Saturday, August 15, 2009

I've seen over 280 bands, and over half of them didn't suck

Roger Waters in Winnipeg: one of the best, but was he better than A Flock of Seagulls?

Dan Vadeboncoeur has thrown down the gauntlet for the rest of us by listing the bands he's seen in concert.

Now I feel compelled to do the same: however, I think it's funny that Dan's favorite concert of all time - Pearl Jam at Sunfest in 1993 - is my least-favorite. Go figure.

And I also love that Dan and I have a lot of overlap in our lists. But...Weird Al Yankovic and the Tea Party? Crazy!

I've omitted forgettable opening acts because I've forgotten them, and I probably have even forgotten some of the headliners along the way - for a while, First Avenue in Minneapolis and Les Rendezvous in Winnipeg were notorious for literally "taking" your tickets, which means no record of the show. Boo.

And local bands? Seen a zillion of 'em, but I've only listed them below if they were ever a major going concern outside of the city. So, yes to the Weakerthans and Crash Test Dummies, no to Liquid Bone Dance and Chocolate Bunnies From Hell.

I'm also resisting the urge to number the times I've seen each band - in fact, one of the surprising things in making this list is how many of the concerts I've seen are "repeats," which is probably because the local concert scene only started heating up around the same time that people stopped buying CDs (and MTS Centre opened).

The list below brings back a lot of memories: like the time in 1982 when my dad said he'd take me to Minneapolis to see one of these bands: Queen, the Clash, or Blondie. I chose Queen - Freddie Mercury was still alive and well - and for years I patted myself on the back for making such a good decision, until Joe Strummer died. Boo.

Probably my favorite big concerts of all time are Paul McCartney and Roger Waters, and my favorite small concerts, the Pixies, Elvis Costello, and - no joke - Bow Wow Wow.

My top "must-see" bands are Jesus and Mary Chain, Peter Wolf, Sparks, Pere Ubu, Eels (though not for the current album, which is one of my least favorite) and XTC, though it's an open question if or when the band will ever reform and, if it does, whether Andy Partridge will ever get over that bout of stage fright that's been haunting him for the last 20 years.

That said, here's the list of a good chunk of the bands I've seen (including some big-name comedians and actors doing one-person shows), in no particular order.

