Concert Reviews

My First Show: Elkhart's Travis Hopper Shares His Memories Of Seeing The Jacksons, Guns N' Roses and The Hold Steady For The First Time.

Welcome to My First Show, where we give bands a chance to talk about the first shows they ever attended -- no matter how uncool and embarrassing those tales may be.

You might have seen him play with The Americanos, J.D. Whittenburg or as a solo act, but, these days, Travis Hopper sings and plays guitar for Elkhart.

Influenced by Wilco and Tom Petty, Hopper says the immediate future for his band includes recording a follow-up to the band's 2009 debut, The Moon, as well as a covers EP, later this month. Shows will follow when those drop.

And Hopper should know about good shows. The first ever show he caught came in the form of a performance from The Jacksons (including Michael) on their famed Victory tour in 1984.

Plus, the first show he saw with his own cash was pretty cool, too -- the infamous marriage of 1992's biggest non-grunge rock bands.

Oh, and if you're a fan of The Hold Steady, pay close attention the next time you watch the band's A Positive Rage tour documentary. Hopper shows up in the middle of it, expressing his love for the great Minneapolis group.

So, yeah, he's had some cool experiences. After the jump, he shares the details with us.

Do you remember the first show you ever saw? Did your parents take you?
The Jacksons at the Astrodome in Houston, 1984. When I was a little kid, I was obsessed with Michael Jackson. This was normal in 1984. Six-year-olds could dress up in sequined jackets, high-waist black pants, rhinestone-studded white socks and a single white glove for Halloween without being on the receiving end of "a talk" about "stranger danger." Especially if said kid won first place in the Rummel Creek Elementary School costume contest. (You're damn right I did!) But I digress: Michael Jackson and The Jacksons reunited for the Victory Tour that same year, and luckily for me, they'd scheduled a stop in Houston, where I grew up. My dad took me to the show and we had great seats, on the floor, right in the middle and close to the stage. It felt like Michael and company took forever to take the stage. It was probably 15 minutes in real life, but closer to eternity for a six-year-old. Suddenly, five guys take the stage. They're performing -- it's really happening! I explode! I cheer! And then security tackles them. And takes them off stage. My dad explains to me that they're not The Jacksons. I am defeated. A few short minutes later: BOOM. A beam of white light hits me square in face, the real Jacksons appear on stage, and I'm transported to pop music heaven. I don't remember much about the show other than the lights, Michael doing the moonwalk and the brain-melting ecstasy of the King of Pop performing 50 feet in front of me.

What was the first show you ever saw with your own money?
Guns N Roses, Metallica and Faith No More at the Astrodome in 1992. It was September, we'd just started high school, and my mom dropped me, Chris Ginsbach, the girl he was dating and her friend off in the parking lot for the show. It was still daytime when we found our seats, and the light streaming through the domed roof wasn't the dark and dangerous rock 'n' roll vibe I was hoping for. Neither was Faith No More. They were terrible. Metallica took the stage about 20 minutes later, and Chris and I headbanged and watched the swarming mosh pit below. The girls went to the bathroom or something; I have no idea. We didn't care about them during Metallica. By the end of the set it was dark, we'd thrown rock 'n' roll horns in the air for the first time (a big moment for a Baptist kid) and we were feeling cool. Then G'n'F'n'R took the stage. Chris started making out with his girlfriend -- and I sat awkwardly next to her friend for the next few hours. I was 14 and profoundly un-smooth. Luckily the show was awesome. Slash did his guitar solo on top of the piano routine and Axl came out for the encore in a red hooded boxing robe with the Houston Rockets logo on the back. It was rad.

You have a cameo in The Hold Steady's A Positive Rage live DVD, describing how much you like the band and their live show. Do you remember the first time you ever saw the band live?
That clip was filmed right after my first Hold Steady show, which was at the Koko Theatre, so I was on a bit of a rock 'n' roll high. I was entranced with Boys and Girls in America at the time, and it just so happened that they were playing in London while I was there on vacation. It was great to experience a rock show in an unfamiliar setting -- a refurbished old theater, full of attentive, enthusiastic rock fans in a town I barely knew. It was madness trying to hail a cab after the show, so we walked around the corner to find a less populated street. When we did, we bumped into the band -- and I proceeded to whip them with "great show" banter. It wasn't cool, but I did it. I'm not ashamed. The documentary crew was there, and I bet they started rolling because I was an American watching the band in London, and it made for a good story -- like I'd traveled across the globe just to see The Hold Steady. Which wasn't true, of course, but I wasn't complaining.

What do you remember about the first show as Elkhart?
It was at Club Dada for the Shakey Amy Benefit Show in August 2008. Club Dada has been our home base for 10 years. From The Americanos to the solo band to Elkhart, almost every pivotal musical moment has played out at Dada. So we were lucky (and maybe fated) to play our first Elkhart show on the stage outside. It was a beautiful late summer night, we were playing a benefit show for a great cause -- and we were fairly certain we couldn't fill our 45-minute time slot. So we planned on ending with "Hometown" since it faded out on the record and we could "jam it out" if needed. Which is obnoxious and embarrassing to say, but it's true. We played the show. Had a wonderful time. We were exactly where we needed to be. And "Hometown" has ended every show since then.