Weird things that have happened at concerts I’ve seen

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by Annette Kurman

First, I have to admit that the very first concert I saw with ’tween friends was in 1967 at Philadelphia’s Convention Hall where we screeched and screamed at The Monkees. Of course, a parent drove us and chose not to attend; good choice! And if you’re really interested, here’s the setlist from that concert!

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’ve seen hundreds of concerts from college campuses where we sat, or stood, on bleachers, to large venues where you had to watch the teletrons to see anything, back to where we are now, avoiding crowds at all costs, and attending smaller venues where you can enjoy the musicians up close and listen to their stories and recollections. We just aren’t made to attend large venues anymore.

I could write pages and pages on the concerts we’ve seen, but I thought, in the interest of not boring you, I’d share a few of the weird/strange/unique things that happened at concerts we’ve attended. 

Bruce Springsteen at the New Haven Coliseum 7238976872
Springsteen performing in New Haven, Connecticut, circa 1977/1978. Image/Wikipedia

Yes, I saw Bruce Springsteen in 1974 at a small Pennsylvania college gym with 2,000 bleacher seats before the release of “Born to Run” and before he was declared the “Future of Rock and Roll” by music critic Jon Landau (“I saw my rock and roll past flash before my eyes. I saw something else: I saw rock and roll’s future and its name is Bruce Springsteen.”) Ourt tickets were $7.50 each. It was fabulous! A look at his setlist then.

And then we saw him again at The Boston Garden in the 1990s and I like to say our seats were near God: they were the first row below the ceiling and our backs were against the top cement wall. Yes, we were that far away. And yes, it took us longer to leave the Garden’s parking garage than even Bruce played. That was the end of The Garden for us!

Sidetrack: How did he get the name The Boss?

Andrew Delahunty, the author of several books on the subject including the Oxford Dictionary of Nicknames, told the BBC in 2009 about how Springsteen became The Boss. “In the early days when he and the E-Street Band played gigs in small venues, it was Bruce’s job to collect the money and pay the rest of the band,” says Delahunty. “This led them to start calling him The Boss, a nickname which has stuck.”

In Peter Carlin’s 2012 biography, Carlin states that the nickname began as a self-anointed one when Bruce, the band, and friends, played a weekly high-stakes game of Monopoly in Ashbury Park in the early ’70s. This nickname was a way of deflecting his friends’ decision to call him the Gut Bomb King due to all the sweets that he’d bring with him to these weekly games; everyone can agree that The Boss is a more satisfactory game name than the inflammatory Gut Bomb King. 

John Sebastian 2 1974 cropped
John Sebastian, 1974. Wikipedia

John Sebastian; Gloucester, MA. I don’t recall the decade. It was at a very, very small venue/bar and I don’t even think there was a ticket fee, just a cover charge. I don’t see the venue listed on Sebastian’s list of concerts dating back to the 1960s, but while we were at this Marblehead bar, I seem to recall he needed to use the restroom before performing. (My guess is that it wasn’t to use the restroom [see The Who, below] but to get high. Again, just a guess.) His typical set list of the time.

And no, it wasn’t the flu (the first explanation by the band) that felled Keith Moon before that third song canceling The Who’s Boston Garden concert on March 6, 1976, we attended. It made for 15,000 very dazed (read: high) fans who had “prepped” for the concert in the restrooms before the concert. (I, being naïve, went to use the ladies’ room where dozens of young women were using the very long sink counter as a space to snort cocaine. I only assume something similar was going on in the men’s room). You can view the aborted show here and read the story here.

Eric slowhand Clapton
Eric Clapton, 1974. Image/Stoned59, Wikipedia

Speaking of cocaine (Remember, “Cocaine” was one of his big hits) back in the day when we were going to large venues, we saw Eric Clapton in Mansfield, MA, and for some inexplicable reason, I was able to get seats in row 7. ROW 7????? What a show! 

Have you ever attended a concert by yourself? I was living in Baltimore while Rick was trying to sell our NH condo (it was during the housing meltdown of 2008, which is why we’re still here.). Neil Young was playing at Baltimore’s 1st Mariner Arena (called something else at the time), and, dang, I wanted to see him! So, I got myself a ticket (it wasn’t hard to find a single seat in a good section) and had a grand time!

Remember COVID? And the weekend that everything had to shut down by the end of that Sunday? Well, Dave Mason was playing at The Tupelo in Derry and his was the last concert to play (on the East Coast, anyway) before that shut down. And boy, did we appreciate it! We are big Dave Mason fans. My memories of him go back to when Rick and I were “courting” in the mid-70s while attending college and Mason and The Kinks (remember Preservation Act I and II) were among our favs. Rick’s own Dave Mason story was that he didn’t show up to a scheduled concert at Temple University. He was scheduled to play again, and three hours late, Mason finally showed up. 

Levon Helm 1971
Levon Helm, 1971

Philadelphia was the home to the renowned Tower Theater and that’s where we both fell asleep during Jackson Browne’s 11 p.m. show in the nosebleed seats.

Ending this article on a sad note, we had tickets to see The Band’s Levon Helm at the Hampton Beach Casino Ballroom and were very excited to drive there on March 29, 2012. That concert was postponed, however, but we didn’t know that until we arrived at the ticket window. According to the story, Levon had a slipped disk in his back, and despite therapy, it hadn’t healed sufficiently for him to move freely at the drums for any length of time. 

On the Casino’s Facebook page, “Levon would like to assure everyone that his health otherwise has been excellent as of late. Levon and the band have had a strong run of touring this past month and were very much looking forward to tonight’s show at the Casino Ballroom. Levon and the band are eager to come back July 17 and give you a great show. We are very sorry for any inconvenience this has caused.” 

Helm passed away on April 19, 2012, from throat cancer.

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About this Author

Annette Kurman

A native of Philadelphia with baccalaureate degrees in journalism, nursing, as well as an MBA from now defunct Daniel Webster College, Nashua, her endeavors in various roles and industries — as well a very supportive husband — once again bring her to the question of “What do I want to do when I grow up?”