Question of the Week: Who’s the most impressive opening act you’ve ever seen?
Local Spins’ Question of the Week (March 18, 2021)
Who’s the most impressive or most surprising opening act you’ve ever seen?
This week’s winner of Local Spins merch: Email subscriber Joel Schultze, who responded to the Question of the Week and was entered into a drawing for a bandana. Sign up for email updates and the weekly newsletter here: https://localspins.com/subscribe-local-spins-mailing-list/
THE READER RESPONSES:
James Barry – Years ago I saw the Ian Hunter Mick Ronson Band at the Fruenthal Theatre in Muskegon. If the Hunter Ronson Band wasn’t enough, their opener was an unknown up and comer, named John Mellencamp. The headliners were sublime but Mellencamp and band came loaded for bear and you could just tell you were seeing somebody special.
Hugo Cruz – Wire Train, opening for Big Country, Hill Auditorium, March 1984. The only opening band I’ve ever seen that got an encore, and damn did they deserve it.
Steve Sullivan – Larry and His Flask, opening for Frank Turner. Had never heard of them prior to the show, but they just about tore the roof off St Andrews Hall. Was lucky enough to see them again headlining Pyramid Scheme before they broke up and it was amazing.
Jack Droppers – Back in 2010, I went to Daytrotter’s “Barnstormers III” and Nathaniel Rateliff was the 3rd act of 5 (headliners were Ra Ra Riot and Delta Spirit). Rateliff had just put out his first record, “Of Memory of Loss” that day and because of that, I’d only listened to a few of his tracks beforehand. His whole set was intoxicating. When he finally got big-name recognition, it was not surprising.
Steven Richard Ellis – Pearl Jam at the State Theatre warming up for the Red Hot Chili Peppers . Kasey Chambers for Lucinda Williams at State
Jerry Kolb – Went to see Bruce Hornsby at the peak of his popularity and some young woman named Melissa Etheridge opened.
David Lynn Drzick – Avatar opening up for Babymetal!
Sue Merrell – I went to see the Chieftains at Interlochen and this Canadian fiddler –Ashley McIssac– opened. He played so fast and furious that he broke a string, not once but twice. I loved him so much that I ended up traveling to Cape Breton to see him and Buddy McMaster perform in a real in-the-barn barn dance.
Lisa Champagne O’Connor – Mutlu (opened for Amos Lee at Meijer Gardens)
Jair Driesenga – Valient Thorr opening for Bullets and Octane blew me away at The Intersection! 🤘
Stew Robinson – Billy Strings openings for Greensky Bluegrass
Sondra Loucks Wilson – 2011: Florence + The Machine opening for U2 in East Lansing. I’m a big U2 fan. But on this day their show couldn’t match the opening act of Florence + The Machine. I was just blown away by her and the band’s performance.
Beth Friar – Joe Bonamassa opening for Little Feat at the Pinnacle Center in October 2001 blew me away. Amazeballs!
Daniel Bednarz – Marillion opening for Utopia
John Nowak – Vox Vidorra opening for The Suffers > The Suffers opening for Lake Street Dive > Lake Street Dive opening for The Avett Brothers! Three different shows.
Justin Stover – I saw Damien Rice in 2004 in Detroit. And he was just awful. He came across as if he badly wanted to prove that he was more of a rocker than a folker and as a result made really awful rock music. However, a band from Ireland called The Frames opened. One of the best live sets I’ve ever seen to this day. Turns out the lead singer was in my fave movie “The Commitments” and would later become quite famous: Glen Hansard.
Michael J Vizard – Brownsville Station opening for Steppenwolf. They blew Steppenwolf away as I remember at Fountain Street Church in ’69. After the show we stopped at the Pizza place on Michigan Street hill … BS were there. Had a great time talking to them and they invited us to their house in Ann Arbor.
David Burns – Pearl Jam opening for the RHCP’s
Tim Sundt – Billy Joel opening for the Beach Boys (I’m old)
Barbara Zahs Rothstein – I saw him open for The Beach Boys, too, so I guess I’m also old.
Chad Michael Wedeven – There was a beautiful stage at Arcadia Ales in Kalamazoo that didn’t get much use in the end…but they did have some killer bills that had four acts playing all day. I went to see my beloved Crane Wives on a beautiful late summer day, and before them was a married duo from Albion with an odd name: The War & Treaty. To a half capacity crowd, Michael and Tanya poured their hearts and souls on that stage. To this day, I’m always afraid Michael is gonna have an onstage aneurysm.
Joel Schultze – Titus Andronicus opening for The Pogues.
Nic Stubbs – Sonia Dada opening for Traffic at DeVos Hall. First time I ever saw an opening act get a standing ovation and an encore.
Paul T. Fredrickson – We went to see Stevie Ray Vaughan who opened for Gary Myrick.
Matt Jarrells – Matthew E. White opening for Mountain Goats. Incredible live band supporting an uplifting album!
