• Todd Strasser

My First Rock Concert


My friend, Howie, loved the Who. When we were at his house all he played was The Who Sell Out. I thought they were okay. At the time, one of my favorite albums was Projections by the Blues Project. When we found out that both bands would be playing at the Village Theater on the lower east side, we decided to go. We’d never been to a concert before. I think we must have taken the train in. My recollection is that the lineup that night began with Tiny Tim, followed by The Strawberry Alarm Clock, Richie Havens, The Who, and finally The Blues Project, but don’t hold me to that order.



Oddly, the opening acts made more of an impression on me than the headliners. Tiny Tim mincing around the stage with his ukulele, signing “Tiptoe Through the Tulips” in his amusing falsetto.















Havens strumming harder and faster than I’d ever seen a guitarist play, and using his thumb to barre the low strings.





The Strawberry Alarm Clock really looking like a psychedelic band.








Then it was time for The Who. Howie had warned me that Townshend and Moon usually destroyed their instruments so I was only mildly shocked when Townshend not only smashed his guitar to pieces on the floor, but plunged the headstock through the face of his amp. Moon basically kicked his drums over. But it felt strangely perfunctory, as if they only did it because they were expected to. Where was the anger that should have preceded it? Is it possible that the Blues Project then came on and played the soft and mellow “Flute Thing”? (A study in contrasts). Of all the slogans from the 1960s, the one that resonates with me the most today is: “If you remember it, you weren’t there.” According to Wikipedia, The Who Sell Out was released in December of 1967. But the poster for the show says July 8. So something about my memory is off.

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