Recently Virgil and I were bullshitting and mentioned that he was wanting to start dabbling with some music writing again and I offered him a reoccurring piece here on ninebullets. This is his first submittal:

From time to time, the question gets asked, “What was your first show?” It’s usually a fun conversation that involves admitting enjoying an act that you can’t believe you ever liked. Sometimes the first show is a show that your parents brought you to. Every once in a while, that first show is awe-inspiring and worthy of bragging rights for life. This has been a topic I have been thinking about quite a bit lately as my good buddy, Devin, brought his young son, Hayden, to see his first ever show. The show was a show I booked with Chuck Ragan at Illegal Pete’s. I felt so much honor having a hand in this right of passage and took it upon myself to make sure Hayden and Chuck Ragan got a chance to meet and to take a photo. Luckily, Chuck Ragan is one of the nicest guys in music and was so great with Hayden. I just love the idea that at some point when Hayden is in college or out at a show, the question will come up and if you ask me, he will have one of the best answers.

My first ever show should have been the Monsters of Rock tour in 1988 with Guns N Roses, Iron Maiden, and Megadeath. I had asked my parents if I could go and the answer was a big fat no. I was in 8th grade at the time and a budding metal head, but I still listened to my parents.

Guns n Roses – Welcome To The Jungle

Fast forward to 1992 when I was a junior in high school. Spice 1, a gangsta rapper from Oakland (originally discovered by Too Short) was coming to Colorado Springs. Since I had a driver’s license and a car, I didn’t feel the need to ask my parents to go to the show. I brought a friend to the show and could not have been more excited to see live music. Supporting Spice 1 was a Denver hip hop act that I had never heard of. As they took the stage, the group grabs the mic and yells, “FUCK COMPTON, FUCK OAKLAND“. The next thing that happened is something I have never seen again at the hundreds of shows I have been to since. A huge fight broke out amongst Spice 1’s crew and the Denver hip hop act’s crew. Fighting continued and before you knew it, guns were drawn and shots were fired. My friend and I didn’t even get to hear any music before we were running out the door. When asked about my first show, I generally say it’s Spice 1 but add the asterisk about how the show didn’t really happen.

Spice 1 – Strap On The Side

The more I think about my first show, I feel as though I should answer the question by mentioning Skankin Pickle. This was 1993, I was a freshman in college. My neighbors in the dorms introduced me to punk rock and ska and I was hooked. I borrowed CDs by Screeching Weasel, The Queers, Skankin Pickle, Green Day, and Operation Ivy, and I wondered where this music was all my life. I was soon invited to see this ska-punk band called Skankin Pickle at the Mercury Cafe. I had no idea what to expect. I was pretty certain that gun shots were not going to be fired, but that was the only thing I was certain of. This show was absolutely incredible. The energy was something I had never ever experienced. The camaraderie of the fans was something I never would have expected. The show was packed and it was so much fun. After the show, I saw some of the members of Skankin Pickle walking around and could not believe that I could actually go up to and talk to this incredible band that had just played. I finally felt a connection to music that went beyond just listening. This moment forever changed my life and is the reason why I have worked with music ever since.

Skankin Pickle – It’s Margaret Cho
Skankin Pickle – I’m In Love With A Girl Named Spi
Skankin Pickle – Turning Japanese

I’d love for everyone to chime in and comment on their first shows. While I’d prefer sitting around with beers in hand discussing this topic, your comments to this post will have to serve the purpose. Thanks go out to every artist who actually spent the time to make their fans feel that connection to their music. Thanks to Chuck Ragan for being a class act and a complete bad ass. Thanks Devin for bringing your son out to his first show. And thanks to all of you who share their first show experiences with us.

~ Virgil Dickerson


My first show was Valentine’s Day 1990. My favorite band on the face of the earth, The Cult, came to town on their Sonic Temple tour and I was there. I did the whole shibang. I got to the venue 4 hours early and hung out in the back, I met Billy Duffy (he gave me some Cult guitar picks), I bought the tour tshirt and I rocked the. fuck. out. By 1990 I had already lost my virginity but it didn’t matter cause I knew that seeing The Cult on that particular Valentine’s Day night was, up to that point, the best night of my life.

