Greta Van Fleet
We were driving home from dinner and an unfamiliar song came on the radio. My husband asked me to Shazam it. It was Heat Above by Greta Van Fleet. Never heard of them. My husband often listens to music while he’s working and began playing their songs until we pretty much knew most of them. Turned out they were on tour and would be in nearby Sacramento, California soon. We bought tickets and secured a room at a nearby hotel. As we came down to the lobby to walk to the Golden 1 Center, we were shocked to see several other people in the lobby who were also preparing to go to the performance. How did we know? The band had produced a video of Heat Above (linked above) where they were all dressed in drag. The hotel lobby was filled with women dressed similarly. As a marketer, I began to analyze the demographics of the concert goers and realized that, while there were many our age, there were an equal number of young girls and women as well. This band transcended age more than any I had seen previously.
The concert was good. The lead singer, Josh Kiszka, has a voice that is instantly recognizable. To hear the nuances in his vocal gymnastics is the lure for us. The volume of the concert was so loud that it distorted his voice, and his unique sound was lost. Disappointing, but still a good concert. Their showmanship was simple compared to what we’re used to seeing, but we weren’t there for that. I assume that as they get more experience performing, they’ll be able to improve their sound and visual issues.
When lead singer Steve Perry could no longer sing as expected, many counted Journey as defunct. However, a Filipino singer named Arnel Pineda caught the attention of the band when he recorded covered Journey songs. In 2007 he became the new lead singer and has toured with the band ever since. Not bad for a kid that was homeless at the age of 13. Can you imagine what it must be like to go from homeless to international rock star?
Their concert in Fresno, California was sold out, especially because former lead singer Perry was from Hanford, California, only a few miles from the venue. Pineda did a good job sounding similar to the original recordings, but not quite. Still, it was a good concert and nice to hear the beloved songs. The synergy between Pineda and the original Journey band members didn’t seem to be there, but whatever.
One of my husband’s two favorite bands is The Cure. I didn’t know a thing about them so was just along for the ride. He knew this tour was going to sell out quickly so both of us manned our computers and prepared to attempt to secure tickets. Within minutes the only tickets available were in New Orleans, Louisiana. We got them and didn’t care that they were in the nosebleed section of the venue. I spent the next few days creating a complimentary itinerary of the area including flights, hotel and excursions. We were all set. Weeks later, The Cure added more concert places and dates, one being in Mountain View, California – only three hours from our home. We could drive up and back on the same day. We once again manned our computers and snagged great seats in the front row of the second tier in what turned out to be handicapped access (unbeknownst to us until we arrived). We had plenty of room and an unimpeded view. It took hours to unravel our New Orleans plans. Thanks to Lead Singer Robert Smith’s stance that there be no dynamic pricing, Ticketmaster allowed for reselling of tickets at the original price minus a small fee. We were successful in selling them at almost the same price that we had paid.
I don’t dislike alternative music, but it’s not my favorite. Robert Smith was intriguing. His unique flamboyant style is entertaining, and his voice has a unique, plaintive sound. Many people dressed in signature Smith-style attire. Most of them were older people. I found it amusing to see older people dressed in 80’s punk garb, many not even able to walk or use stairs easily. My husband was on cloud 9 with a decades-old bucket list item now in the books. @TheCure #TheCure
U2 at Sphere
In 2017 I purchased tickets to the U2 Joshua Tree concert in San Diego, California as a gift for my husband. U2 is tied with The Cure as his favorite band. He absolutely did not want to go. He didn’t want to drive there, take off work, or incur the expense of travel, food and lodging. I tried to sell the tickets on Craig’s List. I only had one person interested, but he only wanted to purchase one ticket, which I agreed to since some money back was better than none.
On the evening of the concert, I began receiving text messages from the buyer. He was at the concert and realized that he had paid more for the ticket than face value. I tried to explain that face value is if you purchased at the venue, not if you use a third party such as Ticketmaster. During and after the concert he continued to text me, his messages becoming more and more aggressive and finally threatening to have me charged with a crime. The next day I sent him a copy of my receipt showing that he paid what I had paid. His response, ‘then we’re both stupid.’ I wish I would have had the Ticketmaster resale option for this one!
Since then, my husband has been remorseful that we didn’t go. When it was announced that U2 was going to perform at Sphere in Las Vegas, he was committed that we would go. Once again, we manned our computers and were successful in securing tickets to one of the first few shows. We’ve never paid so much for a concert as we did for this one. With the high demand, nearly all Las Vegas prices were jacked up. The least expensive item was our flight tickets for three (one of our sons came with us to experience Sphere).
