My first concert at Merriweather was the band Chicago. I was 17 years old and had started a job at a deli. This 23-year-old girl, Holly, came up to me and said she had an extra ticket to a show, and asked if I’d like to join her. That night was my first concert ever. I had my first fruity alcoholic drink, I kissed two different boys (man, did I think I was cool). And the music, well, it was exactly how I remembered my older cousins playing Chicago on the record player. Even if Peter Cetera wasn’t with the band anymore. It definitely was a great night. And as for the older girl, Holly — she is now my best friend. Even if we ended up missing the 10,000 Maniacs concert later that summer because she picked me up two hours late with her boyfriend who didn’t have a ticket and she wouldn’t go without him. I still have that untorn ticket.
Over the next two summers I saw many shows there. The Judy Bats, UB40, Gin Blossoms, New Order, Depeche Mode, Santana, Rusted Root and many more I just don’t even remember at this point.
You see, Merriweather became a source of normalcy for me during those two years. My dad was going through cancer treatments and eventually passed away. Those nights at Merriweather were the nights I could feel like a normal teenager. Sitting with my friends on a blanket in the summer breeze. Having a laugh. Listening to great music. Copping a beer off an older patron. I slid down the muddy lawn to UB40, I danced till I could dance no more to New Order. I jived to the sounds of Santana and Rusted Root and it was great. It was a reprieve. It was a summer of ‘69 type of Americana experience.
I moved away from Baltimore a few years later — to Chicago, actually.
I’ve since moved back to Baltimore and, in 2016, my best friend Holly called me up and said we were going to see The Cure at Merriweather. I was really excited to be going down Merriweather memory lane. It had been 20 years after all. I packed a blanket and headed on down. Arriving late, I was only able to cram myself into one of the last grassy spots on the lawn all the way at the top. But at least I wasn’t Holly-style late. An hour passed before she made an appearance. Some things never change.
When The Cure came to the stage I looked up at the big screen for us lawn seat patrons and laughed. He was just about as small as if I was sitting in the last row of the arena. Perhaps the camera man could zoom in a bit? But the sound was awesome and the summer breeze blew. The smells were the same. On the same breeze you’d catch the sweet smell of summer, a quick whiff of B.O. and the skunky smell of weed. I had a couple drinks legally and a bunch of laughs with friends and new friends. Because you always meet your neighbors and you all laugh together and dance together and enjoy the music together and it’s always a good night.
We Need More Barenaked Ladies – Adam Stone on one of his favorite bands
Merriweather and Ol’ Blue Eyes – Michael Olesker on remembering the beginning of Merriweather and Columbia
Running into the Sun (But I’m Running Behind) – Alan Feiler on musical bragging rights
So Much Music, So Little Time – Amanda Krotki on growing up attending concerts in Columbia
Reeling in the Years – Simone Ellin on feeling like an old Steely Dan fan
To share your own stories, please go to www.facebook.com/JMORELiving and let us know who you’ve seen at the concert pavilion.
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