“The Shows That Got Away”

What are your great musical regrets?

If you’ve been going to live music concerts for any length of time, you know the pain. The pain and misery of knowing a performer or band is coming to town, thinking about going to see them, and then—for whatever reason—never actually getting your ass to the show.

Maybe there’s was a conflict with a family event. Or the babysitter cancelled. Or you had a fight with your significant other. Or you had to pay the electricity bill before they shut off the lights instead of getting a ticket. Or you figured you’d see them “the next time they came to town.”

But eventually, you want to kick yourself—you idiot!—for not being in the audience. And it sticks in your gut, for years and years and years.

They are “The Shows That Got Away.” We polled the Houston Press music writers for their own Tales of Woe on missed musical opportunities. Pull out the handkerchiefs, dear readers, and plow ahead…

The assembled writers at the Press have some legitimate regrets, so go check out what they said. Mine is indicated by the image. Technically, as I was just 15 and living on Staten Island while Simon and Garfunkel played their iconic concert in Central Park, this wasn’t a matter of me not being able to get my act together. Even if I could have gotten parental permission to make my way into Manhattan for an evening show, I really didn’t have the wherewithal at that time in my life to pull it off. But I’ve always regretted that I didn’t try. There was nothing else like this, at least until Paul Simon did another Central Park show on his own (and in the daytime) a decade or so later. But I wasn’t living in New York then, so I had a much better excuse.

Since being in Houston, I feel like I’ve done a pretty good job seeing the shows I was most interested in. The Eagles at Rice Stadium in the mid-90s, and Bruce Springsteen at the 1895 Galveston Opera House a few years later would have been cool. But I’ve seen Springsteen a few times, and while I like the Eagles I’m not consumed with regret for not seeing them. I have some more general regrets for acts that I’ll now never get to see due to death or retirement; I never managed to see ZZ Top, and while they’re still touring after Dusty Hill’s death, it wouldn’t be the same. Here too I feel pretty lucky to have seen most of my faves at least once. All I can say is if you see a chance and you can afford it, go for it. You never know when it might be your last chance. What concert or performer do you regret missing out on?

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9 Responses to “The Shows That Got Away”

  1. J says:

    If you are regretting not seeing Bob Dylan when he came to Houston in 1973 (74?), then rest easy. It was a horrible show, he ran through some songs in a monotone and then left the stage. I couldn’t believe that was it. I recall a reviewer writing afterwards that he wouldn’t bother to cross the street for an opportunity to spit on Bob Dylan. I still dislike Bob Dylan as a result. The show I regret not seeing, if it ever even came to the US, is Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders from Mars.

  2. J says:

    For the person in the story who regrets not seeing the Ramones, let me say that I did see the show, in a club the size of a doublewide. They had big speaker towers and it was mind-numbingly loud, just unbelievably loud. I stuffed my ears full of tissue and it didn’t help much, but at least I have some hearing left. That is not true of at least one other person who came with us.

  3. Jeff N. says:

    I regret missing the last half of the 1981 concert. We went with friends but were so far from the stage that we weren’t feeling the music. It was late in the evening and we wanted to beat the crowds to the subway. We were too young to appreciate the history we were missing.

    We also attended the James Taylor concert at the park in the summer of ‘79. We were closer to the stage and the crowd was big but not overwhelming so we stayed ‘til the end. It was a great show.

    New York was a great place to be young and broke. We hung out a lot on the Lower East Side and it makes me smile to think we might have crossed paths with the young Kuff.

    Happy New Year!

  4. mollusk says:

    One I missed but didn’t miss was Pink Floyd’s Division Bell show at Rice Stadium. We had a really awesome lightning storm / Gulf squall that evening, and the wind out of the south made it really easy to enjoy from the more or less dry comfort of my south facing front porch in the Heights.

  5. Mollusk: I was there for that Pink Floyd show. As I was driving home from work to get ready, I heard a weather report on the radio warning of incoming storms, so I stopped at the Academy on 59 near Kirby and bought a $6 rain poncho. It’s still to this day the smartest purchase I’ve ever made.

    J: I saw Dylan once when he played at the Rodeo, I’m thinking early aughts before Reliant Stadium was available. A short set, as is the norm for Rodeo shows, and nothing I really remember, but at least I can say I’ve seen Dylan live.

    Jeff: If you were ever on the northbound R train from South Ferry around 7:15-7:30 most school days, we might have just done. Funny indeed to think that could have happened.

  6. David Fagan says:

    Met Joey Ramone after a Supersuckers concert, he took the stage after the show, what a surprise.

    Saw the Division Bell tour in Dallas, incredible. Seeing the stage was half the show.

    One show I missed was Morphine in Austin, soon after Mark Sandman passed from a heart attack in Italy. I still listen to his music. The sax player put out some material with other people recently, heavily influenced but still different, worth picking up- yes I bought the cd. The name is Vapors of Morphine.

  7. Jeff N. says:

    In 1981-83, I caught the northbound R train at St. Mark’s & Broadway, heading uptown–so we may have been on the same train. 🙂

  8. Jason Hochman says:

    I don’t know, I remember the shows I’ve seen, not the ones I missed, but, I do remember in 1991 or early 1992 Nirvana played at Grafitti in Pittsburgh, and I didn’t go, this was right before they got huge, and Grafitti is a small place, so it would have been nice to see them right as they were getting famous but still in a small club, especially considering that the band didn’t last much longer. Although these days I don’t like Nirvana so much. I did see Green Day at Grafitti a few years later, and they were a lot of fun, young, energetic, very friendly.

  9. Kat K. says:

    This one is easy: R.E.M. with the National and Modest Mouse in June 2008 in Chicago, on what would ultimately be R.E.M.’s last tour. I love all three bands and had already purchased tickets via the fan club when I realized it was the same weekend as my college reunion in another state. I chose my friends over the concert, assuming I’d catch R.E.M. on their next go-round… and there never was another one (though I’ve been to multiple reunions since!).

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