hear older songs that were new to us, since all three of us were brand new to the ska scene. One memory that stuck out to me was how musically tight they were, and how they changed some songs to fit the energy of a live show. For example, the tempo on their instrumental song, 2-4-1, was cranked up to the point where the upstroke guitars were played at a seemingly impossible speed. I remember loving that, and having a hard time listening to the original tempo of the song on the album when I got home. The energy coming off that stage that permeated the crowd was electric. Between then and the end of high school, I attended as many ska/punk shows as I could, including at least 3 Warped Tours where I got to see bands like Green Day, NOFX, and Bad Religion, three bands that greatly influence my songwriting to this day.

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