The 50 Bands Challenge


My friend Heidi challenged me to compile a list of 50 bands I’ve seen. I balked at first, thinking No way, I haven’t even seen 50 different bands. I’ve seen some bands 10 times, but you can only list each band one time.

I decided to try it, and it was murderously hard. At #37, I was already scraping the bottom of my memory bank.   My teenager came home and I complained about my list. He decided to start making his own list.   He was up to 50 in a couple of minutes. I finally got to 50, by remembering an obscure punk band I’d seen as an opening act. My son stopped at 80.

My husband came home and took the challenge, saying he’d just list the 50 most famous bands he’d seen. When I read his list, I realized that I’d forgotten to list Prince!!!! It was such a big deal at the time, and yet I’d completely forgotten it. Shit! I also forgot the Pretenders, Iron Maiden and Willie Nelson.

Take the challenge! It’s a great way to test your memory and in the process retrieve some forgotten moments. Or not, if your memory is as screwed as mine is.

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18 Responses to The 50 Bands Challenge

  1. skye says:

    Can you include electronic knob twiddling dj type acts and hip hop too? I’m such a child of the nineties that I have millions of live shows with those kinds of acts, plenty of bands too, but lots and lots of those other shows.

  2. TobiLynne says:…_50_bands_i%27ve_seen_live

    C’mon, where’s your list??

  3. honeypants says:

    Oh, I forgot quite a few too. But then there are the bands I’ve seen only because it was in a festival setting — so I don’t know if that even counted. Or it was some nobody band that was opening for an indie one semi-hit wonder type thing. And I didn’t want to count local bands either. It was tough.

    But seriously, how could you forget PRINCE?!?!?!?

  4. Ann says:

    I’m with TobiLynne – love to see your list!

    (Does this comment make me appear sycophantic?)

  5. jools says:

    Lets do it by decade and add venues! Seventies; Led Zeppelin (The Forum). Traffic (Santa Monica Civic).The Stones at the Hollywood Palladium with Little Stevie Wonder opening…. All those bands at Griffith Park and The Whiskey.(cheating!) Oh shit I’m worn out already. Maybe it will help to remember which recreational drugs we were taking?

    Frozen Shoulder (not a great new band).

  6. annemarie says:

    My first big stadium concert was Nirvana in 1992. I was 15. The Breeders and Teenage Fanclub supported. I was drunk on cidar.

  7. OMGGMAB says:

    How about naming bands we ALMOST saw? Still crying over all the wrangling I did to get out of work so that I could see JETHRO TULL, only to wait in line and then be told by the ticket taker that I was there a night too early. My friends got to go the next night and I was stuck at work. That was back in the 70’s. Should I let it go now?

  8. OMGGMAB says:

    Best shows: Pink Floyd “Animals”, Lilith Fair, Janet Jackson with Usher opening, Meatloaf, Marty Casey, John Mellencamp

    Worst show (hands down): Bob Dylan in the mid 90’s. No brain cells left to remember the lyrics, apparently.

  9. skye says:

    Damn you SW! I lay awake at 4am this morning for an hour thinking of the first 50 that came into my head. I got stuck on 43 for ages.

  10. HelOnWheels says:

    Currently stuck on 43, like Skye. Maybe I shouldn’t have been as cavalier in my youth, killing all those brain cells. What else can’t I remember that I’ve forgotten??

    SW, let’s see that list of yours!

  11. Max says:

    Nice. I’m post this challenge on Facebook. If I saw three bands at Lollapalooza does that count as three? I guess so, if we count opening acts

  12. Sister Wolf says:

    Skye – I don’t think you can include dj type stuff but hip hop acats would count.

    TobiLynne – GREAT LIST. I expected nothing less from you.

    Honeypants – I think my brain was trying so hard to go back in time, it overlooked the recent stuff. Or maybe cuz I saw him in Las Vegas.

    Ann – Will you show me yours??

    Jools – AH! You just reminded me that I was Buffy Saint Marie at the Santa Monica Civic! What can be done re your shoulder??

    annemarie – Oh, this will make Max so jealous!

    OMGGMAB – No, do not let it go!!!!!!

    OMGGMAB – Yeah, I wouldn’t bother seeing Dylan any more. I’ll stick with my memories of him. Pink Floyd is great though!

    Skye – I bet you got way past 50, right?

    HelOnWheels – Well, but my list makes me seem like such a loser!

    Max – Okay, I’m going to look right now. I posted the challenge to YOU on facebook!

