the most inspiring women in music on their first show ever

Julia Cumming, Kay Kasparhauser, and more of our favorite female musicians on the music that got them started on their path.

by Courtney Iseman
06 January 2016, 3:20pm

Beau photographed by Ysa Perez

Your first show can be a pretty powerful memory that never leaves you, and can signal a whole slew of new beginnings. It could be the first time you feel mindblowingly connected to music, or the first time you sing at the top of your lungs and dance with strangers. The show itself could be the backdrop for your first kiss or your first time getting a little too drunk. That show could forever change your path, turning you into the kind of person who takes in a punk show a week or who decides to pursue a career in hip hop. We asked some of the most inspiring women in music today to discuss the gig that set them on their path.

Heather Golden and Emma Rose Jenney of Beau 
Heather: "One of the first shows Emma and I ever went to was in high school, we went to the original Knitting Factory in Tribeca. All of the coolest kid bands were playing that night, from the funky indie band Anything Orange to the intense psych rock band Fiasco and even the Gameboy drum-based band Starscream. It was an amazing lineup and some of these bands still exist to this day. The people in these bands were as inspiring in their performances as they were in person, and changed the way we viewed musicians. Especially because they were all very popular in high school--if you were in a band, you were popular."

Hinds photographed by Francesca Allen

Ade Martin of Hinds
"My first show was Jonathan Richman. My parents were huge fans of him. I was eight years old and he was playing at El Circulo de Bellas Artes. It's a beautiful building we have in Madrid for expositions and small music acts. He was there with his drummer as always. I remember not understanding much at the beginning but ending up liking it a lot because he wasn't only a musician; he was also a showman, so for a child, it was perfect to watch. I liked it so much that I saw him again when he came back to Madrid four years ago."

The Prettiots photographed by Sue Kwon

Kay Kasparhauser of The Prettiots
"I grew up going to a lot of amazing shows because of my parents. I was a baby at Nirvana and KISS shows and stuff. But the first show I really remember having an impact on me was some big outdoor benefit-type show my mom dragged me to when I was like eight. I was so bored that I wandered off and somehow ended up backstage, and I saw a guy standing alone playing wine glasses, and it was the most beautiful thing I had ever heard. I hung out with him for a while and decided i wanted to play wine glasses when I grew up. It turned out that it was Beck, which is cool."

Julia Cumming photographed by Kathy Lo

Julia Cumming of Sunflower Bean
"After a conversation with my dad, we've concluded the first show I ever went to was Aaron Carter (who had the hit single, "Basketball" out at this time) and the Baha Men ("Who Let the Dogs Out") at PNC Bank Arts Center in 2001. I was four years old. I really loved "Who Let the Dogs Out" and I think I also really loved Aaron must have been a really exciting day for me.

I loved a lot of music at the time that still influences me today, but it wasn't necessarily one show that did it for me. I listened to a lot of Elliott Smith (woof) and T-Rex at home...I'd say that had a bigger affect on me than Aaron Carter. My dad also took me to a lot of shows around New York City when I was a little older, and I was really lucky he was so into music and we could share that."

Lorely Rodriguez, a.k.a Empress Of
"The first concert I ever went to was NSYNC during the No Strings Attached tour at the Rose Bowl Stadium in Pasadena. I was probably 10? I remember wanting to go to this show more than anything in the world. I cried and cried and cried to my mother for months to get me tickets. And I called Ticketmaster almost everyday to make sure it hadn't sold out. The tickets were pretty expensive and I remember my mom saved so we could go. I think loving something so much as a child and not being able to explain it... It's a weird phenomenon. I will never love anything that blindly and wholeheartedly again. The show was obviously incredible. It wasn't the best show I've ever seen, but I remember being really happy that day."

Mourn photographed by Berta Pfirsich 

Jazz Rodríguez Bueno of Mourn
"The first show I went to was one of my father's bands, Madee. I knew my father was a musician and I listened to his songs at home, but it was when I saw him and his band playing live that I thought, "Wow, this is amazing." I went to some of their gigs in Barcelona or nearby during my childhood with my mother and my sister and I remember feeling impressed every time. It was a feeling of admiration, and rock! I even cried listening them play a beautiful song they have. That feeling was telling me I had to do this, too; something was moving me and making me feel things. My father introduced me to a lot of bands that I still love and accompanied me to a lot of concerts when I was a bit bigger and he still does. Now, a few years later he is going to my own shows and now that I think about it, I just feel thankful. That first gig took me right where I want to be, doing what I love the most."

Carla Pérez Vas of Mourn
"One of my first shows I went was the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Palau Sant Jordi in Barcelona. I was 15 at that time and it was really impressive. The way the mass of people was moving, jumping, dancing - it was pure peace and violence at the same time. I remember when they played "Sir Psycho Sexy," all of the stadium went crazy in red and pink lights. After the show, my friends and I laid down for a while on the grass and we listened to "Porcelain" looking at the stars. I remember that my heart was still beating in a heavy way."


Text Courtney Iseman

empress of
The Prettiots
Sunflower bean
Julia Cumming
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