HMXers' First Concerts: Part I

Everyone remembers their first concert experience. It’s a rite of passage for everyone who appreciates music and live performance. In this series of behind-the-scenes articles, we explore the first concert experiences of Harmonix employees. Some attended performances by classic artists like Prince, Springsteen, or Michael Jackson. Others were dragged to shows by their parents, or prevented from going to shows by their parents. A few HMXers had very special first concerts, and others had the average concert experience. For many HMXers these shows were defining moments in their lives that shaped future careers.

In Part I we present the HMXers lucky enough to catch some legendary artists in concert for their first live music show. Read on – maybe you shared a first concert with an HMXer. Have a better story? Share yours in the comments. And stay tuned for parts II through IV.

  • “My first concert was Michael Jackson in the Orange Bowl for the Thriller tour. I was probably around seven. Michael came on after what seemed like many hours of delays. I was so tired that I slept through most of it.” - Sylvain Dubrofsky, Senior designer
  • “My first concert was Bob Marley in 1978. I snuck in innocently (as it was in Harvard Stadium, next to the projects where I lived). I was 12 and small enough to get lost in the crowd. I eventually (and quite accidentally) found my way into the backstage, where I found a backstage pass on the floor that I quickly put into my pocket. I still have the pass. I had no idea of the historic significance of this show (or the artist, for that matter). I just heard cool music, and saw what looked like a party, so I snuck in... Oh yea... It was awesome!” – Keith Smith, Senior tester
  • “I wasn't quite fourteen for the first concert I ever went to: Prince and the Revolution (with opening act Sheila E.) on the Purple Rain tour at the Superdome in New Orleans on February 1, 1985. My best friend and I had been listening to the Purple Rain soundtrack obsessively since the previous summer (and to be fair, so had most of the U.S. -- that album was huge), and we just had to go see that show. What we didn't realize, however, being young and inexperienced with the whole concert-going thing, was just how bad the cheap seats at the Superdome could be: we were at the top of back part of the stadium, easily a good 400 yards from the stage. We wound up settling for watching the big projection screens on either side of the stage... with our binoculars.” – Allen Holt, Senior Web developer
  • “My first show was Springsteen at the Civic Center in Providence, January 24th, 1985. Drove there in a car that barely ran, bought tickets from a scalper, stayed up all night, and totally blew my history mid-term the next day. That D was so worth it.” – Shari Eleftherion, Administrative assistant
  • “My first concert ever was when I was ten. My mom tossed my brother and me into the car to go see B. B. King at the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank, NJ. I sat up in the balcony and watched as this awesome dude had a seat on the stage with Lucille -- the guitar has a NAME? WOW! -- and sang us the blues. The fact that he was able to hold my deficient and disordered attention at that age is a testament to his ridiculous skill. He also told us cool stories, like how on one flight, his pilot wanted to make an emergency landing... in the Swiss Alps.” – Ryan Griffin, QA tester
  • “Having grown up in ultra-rural Maine, the opportunity for concerts were very few and far between. The first one I went to was as a freshman in high school. My friends and I piled into a cramped, rusty Ford Escort and drove 2 hours each way to the Bangor Auditorium to see B.B. King and it was completely worth it.” – Eric Pope, Senior tester
  • “Kansas at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (upstate New York) in (I'm guessing) 1977. This was back when shed tour shows felt kind of dangerous, with a lot of drugs and fireworks and whatnot. I was 16. I remember that people were throwing frisbees back and forth across the crowd, and when the opening band came onstage (no idea who they were) the guitar player got hit directly between the eyes by one of those big heavy "professional" frisbees that were in style back then. It knocked him right over his amp, so that all you could see were his feet thrashing around. Gotta say, it was a great moment.” - Greg LoPiccolo, VP product development
  • “I saw the Beach Boys when I was eight at some big outdoor venue in Calgary, Canada with my parents and my brother and sister. At the time they were my favorite (my Dad had been schooling me on them) so it was a pretty awesome time.” – Michael Georgeson, Artist
  • “My friend had won tickets from WBCN to see the Ramones but he couldn't go, so he gave me the tickets. If I had known [it] was so far away, I wouldn't have asked, but somehow my parents were willing to drive all the way out there and hang out at some coffee shop until the show was over, then come and pick us up afterwards! Maybe if I have kids I'll understand why someone would do that, but in the meanwhile I'm just glad they did. I remember being right up at the front, getting shoved around by the crowd, and being shocked by people getting up on stage then jumping off with nary a concern for their own wellbeing or anyone else's. The kid next to me got a combat boot in the head at one point, but he didn't even seem to care! I remember the glossy look of the lights, the smell of the smoke machine and the massive sound of the floor tom as they wound up for what I now call a ‘Big Rock Ending.’ I remember coming out of that club covered in other peoples' sweat, and finding a world that sounded like I had a pillow over my head. We found my parents' car and clambered into the back yelling at everyone and each other. My life was never the same.” – Jeremy Parker, Software developer
  • “My first show was at the tender age of nine when my friend and his mom took us to see The Monkees at Lake Compounce. I kept wondering who all these old people were and why there were only three of them (as my only exposure to them, at the time, was the TV show which I did not understand was [filmed] decades prior).” – Eric Chon, Community moderator
  • “Metallica with Corrosion of Conformity at the Fleet Center in 1996. Went with 3 friends of mine.” – Joseph Pagliuca, QA lead
  • “Eric Clapton at some arena in Providence, probably 1985. My parents didn't want me and my friend to drive down there by ourselves (we were 16) so my dad accompanied us. Lame! I think my dad thought it was cute when I asked him why it smelled like burning leaves.” – Dan Schmidt, Senior software developer

Check out part II, and share your legendary concert experiences in the comments.