A History of Rob Thomas Concerts

I’m trying to remember all the times I’ve seen RT (with or without Matchbox Twenty) play. I know the first time was in 2000 out at Amherst College. It was in a gymnasium, SRO, but we were able to get pretty close to the stage. Matchbox Twenty was touring for Mad Season at the time, and they were my favorite band—I’d never felt as strongly about a band as I did for them at the time—so (embarrassing as it is), I stood there with tears running down my face, I was so happy to see them. Later I was moved enough to post on a message board (my name was “yukitouya” at the time because I was into animé) that it was for me what seeing The Beatles was like for my mother.

Well, live a little longer and you get a different perspective on life, but I still do love Rob and the boys. In 2003 I would see them again for the More Than You Think You Are tour. That time they were at the Fleet Center (now TD Garden). Sugar Ray opened, IIRC, and it was clear the band had more of a budget as there was more flash and bang in the show. But weirdly, I find that doesn’t suit them as much.

In 2004 I started a blog called “Letters to Rob” in which, over the course of a year, I wrote open letters to Rob and his bandmates. (Though the site is no more, a PDF version is under my Bibliography under Books.) It got picked up by the Atlantic message boards and stands as my little slice of fangirldom. Rob would come out with Something To Be, and I would end up seeing him both at the Avalon on Lansdowne Street (now gone) and at a charity show at the China Club in NYC.

I think, after that, the next time I saw Matchbox Twenty was at a Mix Fest or something of that sort. This would have been when the Exile on Mainstream EP was released.

Then Rob again, solo, in 2009 in Boston for the Cradlesong show. I ended up sitting next to his son and his son’s friend. And we saw him play at Mohegan Sun towards the end of 2011. And a couple years ago I took my own son to see Goo Goo Dolls and Matchbox Twenty at the Concord, CA show.

Finally, last night we saw Rob on his Great Unknown tour at the Mountain Winery in Saratoga, CA. Another great show.

So what does that come to? Nine total? I’ve seen Rob more than any other artist. Even if I count the solo shows (5), or the Matchbox Twenty shows (4) separately, it comes to more than any other. Well, I think the MB20 shows tie Train, which I’ve also seen 4 times now.

I’m not sure why I’m posting this retrospective except maybe as a means to ground myself. I was wondering the other day about the trajectory of fandom and at what point (if ever) people “grow out of” or at least begin to mature . . . Which isn’t to say they don’t still like things, but they have more perspective, maybe, or are more discerning, or “gush” less . . . What keeps a person coming back versus the point at which they walk away from a band or a TV show . . . I guess it depends on the purpose these things serve in a person’s life. When a show or artist fills a kind of emotional or psychological need in a person, plugs a perceived hole in them, the person may become fanatical. But if (a) the show or artist ceases to plug the hole, or (b) the hole closes or the need is otherwise filled, then the grip loosens.

Or maybe the hole changes shape. I still enjoy Rob and Matchbox Twenty, and their music still speaks to me on some levels, though not the way it did when I was in college. And some of their songs also take me back to other times, bring back memories. That’s another kind of service these things provide: milestones and markers of who we used to be.

I don’t know if I have a point here. It’s more a musing. I studied fan psychology as an undergrad, and so these things continue to interest me. Of course, one isn’t required to have a reason for liking something. And one isn’t required to defend themselves for liking (or not liking). But it is amazing how strongly people feel about these things—what they like and don’t like. There’s no right answer, no one fit for everyone, yet we still love to argue and debate the merits and lack thereof of what we love and hate and why. Internet message boards overflow with just such arguments.

I outgrew The X-Files at some point (though I’ll still check out the reboot), and I don’t enjoy Doctor Who that much any more, but I do still love Rob and Matchbox Twenty. I take a lot of flak for that, but whatever. Sometimes there really is no accounting for what we enjoy. It is what it is.

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