Robert Biggie G Gill – I saw Bon Jovi open for Ratt at the Civic Auditorium in 1985… ummm… I think it’s pretty well documented how both bands’ careers turned out.
Daniel P Hudelson – 1973, the then-unknown Roxy Music, opening for Steve Miller, dimly lit, space age look and sound.The Steve Miller fans really didn’t know what to make of them. My brother did have their debut LP, which I then came to really love. Also, saw the unknown Steely Dan open for the Kinks, Halloween ’72. At the end of their set, they threw candy out to the audience. Thought they sounded great.Saw them a few months later open for The Guess Who, just as “Do It Again” was entering the charts.
Brian VanOchten – I discovered Gene Loves Jezebel when they opened up for Billy Idol at Pine Knob. They were a fantastic live band and I’ve been a huge fan ever since.
Kelly Latimer – Trampled by Turtles for The Avett Brothers; Melissa Etheridge for The Eagles (Hell Freezes Over)
Ryan Nehring – Sa-Roc opening for Brother Ali at The Pyramid Scheme was an absolute brain melting performance. Turned me into a fan immediately. That woman is a monster!
Dave DeHaan – Foghat opening up for Humble Pie in 1974 (I think) was awesome! It’s a funny coincidence that Charlie Huhn fronted Humble Pie and is now with Foghat!
John Serba – Went to the Reptile House in 1994 to see Brit shoegazers Swervedriver. Opening was Medicine, who I wasn’t familiar with, but made me an instant fan for life. Think the Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds, but very noisy, buzzy and screamingly loud. Their singer was intense, just staring down the crowd. I distinctly remember them playing this song, and being kind of hypnotized by it. Of the many many shows I’ve seen, it’s so rare for an opening act to leave an impression like this. I also saw Babes in Toyland play the Intersection in ’95 (or ’96?) and one of the opening bands had a singer wearing a fireman jacket, mic in one hand and a pitcher of (frequently spilling) beer in the other, contorting his face as he screamed gibberish into the mic. The bassist played so hard he broke a string. I’ll never forget the name of the band: Dumpster Juice.
Steve Middendorp – Traveling through California, we picked a couple random shows. The main group was Quick and Easy Boys at an Arcata bar, and the opening band was something like “Children of the Sun.” I can’t remember, because I wasn’t able to find their music later. Never heard of either band and they were both so impressive with an interesring sound I had never heard from any Michigan or national scene music. Another random $5 competition in San Francisco brought us to Picture Atlantic, and another one to Typhoon. All very impressive and worth far more than the $5-$10 cover charge.
Brian Borbot – I saw Thin Lizzy open for Queen; two different tours.
Lee Chase -Rory Gallagher opening for The Faces – 1973 in Phoenix
Stephen Aldrich – Rory Gallagher opening for Savoy Brown, 1971, Holland MI
John Merchant – Todd Snider and the Nervous Wrecks opening for The Bodeans. I went to the merch tent, returned my Bodeans shirt and got a TS one and the “step right up” CD.
Lani Jordan – 1973. Olympia in downtown Detroit. Unknown Leo Kottke opened for Procol Harem. Loved Leo. Fell asleep during PH (but that could have been all of the “smoke” in the air). Leo’s still around. PH, not so much.
Dan Lauterbur – Back in 1988 I saw Billy Bragg on his Workers Playtime tour, with a woman I hadn’t heard of yet, Michelle Shocked opening. I quickly fell in love with her music, her vibe, and loved seeing her any chance i could. She was quite popular for a long time, until a bizarre homophobic rant crashed her career in 2013. I still love her early albums.
Max L L Lockwood – My Morning Jacket opening for Pearl Jam at Van Andel in ‘06. Had no idea what to expect and became an immediate fan.
Mike Dodge – Bob James opening for either Maynard Ferguson or Stan Kenton (don’t remember which). Bob and his band had a hit out at the time and they were on fire! Also, Guffria opening for Foreigner, not so much the band, but Guffria’s guitarist (Craig Goldie) played an accompanied solo that include some guitar techniques I had never heard before. Within the next 6 month or so I heard other players doing it…it was Sweep Picking. I’ll always remember that show as the first time I’d ever heard (modern) sweep picking.
Steve Grinczel – The Pointer Sisters ahead of Chicago at Chicago Stadium 1975 or so.
John Loader – Domestic Problems, opening for the Tubes, in the basement of Lincoln Country Club.
Ken Visser – Lionel Richie
Dave Joanis – The Eric Martin Band opened for ZZ Top on the Eliminator tour in South Bend, IN. No one really cared, they just wanted ZZ to hit the stage. Eric Martin went on to front Mr. Big and have a huge hit.
John Olszewski – Martin Sexton at Meijer Gardens standing o and an encore. Just him and his guitar. Opened for Susan Tedeschi.
Eric Burmeister – Parker Millsap opened for JD McPherson at the Gruene Hall in New Braunfels, TX. Absolutely stole the show.Saw him open for someone at the Intersection and the sound tech deliberately f’d up their mix to keep them “in their place.” I hate that.
