In this series Fugitive Sounds editor Cameron Howell posts selected stubs from his cache of concert tickets, along with his memories of the shows—a “little exercise” that he says “is as much about memory and explaining memories as it is about music or concerts.” Check back at noon each Thursday for the latest installment.
I’ve kept dozens of ticket stubs from concerts and sporting events since the mid-1990s. I keep them in a box in a desk drawer, but maybe I need to laminate some of these tickets to preserve them. (My undergraduate advisor had a wooden bowl full of laminated ticket stubs and other mementos in his home.) The ink on some of my tickets is beginning to fade, 20 or so years after being printed.
I’m going to try a little exercise—scanning some of these ticket stubs, then posting the images of the scanned tickets along with my memories of who was with me for each concert—not to brag, but to record some memories about special events and special times. What began as a Facebook series, complete with mentions of my friends by name, has morphed into a series for Fugitive Sounds. So, perhaps my “public-facing” posts will require a bit more explaining, a bit less shorthand.
And so maybe this series is as much about memory and explaining memories as it is about music or concerts.
Maybe it would make sense to post the ticket stubs in chronological order. Maybe I will post them in whatever order makes sense to me.
Holding these ticket stubs makes me realize that I don’t want a sheet of printed copy paper or a scan code on my phone in order to gain entry to a music venue. I want a real ticket. And I want to keep the ticket stub.
October 3, 2002
9:30 Club (Washington, DC)
My soon-to-be fiancé and my grad-school housemate and I rode in my black two-door Chevy Blazer from Charlottesville, Virginia to Washington, DC for this show, which was a blast. Ryan Adams was touring in support of Demolition, a collection of songs that had not found homes (or had not found homes that his then record company would approve). Heartbreaker and Gold, Adams’ two previous solo forays, had been favorites of mine. And my grad-school housemate and I were big fans of the records that Adams had made with Whiskeytown. Strangers Almanac was a wonder, as was the posthumous (or released after the break-up of the band, at least) Pneumonia.
Adams played solo—on piano, on acoustic guitar, on electric guitar. Below is the setlist, which I found online, from that night. Not listed is one song that I remember distinctly: Adams had a record player on stage. He put a Madonna LP on the turntable and played along. Maybe to “Like a Virgin”?
My friends and I watched from the balcony at the 9:30 Club. The best vantage point of one of the best venues in the country. I ran into a good college friend on my way to the upstairs bar.
Adams was chatty and funny all night. His occasional on-stage petulance was legendary at the time. (Here is a primer.) I recall hoping that no one would shout out a request for “Summer of ‘69”—since it was impossible to guess how Ryan Adams might respond to the Bryan Adams joke. Maybe that tension made for a bit of magic.
But Adams seems more magical now—even though he seems more stable. He releases records that are, in my opinion, consistently enjoyable—even if those records vary in sound and intensity. The Ryan Adams (or the Ryan Adams persona) on Twitter and Instagram appears at peace with his life, grateful for his backing band, nestled in his own universe of pinball machines and pop culture. Photos of Pax-Am, his recording studio, ooze mojo.
Still, when I recently read a post on social media from Adams about the Netflix series Stranger Things, I could not help wondering how Adams felt as he watched his old flame Winona Ryder play a mother of two boys in the series. The directors tried to make Ryder look haggard, but that just isn’t possible or convincing.
Back to 2002. Those were halcyon days of gradate school, back when I could drive to Washington in the late afternoon (after rush hour subsided on Interstate 66), drive home in the wee hours of the morning, and still go to class or my internship at 8am or 9am. My body can’t do that anymore.
Oh My Sweet Carolina
Sweet Lil’ Gal (23rd/1st)
To Be Young (Is to Be Sad, Is to Be High)
Brown Sugar (Rolling Stones cover)
My Winding Wheel
When the Stars Go Blue
Call Me on Your Way Back Home
Lovesick Blues (Hank Williams cover)
La Cienega Just Smiled
The Rescue Blues
The Bar Is a Beautiful Place
Last Nite (Strokes cover)
You Will Always Be the Same
Twice as Bad as Love
Come Pick Me Up