As OnMilwaukee.com's Julie Lawrence quips, picking a favorite concert of all time can be like picking a favorite child, pet or Radiohead album. So, don't be surprised that as the editorial staff rocks its favorites below, most will have trouble narrowing it to a single night with a single band.
No on one staff is old enough to have selected Springsteen at the The Uptown Theater or the Beatles at the Arena, but we think you'll find our picks interesting and we hope you'll add your favorites using the talkback feature at the bottom of the story.
Helloooooo Milwaukeeeeee! Are you ready to rawwwwkk?!
Molly Snyder Edler
Tegan and Sara
I picked last May's Tegan and Sara show as my favorite concert of 2008, but it ranks even higher than that for me. Maybe I'm naming it my all-time favorite because it's still fresh in my mind, but I think a decade from now it will remain in my top picks. The best part of the show for me was the timing. Often I see bands that I have loved for a long time but aren't currently listening to very often, or I see a band I have just started getting into and am not super familiar with their music, but when I saw Tegan and Sara last spring, I was deeply entrenched in their music, both new and old, and listening to it almost every day. Hence, seeing them was almost a spiritual experience. Plus, they are just so dang cute with their sisterly quibbles and side ponytails.
See the list below
Sometimes picking your favorite concert of the year is like having to say which of your kids, or dogs or Radiohead album you like the most: impossible. They each carry with them unique, wonderful attributes that to break them down into their simplest forms as to compare and contrast falls into the realm of blasphemy, musically speaking. But then to take it to the next unholy level -- your favorite Milwaukee concert of all time (!?) -- well, that is like asking whether you like 1 p.m. more than 2 p.m. There is just no real answer to a question like that.
That being said, here is attempt to remember which of my most memorable musical moments actually occurred here in Milwaukee, because there are so many that happened elsewhere:
CSNY, 2000, Bradley Center
Jets to Brazil, 2002, The Globe
Antony & The Johnsons, 2005, The Pabst Theater
Belle & Sebastian, 2006, Riverside Theater
Morrissey, 2007, Riverside Theater
The Who and Bruce Springsteen
Queries like this make me wish I drank black coffee, because that's what it would take to get me to remember all the shows I've seen and how much I enjoyed them all. Put a deadline to my head and I would have to say the show I remember most was The Who at the Arena in 1982. I was a HUGE fan of the band as a kid and this was in an era when you didn't have YouTube or live DVDs or reunion tours. They came to Milwaukee for the first time, you had to win tickets in a lottery and it was a big event. The show was great. The band, nearing the end of a tour that wrapped with an HBO broadcast in Toronto, sounded incredible. I remember that it was a school night -- a Monday, if I recall -- and, it was one of the first concerts I attended so it was probably a big deal for my parents, too.
Ask me to name some runners-up and I'll go with several Springsteen shows, including the Miller Park show and one from St. Patrick's Day 2008; The Police at the Arena on the "Synchronicity" Tour; and, all the great Summerfest shows from mainstage acts like Pearl Jam to the old Festival Stage days (Tina Turner, Grass Roots, Jerry Lee Lewis) etc. Along with old favorites like Los Lobos, the Producers, Steve Earle and Sam Kinison (all at the UWM Union) and, of course, seeing intimate shows by the Femmes, BoDeans and Spanic Boys before they "made it big."
Atmosphere, Bob Dylan, Stone Temple Pilots an CSNY
My favorite concert in Milwaukee is a tough one; it's so relative and changing that it was tough to pick just one. So, for this one, I have a bit of a list of favorites. Atmosphere at The Pabst in 2006, Bob Dylan at the Eagles Ballroom in 1998, Stone Temple Pilots at the Marcus Amphitheater in 1994 and CSNY at the Bradley Center in 1999 all keep coming to mind. There wasn't anything amazingly perfect about any of these shows but more a matter of just the right mood, timing and experience.
Elvis Costello and The Attractions and Aztec Camera
and Echo & the Bunnymen
I'm the ninny that posed this impossible to answer question to my co-workers, so it's ironic that I find myself entirely unable to respond. The problem is, there have been shows I've loved for various reasons, but to pick one -- say, Idlewild at the Cactus Club because it was charmingly ramshackle and amazingly intimate -- is impossible. There's no way that was the best show I've seen. So, I'm going to go with two shows. The first, Elvis and Aztec Camera, at the Auditorium was the first concert I saw in Milwaukee -- Summerfest excluded -- after moving here. My mom had bought me tickets while I was still in New York. It was a ray of light at a time when I thought my musical life was over. Not long after I saw Gang of Four and then Big Country at the President's Room of the Eagles Club, now The Rave.
Echo and the Bunnymen at the Uptown was great because it was the first big show I went to with my new music geek friends in Milwaukee and we met the band and spent a lot of time with them, hung out backstage and ate hot dogs at Judy's Red Hots across the street. One of my friends even rode the tour bus with them to Chicago to see the gig there, too. I guess my musical life wasn't really dead at all.