Being the music junkie that I am, I go to a lot of shows, mostly considering I book shows and manage bands as a side business. I could tell you about the first concert I ever went to, which was Neil Diamond with my Mom when I was 12 and how amazing that experience was, but it wasn't the most life changing experience. I wasn't really aware of what music meant to me at that age. It wasn't until I was older that I realized how vivid music was in my life and that it burned deep in my soul, impacting me in ways I never knew.
Obviously U2 was one of the first bands that brought me to that new level of appreciation of music. I remember listening to "Unforgettable Fire" and "War" over and over again in the early 80's; "Bad" will probably be my favorite song of all time until I die! By the time "Joshua Tree" came out in 1987, U2 was my favorite band and they've kept that status ever since.
I didn't see U2 live until the early 90's when they went big with their Zoo TV tour. I was in college at that time attending University of Colorado at Boulder, so I saw them in Denver with my college best friend Lisa, also a huge U2 fan. We were both members of Propaganda, so we got our tickets early and were close to the stage. That was the first time I was blown away by a band; it was such a wonderful show with so many props and such high energy. I had never seen a frontman demand your attention like Bono does, it's almost like a religious experience the way he draws you in and preaches to your soul! I have seen every U2 tour since then, most of the time up close due to early presales and waiting at venues all day, and the band never disappoints. I was even at the historic Rose Bowl show for U2 360° Tour, which was the largest attended concert I've ever been to.
My favorite time was probably when I got into the heart for Elevation Tour, enjoying the show from right up front against the railing -- making eye contact and seeing everything so close was unbelievable! The girl next to me was selected to get on stage and dance with Bono during "Mysterious Ways" and I will admit, I was a bit jealous (too bad Bono doesn't like blondes lol). I had the pleasure of meeting Bono and The Edge when they were in San Jose, CA, for the U2 Special Edition iPod launch with Apple. Bono was so gracious and sweet when I told him I've been a life-long fan, cupping my hand in both of his the whole time we talked. The Edge was also very sweet, though so soft spoken and shy I almost couldn't hear him. Meeting your idols is such a surreal experience, there's something magical and unforgettable about that moment. To this day I regret not taking a picture with them. *sigh*
Despite my many amazing U2 experiences, the moment I've been most inspired by a band and their live show has actually been more recent and by a band not as well known called Foxy Shazam. I was told about Foxy Shazam by chance by a local musician and was instantly curious when I saw their video for "Oh Lord." They're like a cross between Queen and The Darkness with a bit more R&B soul flavor to them. I happened to attend SXSW in March 2012 and while hanging out in a small dive bar venue called Rusty's, I see the lead singer walk by me. It was one of those double-take moments because you're not sure you really saw what you did. But there he was, and there was the rest of Foxy Shazam, just hanging out at the bar. Turns out they were playing next and all I can tell you is that after seeing Foxy Shazam live, no band has ever compared with the absolute craziness that ensues on stage during their set!
The on-stage chemistry between lead singer Eric Nally, guitarist Loren Turner, pianist Sky White, bass player Daisy, trumpeter and back-up vocalist Alex Nauth, and drummer Aaron McVeigh is electric, plus the way they integrate with the audience is mind-blowing to watch. Sky literally jumps on and over his keyboard to get closer to the audience, making the most ridiculous and fun faces that it's hard to keep your eyes off him. Alex and Eric have these interesting choreographed routines, they even slide between each other legs, all while hitting high notes, then dancing and running around, it's almost exhausting to watch. At one point, Eric jumped onto Loren's shoulders, who just hangs his head down and doesn't miss one note on his guitar, then while sitting up there comfortably, Eric asked the audience to give him cigarettes, proceeds to stuff about 10 of them in his mouth, lights them all up with a lighter thrown to him, takes two drags, takes them all with one hand and puts them out on his tongue, chews them up and spits them out, then dives right into some faced-paced lyrics and the audience is just going crazy!! When you think it can't get any crazier, Daisy decides to swing the rafters, hanging on with one hand, playing his bass with the other. There was more, but I honestly can't remember because I was so caught up in the moment, my eyes and ears constantly bombarded with stimuli. I walked away from that show in awe and joy; I had never seen anything like it. It was insanity, it was exhilarating, and it left the biggest impression ever. Seeing them at such a small venue in such close proximity just made the whole experience more intimate, more satisfying.
Since that SXSW trip, I've introduced everyone I possibly could to Foxy Shazam. I've brought various friends to their shows and each of them have walked away with that same love and awe for the band as me. I saw Foxy Shazam at Slim's in San Francisco back in August and as always, they didn't disappoint. They are even better and crazier now and that show was just as exhilarating as the one in Austin. The best part.....we got to go back stage after and hang out with the band!! Thanks to my friend Brandon who knows drummer Aaron from his younger days, we got introduced and they invited us to stay after the show. What an absolutely amazing time, talking to really down-to-earth musicians who appreciate what they do and their fans! Alex (my favorite) was super friendly and sweet, Sky has this huge personality and so much fun to listen to, and Eric with his soft-spoken voice is just too adorable, mostly when he was learning how to whistle from my friend Pablo. I will never forget how genuinely inviting the band was, wanting to get to know us and include us.
Seeing a band surprise me with their stage presence and drawing me in so deeply that I can't get enough of them is rare, and Foxy Shazam did just that. It's the closest I've ever come to experiencing that same feeling I did the first time I saw U2. I was mesmerized then by U2, I am mesmerized now by Foxy Shazam. These two bands are the ones that make me appreciate music and a live performance more than any other band, and they are the reason that I work with bands that I believe in, that I hope impact others the way that I've been impacted. Music truly is the meaning of life to me, and there is always a song that comes to mind behind every emotion I've experienced.