The Cult – New York City
The Cult – Edie (Ciao Baby)
The Cult – Medicine Train


  1. I’m one of those whose first show is in the “bragging rights” category – The Clash and the Who at JFK stadium in philadelphia in 1982!

  2. Okay I have to answer this one and set myself up for utter humiliation. I went to a ton of free concerts in the park when I was little but I mostly just ran around and didn’t pay attention to the music so those don’t count.

    My first REAL concert, unfortunately, was New Kids on the Block. I was maybe 7 or 8, I’m not sure that I even wanted to go, but my sister did so of course I tagged along. It was at the GA Tech stadium (if you’ve ever been there, it’s tiny) and all the shrieking girls were too much for me so my dad and I spent most of the time wandering the stadium. The thing I remember most about the show? Finding $5 in the Varsity parking lot.

    My next real concert was also a pretty embarrassing one. I was in 7th grade and my friend’s dad worked for the local outdoor venue and had an excess of Crash Test Dummies tickets after the overplay of that Mmm Mmmm Mmmm song. About 15 of us went, dropped off by parents. A bunch of the kids dropped acid and the rest of us convinced people to buy us beer. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, but I believe Buffalo Tom opened.

  3. Van Halen, 1984 tour, Mid South Coliseum, Memphis Tennessee. David Lee freaking Roth. The last gasp of a great band.

    My next concert was and still is the best show I ever saw. R.E.M., Life’s Rich Pageant tour, Grand Ole Opry….my first non-mainstream music (at the time) concert and it changed my musical life. The only event that changed my musical taste as dramatically was hearing Uncle Tupelo’s first record. And we all know how that story ends.

  4. Mine was Avail with some local bands when I was 14. It made a huge impression and basically led to how I met most of my friends and my wife.

  5. My first show was Motley Crue on the ‘Dr. Feelgood’ tour at the old Miami arena in 1989. I think Skid Row was the opener. It was weird to be so far away from the stage in a building that big and watch Tommy Lee fly around on cables in his aerial drum kit.

  6. first real concert i attended was the grateful dead & bob dylan. i road-tripped with my mum and sisters, and family friends from southern maine to highgate, vermont in june of 1995.
    i had just turned 14. jerry garcia died two months later.
    i stopped listening to my parents music by the time i turned 15. i’ve come back around on dylan since then… not so much on the dead.

  7. i heartily approve of chuck ragan as a first show.

    my first show that wasn’t a local band was reel big fish. i lived in a small town and it could’ve been a lot worse.

  8. In the semi-embarrassing category: The Sugarcubes, Siouxie & The Banshees, and New Order, Technique tour, Sandstone Ampitheater, Kansas City, in, uh, 1989.

  9. I’d been to shows at my church before, but my first “pack up the car with your friends and drive out of town” show was O.C. Supertones in Jacksonville, Fla., my senior year of high school.
    It was everything a first show should be. My friends and I skanked for hours while the Supetones melted face during their farewell tour.
    I remember my friend Heather and I chugging Gatorade and stripping down to our sports bras on the ride home.
    I’ve been hooked ever since.

  10. My first arena show was Billy Idol (“Charmed Life” tour) at the old Met Center in Minneapolis (actually Bloomington), MN. My first club show was Bad Religion on the “Generator” tour at First Avenue in Minneapolis.

  11. it was probably 1992 i was fourteen, i had just started riding mtn. bikes alot and met the sax player for the north idaho band BLACK HAPPY on a ride and thought that was pretty fuckin cool, ended up becoming pretty good friends with him.

    BLACK HAPPY are kind of icons to 90’s kids in coeur d’ alene, id being that they were banned from ever playing our high school after swearing on stage at a pep rally, awesome when you are a freshman in high school. a couple weeks later my buddy got his driving learning permit and we drove to spokane without telling the parents and saw BLACK HAPPY and some other local bands. right when they were done we had to speed home because he was not allowed to drive after dark. definitely changed my view of musicians that are just real people like all of us.

    if anybody is interested check out BLACK HAPPY by clicking here. let me know if there is any fans out there, if anybody remembers SHOVELJERK, that was a couple of dudes from BLACK HAPPY, they had a video on mtv, oh yeah.