And of the terrible artists listed below: what can I say, I'm a child of the 80s, which also explains why my remaining hair is still making a pathetic attempt to stand up straight.
  1. The Divine Comedy
  2. Dead Kennedys
  3. Doug and the Slugs
  4. Cliff Richard
  5. A Flock of Seagulls
  6. The Fixx
  7. Harry Hill (comedian)
  8. Jerry Seinfeld
  9. Andy Kindler
  10. Thomas Dolby
  11. Julian Cope
  12. Cracker
  13. Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds
  14. Neil Finn (featuring members of Radiohead, Lisa Germano, and Johnny Marr)
  15. Rolling Stones
  16. Pete Best
  17. Neil Diamond
  18. Shadowy Men on a Shadowy Planet
  19. Throwing Muses
  20. Holly Cole
  21. Neil Young and Crazy Horse
  22. Simple Minds
  23. The Spoons
  24. The Box
  25. Pearl Jam
  26. Michelle Shocked
  27. The Call
  28. Strange Advance
  29. Johnny Cash
  30. The Alarm
  31. Smothers Brothers
  32. Lemonheads
  33. Buffalo Tom
  34. Hole
  35. Gene Loves Jezebel
  36. Meat Puppets
  37. Squeeze
  38. Aimee Mann
  39. Peter Gabriel
  40. Blind Boys of Alabama
  41. Midnight Oil
  42. Arrested Development
  43. Lenny Kravitz
  44. Debbie Harry (with Jazz Passengers)
  45. Queen (original line-up)
  46. Billy Squier
  47. Smashing Pumpkins
  48. Robyn Hitchcock
  49. Buster Poindexter
  50. Proclaimers
  51. Gruff Rhys
  52. David Byrne
  53. Sloan
  54. Elvis Costello
  55. Split Enz
  56. Hovercraft
  57. Gowan
  58. Loreena McKennitt
  59. Psychedelic Furs
  60. Kids in the Hall
  61. Violent Femmes
  62. Ramones
  63. Bad Brains
  64. They Might Be Giants
  65. Moxy Fruvous
  66. Bruce Cockburn
  67. Blue Rodeo
  68. 54-40
  69. Deja Voodoo
  70. The Watchmen
  71. Junkhouse
  72. Foo Fighters
  73. Bif Naked
  74. Weird Al Yankovic
  75. Ron Sexsmith
  76. Richard Thompson
  77. Platinum Blonde
  78. Tears For Fears
  79. Genesis (Phil Collins-led lineup)
  80. Bruce Springsteen and the E-Street Band
  81. General Public
  82. The English Beat
  83. Northern Pikes
  84. Prince
  85. Elton John
  86. Rush
  87. David Bowie
  88. Hall and Oates
  89. The Police
  90. Tina Turner
  91. Thompson Twins
  92. Duran Duran
  93. Georgia Satellites
  94. Pursuit of Happiness
  95. Soul Asylum
  96. Jane Siberry
  97. ZZ Top
  98. The Pretenders
  99. Iggy Pop
  100. David Lee Roth
  101. Van Halen
  102. Journey
  103. The Beatnigs
  104. Greg Kihn Band
  105. INXS (Michael Hutchence-led era)
  106. Paul McCartney
  107. Leonard Cohen
  108. The Tubes
  109. D.O.A.
  110. Tragically Hip
  111. Sting
  112. Billy Joel
  113. Waterboys
  114. Stone Roses
  115. Payola$
  116. Men Without Hats
  117. Paul Simon
  118. Bob Dylan
  119. Rod Stewart
  120. Soul Asylum
  121. 10,000 Maniacs
  122. Natalie MacMaster
  123. Ashley MacIssac
  124. Billy Idol
  125. Steve Winwood
  126. Jesus Jones
  127. Billy Bragg
  128. Hoodoo Gurus
  129. Joe Jackson
  130. Jay Leno
  131. The Beautiful South
  132. The Lightning Seeds
  133. George Michael
  134. Crowded House
  135. U2
  136. Headstones
  137. Mighty Mighty Bosstones
  138. Liz Phair
  139. The Who
  140. Lyle Lovett
  141. Dane Cook
  142. The Mahones
  143. Eve 6
  144. Jesse Cook
  145. Sarah Brightman
  146. The The
  147. Cash Brothers
  148. Andrew Cash
  149. Fugazi
  150. Danko Jones
  151. Neko Case
  152. The Guess Who
  153. Greg Kihn Band
  154. Moe Berg
  155. Belly
  156. George Wallace (comedian)
  157. KISS
  158. Shane MacGowan and the Popes
  159. Weezer
  160. Michael Moore (filmmaker)
  161. Peter Ustinov (actor)
  162. Gregory Peck (actor)
  163. Steve Earle
  164. Meat Loaf
  165. Wilco
  166. Steven Wright
  167. Frank Black
  168. Bob Geldof
  169. Echo and the Bunnymen
  170. New Pornographers
  171. Hot Hot Heat
  172. Metric
  173. Bob Dorough
  174. The Flatlanders
  175. Tom Jones
  176. Rufus Wainwright
  177. Martha Wainwright
  178. Loudon Wainwright III
  179. Magnetic Fields
  180. Andrew Bird
  181. A.C. Newman
  182. Sandra Bernhard
  183. Bette Midler
  184. Pixies
  185. Bob Newhart
  186. Martin Short
  187. R.E.M.
  188. New York Dolls
  189. Iggy and the Stooges
  190. The Strokes
  191. Colin Hay
  192. Tom Cochrane
  193. The Romantics
  194. Nancy Sinatra
  195. Big Star
  196. The Dictators
  197. Bo Diddley
  198. The Pretty Things
  199. Moby
  200. Snow Patrol
  201. Green Day
  202. Garbage
  203. Arcade Fire
  204. Feist
  205. The Sounds
  206. Bob Mould
  207. Belle and Sebastian
  208. Art Brut
  209. Jason Collett
  210. Death Cab For Cutie
  211. Franz Ferdinand
  212. Bright Eyes
  213. Paul Williams
  214. She Wants Revenge
  215. The Futureheads
  216. Cowboy Junkies
  217. The Rentals
  218. The Dears
  219. The Hidden Cameras
  220. Roger Waters
  221. The Raveonettes
  222. Supernova
  223. The White Stripes
  224. Modest Mouse
  225. Kaiser Chiefs
  226. My Chemical Romance
  227. Andrew W.K.
  228. Patrick Watson
  229. Hot Chip
  230. John Mellencamp
  231. David Cassidy
  232. Holy Fuck
  233. Black Mountain
  234. The Hives
  235. k.d. lang
  236. Ricky Gervais
  237. Ray Davies
  238. Tom Petty
  239. Bill Cosby
  240. Morrissey
  241. Harland Williams
  242. Buffy Sainte-Marie
  243. Greg Proops
  244. Secret Machines
  245. Lily Allen
  246. Pat Dinizio
  247. The Smithereens
  248. Bloc Party
  249. TV on the Radio
  250. Fleetwood Mac
  251. Eagles of Death Metal
  252. Coldplay
  253. Lou Reed
  254. The Killers
  255. Bat For Lashes
  256. Passion Pit
  257. Love and Rockets
  258. Marshall Crenshaw
  259. The Blasters
  260. Bow Wow Wow
  261. Icicle Works
  262. Modern English
  263. Pete Yorn
  264. Rough Trade
  265. Lindsey Buckingham
  266. Crash Test Dummies
  267. Joe Cocker
  268. Ned's Atomic Dustbin
  269. Hunters and Collectors
  270. Yo La Tengo
  271. Superchunk
  272. Unicorns
  273. Billy Bob Thornton
  274. Black Flag
  275. The Cult
  276. The Tea Party
  277. Guns N' Roses
  278. The Weakerthans
  279. Andy Taylor
  280. Juliana Hatfield
  281. Cub
  282. 7 Year Bitch
  283. Nik Kershaw
  284. Ben Folds (almost - he's playing Fargo in October)
  285. AC/DC (almost - for those of you about to rock next Saturday, I salute you!)
  286. The Sounds (almost - Minneapolis in November)
  287. Gogol Bordello (almost)
Your turn!


