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It’s a great question—a surefire conversation starter in pretty much any setting. Mine happened to be Pearl Jam, who played an intimate show for about 1,200 lucky fans at the University Theatre here at UM on June 16, 1993.
I remember where I was sitting [the balcony], who I was with [my brother Kevin], and what car we took to Missoula from our hometown of Anaconda [my parents’ 1989 Ford Taurus station wagon]. I remember the band came on stage about an hour late because they were watching Michael Jordan score fifty-five points as his Chicago Bulls beat the Phoenix Suns in Game Four of the NBA Finals.
I also remember frontman Eddie Vedder apologizing profusely and throwing bagels and bottles of water into the crowd as a sign of good faith. They opened with the song Animal, and my fourteen-year-old mind was officially blown. Even though it was nearly twenty-two years ago, it seems like yesterday.
On a recent stroll past the UM Productions office in the UC, I instantly was whisked back to that night when I came across the promo poster for that show.
It’s one of hundreds of posters from artists who performed at UM that decorate the walls of the office, and each one tells a story that’s sure to bring back powerful memories for those who were there.
“I remember hearing this quote once, and I’ve never forgotten it: ‘A live performance is a moment in time that lasts a lifetime,’” says Marlene Hendrickson, UM Productions adviser for the past twenty-four years. “We all remember our first concert. When the band takes the stage, there’s this life-changing energy. It’s pure joy.
” UM Productions is responsible for providing many of those moments. Known as ASUM Programming from its beginning in 1969 to the mid-90s, it is one of only a handful of student-run concert production organizations in the country. From bringing in acts to marketing the events to fulfilling a performer’s rider, UMP handles it all.
People often wander into the office to look at the posters, says Dan Torti ’08. He worked at UMP as a student and now is back in an adviser role.
“There is so much history hanging in this office,” he says. “The posters are like time capsules.”
Jed Liston ’82, M.Ed. ’00, has worked on campus for thirty years, so he’s seen his share of shows. It’s the one he didn’t see, however, that brings back a wild memory.
Van Halen played at UM in 1979, and Liston recalls feeling bummed about not being able to attend. He was a UM Advocate and had prior obligations that evening. He was out late at a function and planned on sleeping in.
Instead, he was awoken by his phone ringing at 7:30 a.m. It was campus police calling.
“At first I thought it was a prank,” Liston says. “But the more I talked to the woman, I realized she was serious. She told me something had happened to my car.
” So Liston, living in Jesse Hall at the time, dropped the phone, ran across the hall, and banged on the door of his friend’s room, which overlooked the lot where his red 1976 Chevy Chevette was parked.
“And when I looked out, and I had the most perfect view of the bottom of my car,” he says with a guffaw.
Liston guesses some rowdy concertgoers, reveling in the power of rock ‘n’ roll, tipped his ride on their way home. Thankfully, little damage was done. But it’s a moment that’ll forever be etched in his mind when he hears Runnin’ with the Devil.
Was it Boston at the Fieldhouse? The Doobie Brothers? Kenny Loggins in 1988? Garth Brooks? Ray Charles? Willie Nelson? Dizzy Gillespie? Poison?
Hopefully the posters pictured here will conjure nostalgia and spark memories. Please share your stories by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. We’ll share them on our website, and some may show up in the next issue.
“The posters are inspirational in a way,” Torti says. “They motivate us to keep chasing that next big show.”
John Heaney is the editor-in chief of the Montanan. An Anaconda native, John graduated from UM in 2002 and took the helm of the Montanan in 2010. In between, he worked for the Missoulian, the Spokesman-Review, the Coeur d'Alene Press, and the Anaconda Leader.