The Daily Gazette
The Locally Owned Voice Of The Capital Region

Let's begin with Keith, not Britney

In the past two decades kickin’ around in Upstate New York, I’ve seen my fair share of concerts.

Starting out at the grand ol’ Pepsi Arena, now known as the Times Union Center or something horribly bland like that. Come on, bring back the old corporate charm, guys!

I worked my way up to seats on the lawn at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center (SPAC) until I finally graduated into the “16 and over” magic of Northern Lights: a dark, sticky bar in Clifton Park that has since changed its name to the Upstate Concert Hall. Of all the above listed name changes, this last one is a change I refuse to recognize. That grimy dungeon of a music venue will always and forever be Northern Lights.

Anyway, I was in second grade when I went to my first real concert, if you could even call it that. It was Britney Spears on her "Oops I Did It Again" tour. Yes, regretfully, that’s the ugly truth. Bear with me, here. I’m not proud of it… but I was young and impressionable. Foolish even. I’m sure you’ve had those “How could I have….”moments. My brain had not fully developed yet. Let’s leave it at that.

I’m sure there were some concerts inbetween, but the next memorable show that might earn back some brownie points from my readers ... would have to be The Rolling Stones. Yes, I saw the Stones. I was the coolest 12-year-old at Greenwich Middle School. Okay, I went with my parents so maybe I wasn’t the coolest, but let’s be real, I was twelve.

We weren’t in the nosebleeds exactly, but we definitely weren’t in the pit either. My uncle, however, managed to work his way closer to the stage. He came back at the end of the show with a pick from Ronnie Wood. Ronnie Wood! And he gave the pick to me! Since then it’s occurred to me that my uncle could have easily just bought a Bigger Bang Tour pick, beat it up a bit, and said Ronnie Wood threw it his way.

Luckily, 12-year-old Cady took it for what it was. A pick from the Stones. Confetti fell from the ceiling. Jagger strutted across the stage like an old wrinkly rooster strung out on coke while Richards swaggered around like a pirate with his guitar slung low and Watts kept the show’s momentum going with every kick of the drum. The energy in these guys blew me away.

I worshiped Keith. I wore a “Keith Richards for President” t-shirt with an image of him, cig hanging from his mouth, around the halls of my junior high. I’ve still got that shirt. The pick, too. Maybe it was held between Woods’ fingers. Maybe my uncle played a trick on his 12-year-old niece at her first real rock concert to add a little magic. Either way you look at it, it sure did work.

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