Posted by Mattie Hawkinson (Young Esme/Alice in Rock ’n’ Roll)
Hi, I’m Mattie Hawkinson (playing Young Esme/Alice in Rock ’n’ Roll). The cast of Rock ’n’ Roll agreed to make lists of our top five concert-going experiences for this blog, and I’m the first to post. My list probably pales in comparison to the one my character Esme would write. There was no Syd Barrett in ’68. There were no Beach Boys from behind the Iron Curtain either. I’m lucky to be in a play where all the characters have better musical taste than me. But these are my sentimental faves:
1) Violent Femmes at Bumbershoot (94?). I stole my mom’s car to get there, and the long-term grounding was worth joining thousands of people in a stadium for the whisper chorus of “Blister in the Sun.” It was the first big show I’d ever seen. It was kind of hilarious to be a teenager in Seattle back then—it had to be 85 degrees, but the flannel shirts never came off. We loved Mudhoney, Liz Phair and Built to Spill. Ok, I still love Built to Spill.
2) Mid ’90s. The then-totally-unknown band Modest Mouse was playing in Bellingham, WA, at Arts Alliance, which was just a black box theater that seated about 12 people. The bullhorn Isaac Brock used wasn’t really necessary. All the 16-year-olds in hoodies were listening. And they still are.
3) Gillian Welch with David Rawlings in New York, recently. These two have been touched by the guitar gods. They make me want to speak in a fake Southern accent. David’s solo on “Black Star” is one of the most beautiful things I have ever heard.
4) Kurt Elling, September 14, 2001. I had been stranded at an airport in Newark after September 11th, and it took me days to find a way home to Chicago. As soon as I walked through the door, my roommate said that he had tickets to see Kurt Elling at Park West. I was still pretty shaken up, and I didn’t know if I was ready to be in a huge venue with other people yet. But when Kurt Elling sang “Nothing's Gonna Harm You” from his album Flirting With Twilight, it was like the entire crowd exhaled.
5) The Who. Amazing.