Paul Brewer – When I was on the road in 1981, playing trombone in Leon Russell’s band (I was arranging for the band, too), Edgar Winter opened up for us at a concert in Fort Pierce, Florida. Edgar and the band were great. I’ve often thought that we should have opened for him.
Mary Ellen Murphy – Simon Townshend at Todd’s in Detroit in the 80’s. He opened for the dB’s. Did his hit Up on the Scaffolding. I was mesmerized.
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Bradley Raffenaud – Kurtis Blow opening for The Clash
Josh Huver – My hands down favorite opener: a band called Everest from Los Angeles was on tour with Matt Costa in 2010 or 11 and I drove from Mt Pleasant to see them at The Magic Stick. Matt Costa is super mellow, but this band, Everest, they were pure energy and one of their guitarists was a mad scientist in feedback. It BLEW MY MIND. Stole the show for sure but unfortunately nothing much came of Everest after that tour.
Becky Oliver – Alice In Chains w/Kiss 1996 Detroit Tiger Stadium -OMG
Ned Rouse – Dion opening for Frank Zappa at Grand Valley. He did all blues versions of the Belmonts and solo hits. I remember Abraham, Martin and John being a most interesting blues version!
Chance Edison – Cherry Glazerr opening for The Flaming Lips. Had never heard them before, was completely blown away and in my opinion their energy and antics stole the show!!
Reid Simpson – Courtney Marie Andrews , opening for Damien Jurado
Don Small – We went to a Keith Urban concert at the Fox in Detroit and Little Big Town was his opening act. Our daughter got their autographs on a CD.
Tom Sydloski – I saw Kiss open up for The original REO Speedwagon at the Welsh. 74-75.
Robin Connell – KISS opening for Aerosmith. It so freaked me out, as well as all the drug use on site, I left and went home. Never saw the Main Act!
Ben Hassenger -The original Dixie Chicks opening for Jimmy Buffett at Pine Knob way back when.
Mike Skory – Haven’t been to a show in 100 years but I’d say the 2nd Byrds configuration (with Clarence White) opening for James Gang
Michael Packer – Cheap Trick opening for Queen. Though I’ve also seen Alice Cooper (Easy Action tour) opening for Savage Grace, SRC and others back in the day at the Roller Rink and 44th Street Armory – so that tells ya how old I am. Oh, and Mahavishnu Orchestra opening for Frank Zappa. But I could go on and on. . .
Al Haaksma – Bon Jovi and Def Leppard opening for Ozzy
Mike Filkins – Great Big Sea opening for The Chieftans
Mike Ensing – The Bangles – opened for Mister Mister in Battle Creek 1986
Justin Dore – BTO opening for Alice Cooper in the area where studio park is now. BTO rocked so hard.
Greg S. Lewis – Opening act For REO Speedwagon in 1975 at George Welsh Civic Auditorium…..KISS. They were not an opening act much longer:)
Dan Terpstra – Mojo Nixon opened for Dread Zeppelin. It just wasn’t worth watching the headliner after such a great opener!
Darlene Cooper – Bob Marley and the Wailers opening for The Who.
Melodee Van Bogelen Horsford – A band called “Hero The Band” opened for Collective Soul at the Coca-Cola Roxy at the Battery back in Nov 2019. I was totally blown away!
Jeff Frazier – 1974 Ferris State College. “Surprise special guest star” for the J. Geil’s band was Bob Seger. He stole the show.
Lance Climie – Steven Stills opening for the James gang at GVSC dome 1973.
Rebecca Charbauski – I saw Maroon 5 at Van Andel when they opened for Matchbox 20. I remember going out to buy their CD (yes, I’m old). They had something special.
Isaac Powrie – Greensky Bluegrass opened for Umphrey’s McGee the first two times I saw them. Goose opened for Pigeons Playing Ping Pong and where the reason I went to the show. Fruition opened for Infamous Stringdusters the first time I saw them.
Brett Kennedy – Smashing Pumpkins
Rick Slachta – XTC opened for The Police @ Masonic Temple, late 70s/early 80s. Andy Partridge was tremendous; Gordie and the boys came in a distant second.
James Lilac-Thirteen Walker – Flaming lips opening for beck at the Detroit opera house in 2003. Not only did they open (they were touring for yoshimi) they were also the back up band for beck on his sea change tour.
John W. Hartel – I’ve seen Dan Fogelberg open for the Eagles and a Joe Walsh solo band. But have seen him headline several times afterwards. Always awesome!
Mike Dodge – By far, the most unusual opening act I saw was this movie that was the “opening act” on David Bowie’s Station to Station tour: “An Andalusian Dog (Un Chien Andalou)” (1929)
Lucy Ernst – I’d never heard of Queens of the Stone age when I saw them open for the Chili Peppers. They slaughtered the night. I’m a huge fan.
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