May 25th marked my 30th birthday. As the British band Alabama 3 would say, I’ve taken 30 stony gray steps towards the grave and continue to navigate through life guided by the asomatous sounds of John Coltrane, Billie Holiday, and Ella Fitzgerald. F. Scott Fitzgerald might add that I’m embarking on a decade of loneliness and thinning enthusiasm, but I feel as if my initial reaction to the milestone lies somewhere in the middle.
I’m excited about reaching an age at which the outside world will finally take me seriously, because the future of my writing career hinges upon that very expectation. The last thing I want to be viewed as is another millennial whose work is judged solely on the stigma attached to an entire generation. It’s unfair and speaks to a growing intolerance among Baby Boomers towards young people considered to be disingenuously infringing upon their scene.
Knowing my subject matter inside and out has always been a cornerstone of my writing, and I’d like to believe that everyone following my career would agree. That said, I couldn’t care less whenever my presence as the youngest person at a show elicits a snide reaction, because I’ve built up an immunity to ad hominem attacks that only gets stronger with each passing year.
One of the questions I receive more than any other has to do with how I got started in music journalism and why I continue to devote so much energy to a medium that yields little to no financial compensation. All I can say is that I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, and I spent the majority of my teenage years garnering the bare minimum of female attention, so I had a lot of time to develop my craft. I wrote for free and toiled in obscurity for three years until landing my first assignment, which, unless writing is one of your reasons for living, isn’t an appealing way to spend one’s time away from the classroom.
My first concert took place on March 8, 1999 when I saw The Offspring at The Burt Flickinger Athletic Center on Erie Community College’s City Campus and I’ve experienced 232 more shows since that day. I’m grateful for every opportunity that I’ve been given and wouldn’t be where I am today without the support of everyone for whom indulging my obsession was a daily occurrence.
To commemorate my 30th birthday, I’ve assembled a list of a dozen concerts and interviews that stand out from my life/career thus far. Actually, let’s make it a baker’s dozen.
Here’s to the next 30 years.
Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band at HSBC Arena on Nov. 22, 2009
Steven Wilson at Town Ballroom on April 21, 2013
Genesis at HSBC Arena on Sept. 8, 2007
Stone Temple Pilots at Rochester’s Main Street Armory on May 7, 2011
Marcus Miller at The Bear’s Den inside Seneca Niagara Casino on June 7, 2013
Heaven and Hell, Alice Cooper, and Queensryche at Darien Lake on Sept. 19, 2007
Puscifer at The Riviera Theatre on June 20, 2012
Jackson Browne at Artpark on Aug. 11, 2014
The Tragically Hip and Arkells at Canalside on July 30, 2011
Public Enemy at Town Ballroom on Aug. 11, 2010
Rush at Darien Lake on Aug. 15, 2004
Rock on the Range at Mapfre Stadium May 19-21, 2017
U2 and Beck at New Era Field on Sept. 5, 2017
Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull (2014)
Jon Anderson of Yes (2011)
Chuck D of Public Enemy (2010)
Wayne Coyne of The Flaming Lips (2013)
Scott Stapp of Creed (2014 and 2015)
Paul Reiser (2013)
Glenn Hughes of Deep Purple et al. (2011)
“Weird” Al Yankovic (2011)
Raine Maida of Our Lady Peace (2011)
Nils Lofgren of The E Street Band and Grin (2016)
Steven Page of Barenaked Ladies (2010)
Kinky Friedman (2015)
Ted Nugent (2012)