  1. This may bring into question my status as a purported music lover, but I've never been a big fan of concerts.

    Some of my reasons:
    1) Large crowds vs. my personal space issues.
    2) I'm not a big fan of all the pyro and lights that often eclipse the actual music at many concerts.
    3) An utter hatred for 360 degree stage configurations. (I paid to see the artist the whole time, not every four songs or so.)

    Having said that, I do have two favourite concerts. My second favourite concert was George Strait at the MTS Centre. Simple stage, epic catalogue of music covered, his one and only tour to come north of the border in almost 30 years of touring... the only downside was the dreaded 360 stage. Boo!

    My favourite concert experience was Michael Buble at the Centennial Concert Hall. It was a more intimate show than his later one at MTS. Great music, awesome stage presence and crowd engagement, all around great entertainment and bang for my buck.

    True music lovers may proceed with crucifying me now.

  2. I can't believe I've actually seen two great artists that you haven't.....Tom Waits........I saw him at the U of T many years ago......small venue.....seats so close we could almost touch him......and Van Morrison in Winnipeg....front row! one of the biggest deals ever to me........why didn't you see him?

  3. George Wallace the comedian? All this time when you told me you were a big fan, I thought you were referring to George Wallace the famed segregationist governor of Alabama.

  4. Yes, I missed Van Morrison, have never seen Tom Waits, or "the other" George Wallace. Ha, ha!

  5. lol The Tea Party played here so often during the nineties that I'm sure half the city has seen them at some point. The most memorable time I saw them was when they played at the Red River Ex in 1994. I saw them the day after I graduated high school. Then I saw them again a month later at Sunfest.

    Weird Al, well all I can say is that I'm a huge fan and I couldn't pass that one up. Totally worth it, and one of the best shows I've seen.

    What this whole thing has done for me is to make me promise myself that I'll see more concerts than I have been lately, because I really do enjoy it.

  6. Yep, me too. And I love Weird Al as well. I laughed out loud for the whole show.

    I met him after the show, and he was a great guy: giving advice to kids, posing for pictures, and signing autographs. Not "weird" at all.


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