When people ask me what the first concert I ever went to was I used to be
kind of embarrassed, especially back in the 90s when I was seeing a
ton of live music - seeing bands like Dinosaur Jr., Blind Melon and
Nirvana – it felt kind of lame to say that my first concert was...
And not 70s “Does Anybody Really Know What Time It Is” Chicago but
“You’re the Inspiration” and “Hard Habit to Break” 80s Chicago.
Today whenever I hear any of their sappy, wonderful 80s ballads I get
super nostalgic and wish I still had my t-shirt that I bought and OF
COURSE wore loud and proud to school the next day to prove I WAS THERE.
Here are a few other important concerts of the 80s - the memories and the
music of these nights back in the day will always stick with me.
1986 – RUN DMC
I was 15 years old when my parents dropped my best friend Susie and I off
at the University of South Florida Sun Dome to see RUN DMC – Susie was
my b/f/f visiting from New York, where we had moved from and whenever
she came to visit it felt like I was home again. This concert was
amazing…opening acts were Whodini and LL Cool J with his giant boom box
radio onstage rapping “I Need Love” – sigh. But the stars of the show
were RUN DMC - totally in their prime with hits like “It’s Tricky” “My
Adidas” “Peter Piper” and “Walk This Way” - Susie and I were in heaven.
We danced like fools, were all proud because we knew all the words to
“You Be Illin’” and yelled and screamed so much we couldn’t talk the
next day. And oh my God, look at that ticket stub, it was $12.50
to see them. One of my favorite concerts ever.
1987 – Oingo Boingo
This one makes me laugh a little, my boyfriend Lenny got us tickets to see
Oingo Boingo and his dad drove us to the show. Lenny’s dad kept
referring to the band we were seeing as “Unga Bunga” and he wasn’t
trying to make a joke. I was SO excited for this show, I loved Danny
Elfman and couldn’t wait to hear “Dead Man’s Party” live. My boyfriend
didn’t really know any of their music and wasn’t as into the show as I
was but he went really nuts when they sang “Weird Science” during the
encore. I remember them singing “We Close Our Eyes” “Just Another Day”
and “Only A Lad” – I am so grateful that Lenny liked me enough to buy
those tickets and that I had a chance to see them live. And whenever I
hear them today I smile and say “Unga Bunga” to myself.
1989 – REM
Probably one of the most important, meaningful shows I’ve seen. They were
my favorite group throughout high school and this was the tour for the
album Green – one of my favorites still today. I remember lots
of artsy black and white video playing on top of the band, Michael Stipe
at his Michael Stipe-iest wearing an oversized suit and jumping up and
down doing that dance he did. I had such a crush on him...he was so
dreamy to me. I remember they opened with “Pop Song ‘89” and played
“Orange Crush” “Finest Worksong” “World Leader Pretend” and of course
“Stand” and “It's the End of the World as We Know It (And I Feel Fine)”.
This concert also stands (hah!) out because it took place on the night
of my graduation and I would be moving from Florida to Oregon in a few
days. This concert was like the last hurrah of my high school days.
Hearing any of these bands today brings my teenage years, old boyfriends
and memories of seeing them in concert rushing back – music is so great
The other morning when my alarm clock blasted “Get Up” by REM I had to
leap out of bed, even at 5:30 a.m. – smiling, bleary eyed, thinking of
that great show and that great time back in 1989.
Lori Ferraro is the author of
the website Drawn to
the 80s where the greatest hits of the 1980’s are illustrated by her
five-year-old son. Her blog
www.onceuponaproduct.com is where you can read about her obsessions
with make up, food, Mick Jagger, big hair, boys and yes...the 80's.