I’ve never forgotten my first experience with buying music for myself. There was something magical about being able to pick anything I wanted, and then bring it home to enjoy over and over again. But after a while, as it does for many, my obsession with a number of bands had begun to run out of things to feed it. The radio gave no new songs, and the record store had long since been cleaned out. Dark days, indeed.
Enter bootlegs. For those of us who had a great local record store with a side section, a well-connected friend, or even knew an avid enthusiast of tape-trading websites, nothing was more special than your first listen to something that only a select few could ever hear again. Want to hear that 1978 Winterland Ballroom gig where the Sex Pistols broke up? (You shouldn’t, it’s awful, but let’s just say…) You’d better know someone. Bootlegs revealed a world of mystery and splendor, and showed a band as it really is/was… not just how the studio wanted you to think of them.
Nowadays, this is old hat. We have any number of online video/audio services, and the ability to record something is in almost every pocket. Heck, I’ve even done it myself. The experience has definitely changed for new bands and today’s fans. But if you want that good, old stuff, then you still have to be able to find it.
This is where Wolfgang’s Concert Vault comes in. The site has thousands of performances from the ’50s to today. There are interviews with artists, the ability to make customized playlists (and save them), and even some nifty background information about shows and artists. I first found the site through its iPhone app, and I’ve loved spending time digging through the archives. You do have to sign up for a free account (make sure to set those communication preferences), but it’s well worth a look.
After the jump, you can find some great free samples: