1. Whenever people ask me what my first concert was, 95% of the time I respond with a Sugar Ray concert I went to with Matt when we were 15. It was certainly the first concert I ever bought a ticket for myself, and it was the first concert I went to where I was totally disappointed by the whole thing. Me and Matt went expecting to make out with the myriad of high school girls who would be joining us at Sugar Ray, but it was basically high school repeated at an alternate venue. We stood on a bleacher together and made fun of everyone.
The biggest thing I remember about this concert now is that it featured the band Simple Plan as the opening act, and it was about 3 months before their debut album came out, and about a month before their first video hit MTV. The reason I remember this is that for an inconceivable month after their first album came out, everyone who was at the Sugar Ray concert pretended like Simple Plan were a transformative band and they were like the Beatles. They were suddenly everyone’s favorite band. Then people who weren’t even at the show started claiming they were and they knew Simple Plan beforehand. It was like the Sex Pistols show in Manchester in 1976, but in Oshkosh, Wisconsin in 2002. High school pop culture was fucking crazy.
ANYWAYS, the real answer for my first concert is that I am unsure exactly which concert I went to first, but I know that there is a 66% chance it was Peabo Bryson. When I was 5,6, 7 and 8 years old, my parents would take me and my sister to the Christmas revue concert at the Weidner Center in Green Bay; at the time, the only performing arts center north of Madison in Wisconsin. It was the place we saw Cats 3 times and Jesus Christ Superstar. But every winter they’d book bigger acts on semi-package tours and they’d take me and my sister (who was 2,3,4 and 5). We are always the smallest kids, and my parents are still proud that other parents told them they couldn’t believe me and my sister sat still and enjoyed seeing concerts at that young.
So, I know that the concerts we saw were this:
1. Peabo Bryson, Roberta Flack and Melissa Manchester
2. Peabo Bryson, Roberta Flack and Melissa Manchester (we seriously went twice)
3. Lyle Lovett
4. Aaron Neville, Peabo Bryson, Michael McDonald, and Roberta Flack
I know for sure that the fourth concert was the last one, because I remember being old enough to be pissed that Michael McDonald didn’t do “What a Fool Believes.” But either way, I am pretty certain my first concert, One I Didn’t Buy The Ticket For Myself Division, involved Peabo Bryson in some capacity.
2. As he’s become more and more written in history as “The guy who sang on the Aladdin soundtrack” it’s been weird for me, because I feel like I’m alone amongst anyone I talk to about music in remembering Peabo Bryson. My mom loved him (more on that later), and we’d listen to a never-ending mix of Peabo and Luther Vandross when driving on vacations as kids. I remember taking naps as a kid that were soundtracked to a Peabo comp. He was ever-present in my early childhood and no one I know had the same experience. I guess I’m saying I’m thankful my mom has an impossible to pin-down musical taste, because otherwise I wouldn’t have bought a used Peabo Bryson record at an R&B-heavy record store in Philadelphia 20 years later.
3. My aunt Robin used to have a thing about negotiating with my uncle Steve about which celebrity she could sleep with, no questions asked. For some reason, I remember being part of this conversation with my mom and her when I was like 10 (I probably remember it because the reason I liked Robin was that she treated me like I was 30, and I always got involved in these convos), and my mom saying she didn’t even know who she would cheat on my dad with (Robin’s was Pete Sampras). I joked Peabo Bryson or Luther Vandross would be my mom’s pick, and though she denied it, she blushed really heavily. My mom has a schoolgirl crush on Peabo Bryson.
When we were at the second Peabo concert, my mom paid for us to sit in the third row. She swooned along with the army of middle-aged women who were screaming at Peabo when he looked into the crowd. I just realized I was part of my mom’s ultimate dream to lure Peabo Bryson as a new husband. I’m OK with it.