  12. Live, with Girls Against Boys. I was a freshman in high school. I went with my best friend, and her dad and dad’s girlfriend drove us. I thought I was totes awesome.

    1. My mistake, it was Luscious Jackson. I saw Girls Against Boys a year later with Garbage. Woops!

  13. My first concert was Pink Floyd at Cleveland Municipal Stadium when they were on the Division Bell Tour (1993 I think). I was in 8th grade and had never experienced anything like it. My step-dad told me we were going to see my sister’s school choir concert and then passed the exit and wouldn’t tell me where we were going until we got downtown near the stadium. It is one of my favorite “concert” and “father-son” memories.

  14. If I’m being honest, Tiffany. But my second was Metallica, which is first in my heart.

  15. My first concerts were definitely my dad and my dads bands. My first real concert aside from father and father affiliates, was X and Warren Zevon at the IU auditorium. My first arena sized show was Don Henley and Suzanna Hoffs from the bangles. I’m not even remotely ashamed of that shit.
    I’m not big on the eagles but Don Henley, solo? Awesome!

    1. I would have loved to have seen Warren Zevon. He was probably the first musician that I ever really got into.

  16. I was a junior in high school and it was the Rollins Band – End of Silence tour and Beastie Boys on the same bill…seems like kinda an odd combo now that I think about it but was a killer show, so much energy.

    1. I went to that tour and it was an amazing show, still one of my all time favorites. Did you get to see Da Lench Mob, or had they already been kicked off for brandishing weapons and threatening people?

  17. This is a good topic. The first “real” concert that I ever attended was Aerosmith in ’89 or ’90 (the Pump Tour). I can still picture the stage set-up. Looking back, one of the funny things about that show was that the opening act was the Black Crowes. I remember thinking “who are these f**kin’ guys?” Little did I know they would turn into one of my favorite bands of all time…maybe I should have paid more attention to their set!

  18. My first show was Bush on the 4th of July 1997. I had always wanted to go to shows but my parents had no interest in taking me. My dad still asks me why the hell I will drive 4 hours to see a band at a run down bar and I say it’s my thing its what I do. Anyway 7-4-97 Bush @ Hershey Park Stadium I had my own car so they were not gonna stop me. I took my buddy and his girlfriend and the dumb girl had a curfew LAME! I missed the end but a good time. I have since learned I hate stadium show because you don’t feel that connection bars and clubs are the best. I still listen to Bush on occasion and wonder what the hell the songs are about cause none of it makes sense.

    Good story Virgil, Chuck is awesome!

  19. Mine was soundgarden in 1994 at the old festival hall in Brisbane. went with a couple of friends, Can’t remember much of it now except the support was you am I which seemed weird at the time. I was 14 and the whole grunge thing was all that. Discovered punk rock a few years later (thank fuck) and the rest is history

  20. Mine was beastie boys and a tribe called quest in the round at mcnichols arena in Denver in 98 I was in 9th grade and at the time was the most amazing Shit I had ever seen.

  21. My first show was in ’95/6…3T (hah!), semi arena-ish. The second, not long after, was Korn (hah! again) at the same venue. The third one was either Lagwagon, Less Than Jake or Mad Caddies and I think I found my niche after that one 🙂

  22. I saw Bob Dyaln w/The Waifs in 2003 I want to say, my Dad took my brother and I

    My first real concert experience was a road trip in the Fall of 2004 to see Wilco in Asheville. My brother, my best buddy, and I jumped into the car and drove 4 hours to see them.

    Next one I can really remember is Bonnaroo in 2005, though I may have went to see Tim Easton locally before that…..

  23. Def Jam ’87 with LL Cool J, Whodini, and Eric B and Rakim. I was a sophomore in high school and my mom dropped me off and picked me up in the minivan. I may have been the only white kid there and I went by myself. Somehow I managed to not get beat up and I’m still surprised my mom let me go.

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