The Sphere spectacle did not disappoint. To read more about the concert itself, refer to my October Blog on the experience. We decided that if we had gone to their San Diego concert years ago, we wouldn’t have travelled to Las Vegas and subsequently missed out on Sphere, which was amazing. Seeing an amazing band in a state-of-the-art venue made it one of the most memorable experiences we’ve had.
Queen + Adam Lambert
Bohemian Rhapsody is one of my favorite songs of all time. When Queen’s lead singer, Freddy Mercury, died of AIDS in 1991, Queen’s touring days were over. That is, until Adam Lambert appeared on American Idol. Lambert’s voice was powerful enough to do justice to Mercury’s songs. We saw them in concert at the Chase Center in San Francisco. The sold-out concert atmosphere was palpable. Lambert’s wardrobe changes make any diva’s look amateurish. His flamboyance emulated Mercury’s. Great concert all the way around.
We also noted that their stage visuals were excellent, almost as good as Sphere’s, which prior to the Queen show I would have thought impossible.
Now on a concert roll, we decided to travel to Paso Robles for a Styx concert at the California Mid-State Fair. While not big fans of fairs, we were surprised at the crowd there. By far, most wore cowboy boots and hats. I would expect to see this in Texas, but not in California! I guess I don’t know as much about this state as I thought.
The stage is outdoors in what appears to be an arena, maybe designed for bull riding. In the middle there are tables which you reserve in advance. Many of the tables are theme-decorated by the host of the table. It would be fun to reserve a table, trick it out and invite your friends to come with you. It’s obvious that this is a time-honored tradition here. I’ll have to remember this for the future.
It was nice to listen to their music with a light breeze and a starlight sky. We were in bleachers which were a bit uncomfortable and somewhat difficult to get in and out of, but the band made the jaunt and steel seats worth it.
This is a cover band for Pink Floyd. My husband is a veteran, and free tickets are offered to vets via the website Vettix.org. Since the concert was local and the tickets were free, we decided to go. Never going to a cover band concert, our expectations were low, but we love Pink Floyd music.
We were pleasantly surprised at how good the band was. If the original and the cover band’s music were presented to me side by side, I wouldn’t be able to tell the difference. So happy we went! Thanks @VetTix!
This concert was held in Fresno’s Grizzlies Stadium. We wouldn’t’ have gone if it wasn’t so close and the tickets were so reasonably priced. We enjoyed their Southern rock music with popular songs like Free Bird, Sweet Home Alabama and Simple Man.
Our 23-year-old came along. Later, we realized that he had added their music to his play list, which was a pleasant surprise. Maybe we've got a young rocker after all.
Don Felder from Eagles
The best and most surprising part of the Lynyrd Skynyrd concert was the appearance of Don Felder, formerly of the Eagles. One of my favorite songs is Hotel California, which he sang. I would have gone to an Eagles concert just to hear that song. Now, I didn’t have to. I was glowing for days. That I could experience the song live, unexpectedly and so close to home was truly a gift.
Leonid & Friends World’s Greatest Chicago Tribute
To be honest, we wouldn’t have gone to this cover band concert but for our wonderful experience with Brit Floyd. They were good, but not great. The brass, of course, made the performance. To my surprise, the Visalia Fox Theater appeared to be sold out. We had front row seats and they played all of the Chicago’s greatest hits except the one I wanted to hear the most; ‘Color my World.’ Oh well, for the price, it was a lovely night out.
Looking back on our parade of concerts, I do have some overall observations:
Many bands had solo performances from either the drummer or guitarist. This is fine but I felt they were too long and self-indulgent.
Opening bands are unnecessary. Except in rare cases, the audience is there for the lead act. I didn’t hear one opening band that I would go see on their own merits.
Breaks in the middle of a performance are unnecessary. Queen’s guitarist and drummer are both in their 70’s and didn’t need a break for their 2+ hour concert. If they can play through, these younger artists should be able to as well. The break pauses the momentum and diminishes the overall vibe of the performance.
I think we’ve seen just about all the bands we’ve wanted to see. The only exception for me is AC/DC. They are rumored to be planning a tour in 2024 so here’s hoping. Fun fact - when they first performed in Fresno in 1978, they opened for Aerosmith. One of the band members, Bon Scott, was so inebriated that the audience booed him off the stage. I was one of them. Fast forward decades later and they’re now my hands-down favorite band. Sorry guys, I didn’t know my future self would enjoy your music so much, it just took awhile to get used to it.
#TheCure #ACDC #Queen #AdamLambert #U2 #DonFelder #Styx #VetTix #ThanksVetTix