To spice up a dying Facebook meme, here are nine true stories of concerts I attended and one I made up:
1. One time, at a Kanye West show, I was seriously mistaken for Chester French, or at least one of Chester French’s entourage.
2. One time I was up front at a show by the Swedish psych-rock band Dungen. During a quiet pause, by way of friendly greeting, I yelled the only Swedish phrase I know, “den javla opa.” They gasped in unison. “Do you know what that means?” one of them asked me. “Yes,” I replied apologetically. “You fucking monkey,” he marveled into the microphone, translating for the crowd.
3. I once saw a college bro in a polo shirt with a popped collar stage dive at a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! show, to which a gaggle of shocked tweens sensibly responded by promptly parting like the Red Sea and letting him crash to the floor.
4. Once I was stage-side at a Les Savy Fav show in a small club, rocking out really hard and making a level of eye contact that would have been uncomfortable for anyone but Tim Harrington. In fact, I was rocking so hard that Tim knew he could count on me and, during a song that has a falsetto “woop woop” in it, he suddenly stuck the mic in my face. And fam, let me tell you, I nailed that “woop woop” so hard.
5. One time, at a Jawbreaker show, I was seriously mistaken for Clay Aiken.
6. I once saw Godspeed You Black Emperor perform in a cathedral, which is the amazing-est place you could see Godspeed, but I remember virtually nothing about it, because it was in Amsterdam.
7. Speaking of eye contact, I was once at a Rihanna concert and, during “Umbrella,” I noticed how she swept her gaze over the front row in a smooth, continuous motion that also somehow involved tiny pauses for individual eye contact with each person. “Wow, Rihanna’s a pro,” I thought, recording this and other music-journalist-y observations in my notebook—until she looked at me and, for a moment, all thoughts fled my head except “Whoa, Rihanna’s in love with me and I would do anything for her,” a conviction that dissipated the instant her gaze moved on. Like I said, pro.
8. I once saw Cinderella and Megadeth open for Poison, a story that really needs no embellishment.
9. I once took Tracyanne Campbell from Camera Obscura outside for an interview at the height of North Carolina mosquito season, and she got so many mosquito bites that, later, during the show, she said from the stage, scratching her arm, “I like everything about North Carolina—except the boogs.”
10. I once saw a Ghostface show where, near the end, he seemed to either forget or cease to care that he was doing a concert and spent fifteen minutes coaxing girls onstage to dance instead. (It was a good concert before that though!)