If I’m Not ON The Stage — I’m Watching It

Top 10(ish) Music Shows I’ve Been To

My boss told me I had to give him a list of the top shows I’ve been to, so here’s the list, leading up to the #1 show and a few runner ups.

I’ve also realized something. 95% of the shows I list here weren’t unforgettable because of the show, but because of the experience that came from it.

Thanks for making me realize that, Chris.

And just because we’ve got a top 10(ish) list here, doesn’t mean it was easy. I saw like 65 shows in 2015 alone.

#10: The Head & The Heart

While, it’s at number 10, that doesn’t make it any less special. This was one of the first shows that affected me emotionally. They’re just stupidly talented and make some beautiful music.

#9: Modern Electric

This show was awesome. The band is passionate as hell. And as you can see, they took the time to hang out after the show. And, even wrote a song for me back in the day for a nominal fee. I’ll see them anytime they’re in town.

#8: Underwater Sounds

Saw these guys at Bam Margera’s bar in Philly a few years ago and they dedicated the set to me. In a follow-up show in NYC, I asked a woman at the bar what time their set was, when she said, “Don’t I know you?” and it was the lead singer, remembering me. Just felt super cool. Go listen to their song Airplane.

#7: NIN

No 50 year old should be able to rock as hard as this guy, but apparently, he is immune to age. I wrote another medium post about it, here.

#6: Anti-Flag

This was a teenage dream of mine and the entire night, I would tell anyone who would listen that it was 15 years in the making. Another great part about this night is the fact that I moshed. When I was into the scene, I would try, but I was little and always ended up getting hurt, this night, I went for a good two hours and came out on top.

#5: The Arcs

This one hit for multiple reasons. 1. I won the tickets from NPR on Twitter, which was awesome. 2. I gave my last reading from my novel Gripped at Housing Works Bookstore. 3. Yes, that’s the lead singer of Black Keys, and it was the Arcs first show ever. Coolest part of the show, when they said, here’s one off our next album… AT THEIR FIRST SHOW.

#4: Tool

Kids, before camera phones, we had to lug around actual cameras… when I saw them back in 2001, I didn’t have one. So, no picture, but… it was my friend’s birthday and one of the most memorable shows I’ve ever been to, because… Tool.

This isn’t from the show in PA, but another show I was at. f

#3: Red Jumpsuit Apparatus

Top 3 shows are super hard to differentiate. They all mean something special to me. This one, was the first band meeting experience. AKA, before the show, we all hung out, talked tattoos, and drank before they went on.

It was in the basement bar of this venue called The Chameleon Club.

#2: Green Jelly

You know the band and the song, 3 Little Pigs. When I was a teenager I loved the song, it was one of the first harder songs I got into. At this show in NYC, I was under his arm while he sang it. Overall, just one of the most fun shows I’ve ever been to.

#1: Mariachi El Bronx

Yes, the band was amazing. The lead singer started the set by saying he’d been on mushrooms for 3 days (which doesn’t make sense, but we’ll go with it) and then diving into the music. Don’t get me wrong, they were awesome, but what was waiting for me outside was even better. I walk out the door and standing in front of me is Dave Grohl. If you don’t know who that is, you most likely live under a rock and that makes me sad. But anywho. I walk up to him and say, “Fuckin’ Dave Grohl.” and shake his hand. I can’t for the life of me remember what we talked about, but then another person walked over and started talking to us. Dave walked away for a second and I said, “So, how do you know Dave?”

“I toured with him.”


“I’m Max, from the Swingin’ Utters.” After hearing this, I pushed him on the chest and said, “I love that band!”

We all talked, we went inside, I bought them beers because I don’t understand how finances work, and we parted ways. At 1:30, I was walking through the venue, looking for my buddy, when Max slaps me on the back and says, “We’re heading to another bar if you want to come.”

Which we did.

We got there, ordered a drink, and waited… After that beer, we figured that they weren’t coming, so we grabbed one more and cut our losses. Except, then… they came in.

We drank until the bar closed at 4, we went outside and Dave told stories about being on the road, about Sonic Highways, and then, a 15 seat passenger bus pulled up, he turned around, looked at it, and said, “Guys, this was awesome, my rides here.” and got on alone.

The one thing I can say about Dave is that he’s cooler than you think he is, and I know how cool you think he is. ;-)

Here are a few other top shows, cause like a teenage girl, I can’t even…

The Hives

Not only was the show fucking amazing, but the picture on the left… He was on top of a speaker looking down at me (if only it was in focus).

Parlor Mob

This had been one of my favorite bands from PA and now that I saw them live, I also got to meet the guys and hang out for a minute outside the venue. Amazing guys, amazing talent, amazing night.

Catfish & The Bottlemen

This is the second or third time I saw them, but the first time, the lead singer came out on stage, said, “Hello America! You may not know us, but you will.” And at the time, before he started singing, I thought, this guy is a prick… but he was right, and they are.

Fiction of the Future

I’d wanted to see these guys for years before I got the chance. Then, on the day of their show, I sparked up a conversation with their Drummer on Facebook. When I got to the show, a guy walked up to me, not the drummer, and said, “Are you Jason Donnelly?”


“Hey, we’re in the band, our drummer told us to find you and drink with you.”

By the end of the first night, we were pals, and I’ve seen them 4–5 times since.

Snoop Dogg

Cause… Snoop Dogg. And, he was this close to me and my all-access pass.

Lil’ Jon

At the same show as Snoop, Lil’ Jon was headed to his performance when he did this pop-up performance with some buskers… it was intense.

Wyclef Jean

She that guy at the bottom left of the picture… yeah, that’s me. A friend got me into his last record release party at… Trump Tower (I know… I should have seen it coming…). It was a super weird night.

Party Hard — Andrew W. K.

Finally… this one, cause I ran into him at the airport, and it was cool.

Enjoyed this? Recco it. Have questions? Ask’em. Thanks for stopping by!