  13. Nephew Wolf says:

    Circle Jerks, Bad Religion, MDC, Suicidal Tendencies, Fear, Hari Kari, Resistance, Vandals, St. Vitus, Husker Du, Red Cross / Redd Kross, Black Flag, Gone, Descendents, Falling Idols, Minutemen, Firehose, Decry, 45 Grave, MIA, Subhumans, Final Conflict, Instigators, Discharge, Social Distortion, Agression, Youth Brigade, 7 Seconds, DI, Adolescents, Dickies, Uniform Choice, Scream, Dr. Know, DOA, AC/DC, Motorhead, English Dogs, Iron Maiden, WASP, Dead Kennedys, Motley Crue, Quiet Riot, Judas Priest, Ozzy Osbourne, Van Halen, Scorpions, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Fishbone, Dead Milkmen, DRI…ok, that’s 50 and that’s before I graduated high school. And that’s not counting stuff I went to with my parents.

    I think that one either is or is not the kind of pathetic music geek who can rattle off the names of bands he/she saw twenty or more years ago; I doubt that there are very many people over 30 who haven’t seen fifty or more bands…or am I just biased by the people I hang around with / grew up with?

  14. Style Spy says:

    I would like to do this, but I need my brain for other things, I think, and here in my mid-forties I’m realizing the cerebral real estate is getting pretty depleted. I can, however, tell you where I bought and how much I paid for and what was the original retail on every pair of shoes I own. How’s that?

  15. Nathalie says:

    This would be a fun time-consuming thing to do, but it will bring me back to high school, and I think Facebook suggestions does that for me enough. Sometimes I see a whole page of people I haven’t thought of in years and it makes me vomit a little.

  16. Mark says:

    Fishbone, The Untouchables, The Toasters, The NY Citizens, The Pie-Tasters, The Selecter, The Beat, The Special Beat, Toots and the Maytals, Let’s Go Bowling, Bad Manners, The Trojans, Public Enemy, 3rd Bass, De La Soul, Desmond Dekker, Jimmy Cliff, Yellow Man, Elvis Costello, Bob Dylan, New Order, Echo and the Bunnymen, Gene Loves Jezebel, U2, The Aquabats, Less than Jake, Bad Brains, The Alarm, Mustard Plug, The Grateful Dead, Ziggy Marley, Poison, Warrant, X, Red Hot Chili Peppers, No Doubt, Alice in Chains, Tool, Dinosaur Jr., Primus, The Farm, Sheila E., Jesus Jones, Moby, The Ramones, Urban Blight, Bim Skala Bim, Blood Spasm, Skankin’ Pickle, Son Volt, Whiskeytown, TV on the Radio, BIlly Bragg, Broken Social Scene, The Flaming Lips, Old 97’s… is that 50 yet?

    The really sad thing is that I’m embarrassed about 80% of these. I actually can’t stand to listen to 60% of these. I opted to see Skankin’ Pickle instead of Social Distortion. I was afraid to see the Clash. I went to Poison and Warrant ironically, but they were amazing spectacles and more memorable than most of the other bands I’ve seen. I wasted a lot of time on ska. Ho-hum.

  17. Sister Wolf says:

    Nephew Wolf – Yes, you are biased.

    Style Spy – Wow, I’d like to see that list, then.

    Nathalie – This isn’t that nauseating, at least not for me.

    Mark – I’m embarrassed, too. You know, I think I saw Yellow Man open for somebody. Hahahaha! Okay, here’s my list, without Prince, the Pretenders, etc

    1. Ravi Shankar (first concert)
    2. Joe Cocker
    3. Burning Spears
    4. Bob Marley
    5. Patti Smith
    6. Neil Young
    7. Romeo Void
    8. Pixies
    9. Dresden Dolls
    10. The Band
    11. The Subdudes
    12. Elvis Costello
    13. The Temptations
    14. Emmylou Harris
    15. Townes Van Zandt
    16. Frank Black
    17. Bert Jansch
    18. Delbert McClinton
    19. Madness
    20. Was Not Was
    21. Credence Clearwater
    22. Dr. John
    23. Miles from Nashville
    24. The What
    25. Todd Rundgren
    26. X
    27. Rolling Stones
    28. Guns n Roses
    29. Billy Idol
    30. The Cult
    31. Joan Armatrading
    32. Van Morrison
    33. Carlene Carter
    34. Rodney Crowell
    35. Stevie Wonder
    36. Bob Dylan
    37. Amanda Palmer
    38. The Dickies
    39. John Hyatt
    40. Graham Parker
    41. Andy Gibb
    42. Big Skye
    43. King Sunny Ade
    44. Pearl Jam
    45. The Textones
    46. Love
    47. Arthur Lee
    48. Rick Danko
    49. Lone Justice
    50. The Leaving Trains

  18. TobiLynne says:

    See, your list rocks like I knew it would! Also, I’m EXTREMELY jealous that you’ve seen Patti Smith and Frank Black.

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