Oct 3, 2022
NOT Just a Girl
Do you remember the first time you heard music that truly resonated with you? I do. Do you remember your first concert? I sure as heck do. I also remember the feelings associated with those times in my life. The feelings of belonging and of warmth and of finally discovering something I was truly passionate about.
The year was 1996 and I was 15 years old. I had a friend named Danielle, and she loved music—especially good music. We would get her mom to drive us to every concert that came into town, and back then, there were tons. In the 90’s, all the big acts came to New Orleans, and if we were lucky, Baton Rouge. On February 16, 1996, I was invited to see Bush, No Doubt, and the Goo Goo Dolls at UNO Lakefront Arena in New Orleans, and the excitement felt all day at school leading up to the big show was nothing short of epic. I remember religiously watching Bush on MTV where “Everything Zen” and “Little Things” were in constant rotation, along with “Machinehead” and “Glycerine”. At this point in time, Bush was the “it” band on MTV, their album “Sixteen Stone” was hugely popular, and the lead singer, Gavin Rossdale, was so utterly perfect in every way that it made all of us teenage girlies swoon. Throw in an epic shirtless cover on Rolling Stone magazine with said hunk, and you had the complete package of a teenage girl’s fantasy man.
Anyway, I was discovering new music acts daily, and I will honestly say that seeing Bush in concert kicked off my lifelong addiction of live shows. My brother had some of the coolest friends in high school, too, and my parent’s house was always the hang-out spot, or so it seemed. We would randomly have people showing up here and there just to hang out. In fact, every time there was a knock at the door, I never knew who I would see on the other side because we had so many people that would just stop by. I must say, a few times, some of Nick’s friends caught me looking indecent and I would open the door, yell “it’s for you!” and then dart back to my bedroom mortified because I wasn’t properly dressed to entertain company. Anyway, you get the picture of the non-stop barrage of friends coming to the family compound. They were the ones introducing me to music, along with my brother, and when we heard Bush was coming to town with No Doubt and the Goo Goo Dolls, I remember trying to learn as much as possible about the other acts performing on the bill with Gavin and his dudes, because I knew very little about them, especially No Doubt.
In 1995, the Goo Goo Dolls had a song called “Name” that had been released to the airwaves and MTV’s Buzz Bin. It was an acoustic hit, but one with lyrics that just hit you in the heart because, let’s be honest, Johnny Rzeznik has some incredible songwriting capabilities, even to this day. I still tear up when I listen to that song. I knew the Goos were opening for Bush, but who the heck was No Doubt? I had never heard of them. I had heard from Danielle they had a video circulating on MTV called “Just a Girl,” and I remember waiting anxiously daily as I binge-watched MTV and wondered if I would ever see the video and hear the song. Finally, one afternoon, there it was. I was hooked from the moment the first few chords started. There was Gwen Stefani on the screen, gorgeous, blonde, beautiful, and so cool! Her style! I was in awe of her style! She was wearing Dickies, a white cropped top resembling a preppy sweater, and Doc Martins. The girl had serious style and from that moment on, I was obsessed. I could not wait to see them live!
The day of the concert was a Friday, so you can imagine how hard I was daydreaming at school instead of paying attention to what the teachers were teaching. Once the bell rang for dismissal, though, I couldn’t get to my friend Laurie’s car fast enough. Laurie was this girl who lived down the street from my parents. She had this short dark hair cut into a bob, and she was so cool and so pretty, and I truly looked up to her. Her parents had recently blessed her with a brand, new teal-colored 2-door Honda Civic for her senior year, and I thought it was the coolest car ever. She and I had a speech class together and she was a senior and I was a freshman. One day, out of the goodness of her heart, she extended an invitation to give me a ride to school and that was that. She was my ride to and from school my entire freshman year and it was awesome.
Anyway, so the day of the concert, I’m practically sprinting to Laurie’s car, because I couldn’t wait to get home and prepare to leave for the show that night. Since this was 1996, my concert attire consisted of a baggy pair of Calvin Kleins with the bottoms cut off and frayed, my shiny red patent leather Sketchers, and my brother’s army green Filter t-shirt from when he saw them at the PMAC at LSU with Bush, Brother Cane, and the Toadies. Back then, I would just “borrow” my brother’s clothes, even if they were too big for me. He had some cool clothes and t-shirts, and I hated wearing anything tight or revealing. I was a Grunge chick, through and through. To this day, I don’t know if he actually liked me borrowing his clothes, but if ya didn’t Nick, then I am sorry. Oops.
So, there I am, all ready to roll, and I was anxiously awaiting the arrival of Danielle and her mom. Once in the car with the radio on, we got so hyped up. See, back in the day, the local radio stations would promote an upcoming show like there was no tomorrow, and all of the sweepers and promos with music clips had us teenagers salivating. So, we’re in route to NOLA and Danielle and I are giggling and talking about how excited we are to see the bands, and because it was my first concert, I had no clue what to expect. Once we arrived at UNO, though, the excitement was so big I felt I could burst. You could see the oodles of people everywhere, dressed up, and ready to have a good time. No Doubt was to be the first band to take the stage that night and I had no clue what to expect. As we made our way to our seats in the balcony, I could see the huge crowd of people on the floor near the stage and I wished I could be down there in the crowd with them. I remember Danielle and I talking about how we would snag some floor seats for a show one day so we could be up close to the stage and crowd surf—which, by the way, I should note that while crowd-surfing looks cool, when you’re down on the floor and you have some big dude going over your head that you have to toss around, it is not fun. At all. In fact, it’s kind of aggravating, especially when all you want to do is see the show. No Doubt hits the stage and Gwen comes out walking like a badass doing ninja kicks and all this other cool stuff and I was hypnotized. I was zoned out on her and the music and the whole experience. I vowed that day that I would become cool like Gwen, because at this point, I wasn’t quite cool yet, but I was getting there. I had a lot to learn. As soon as No Doubt finished their set and we were waiting for the Goo Goo Dolls to come out, I told Danielle that I just had to go see if they had a No Doubt shirt in the merch section because I just had to have one. Lo and behold, they had this blue ringer tee with yellow piping, BUT they were sold out of my size and all they had were size small. I just HAD to have this t-shirt, so I bought the small, ran to the restroom to change, and squeezed my boobies into it. I was in heaven, and it was awesome.
The rest of the show was truly amazing, but to be honest, I couldn’t stop thinking about No Doubt; I had to see them again. Sure, the Goo Goo Dolls put on a great show, and yes, Bush was epic, BUT Gwen Stefani was it as far as I was concerned, and the rest of the night and the drive home was filled with thoughts of Gwen Stefani, her killer abs, and her killer style.
…and so, Bush was my first real concert, but I had No Doubt on the brain, and if you were to ask me what I remember most about that first Bush concert, it would definitely be No Doubt.
Over the years, I have been blessed with attending many, many shows, but those days of attending infinite shows has been put on hiatus for a bit due to my life as a mom. For now, I can reminisce and share my memories with you all in hopes of inspiring a new generation to experience music the way we 90’s kids did.
Love and light.