Home Music Friday List: The Top 10 biggest college concerts in our region

Friday List: The Top 10 biggest college concerts in our region


The Friday List is a recurring feature in which we jog memories, spark thoughts and perhaps generate debate in one of the grandest formats devised by man … the almighty list. Are we missing something? Are we dead wrong? Offer your thoughts on the list du jour by heading to the Valley Review’s Twitter or Facebook pages.

As the great MC Hammer once pronounced, “yo, sound the bells … school’s in, sucker.”

Labor Day weekend is upon us and it’s the last hurrah before the younger set dive back into the books.

In the Fox Valley, we’re fortunate to have colleges in our neck of the woods whether it’s small, private Lawrence University in Appleton or the big state school down the road in UW-Oshkosh. The benefits extend well beyond those enrolled whether its rooting for their sports teams, taking in some theater, hearing guest speakers — or scoring some sweet concerts that might not otherwise have swung through.

There have been some real classics through the years and it’s Friday, so we’ll list them. 

We looked at legendary names. We included some more recent events.

In honor of a fresh, new academic year, here’s Valley Review’s top 10 college concerts in our region — in no particular order.

The Byrds, March 7, 1966: Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The Byrds’ second album, “Turn! Turn! Turn!” was released just three months prior to the Appleton engagement. They topped the charts in 1965 with “Mr. Tambourine Man” and arrived in Appleton amid their transition to a psychedelic sound. 

Frank Zappa and The Mothers of Invention, May 23, 1969:  Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The Lawrence show was one of two that The Mothers of Invention played in Appleton; the second held at the Cinderella Ballroom. Their date at Lawrence lives on. The concert was bootlegged and released as the Appleton Album.

Fleetwood Mac with Blue Oyster Cult, Oct. 13, 1973: Albee Hall, UW-Oshkosh. Fleetwood Mac became one of those bands that play huge places for huge cash. In 1973, they arrived to the smaller of UW-Oshkosh’s two athletic facilities. 

Simon & Garfunkel, Oct. 26, 1967: Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh. The legendary duo started touring colleges in 1965 and 1966. The Oshkosh concert occurred within the year their classic, Bookends, was being recorded. And while they hadn’t yet hit the pinnacles of their fame, they brought major hits with them from “The Sound of Silence” to “A Hazy Shade of Winter.”

Ben Folds, April 8, 2003: Lawrence Memorial Chapel. Ben Folds also has a UWO show on his all-time tour list, but for his work behind the grand piano, the chapel is far and away the stronger venue. It’s as if his music was made for it.

Bob Dylan, Nov. 2, 2004: Kolf Sports Center, UW-Oshkosh. UWO brought in some trendy if not forgettable shows in the late 1990s through mid 2000s whether Everclear or Sugar Ray. They scored in 2004, bringing in a legend and packing Kolf for a show that had all of the Dylan hallmarks of the time … Bob behind a piano, a stellar band and a host of new arrangements.

Louis Armstrong, May 13, 1960: Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The legendary jazz trumpeter had already transitioned from the big bands to a six-piece combo by the time of his Appleton arrival on Friday the 13th.

Ella Fitzgerald, May 2, 1961: Lawrence Memorial Chapel. The First Lady of Song arrived in Appleton two years after becoming a Grammy Award winner.

Santana, Oct. 26, 1974: Kolf Sports Center, UW-Oshkosh. The show was among the final of Santana’s 1974 North American Tour. Carlos Santana led a nine-piece band. They went on to Madison and Milwaukee before closing the tour in College Park, Maryland.

Faces, Oct. 30, 1975: Kolf Sports Center, UW-Oshkosh. The English rock band featuring Rod Stewart and Ronnie Wood broke up before 1975 came to a close, but not before spending the night before Halloween in Oshkosh.

Honorable mentions:

Bobby McFerrin, Feb. 19, 2010: Lawrence Memorial Chapel

Yo-Yo Ma, March 14, 1986: Lawrence Memorial Chapel

Muddy Waters, June 5, 1977:Titan Stadium, UW-Oshkosh 

Johnny Cash, Oct. 20, 1972: Kolf Sports Center, UW-Oshkosh