As the saying goes, “Without music, life would be a mistake.” Whether you listened on vinyl, cassette tapes, or a first-generation iPod, we all have that song that makes us feel like we’re back in our UW dorm room. But even better than jamming out with your headphones on is singing along at a concert. Did you dance along to a rockin’ UW Marching Band halftime show? Catch a then-unknown but now-iconic artist at a local dive bar? We asked Badger Insider readers for their favorite college concert stories; here are the musical memories we collected from the 1990s and beyond:
In the autumn of 1992, U2 may have been the biggest band in the world when they came to Camp Randall. Unfortunately, I had to work that night as the building manager at the old Union South. The Union was dead, because just about everyone else on campus was at the concert, so I grabbed the keys to the roof and headed up to see if I could hear anything.
When I got to the roof hatch, it was already unlocked, and I found that the night manager of the maintenance crew already had the same idea I did. We exchanged a brief hello, but didn’t say much because the concert was now in full swing. I’ll never know how good it sounded in the stadium, but it sounded pretty good standing up on the roof. This was before second deck was installed along the east side of the stadium so it was unobstructed between Union South and the Stadium at roof level. Even more surprising than the clear sound, was that you could actually sort of make out the stage reflected off the large press box glass on the west side of the stadium.
It was a perfect, warm, September evening, and there was a refreshing breeze up on the roof. The two of us just stood there song after song watching a shimmery reflection of the stage and lights and enjoying the music. If I was to spend 100 years trying to plan the best way to watch a concert, I doubt I could match that night. It was sublime.
Eventually, the walkie-talkie that I carried around as part of my job buzzed, and I had to go back to work, but for a short while two guys who had to work during the biggest concert of the year got paid to watch it from the best seats not in the house. It will always be one of my fondest UW memories.
Glenn Ruskaup ’94
I used to volunteer with the UW Knights of Columbus working concerts with PerMar Security. For us it was a fundraiser, and PerMar treated us well because we routinely provided a good number of guys. I got to see Tim McGraw and Faith Hill, Dave Matthews Band, Kenny Chesney, and Keith Urban, among others. But my favorite show was Bob Dylan on Halloween at the Kohl Center. Must have been about 2008. After checking IDs for beer sales, I was told to stand in the penalty box area and make sure no one came over the railing from above. Given most of the crowd behind the railing appeared to be original Dylan fans, it was a pretty cushy assignment. I got to watch Dylan jam without any interruptions including a killer encore rendition of Tangled Up in Blue. Pretty killer way to see Dylan for my first time — and make some money too!
Sean Zuckerman MS’06, PhD’08