Among the memories from my childhood, teenhood, and early adulthood are all the incredible concerts I had the good fortune to attend. I grew up in the 1970’s – 1980’s, and was exposed to all kinds of music during that time. I was able to see most of my favorite artists perform live, some in front of massive coliseum-sized audiences, and others in cozy local venues like the Troubador. Little did I know that when I was cheering Poison and Ratt that those bands were about to hit it big on the music scene.
Here is a partial list of some of the artists I was able to see live between 1976 and 1989:
Elton John (Dodger Stadium, 1976)
Rolling Stones (1981, 1989)
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers (1980, 1981)
I thoroughly enjoyed being in the audience, rocking with the music, lighting my lighter (who remembers doing this?), and singing along when the lead singer would prompt the crowd to join in. There was always a palpable energy at concerts, a buzz, and I’m not talking about the burning weed which circulated through the air. The audiences were always so pumped, so excited to hear a favorite band play live.
I also remember wanting so badly to attend the US Festival on Labor Day weekend in 1982, but my mother staunchly refused. Then there was another US Festival which I desperately wanted to attend on Memorial Day weekend in 1983, but my mother once again refused, pointing out that I had final exams the following week. Some of the girls in my class threw caution to the wind and attended the festival, so I was able to live vicariously through them when they described the experience. An estimated 570,000 people attended the 1983 Labor Day weekend US Festival, which is no surprise since tickets were a mere $20 for each day of the event.
Here’s a video of the full concert which Van Halen performed during the 1983 US Festival:
Other festivals have come to the forefront in popularity in, recent years, but now that we have spent the bulk of the year in lockdown, avoiding COVID, live concerts, with the audience standing in front of the band members, are nearly extinct. We now rely on livestreams and virtual concerts, which don’t even come close to creating the same magic that a live concert in front of a packed audience can do.
Ventura County Fairgrounds recently hosted a drive-in setting for a live concert which apparently went pretty well. The audience was limited to 500 cars, I wonder if this will be the new norm for concerts? At any rate, I am thankful that I was able to see so many incredible artists live, when concerts were still fun.