Firsts, Favourites & Facts: First Concert You Ever Attended

Seven Canadian artists share their first concert experience

In this segment of Firsts, Favourites & Facts, I asked seven Canadian artists what the first concert that they attended was. Find out their answers now!

Kyle McKearney – Bryan Adams in Grand Prarie, AB

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I remember my first concert vividly. It was in 2001, Bryan Adams in Grand Prairie. I couldn’t believe how huge that three-piece band sounded, and it enforced what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. I met Bryan not too long ago, and he was wonderful. I’ll never forget the feeling in the stadium when they played the big songs that everybody knew. People singing along, yelling with joy.

That concert taught me what music is all about, people connecting with each other.

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Mike Legere – Great Big Sea in Halifax, NS

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I’m from the east coast- so the first concert I ever attended was Great Big Sea. My big brother Stewart spun their album Play in the car when I was seven, and I fell in love with it. They had a song called “The Chemical Worker’s Song” – I didn’t know what it was about exactly, but it matched up with stories I had heard about my grandfather working in the Spring Hill Mines, known for their deadly explosions and working conditions. Many of my great uncles died in those mines, and my grandfather narrowly avoided the Spring Hill mining disaster by taking a sick day. So I thought this song was brilliant and poignant, and I made my dad take me to watch them play at Citadel Hill.

It was terribly rainy, and I was around eight years old, so I had pretty low stamina for it. We pitched a tent, and I quickly lost interest in the music and just wanted to play cards with my dad in the tent, which he kindly obliged. By the time Great Big Sea took the stage, I was damp and miserable, and I did not last long. Nonetheless, I still have very warm memories of playing go fish in that tent with my dad while the bands played.

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Mykell Messiah – Childish Gambino in Toronto, ON

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Believe it or not, the first concert I’ve ever attended was about three or four years ago, and it was epic. I’m talking about the Childish Gambino Tour held and sold out at the Scotiabank Arena in Toronto. I mean, I love all the songs like “Bonfire “ and “Freaks and Geeks” to “Sweatpants,” but when “THIS IS AMERICA” came on! Everyone knew the song. He brought out a choir! Wow! I mean, just to think about the audience losing their minds. He had such a stage presence, and his voice was dope and held right through. The feeling of that united energy vibrating through the crowd, through me.

That’s the moment I was like, “I’m gonna get to that point so I can sell out Scotiabank arena one day!” People are going to be singing my songs, and they will have that experience through my music. It was electric.

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Ink Sticks & Stones – David Usher at Canadian Tulip Festival in Ottawa, ON

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My first concert was on May 15, 2002, at the Canadian Tulip Festival at Major’s Hill Park in Ottawa. I saw many artists that day, but the one who brought me out was David Usher, who was the headliner. My strongest memory was that he did the set and the encore with his band, but the crowd still wouldn’t leave. After a few minutes, he returned with just his guitarist and thanked us all for staying, saying he did not expect this. They did an acoustic version of “St. Lawrence River,” and everyone in the audience was completely silent, hanging onto every note.

It was like we were all sharing this music bubble where all you could hear was one guitar and one voice. It was magic!

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Francois Klark – SARON GAS (now known as Seether)

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When I was 15, my friends and I used to sneak into the local bar in my small hometown to watch our favourite cover band, Franklin, who played there every week. That was my first introduction to live music, and I was hooked. I lived for those shows every week. Not long after we started going to those live shows did we see flyers for a band who would be visiting our town to play a show. I still remember the font on the flyer announcing in big bold black letters ‘SARON GAS Live in Potchefstroom’.

We jumped at getting tickets to see this rock band hailing from Pretoria, who we’ve been listening to on the university radio. The day finally came, and I remember buzzing with excitement to see my first official ‘big’ concert. It was incredible! It was an outdoor concert in a big open field just outside the town. The stage was one of those big trucks that open on one side to reveal a small stage complete with a sound and lighting rig.

The band was incredible. Song after song: ‘Fine Again,’ ‘69 Tea’…we sang along all night in spite of the many mosquitos. I distinctly remember a moment during the show when I looked out over the crowd, side by side with my friends, and thought to myself how incredible it is that so many people who are so different from each other, at that moment, were together and united by their love for music – this is something about live music that I cherish to this day.

Shortly after, Saron Gas signed to Wind-Up Records, changed their name, and moved to the US. It makes me smile when I reminisce about being that wide-eyed punk rock kid at his first show who, unbeknownst to him, witnessed the humble yet awe-inspiring beginnings of the now globally known rock band, Seether.

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Soul Filter – Young MC & Milli Vanilli / The Cult

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Karen – The first concert I ever saw was Young MC and Milli Vanilli at Parlee Beach, just before their big lip-sync scandal.  I remember security spraying the audience down with a fire hose because it was so hot, and I ended up with a severe sunburn.  My friend’s boyfriend drove us in his parent’s station wagon, and I think we missed the ferry back to PEI that night.

Mike – The first concert I recall seeing is The Cult in Moncton.  A few of us hitched a ride from PEI to go.  No one had heard of the opening band – it was Guns N Roses promoting Appetite for Destruction.

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Housewife‘s Brighid Fry – Broken Social Scene

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I come from a music-obsessed family, so my mom has been taking me to concerts since I was a baby, but the first show I can remember clearly was a Broken Social Scene show. They played at the iconic Toronto record store Sonic Boom, their original location in Honest Ed’s. I was seven at the time. It was Mother’s day, so my mom and I went together. I remember absolutely loving it. My whole family and I are big BSS fans – I have distinct memories of singing “Anthems for a Seventeen Year Old Girl” in my childhood home, changing the lyrics to be about cats and dogs.

My mum told me years later that after the concert, I turned to her and told her two things: A) that it was the best show of (my admittedly very short at the time) life, and B) that I definitely, definitely wanted to be a musician.

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Leave us a comment on Facebook or Instagram telling us what the first concert you attended was. My first was Backstreet Boys in Halifax, NS, at Citadell Hill back in 1998. Openers were Aaron Carter and Emjay! My friends and I had a blast!

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