There’s nothing like a live concert experience.
Oh sure, all the things leading up to it can be a bit of a pain; the anxiety and outright stress that comes with the day tickets go on sale and you’re fighting with Ticketmaster’s painfully slow website, the insane parking when you get to the venue, and the long lines to get into the building are factors that might otherwise sully the experience, but they simply come with the territory.
When the lights finally go out and that band or performer finally arrives onstage, everything leading up to that moment just ends up being worth it, despite the growth of a new grey hair or two. You forget about all that other nonsense and just let the music flow through you for a couple of hours, melting away all the stress and leaving the jam-packed arena in a sea of humanity with a smile on your face and perhaps some ringing in your ears.
This Saturday night, I’m headed to the sold-out Metallica concert in Saskatoon at the SaskTel Centre (it’ll always be Saskatchewan Place to me), and believe me, that was definitely a ticket-buying experience that brought along some stress. There’s always a big-event feel whenever a mega band announces that they’re coming to Saskatchewan, and tickets sell out like hot cakes. It’ll actually be my third time seeing Metallica live, and I’m pretty pumped about it.
It got me thinking about some of my other concert experiences, which are a varied bunch because I don’t prefer simply one musical style.
Summersault Tour in August 2000: This was a touring outdoor concert festival that came to Saskatoon when I was 14 years old, playing just outside what was then Saskatchewan Place. On the bill were bands enjoying their big break like Treble Charger, but also big-time acts like Our Lady Peace, the Foo Fighters, and the closing band, the Smashing Pumpkins. I remember a lot of great music and a WHOLE LOT of mud. We walked into an A&W afterward looking like swamp people, and the wash machine at home sure earned its paycheck.
Pearl Jam in Saskatoon in September 2005: Seeing your absolute favorite band in concert is something of a rite of passage for any dedicated music lover, and I was so happy to cross this one off my bucket list. That being said, the overall circumstances surrounding this particular concert were a little bittersweet at the time because it was only about a week later that I was set to leave home in order to go to film school out in Victoria, BC. I was elated to see my favorite band, but at the same time dealing with anxiety over leaving home to move two provinces away.
Craven Country Jamboree in July 2009: Nowadays, this yearly country music festival has a new brand title and goes by Country Thunder, but in this province, it’ll always just go by ‘Craven’. I’d never been to the legendary event because the musical lineups never really excited me enough to commit staying down there in a camper for a few days, but the fact that the King of Country Music himself, George Strait was the headliner in 2009 spurred me to finally buy a ticket. We managed to snag a camper to plop onto the back of my dad’s diesel truck and made our way down there, ultimately landing a camping site amidst partygoers who were undoubtedly “regulars” at Craven. It was a cool atmosphere because you could be away from the concert stages in your camper and still hear the music just fine. That said, I had a blast watching Clint Black on one evening, and George Strait headlining on Sunday night was definitely worth the wait. I haven’t been back to Craven since, but the fact that Chris Stapleton is headlining next year does have my interest.
Garth Brooks in June 2016: I think I have to chalk this one up to being my favorite concert experience to date. The hype surrounding this show, or should I say *series* of shows was insane, and it truly felt like one of those historic events that you just had to be a part of in some way. We ended up with tickets to Garth’s second show on a Friday night, the late one, and took the bus from a mall location with a bunch of other rowdy country fans. The show was fantastic and Garth did all the hits, and the concert didn’t end until about 2:00 in the morning. We hit up a McDonald’s drive-thru before leaving the city, and I chuckled to myself as we finally got home and went to bed at around 4:00 am; we didn’t go down until the sun came up.
As for this Saturday, I only hope Metallica is another epic live musical experience.
For this week, that’s been the Ruttle Report.