Concert Reviews

My First Show: Sean Kirkpatrick Recalls His First Nervous Curtains Show, Remembers The Few Rock Shows He Saw As A Teen in Abilene

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.

Sean Kirkpatrick has been a busy fellow lately: His band, Nervous Curtains, opened for Destroyer last weekend. Plus, the trio has a new 7-inch single out this week. And, yeah, the band got some attention last year for their name, too.

But Kirkpatrick's hardly a fresh face on the scene; he's been a fixture in area venues for a number of years, thanks to his work in bands such as The Falcon Project and The Paper Chase.

With such familiar names on his musical resume, we just figured there had to be some great first show experiences for him to share. So we asked him.

And he hardly disappointed. Because, really, there's nothing more embarrassing than hearing your favorite band drop an F-bomb when you're at a show your parents right next to you. Kirkpatrick shares that tale, as well as a few others, after the jump.

Do you remember the first show you ever saw? Did your parents take you?
It was Ratt at the Abilene Convention Center in the summer of 1985. I grew up in Abilene. We didn't get too many big shows. My parents didn't listen to rock 'n' roll, and I didn't have any siblings to expose me to music. I had this sitter who was sort of a teenage hesher. She would come over after school, and we'd watch MTV. Ratt's "Round and Round" was in heavy rotation, plus they had "Wanted Man" and maybe another hit or two. I was so drawn into their sound and Stephen Pearcy's look and voice. I still stand by the notion he was cooler than the other commercial glam metal singers of the age. My mother took me and one of my friends to the show. She sat there with her fingers in her ears. Everybody around us was getting drunk and smoking weed and laughing at the two little kids and the mom. I realized I was out of my element. Bon Jovi opened the show. They were touring on the 7800 Fahrenheit album and were yet to become megastars. I thought "Runaway" and "In and Out of Love" were OK, but Ratt was the main attraction. I don't remember much about the show other than the fact that it was loud, and everything sounded like it was echoing. At one point, Pearcy screamed "You haven't made any fuckin' noise yet, Abilene!" My mom gave me this look of disapproval. It was all very awkward. I didn't even ask to go to another rock show until I was old enough to go without a parent.

What was the first show you saw with your own money?
I don't remember. When I was in high school, the Abilene rock station would bring these unknown acts through town and try to convince us that they were big stars. They would have shows in this renovated old theater, and I would go just because it was pretty much the only thing to do. I was starting to play in my first band, and there were a couple of other local bands putting on shows. Bands would rent out a gymnasium to put on concerts. Over spring break in 1991, I came to Dallas with a friend and went to Farm Aid at Texas Stadium. That was also less than magical. Some of the acts cancelled and were replaced by various reggae and country acts that I had no interest in. I think maybe that the Christian hard rock band Petra played. I hadn't yet developed an appreciation for Willie Nelson. I don't even remember him doing a set, although I'm sure he did. I just recall he would come out with his acoustic guitar and take a solo with every band. All the people around us would stand on their chair and scream, "Sing us a song, Willie!" We had gotten there first thing in the morning and it was well after sundown before anybody we considered noteworthy would play. My friend was mostly there to see Lynyrd Skynyrd, and I was there to see Neil Young. After Skynyrd did their four-song set, my friend turned to me and said, "I wanna beat the traffic. Let's go." He started down the aisle. I stood there for a minute and contemplated my options as Neil tuned his guitar on stage. But it's not like I had anyone else to call for a ride out of there, so I reluctantly left. A few years later, I got to see Neil Young do a two-plus-hour set backed by Booker T. and the MG's, so it all worked out fine in the end.
What do you remember from the first show with Nervous Curtains? Do you still play any songs from that first show now?
That show was covered by the Observer here. It was September 2008 at The Lounge, which later became The Nightmare. Silk Stocking and The Great Tyrant also played. The show was booked under my own name. I had just written all the songs that would wind up being on the first Nervous Curtains' LP, Out of Sync with Time, and it was the first time we would play most of those songs live. I saw this material as a departure from the stripped-down material I had been doing as a solo artist. Since the show was already booked, we just decided I would announce the band name from the stage rather than confuse people by changing the billing in advance. Our current live set list is heavy on material from the double-sided single that we released this week and our second full-length, slated for fall release. We still play a few Out of Sync with Time tunes at every show, though.

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Eric Grubbs is a Dallas-based writer who has published two books, Post: A Look at the Influence of Post-Hardcore 1985-2007 and When We Were the Kids. His writing has been featured in Punk Planet, Popdose, Fort Worth Weekly, The Dentonite and LA Weekly. He supports Manchester City and will never root for Manchester United.
Contact: Eric Grubbs