Director of Student Activities at Pacific University Steve Klein’s love of music began on a whim in 1973. He was a high school freshman when he went to see country band Mason Proffit in northwest Iowa, where he grew up.
Klein made the decision because one of their songs was banned from the radio by the FCC, he said. The crowd at the concert, made of hippies, according to Klein, was just as interesting as the concert itself. “Now only was I enjoying the live performance, I was enjoying watching the people,” Klein said. “This was kind of unworldly to me.”
When Klein left the venue, he understood the value of live music. “We came down the stairs [of the venue], and we were just pumped,” he said. “We talked all the way home, we talked about it the next day, we told all out friends about it.”
Klein has seen more than 800 concerts since then, he said. His long list of seen shows include catching rock band The Grateful Dead in four separate decades, a legendarily terrible concert from punk band The Replacements that led them to etch “sorry, Portland” into every vinyl copy of their record Don’t Tell a Soul, and a 92-cent-per-ticket benefit concert from The Curtis Lowe Band—Lynyrd Skynyrd using another name, sans Freebird, of course.
Klein says he goes to so many concerts now because of how personal they are. “You have this connection with the artist,” Klein said. “You have escaped everything because you are in that moment.”
Klein is not just interested in seeing his own love of music flourish—he loves to see it in students, too. When Klein took a group of students to see 80s rock band Midnight Oil, he did not say a word on the ride home. “It was like they flipped a switch,” he said. “[the concert] blew their minds.”
Klein’s relationship does not end with just concerts, either—it also extends into his vinyl and CD collection. After starting with The Beatles’ White Album, his collection has expbiancaabnded to over 1,700 vinyl records and over 4,000 CDs, said Klein. His wide collection has also given him a vast knowledge of musical taste. “I can go to a garage sale, and there can be maybe two crates of records—I can thumb through them, and probably write a three-page assessment of your life,” Klein said. “I’m not judging, but I am trying to paint a picture.”
Even though Klein’s heard more than 4,000 albums, he is still in the search of new music. He finds new artists regularly—some of his recent finds include rock band All them Witches, folk songwriter Sunny War, and indie rock artist Cass McCombs. “I can tell it is a favorite based on how long it is in the CD player of my truck,” Klein said. Klein also has not stopped going to concerts, either; he plans to vacation in New Orleans over spring break with a group of friends connected through their love of music, he said.