I love to see live sports and entertainment. One of my favorite things in the world is the buzz in the crowd right before the show or the game begins. The seats are full, the crowd is electric….and then the house lights go down.
I love that feeling because at that moment, anything is possible. I don’t know what the band is going to play, I don’t know how the home team is going to do. I’ve seen a lot of concerts and sporting events. I’ve probably seen 400 concerts, and scores of Eagles, Phillies, Flyers and Sixers games (including playoff games for all four teams, and championship games for the Eagles and Flyers), as well as a number of college and high school events.
I’ve seen a lot of house lights go down.
The best version of “when the house lights go down” is when there is an extra “something” in the air. Something that makes the event a little bit more special. Something that makes that show or game unique, or different, from all of the other shows happening that night. For example:
1) The first show of the tour: you never know what’s going to happen on the first show of the tour. There are no setlists to check from previous shows, there are no concert reviews in yet. I’ve seen a lot of tour openers. These shows are often a little “rough around the edges”, but a lot of fun to see.
2) The last show of the tour: this type of show can be poignant. If the band has been on the road for 2 years, or it’s a playoff game and the entire season comes down to this game, it can be emotional.
3) The “big publicity” show or event: I’ve been to a Super Bowl, NFC Championship games, a Final Four, the Stanley Cup Finals, and Live Aid. You know it’s a “big event” when there are satellite trucks outside, and blimps and helicopters flying overhead.
4) The “exotic venue” show- sometimes bands search for a special place to play a show. This is usually a small theater, or a beautiful outdoor setting. I’ve seen concerts at Radio City Music Hall, Red Rocks Amphitheatre in Colorado, and the Greek Theater in Berkeley. All of them make for a spectacular setting for a great evening of entertainment.
5) The “smallest venue” of the tour- sometimes bands seek out a smaller venue for some of their shows, in search of some intimacy with their fans. I seek out these shows. If a band is playing 60,000 seat stadiums, and offers a show in a 5,000 seat theater, I want to see the theater show. It’s easier to attend, and I know that all of the fans who attend are there for the show. I once saw the re-united Little Feat, in their first show back after Lowell Goerge’s death. They played (believe it or not) in a fast-food joint on Penn’s campus. I also saw David Crosby play his first show after release from prison (along with Graham Nash), at the Valley Forge Music Fair.
6) The “album show”- some bands with large catalogs are now offering shows where they play an album, from start to finish. I’ve seen the Who play Tommy and Quadrophenia, Bruce Springsteen play Born to Run, Born in the U.S.A., and the River.
7) The “secret show”- this is on my bucket list. Some bands do rehearsal shows before their tours begin. The Rolling Stones will play in a club, and Bruce Springsteen will play a show in a small theater, before their tours begin. I haven’t been able to attend one of these yet, but I’m still trying….