Beer and Pavement

Top 5 Bands I “Discovered” Opening for Other Bands

Posted in Live, Top 5 by SM on November 7, 2011


I’ve been to a lot of shows over the last 20 years. Less than some, more than most. I’ve seen pretty much every important artist of my generation (aside from REM and Radiohead for some inexplicable reason). Of course, I’ve also seen a lot of openers. Sometimes I skip the opening act, but sometimes I catch a set better than the headliner’s. There have been other times I went just to see the opener.

So, here’s a list of bands who opened for other bands that I “discovered.” Surely, there were people who had heard of these bands before I, but I found them in a place I wasn’t looking.

5.Dirty Three – The first time I saw Pavement marked the night I discovered Dirty Three. Between rants about struggling to find one’s personal pharmacist in the middle of the night, DT played the most intense guitar rock at a slow, methodical pace. Instead listening to a singer go on and on about his #whitewhines, the most sorrowful violin imaginable gave us the soundtrack to the Three’s tales of woe.

4. 764-HERO, The Shins – I discovered these two bands at completely different points in Modest Mouse’s history. 764-HERO opened for MM in the fall of 1996 in a tiny Columbus, OH club called Bernie’s, a bagel/beer joint in a High Street basement. I saw the Shins on MM’s first tour on a major label’s dime. It would be a full year before their record would be released and several years before Natalie Portman changed Zach Braff’s fictional life.

3. Iron & Wine – Like the two above, I saw Iron & Wine open for an Isaac Brock-fronted band. This time, it was Ugly Casanova. We had been anticipating UC’s set that we hardly noticed the bearded man whispering on-stage.

2. Superchunk – This one makes me a little embarrassed to admit. For various reasons, I was slow to picking up on Superchunk. They opened for Guided By Voices, a band I was quick to accept. For that night, Superchunk was the superior band.

1. Jon Spencer Blues Explosion – I was late to jump on the JSBX bandwagon but at least it was during their Orange tour. The band opened for the Breeders and all I could remember was a man screaming “Blues Explosion” as he made love to a theromone.

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  1. Mike said, on November 7, 2011 at 9:17 pm

    I’ve been going to shows recently exclusively for the opener. Kurt Vile and Bright Eyes did a tour recently; Bright Eyes didn’t do it for me but Kurt Vile was worth the price of admission. Same with Menomena, who opened for the New Pornographers, and, uh, these are going back a few years but Grizzly Bear opening for Wilco and The War on Drugs vs. Hold Steady. But that’s about all the concerts I’ve been since moving out West. (Exception: The Love Language was good, but The Arcade Fire was a pretty perfect lead act.)

    I guess these weren’t “discoveries” per se, because I’d heard about the bands before, but it always amazed me how the openers outshined the lead act. The main acts I saw were always on a “greatest hits” tour of sorts, and maybe the openers felt like they had something to prove.

    • Zac said, on November 7, 2011 at 9:21 pm

      Yeah, I could go on forever about good-to-great openers, but I was thinking about the bands that I discovered on nights that I went to see someone else completely. Kurt Vile is pretty great.

      • Mike said, on November 8, 2011 at 10:18 am

        I haven’t really “discovered” any openers at shows since I began using the Internet. If the name’s unfamiliar, I tend to research the band’s myspace page beforehand. t helps with quality control but takes some of the magic away.

      • Zac said, on November 8, 2011 at 10:21 am

        Agreed. I think that’s why all the bands above are from the nineties.

  2. carrie the destroyer said, on November 8, 2011 at 10:52 am

    I have one to beat the ages:

    In 2000 I saw the Black-Eyed Peas open up for No Doubt. No Fergie.


    I also saw the Faint open for No Doubt 2 years later at the Uptown. That was significantly more enjoyable save the middle-aged women in business suits gyrating in front of me.

    Last year I caught Zola Jesus open for Kurt Vile and Fucked Up (weird/awesome line-up, right?) in Chicago about 2 weeks before she exploded all over pitchfork and the blogosphere. I didn’t care much for that either.

    • Mike said, on November 8, 2011 at 11:03 am

      I missed Fucked Up when they came to town last time. Apparently they’re not touring anymore. Dang.

    • Zac said, on November 8, 2011 at 11:12 am

      Wait. You saw No Doubt TWICE?!?

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